Here’s the reality: We’re facing a global health crisis which is creating global financial upheaval. We don’t know when, but this will end, and we will begin recovery. And we know there will be many Zoom calls in between. But more importantly, we know from lessons of the past that those communities that continued engaging with innovators, and investing in new technologies, were those that recovered faster and more significantly than imagined.
That was one of the clearest lessons I learned working for the City of New York during the recovery from the 2008 financial recession. Then, New York, and other economic centers around the world, saw a rapid, sharp and unimaginable decline to a core industry that catalyzed economic activity throughout the world. Large corporations were certainly important to stability, but it was the nimble young startups that ultimately drove growth, kept talent engaged and defined a new era of innovation for the US, and the world. In fact, many companies that today have become global leaders were launched during those tumultuous days: AirBnB, Uber, and Dropbox just to name a few.
In times of global uncertainty, when danger feels omnipotent and everywhere, it feels audacious and brave to even think about building the future. But that is just what MassChallenge Israel – and our friends and partners – have done.
The Power of the Innovation Community
In early March, the MassChallenge Israel team was preparing for our in-person judging round for the 2020 cohort, traditionally a four-day intense process with personal and group meetings occurring simultaneously. Just 12 hours before our launch, well over 100 corporate executives and investors were supposed to hear pitches from more than 110 startups onsite in our offices in Jerusalem, with the goal of select the 2020.
But we got closer to the date and as public health officials began to ramp up the response to the novel coronavirus, it became clear that we could not hold our in-person judging round as planned. Our team quickly mobilized to take the judging round virtual, ensuring that our judges and our startups received the same engaging experience. Startups and judges ‘met’ one another from the safety and comfort of their home offices, balconies and kitchen tables. And for several hours a day, we invited one another to imagine a world of solutions, amidst a time of great concern and uncertainty.
I am inspired and want to say to our partners and friends thank you again to the dedicated judges who joined our call and choose optimism and hope by supporting entrepreneurs.
Our community deeply understands that now is the time to develop and grow companies that will ultimately become the job creators of the future. In this unprecedented moment, I’m newly inspired and awed by the founders and innovators who are guided by principle and fed by passion to imagine a tomorrow that is vastly better than today
We are moving forward with the 2020 MassChallenge Israel accelerator – albeit with the health and wellness of our community at the forefront of everything we do. Like a true agile entrepreneur, our team and partners have made quick adjustments in order to support our new cohort and kickstart momentum. With remote content, reimagined events, virtual conferences, and a tangible urgency that we need creative solutions and brilliant problem solvers now more than ever, Israel’s community has strengthened the bond between our local and global economies with the innovators. And this bond will continue to drive us forward.
MassChallenge was founded to drive economic recovery by supporting innovators as they grow businesses and solutions that create jobs, revenue and change our economies. And we stand at the ready to play that role for our global economy as we recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
We’re in This Together
Thank you again to our partner and expert community for your dedication and commitment. Without you, this cohort would not be possible. Thank you for joining us in support of innovators and founders, especially now. Not because it’s easy, but because it is right and will ultimately set our collective community on a path forward.