Quando si parla di startup, l’Italia ha molto poco in comune con Israele

Sull’emergente ecosistema italiano delle startup si dicono tante cose e spesso sono considerazioni superficiali quando non si tratta di vere e proprie sciocchezze. Una di queste è l’idea che l’Italia assomigli molto a Israele e che quindi anche noi possiamo diventare una startup nation.

Non ho un’esperienza diretta dell’ecosistema israeliano, ma ho letto con attenzione Startup Nation, che – a detta di molti esperti – lo descrive molto bene. Assumendo che la storia raccontata dagli autori interpreti efficacemente la realtà, ci sono almeno 2 motivi per cui la storia dell’industria tecnologica israeliana non può essere replicata in Italia. Lo riassume bene Wikipedia:

In their attempt to explain Israel’s success in this area, Senor and Singer discard “the argument from ethnic or religious exceptionalism, dismissing “unitary Jewishness” or even individual talent as major reasons for Israel’s high-tech success” and analyze two major factors that, in the authors’ opinion, contribute most to Israel’s economic growth. Those factors are mandatory military serviceand immigration.

The authors argue that a major factor for Israel’s economic growth can be found in the culture of the Israel Defense Forces, in which service is mandatory for most young Israelis. The authors believe that IDF service provides potential entrepreneurs with the opportunities to develop a wide array of skills and contacts. They also believe that IDF service provides experience exerting responsibility in a relatively unhierarchical environment where creativity and intelligence are highly valued. IDF soldiers “have minimal guidance from the top, and are expected to improvise, even if this means breaking some rules. If you’re a junior officer, you call your higher-ups by their first names, and if you see them doing something wrong, you say so.” Neither ranks nor ages matter much “when taxi drivers can command millionaires and 23-year-olds can train their uncles,” and “Israeli forces regularly vote to oust their unit leaders.”

The book also dwells at length on immigration and its role in Israel’s economics’s growth: “Immigrants are not averse to start from scratch. They are by definition risk-takers. A nation of immigrants is a nation of entrepreneurs. From survivors of the Holocaust to Soviet refuseniks through the Ethiopian Jews, the State of Israel never ceased to be a land of immigration: 9 out of 10 Jewish Israelis today are immigrants or descendants of immigrants the first or second generation. This specific demographic, causing fragmentation of community that still continues in the country, is nevertheless a great incentive to try their luck, to take risks because immigrants have nothing to lose.”

Additional factors cited by the authors include a sense of dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs, a culture where individuals frequently tinker with technology, and government policies friendly to start-ups.

Il servizio militare e l’immigrazione sono due fattori specifici di Israele che non possono essere replicati in nessun altro luogo del mondo e che hanno a che fare con la geografia dello Stato (gli israeliani sono in guerra perenne con tutti gli Stati confinanti) e con la storia del suo popolo (gli ebrei di tutto il mondo hanno diritto di cittadinanza in Israele).

La geografia, le circostanze storiche e la cultura del popolo sono i fattori che determinano le potenzialità di alimentare un ecosistema imprenditoriale. Tutto il resto si innesta sopra e può trovare terreno più o meno fertile.

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Entrepreneur, digital explorer, polymath, husband and father of two girls. I study the unstoppable process of “software eating the world” and I'm passionate about digital transformation, open innovation, startup communities and all the techniques to invent new products and new business models.

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