We talked to Jennifer Elias & Jessica Rosner of Tech It Forward about connecting technologies, creating strategies and accelerating innovation and they had the following to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jessica Rosner: Thanks for asking! We are all good and safe. Hope you, and your family too!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Tech It Forward.
We are a duo of female entrepreneurs:
Jennifer Elias: Born and raised in France, I graduated with a Double Masters’ Degree in Strategic Management and Business Law at EMLyon Business School and the University of Rennes I, in France. After working at Ernst and Young Paris, I moved to Israel to start my startup journey. I worked as product marketing and marketing strategist in different high-tech startups before launching my own ventures, including the consulting agency Tech it Forward, startups Bubahub (coworking space for parents), Way to Stay (marketplace for online experiences).
In my free time, I work on new impactful startup ideas and teach piano.
Jessica Rosner: I am passionate about creating solutions for the advancement of innovative and technological businesses. Upon completing my MBA in Business with a concentration on Marketing and Strategy from Tel Aviv University, I worked for a leading international events company as a marketing strategist. After spending a few years working in the corporate arena, I decided to explore the startup world and join this exciting ecosystem in Tel Aviv. With time, it became clear that my true passion lies in implementing my creativity and problem-solving skills to companies of my own such as Bubahub, Talepix and finally Tech It Forward, where I promote and bring international pride to Israeli innovation…
I love spending time with my husband and two children in my free time, travelling and playing the piano.
How does Tech It Forward innovate?
Jennifer Elias: We boost innovation. Tech It Forward is an innovation bridge maker. Our mission is to uncover the power of Israeli startups and help them transform, accelerate and connect to global partners, investors and corporates. Thanks to our network of thousands of accelerators, investors and corporates worldwide, we match the best opportunities. This is how we create impact.
Israel, the Startup Nation, is the second-largest startup valley in the world after Silicon Valley. It’s also the country where you have the largest number of startups per capita. The culture here is very creative and focused on problem-solving. We are amazed at the new technologies and entrepreneurs we discover and meet every day.
Lately, we’ve been working on bridging the Israeli and US tech ecosystems. For the first time, we’ve brought to Israel the Startup World Cup, powered by Pegasus Tech Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based VC that invested in SpaceX, Airbnb, Bird and more. This startup competition aims to scout and find the top Israeli talents at the moment and give the best a chance to win $1M investment. We are very proud to bring such an opportunity to Israel and help startups get visibility and jump to the next level. (www.swc-israel.com).
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jessica Rosner: The 2020 year has been the most challenging one ever for us. Like for everybody, the COVID-19 pandemic was an unexpected event, we have never experienced such a crisis before, and we were not prepared for it.
But, being Israeli helps us to manage crises. This is in the culture. We do our best to see challenges as opportunities, think, potentially pivot and take thoughtful decisions as fast as possible.
Because of the virus, we had to cancel a year of scheduled tech events, competitions, conferences, and delegations that were supposed to come to Israel. #panicmode!
We reevaluated our strengths and opportunities and moved our work fully online; from consulting startups in their strategy to all physical events.
We had to be quick as this was something we had never done before, and we believed that human and in-person interactions were so essential. This is true, and we miss meeting people! But we’ve realized that the online switch made us reach a larger audience than before, accelerate things and therefore, increase global impact.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed our experiences-as customers, employees, citizens, humans-and our attitudes and behaviors are changing as a result. We hope the vaccine will change people’s health safety soon and that we will go back to physical events. However, we are not giving up on all the digital and hybrid opportunities to come.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jennifer Elias: Cancelling all our scheduled delegations and events was very hard for us. The lesson learned was that we are capable of moving fast and adapt to new sudden realities.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Jessica Rosner: Firstly, we are lucky to have the BEST team. We support and help each other, which is our main way to deal with stress and anxiety. Friendship, listening to each other, and encouragement is our base. Always, and especially during crisis times. Happiness is one of our most important KPIs and is instilled in our company culture.
We are pro meditation too, this is our extra healthy way to deal with the current situation, and we highly recommend it!
It is also important to always look at the big picture. This is a temporary period, and we keep that in mind. We are very hopeful for the future, and this experience is making us stronger.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jennifer Elias: It depends on the way we analyze the situation. For us, there are no competitors, only partners. We can’t be the best at everything, and it’s important to be open and find smart and continuous collaborations. With teams from other countries or people who have a skill, we don’t.
Our secret is hard work and commitment. We believe in what we are doing, we think, we pivot, and we are dynamic about the situations. Moreover, we are lucky to have in our board top mentors that help us think out of the box and make the difference. Mentorship is very important to us; it allows us to ask ourselves the right questions. We are grateful for this.
Your final thoughts?
Jessica Rosner: The past year has indeed brought many changes to how businesses and ecosystems have collaborated. We’ve seen startups, struggle, businesses collapse, and business partners take a step back to reevaluate. But with each challenge, comes an opportunity. We’ve learned that this is a time for being dynamic and efficient. Bridges can still be made; collaborations and partnerships can take place in a more flexible structure. We are excited about the collaborations we’ve obtained during this time and look forward to a new hybrid model of international ecosystem brought closer through digitization of processes.