Archive for January, 2015

Avi Hein and his wife were newlyweds when they left Maryland for Israel in 2004 to make Aliya. At the time, he was interested in a career focused on Zionism and politics, but it didn’t take long to catch the entrepreneurial bug.

“I wanted to be part of what would later be called the ‘Start-Up Nation,’” Avi said. He then proceeded to dive in head first — working in Israel’s high-tech sector.

Avi had been living in Israel for a number of years and was fluent in Hebrew when he decided to go back to school. He considered both English and Hebrew programs, and chose the Technion’s MBA Start-uP program.

Avie Hein

Avi Hein at the Sarona complex in Tel Aviv, where the Technion offers the Start-uP MBA as well as other academic programs.

“My main requirement was that the program be on a high academic level from a top-notch university.” He was specifically focused on technology management with the goal of continuing his career in high tech, rather than doing something like finance or consulting, and the Technion Start-uP MBA program fit the bill. “This program provided a holistic view of how to run a tech company, from seed funding to managing a thriving company.”

“Avi was one of our first group of students, and our second class with 20 students is already underway,” said Dr. Avital Regev Siman-Tov, Managing Director of Technion MBA Programs. “Israel is the perfect place to learn about start-ups,” she says. And since Technion alumni have founded or managed two thirds of the Israeli-based companies listed on Nasdaq, she adds that “the Technion is the best institution to teach start-up skills.”

Today, Avi is a graduate of the first class of the Technion Start-uP MBA program, a one-year international program in Tel Aviv, taught entirely in English and focused on technology management, promoting entrepreneurship and start-ups.

The Start-uP MBA curriculum covers a broad range of courses while exposing students to Israel’s thriving tech scene through internships, consulting projects and on-site corporate visits. It is unique in that it is taught by leading professors “on loan,” so to speak, for short periods of time, from elite universities all over the world. To do this, some courses are taught in weekly blocks, so that students have one class all day – from Sunday to Thursday. “Its intense schedule allowed the Technion to bring in top professors. But instead of having two months to do one class – you have two weeks at best,” said Avi. “The program was at a very high academic level and was very demanding.” Unlike most of his peers, Avi is not an engineer. But his background was not an issue, since the courses were mostly business-oriented.

Avi in front of one of the three Technion buildings at Sarona.

Even though Avi had been working in Israel’s high-tech scene for a few years, the program provided industry visits to companies he had never been to. “You work in your own company all day and don’t get to see what other companies are doing,” he says. “It’s exciting because in Israel, unlike the U.S., we are used to doing more with less. It is about results and getting things done with much less focus on bureaucracy and procedure.”

Avi found the most beneficial aspect of the program was learning how to build a company from the initial idea to launch and learn how to apply the traditional aspects of functional management— applying that information to his own work. As Marketing Manager of IncrediBuild, a 12-year-old software company that accelerates software development processes, enabling popular products that include game consoles such as the Playstation and Xbox, he still deals with budgets and IP questions like a start-up would. “There are a lot of the same issues working in an established technology company, and having the Start uP MBA helps,” he said. “Today you need a business degree, focusing on technology management. People who know the technology often don’t know the business. Others who only know business don’t know technology. The Technion MBA provides a unique mix of technology and business. As a graduate of the Technion program, I understand the financial aspects and the perspective on how to view the whole business. For example, in class we debated case studies of how to enter new markets and explore new business models as a software company. This is something I’m working on now.”

But perhaps the best part of Avi’s experience was the international student experience. “It was great to be exposed to students from China, Mexico, Israel, the U.S., Australia, etc. and to understand their expectations. It helped me stay in touch with that global environment,” he said. “If, in the future, I want to set up a marketing campaign in a particular community in the world, I will have a greater understanding of the culture, what is expected, and I will have someone to talk to in order to see things from their unique cultural perspective.”

Classes are located at the Sarona campus in Tel Aviv, which is convenient due to the proximity to the heart of Israel’s business center, and it is just a short walk from the Azrieli Towers. But according to Avi, the location has other benefits. “Being in the center of things helps. Many of Israel’s top high-tech companies are nearby. In addition, this campus is gorgeous. It is not a traditional university campus, and students love the environment. One of the things we learned in our Consumer Behavior class is that people are affected by their environment. When you are in a positive beautiful environment, you tend to perform better.”

Though Israel has had high-tech for a few decades, people did not regard Israel as a high tech superpower until the publication of the book Start-Up Nation. Now the public knows that “if you look inside the iPad or iPhone, or turn on your computer or game console, the software is based on Israeli tech,” he said. “People look at Israel as a vibrant high-tech country.” With the Technion Start-uP MBA under his belt, Avi is certainly part of this innovative, entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Click here to visit the Start-uP MBA website: http://startupmba.technion.ac.il/





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