Book Review: Start-Up Nation by Dan Senor and Saul Singer

Book Review: Start-Up Nation

by Dan Senor and Saul Singer


Start-up Nation.jpg


Published in 2009, the book outlines the hypothesized variables that contribute to the current "phenomena" of Israel's status as a Start-Up nation (in fact a leading Start-Up nation). Quickly dismissing the majority of Israel's population's Jewishness as a primary factor, the authors instead explore their hypothesized reasons: Mandatory Military Service and Immigration.

The authors argue that the 2+ years that young men and women take from their lives before university has a myriad of positive effects on them. 1) They get time to grow up and figure out what they want to do. So when they enter university they are more mature than their "peers." 2) The military gives them unique experience. The culture of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is one that fosters innovation, proactiveness, responsibility, and problem solving. Additionally, the IDF is comprised of units that provide unique skills and training that translate very well into business, technology, etc. e.g. the 8200 unit or Talpiyot unit that foster high technology, cyber, engineering, and problem solving skills. 3) Since everyone goes into the IDF, it becomes a badge of honor to serve with a good unit. In fact, it is a resume boost - akin to the "ivy league schools" of America. As such, teenagers in Israel prepare for their military service matriculation exams and interviews as other would for university. They know that the right military unit and experience can set them up for life. 

e5c7e336beaef002b5d08e54beeb475901bec44ac2f38d34664d5c4e679db8d8.jpgThen, the authors mention immigration. They indicate that with a constant flow of immigrants to the country, there is more talent available upon which to capitalize. Additionally, immigrants are by their very nature and decision to immigrate - innovators! They have sloughed off the bonds of their previous lives in order to do something new and are willing to gamble that it will be better. If that is not the soul of a start-up venture, then what is?                                             
For context and comparison, the authors look at some successful start-ups, other nations' efforts in start up. But, nothing comes close to what they see as the perfect social, psychological, and human combinations and convergence within Israel for start-up success.


Much like a Malcolm Gladwell book - this seems like a quasi-science book filled with anecdotes. It doesn't mean I don't buy into the authors' arguements, but rather that the way in which it was approached felt more like entertaining reading than proper research. I still recommend the book and add that the audio book was very easy to listen to, even at 1.5x speed.


Go to your local library for a copy or check out the library website for a digital copy. 
If you must purchase it, go second hand at stores like or before you hit up a major supplier. 


Stay safe and successful!


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