Seven years ago, Dan Senor and Saul Singer wrote Start-Up Nation, a book explaining why Israel is “a society that uniquely combines both innovative and entrepreneurial intensity.”
Nate Jaret ’07 is on the ground floor of that phenomenon. Since 2014 he has worked for OurCrowd, a wildly successful equity crowdfunding venture capital firm (Josh Wolff ’89 is senior vice president of global operations).
“We carefully select Israeli and global technology startups, invest our own capital, and open up these investment opportunities to our community of 14,000 accredited angel investors from around the world,” he explained. “This allows ordinary investors to invest alongside a professional venture capital (VC) investor, under the same VC-negotiated terms, but with much smaller minimum investment sizes.”
Nate came on board early in 2014 as a member of the personal team of Jon Medved, founder and CEO. For more than a year he has been the associate for OurCrowd First, a seed fund responsible for OurCrowd’s investments in the very youngest startups that are seeking funding.
He manages the pipeline of applicants for funding — about 100 submissions per month — and leads due diligence on the 1 percent that make it through. Nate also provides post-investment support to portfolio companies and manages communications and financial reporting to investors.
“Crowdfunding is an exploding new way of raising capital, but once you’re talking about actually investing in a company and receiving stock, you need to make sure that someone is on the other end of the website, conducting professional due diligence and making sure that everything checks out,” he asserted.
“Venture capital investments are extremely high-risk as is — investors can’t afford to invest in what sounds cool. OurCrowd, a startup itself, is working on just that, democratizing VC investment while protecting investors from unresearched opportunities and even fraud.”
Nate, who made aliyah in 2012 after graduating from Yeshiva University, has personal experience with some of the qualities that propel Israel into the startup stratosphere. (“Most of these have been spelled out in some form in Start-Up Nation,” he said.)
“There is a pervasive culture of hyper-independence in Israel,” he pointed out. “It starts with children playing outdoors, pretty much unsupervised, from the moment they’re old enough to cross the street alone. I remember this autonomy perhaps more distinctly than anything else from my year living in Israel in second grade.”
Also, mandatory military service “demands a certain type of responsibility and maturity quite foreign to most teens,” Nate observed. (During his active duty, he served in the IDF Spokesperson unit.) “The IDF is a deep-pocketed technological powerhouse, and today’s military service often demands advanced technical training — coding, communications, UAVs, electrical engineering — that sets the stage for very young individuals to have very grand entrepreneurial ambitions before they’ve even started university.”
The “delicate reality” of potential conflict and a spirit of optimism “has a direct impact on Israeli risk-tolerance, whereby the prospect of starting a company and it utterly failing is just not such a big deal,” Nate continued. “Close to 95 percent of all startups will not succeed — and in order to realize those few successes, you need to know how to warmly welcome the establishment of a lot of doomed startups.”
He also cited the impact of Israel’s huge immigrant population. Its “many perspectives and experiences — compounded by the local no-nonsense, ‘say-it-like-it-is’ corporate culture — makes group-think rare and quick problem-solving the norm.” The immigrant wave from the former Soviet Union in the early 90s “contained a highly trained technical workforce that has become a key part of the high tech community,” Nate added.
Nate acknowledged that “we are definitely seeing increased integration — of Hareidim, of Israeli-Arabs and also Palestinians, of Bedouin — into the high-tech sector, and that is only a good thing. It’s critical both for the short-term improvement of their material situations and the longer-term goal of making co-existence not a buzzword but an economic and eventually social reality.”
“It’s really, really hard to feel political animosity towards your day-to-day colleagues, and so this sort of bottom-up empowerment should be a top priority, totally irrespective of the political echelon and the regional agreements it may or may not advance,” he continued.
Nate completed his MBA in entrepreneurial studies and marketing management from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He and his wife Racheli and their son live in Efrat.