As some of you are aware, I am reaching the final chapter of what has been both a fulfilling and a challenging, thirty-five-year career as a serial global start-up entrepreneur.

I am compelled to inquire, in the face of the emotionally charged situation emerging from the current Israel-Hamas war, how might we consider, letting go of our collective pain, anger, and hostility to learn new ways of thinking differently about start-up entrepreneurship? 

To embrace it as a catalyst for co-creating innovative, supportive, equitable, inclusive, sustainable, and humane environments by nurturing the dynamic forces of technology and innovation, despite the immense challenges that remain for all of us.

To focus on how we might shift our attention, towards leveraging the good news that Singularity Founder Peter Diamandis, shares in his latest blog Bridging the Gap: How The World Is Becoming A Better Place:

“The good news is that exponential technologies are being used by entrepreneurs to create new products and services that are dematerializing, demonetizing, and democratizing old ways of doing business and driving increased global abundance”.

Asking how might we collectively better serve humanity, today and in the future, as a whole: 

  • How might we focus on nurturing the trends of accelerating technological changes to unleash the range of endless possibilities and value-adding opportunities that add value to the quality of people’s lives, they appreciate and cherish?
  • How might we encourage ambitious and energetic people to engage in start-up entrepreneurship and innovation, with the intent of co-creating a peaceful, inclusive, equitable, and sustainable world for everyone? 

My key sources of inspiration

  • Our Crowd, Israel’s leading VC investment firm leads the way forwards

OurCrowd investors had the honour of hearing from Izhar Shay, a leader of Israel’s high-tech community and a former minister of science and technology, whose son Yaron was killed while heroically defending a community in southern Israel against the Hamas onslaught on Oct. 7.

“For every fallen soldier, for every murdered civilian, let’s put together a new, innovative start-up which will be the product or service that will serve thousands of companies and millions of people around the world,” he told an OurCrowd investor briefing. “Let’s put together the infrastructure for a better world.”

Despite the heartache and despair, of himself and his family, in losing his precious son to the latest Hamas onslaught, Izhar Shay is thinking differently about Israeli start-up entrepreneurship.

He is doing this by embracing and embodying the essence of one of Judaism’s’ key concepts. Which refers to various forms of action intended to repair and improve the world, in Hebrew, it is called  “tikkun ulam”.

  • Time Magazines “200 Best Inventions of 2023”

With just a tiny population of less than nine and half million people, eight Israeli start-ups were featured, in Time Magazine’s “200 Best Inventions of 2023”. These include:

  • Beewise’s AI-powered BeeHome 4, is a hive that uses a new chemical-free heat treatment to fight off mites.
  • Brenmiller Energy’s bGenZero, is a battery charged by solar or wind energy. That energy gets converted into heat, which heats crushed rocks for on-demand, emissions-free steam, hot water, or hot air.
  • Lumen, a handheld device that measures carbon dioxide levels in the breath to determine whether the body is burning more fat or carbs at any given time.
  • Salignostics’ Salistick, the world’s first home pregnancy test using saliva instead of urine.
  • UBQ Materials’bio-based sustainable thermoplastic is made by sorting, shredding, and melting down residual household waste into fibres, cellulose, and sugars for conversion into small pellets that can be used to make new products.
  • human embryo model built at Weizmann Institute of Science from naive stem cells.
  • Wiliot’s tiny IoT Pixel device, placed on shipment boxes, transmits information about the box’s journey in real time and calculates the carbon footprint of shipping, storage, and more.
  • Sensibo got a special mention for AirPro, which turns air conditioners or heat pumps into smart devices that uniquely save energy and improve air quality.
  • Nature Portfolio Scientific Reports – The impact of founder personalities on start-up success

This is supported by a recent research study of a sample of 21,187 large-scale start-ups globally showing that founder personality traits are a significant feature of a firm’s ultimate success.

They investigated two main research questions about start-up entrepreneurship:

  1. Which personality features characterise founders?
  2. Do their personalities, particularly the diversity of personality types in founder teams, play a role in start-up success?
  • Five personality traits

The research identified the Big Five personality traits of start-up founders across 30 dimensions that significantly differ from that of the population at large.

Some of the key personality facets that distinguish successful entrepreneurs include a drive for variety and novelty, starting new things (openness to adventure), being the centre of attention (lower levels of modesty), and being exuberant (higher energy and activity levels).

  • Six Founder-type types

The research also identified that there are  Founder-Level Factors in Start-up Success because successful entrepreneurs differ from successful employees.

Founders come in six different types: Fighters, Operators, Accomplishers, Leaders, Engineers, and Developers (FOALED), and each founder Personality has its distinct facet.

  • Start-ups are a team sport

To a large extent, founding a start-up is a team sport; therefore, diversity and complementarity of personalities matter in the foundation team. It has an outsized impact on the company’s likelihood of success.

While all start-ups are high risk, the risk becomes lower with more founders, particularly if they have distinct personality traits.

Ten years in start-up entrepreneurship globally

Our ten years’ worth of evidence-based research and experience at ImagineNation™ as to what exact traits, states, mindsets, behaviours, and skills of start-up entrepreneurship, corporate intrapreneurs, and innovators need for being and thinking differently, support the key findings of this research study.

ImagineNation™ was birthed in 2012, as an Israeli start-up within Compass Learning Pty Ltd.

It was inspired initially by the vibrant creative energy of the innovative Israeli culture and start-up entrepreneurship movement I experienced when I lived and worked in Israel for 6 years.

Where, along with a large volume of global research and my field study, I modeled, and replicated the secret ingredients that drove Israel’s global high-tech, innovation success and growth, in a hostile environment, a volatile economy, full of complex problems, in an ambiguous culture of constant geopolitical conflict.

The Israeli start-ups and their teams, as featured in the Time Magazine article embody and enact the key personality traits described in the research study, including:

  • A constant drive for variety and novelty which we describe as the wonder mindset.
  • Starting new things with an openness to adventure which we describe as the gamer mindset.
  • Being the centre of attention (lower levels of modesty) and being exuberant (higher energy and activity levels) are driven by being passionately purposeful and successful in their search for innovative solutions to complex problems.

Serving the common good

All of these traits, states, mindsets, behaviours, and skills can be learned, there is sufficient evidence-based research, and real-life successful examples to provide the social proof that start-up entrepreneurship can be learned.

It just requires people, and especially, “militants” and terrorists, to open their minds and hearts, to let go of any linear and binary perspectives of the world and embrace thinking differently.  To operate from an open will and be optimistic in co-creating innovative, supportive, equitable, inclusive, and sustainable environments that embrace the dynamic forces of technology and innovation, in the face of violent hostility, and start thinking differently, despite the immense challenges that remain.

Find out more about our work at ImagineNation™

Find out about our collective, learning products and tools, including The Coach for Innovators, Leaders, and Teams Certified Program, presented by Janet Sernack, is a collaborative, intimate, and deeply personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 9-weeks, starts in February, 2024. It can be customised as a bespoke corporate learning program.

It is a blended and transformational change and learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of an ecosystem focus, human-centric approach, and emergent structure (Theory U) to innovation, and upskill people and teams and develop their future fitness, within your unique innovation context. Find out more about our products and tools.