James Brown sang “It’s a man’s world,” but as these 10 Israeli women show, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
NoCamels has sifted through the Startup Nation to bring you the top ten key female figures in Israel’s booming tech scene.
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And if you think we’ve missed other bright and bold female leaders, tell us in the comments below.
Dr. Kira Radinsky – Next-generation oracle
This 27-year-old has had the world watching her with wide eyes ever since she used her unique software to predict Cuba’s first Cholera outbreak in 130 years several months before it occurred. By using complex algorithms, this young prodigy developed software that is capable of predicting the future. At the young age of eight, while most children were still playing in the sandbox, Radinsky had already started coding, taken extra courses at a special Russian after-school in Israel, and earned a black belt in Karate. Radinsky then began studying at the Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology, at the age of 15, and had completed her PhD in data mining by the time she was 26, not without taking a break in the middle to serve as a software engineer in the army. Staying true to her passion of predictive analytics, Radinsky founded SalesPredict in 2012, a company which works to advise salespeople on how to identify and handle promising leads. Already, Radinsky’s keen foresight has earned her a spot on MIT’s list of Top 35 Innovators Under 35. With such a lengthy list of accomplishments at the mere age of 27, only time, or perhaps her software, will tell where Radinsky’s genius will lead her next.
Sivan Borowich Ya’ari – Bringing Israeli innovation to Africa
Sivan Borowich-Ya’ari has been branded the “Israeli sunshine girl” for a reason: in 2008, Borowich-Ya’ari founded Innovation:Africa, a non-profit organization bringing Israeli clean technologies in solar energy and water to regions in need throughout in Africa. Borowich-Ya’ari’s connection to Africa is deep-seated, her father and mother emigrated to Israel from the northern African countries of Algeria and Tunisia. So far, the organization has carried out 68 projects in Ethiopia, Uganda, Malawi and Tanzania, providing more than 450,000 people with electricity through sustainable energy sources, enough to power schools, orphanages, medical clinics and water pumping systems. For its efforts, the organization has obtained consultative status at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and received the UN Innovation Award. Not only has Borowich-Ya’ari taken on the task of helping communities in Africa obtain vital resources, this philanthropist operates under the declared mission of using Israeli innovation to change the world for the better.
Dr. Michal Tsur – The “Iron Lady” of Israeli innovation
Dr. Michal Tsur, nicknamed the “Iron Lady” of Israeli startups has already accomplished more than most people hope to achieve in a lifetime. With a successful startup exit under her belt, she is now the co-founder and president of a multi-million dollar company. But Tsur ended up in the startup world entirely by accident, after earning a doctoral degree in application of game-theory to law from NYU, and a post-doctoral fellowship from Yale. Her lack of coding knowledge didn’t stop her from co-founding Cyota, an online security firm (which sold for $145 million just a few years after its creation), only to move on to co-found another leading Israeli company, Kaltura, an open source video platform that collaborates with big names such as AT&T, Disney and ABC. But Tsur’s success doesn’t stop there: she is also an advisor and angel investor in several successful startups, and is a pro at juggling her family life with a fast-paced, intercontinental business routine. With all this under her belt, even Kira Radinsky might find it hard to predict what Tsur will bring to the table next.
Malvina Goldfeld – Breaking through cultural boundaries
Malvina Goldfeld is the definition of cosmopolitan: she was born in Moldova, grew up in Israel, studied in Canada, the US, Japan and Chile and has worked in Ukraine, Italy, the UAE and Vietnam. Being fluent in five languages (English, Hebrew, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese), Goldfeld has broken through cultural and business boundaries, holding a number of prestigious positions at large corporations worldwide, allowing her to foster her passion for learning new languages and reading literature. Since July 2013, (when she had not yet turned 30), Malvina has been the Head of Business Development for Africa at PayPal, working to connect sub-Saharan Africa to the global marketplace. Previously, Goldfeld worked as the Vice President at Battery Ventures, a global venture capital fund focusing on investments in e-commerce and internet applications and as a business analyst for McKinsey & Company in Israel and Eastern Europe. Goldfeld began to build her profuse resume as a camp counselor at Seeds of Peace, a summer program working to promote dialogue and build bridges between Israeli and Palestinian youth. In 2013, she was one of the speakers at TEDxTelAvivWomen, a conference of the leading women in Israeli innovation, and in her spare time (apparently she has some), she mentors young girls in the coastal city of Bat Yam.
