Entrepreneurship isn’t for the weak-hearted. Tech startup entrepreneurs face challenges over funding and convincing investors their ideas work. Israel, a country of just under eight million people, leads the world in high-tech startups. Only the United States and China have more companies on the NASDAQ than Israel has. Venture capitalist Uri Adoni cites the cultural trait of chutzpah as the main reason for Israel’s startup success. A Yiddish word, “chutzpah” means having the nerve to speak your mind and to believe in yourself despite obstacles. Adoni portrays startups that could have failed without a touch of chutzpah and explains how you can develop yours and use it to succeed.
Startup entrepreneurs need a healthy dose of chutzpah.
Many factors contribute to Israel’s leadership in high-tech entrepreneurship: A supportive government, an educated populace, compulsory military service and top educational institutions. Israelis have an abundance of chutzpah, a personality trait with positive and negative aspects, but a foundational quality of extraordinary organizations and entrepreneurs. However, Israelis haven’t cornered the market on chutzpah; you can develop and teach it.
For startup founders, chutzpah means ignoring conventional wisdom and long odds. For example, in 2015, Liran Tancman sold his cyber-security company, CyActive, to PayPal for between $60 million and $80 million. His revolutionary idea involved preventing cyberattacks from viruses that didn’t even exist yet. Tancman had the chutzpah to pursue his belief that computer viruses mimic biological viruses: as they spread, mutate and adapt, they maneuver around defensive barriers.
CyActive applied algorithms to forecast thousands of methods hackers might utilize to bypass security measures and to predict a malware...