We all know that Israel is a high-tech capital with almost as many start-ups as Silicon Valley.
According to Rubicon Venture Capital, if we looked at the number of start-ups per capita, Israel might actually be number one.
But what makes Israelis so obsessed with R&D?
The answer is complex. But there definitely seem to be a few main reasons for this ongoing obsession.
- Israel is a melting pot of immigrants from multiple countries. These immigrants bring with them unique cultures, approaches and schools of thought, and when these spill over into their work environment, magic happens and innovation and creativity abound.
- Israel is a young country that faces constant challenges in the realms of security, agriculture, energy, and more. As a result, many Israeli companies focus on developing solutions to these problems and once they do this successfully, often export these solutions to the international market.
- Israel places a lot of value on education, and Israeli students are encouraged to focus on STEM subjects. Once they complete their high-school education, they are recruited by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) where these skills are nourished even further; and as a result, many young Israelis are snapped up by hi-tech companies as soon as they finish their military service or higher education.
- Israeli “chutzpa” or directness, and a belief in getting things done at all costs also contribute to a highly productive environment where efficiency comes before protocol.
- As part of a true belief in the power of technology as an industry changer, private and public funding bodies invest large sums in Israeli startups.
Traditional tendency for a product-centric approach
Israeli start-ups have definitely benefitted from their unique circumstances, and their innovations and out-of-the-box thinking provide global solutions for a broad range of issues and niches.
However, as a result of this obsession with R&D, Israeli start-ups and hi-tech companies have traditionally been very product-centric. With such a strong belief in their technology, their main focus has been more on product features and benefits and less on the value that their products bring to their customers.
But with digital disruption and the empowering of the customer, the focus is no longer on what we sell but rather on why we sell it.
Focus on the why and not on the what
So the next step for Israeli hi-tech companies is to internalize this message and move over to a customer-centric model.
According to an article by Forbes, transitioning over to a customer-centric model requires rethinking of the company’s marketing strategy as brands need to find ways to leverage their most important asset — their customers.
This is a long-term process that requires research of existing customers to truly understand a company’s buyer personas, an understanding of the buyer journey and the channels used by potential buyers to interact with a company and its products, and a shift of mindset to stop thinking in terms of product and technology and start thinking in terms of customer needs.