As a participant of Onward Israel, I had the incredible opportunity to intern in Tel Aviv and gain valuable experience over my two month stay. I learned so much about the culture, current events, and the Israeli venture capital industry. After spending just two months in the industry, I recognize the importance of venture capital for spurring innovation, especially in Israel.
My ties to Israel run deep as my grandfather grew up in Haifa and much of my family still lives there. My grandfather Ygal introduced me to the Israeli entrepreneurial attitude. After finishing his military service, he moved to the US and started his own business designing commercial kitchens. He brought his Israeli mindset with him, emphasizing hard work, ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and determination. After hearing many of Ygal’s stories about growing and selling his business, I began to explore the entrepreneurial process.
Coming from an entrepreneurial family inspired me to take on my own small venture in high school: power washing. I had some experience washing my house and figured I could commercialize my skills. I met with a mentor, researched my competition, built a website, and created a business plan. I pitched the business to family and friends to raise money for equipment and had my first job later that week. After paying back my investors I had a growing, profitable power washing business. By the end of the summer, I upgraded my equipment, revamped my marketing strategy, and had dozens of satisfied clients who I continued to work for over the next few summers. The process taught me the value of differentiation, client relationships, time management, and personal responsibility. The experience heightened my interest in venture capital where I could work with entrepreneurs on the investor side.
As I finished my sophomore year at the University of Pennsylvania, I was looking for a summer internship. Around the same time, ChatGPT was released and I knew that generativeAI would revolutionize countless industries. I searched for internships that would allow me to explore generative AI. The Israeli landscape was very appealing because of my personal connection to the land and Israel’s reputation as a breeding ground for startups. Israel’s track record of producing innovative tech startups like Waze, Fiverr, Lightricks, and more, made Israel a natural choice for emerging generative AI startups.
One firm that stood out during this search was Remagine Ventures. Given the team’s background in media and entertainment, Remagine was focused from inception on the use of AI to create, distribute and monetise content, and have recognized the generative AI disruption early on: they began investing in generative AI in 2018. Remagine continued to invest in AI (represented in about half of their portfolio companies) and established itself as the prominent VC investing in Israeli genAI. My internship with Remagine Ventures taught me incredible lessons about venture capital, maintaining relationships/reputation, AI, and more. I learned that ultimately, greatventure capital firms have a powerful reputation which leads to differentiated deal flow.
Throughout my time at Remagine, the importance of maintaining a good relationship with founders became clear. When I arrived at the office in the mornings, I was almost always greeted by a portfolio company’s founder who was using one of the Remagine offices to work. Whenever a portfolio company needed office space, Remagine jumped at the opportunity to become closer with the team. Moreover, since many of Remagine’s investors come from the entertainment, media, tech, and gaming industries, Remagine often connected founders with companies as potential clients and for market feedback. While participating in pitches, I noticed how often we would offer to connect the founders with experienced executives in their industry, even when we expected to pass on the investment. This taught me that Remagine genuinely wants to see entrepreneurs succeed and that creating a good relationship with founders is always beneficial to the firm. This inspired me to apply this mindset in my own life and always try to help others, even when I will not directly benefit.
Another differentiator I learned about the firm was the specialization and experience of each member of Remagine Ventures. The two founding partners, Kevin and Eze, have experience starting their own high tech startups, working for media/entertainment companies, leading media/search investment offices, and starting an Israeli startup blog. Kevin and Eze are incredibly knowledgeable in the AI, media, and entertainment space. I recall several occasions when founders were impressed by Kevin and Eze’s in-depth technical questions revealing their knowledge in the space. Founders felt more comfortable during pitches when they learned they were meeting with experts in media/entertainment/tech, not just investors.
Surrounded by these tech professionals, I found myself picking up on a lot of terms, key metrics, and trends in the AI space. When I began the internship I was immediately immersed into the world of generative AI as I conducted a competitive analysis on a generative AI startup.This process taught me how to spot competitive moats, weaknesses between competitors, and evaluate potential investments. Moreover, I was able to contribute to the Israeli generative AI landscape. Learning about the emerging genAI startups in Israel further revealed Israel’s prominence in the space. The process also allowed me to learn more about different approaches to building generative AI products. The internship was overall incredibly useful for my ongoing project of drafting an investment thesis for generative AI. While I am no expert in the space, I felt confident in creating a thesis broken down by different technological approaches to creating generative AI applications.
I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and experience. I learned so much aboutIsraeli venture capital and generative AI. I am excited to return to campus with these lessons about venture capital and beyond. My appreciation for the country has grown as I now recognize, more than ever, the high quality startups emerging from Israel. I am inspired by the Israeli entrepreneurial spirit and look forward to applying this mindset in my future.