Orit Hashay – Serial Entrepreneur
This serial entrepreneur is no stranger to the startup world, joining the industry over 10 years ago. Perhaps the very epitome of an entrepreneur, Hashay hasn’t rested a moment since she entered the market. Armed with 15 years of experience in software and business development for companies like Emblaze and Comverse, Hashay has a knack for providing tech-savvy solutions to women’s daily problems. So far, she’s founded mit4mit.com (a popular Israeli portal for wedding-planning), Ramkol.co.il (a business review site), Brayola (a personalized, crowdsourced form of online bra shopping) and Vetrinas (a virtual shopping site). And her success hasn’t gone unnoticed; in 2012 alone, she was included both in the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Israel list, compiled by “Globes” and the Top 100 Girls in European Tech by the international Girls in Tech Network.
Daphna Nissenbaum – Putting an end to plastic
Although she started out as a computer engineer, this Israeli mom couldn’t shake her passion for sustainability and the environment. After holding management positions in companies in Israel and the United States, Nissenbaum founded Tipa, a green tech startup, in 2010. The company’s aim is to fulfill the growing need for genuinely ecologically sensitive food and beverage packaging. This savvy businesswoman developed 100 percent biodegradable and compostable packaging that decomposes within 180 days and acts as a seamless alternative to regular plastic, cardboard or aluminum packaging. So far, Nissenbaum and Tipa’s efforts to contribute to the green revolution has been met with impressive international recognition. In 2012, Tipa won first prize at Israel’s Cleantech out of 50 promising companies, as well as the Anuga Foodtec prize, a leading food industry packaging conference in Germany. And just last month, Calcalist reported that Tipa is raising $10 million, led by Chinese billionaire Li Ka-Shing’s Horizon Ventures and joined by existing investors Aviv Ventures and GreenSoil.
Amit Knaani – Giving kids access to tech
Amit Knaani began her journey into the world of startup development at what some would call the top. She started off as the Senior Product Manager at WiX.com, the world’s leading platform for website development, and then quit her prestigious job to join BabyFirstTV, a TV network for toddlers, as Product Manager in 2010. Together with Yami Glick, this mother of two then created her own startup in 2012 called Vikido, a video messaging service designed to allow kids and parents to communicate via video messages using an interface with no reading prerequisites. At the same time, she worked as Head of Product for ooVoo, a free video chat and instant messaging application, which has won a number of awards from “PC Magazine” since its founding. Today, she is the Vice President of Product at another up-and-coming website creation site called duda, specializing in the creation of mobile websites for businesses free of charge.
Triinu Magi – Connecting with the spirit of Israeli innovation
While she originally hails from Estonia, Triinu Magi has successfully caught the Israeli innovation bug. An expert data and security analyst and software architect by trade, Magi recently co-founded Neura, a system which allows users to profile their connected environment and create logical connections between devices, people, locations and the web. Before Neura, Magi worked as the head of Israeli company RSA’s (a leading global software corporation) emerging technologies and fraud detection models. She has also previously worked as the data analyst and project manager at Estonia’s Ministry of Justice, being one of the youngest people to help build the country’s e-services and e-government infrastructure. Undoubtedly, the future looks bright for this new Israeli immigrant and leader of the revolution of The Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices.
Liat Aaronson – Teaching entrepreneurship for a brighter future
This lady’s got the passion for entrepreneurship in her bones. From educating the business leaders of the future, to getting budding startups on their feet, Liat Aaronson is working hard to make innovation and entrepreneurship indelible parts of Israeli culture. A lawyer by trade, Aaronson currently serves as the Director of the prestigious Zell Entrepreneurship Program at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, an exclusive program that teaches the promising business leaders of tomorrow everything they need to know to make their venture succeed. As part of her job, she travels all over the world to coach the program’s 252 alumni and current students as they develop and promote their ventures, including by introducing her young protégés to Warren Buffett. In 2009, Aaronson attended TEDIndia and decided to launch the viral conference series in Israel, becoming the co-organizer of two TEDx events, one in Tel Aviv and another focused on Israeli-Palestinian discourse called TEDxHolyland, in 2010. From 2009 to 2013, Aaronson was also the director of Startupseeds, a non-profit organization for technology innovation for high school students.
Ayelet Noff – The blonde queen of the social media scene
Ayelet Noff is convinced that not only do blondes have more fun, they are also masters of social media networks. At least that was the idea when she founded her new media public relations agency Blonde 2.0 in 2006 at a time when Facebook was still in diapers. But before she set off on her own, Noff was the Marketing Manager at one of the first and most successful Israeli instant messaging startups, ICQ, and was a contributing writer for major tech news portals like TechCrunch and The Next Web. Now, she and her team of 20 at Blonde 2.0 promote over forty Israeli companies to the likes of HP, Mobli and Viber on social media networks. Noff got the message early on that when it comes to social media, when a [smart] blonde says it, people listen.
Photo: Image of businesswoman breaking bricks with hand by Bigstock