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Startups of Biblical Proportions. My Experience in #Jerusalem’s Startup Ecosystem

With the Rackspace Hosting Startup Program -Israel now being based in Jerusalem for the months of July and August, and literally being adopted by the Made in Jerusalem community, I am continued to be delighted by what I am discovering here.

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Isaac S Hassan was kind enough to extend an invite for me to hang my hat at PICO Jerusalem – as one of my new outposts for working with and engaging in the community.

Starting off my day with one of Ben Wiener‘s companies, Roadshows.coand two awesome team members, Cori Widen and Diane Be’ery working on some media strategies.

From there, Isaac and I drove about 20 miles south of Jerusalem to Gush Etzion, a cluster of communities in the Judaean Mountains and about 5 miles from Bethlehem.

You have to remember that everything is so close to each other. You drive through these hills, you are literally going through biblical history and while you see border fences and military outpost, you see Israeli and Palestinian license plates going through the roads. There’s a tunnel you go through to avoid the traffic of the villages surrounding the area and traffic moves fluidly.

With this backdrop, you come to building where Rachel Moore and Amy Gottlieb Shuter are working on a new hub, Hub Etzion that already has tenants, a growing community, and service providers. Jo Friedman is there, and doing great work in designing and building products.

I also had a chance to see Sam Michelson, who I love hanging out with atSXSW in Austin. Oh… he’s a happy camper Rackspace Hosting customer as well.

In addition to the hub itself, Rachael and Amy are helping with space to have a computer camp for kids during the summer.

We all had lunch at a fabulous winery and then returned to another wonderful workspace, סיפתח – SifTech which is housed inside JVP Media Quarter.

There was a meetup, featuring none other than Amir Shevat who shared his insights in product building, and (literally) his global view of the startup world through his lens in the work he does at Google.

It’s interesting to see workspaces and hubs like MESH – Modiin Entrepreneurs’ Startup Hub in Modi’in and SUBS in Bet Shemesh and now Hub Etzion that are no more than 30 minutes from Jerusalem, and dot landscape and the periphery of the Nation’s Capital.

These communities and workspaces are sort of like being in Fairfax, VA or Chevy Chase, MD, but with a slightly longer time line that go back to the cradle of civilization.

You still need to go into Washington, DC, go to the major events, but you can also do great things, find wonderful mentors, and connect in your own community.

Instead of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, or Abraham Lincoln, it’s more like Isaac, Jacob, Abraham, Sarah, Leah, Rachel… these great biblical figures that were of this land.

They too were coders.

They too were story tellers.

They too were big on word of mouth, community building, giving and sharing.

This is what I am seeing here.

This is Jerusalem and its surrounding region.

It’s ‪#‎BuiltToLast‬.

(T-shirts by Gapingvoid – commissioned by Robert D. La Gesse for Rackspace)

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