OurCrowd Founder and CEO Jon Medved first came to Israel with the romantic objective of taking part in building the Jewish State, and over the past 36 years, he has helped build a large portion of Israel’s overseas investments, facilitating an increase in demand for Israeli technology.
Breaking Israel News sat down with Jon Medved in an exclusive interview about his motivations for pioneering Israel’s start-up scene as well as the results of his doing so.
“Being a Jew and an Israeli is the whole motivation for what I do,” told Breaking Israel News. “I came to Israel not because I wanted to make money. I came to Israel because I wanted to build the Jewish state and be part of the historical romance and drama that has been Jewish history.”
Yet even with self-proclaimed romantic objectives, Medved has successfully grown in Israel what Forbes deemed as “one of the largest crowdfunding organizations on the planet” in 2013. While OurCrowd is indeed the leading global equity crowdfunding platform for investors and angel investors, the company also touts the Global Investor Summit, the largest conference of its kind in the Middle East. The 2018 summit on February 1st will host over 10,000 people from 90 countries.
Medved started building companies in Israel years before the Jewish State was called the “start-up nation.” Before founding OurCrowd and co-founding the successful Israeli startup Vringo, a leading organization in innovation, development, and monetization of mobile technologies and intellectual properties, Medved became involved with his father’s fiber optic communications start-up, MRET in Santa Monica back in 1982.
“For the last 36 years, I have been involved in technology and have grown with the start-up nation,” Medved told Breaking Israel News. “I never lost the sight of what I am doing here–I am raising a family and grandchildren, and employing 140 people, with OurCrowd’s 145 companies employing thousands of people,” he said.
“It is a blessing and it is great to make money and be an investor, but it is really cool to be a pioneer, and that is what I like more.”
As Medved pioneers on, so too does OurCrowd, which has raised more than $650 million for 145 portfolio companies as well as 12 funds this past year. The wider Israeli economy saw $5 billion in investments in 2017 (up from $2 billion invested in 2013), with most growth coming from overseas investors.
According to Medved, overseas investors deeply care about Israeli technology and care very little about the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement against Israel. That is, if they know about it at all.
“I don’t think that the world cares about BDS,” Medved told Breaking Israel News. “I think we are legitimately somewhat paranoid about BDS, because when you talk about boycotts, we get our antennas up and we are nervous as we should be, but the world loves Israel,” he continued.
Israel’s technology is apparently much more of an interest of investors than anti-Israel movements like BDS.
“This notion that somehow they are against us is just not true, especially if you are talking about technology,” said Medved. “They want to partner with us, they are not boycotting, they are buycotting. They want to get involved with us whether it is China or Japan, or Korea, or Spain or Argentina.”
Medved also shared with Breaking Israel News details about his experience talking about BDS while sitting next to the largest hedge fund manager in the world and a member of Israeli parliament. According to Medved, the Israeli member of Knesset asked the hedge fund manager what he thought of BDS and whether it affects him, and the hedge fund manager hadn’t even heard about the movement.
“We are in our own bubble where we think the whole world is talking about this, but they don’t really care. They want our technology,” Medved stressed.
Based on the trajectories of Israel and OurCrowd in foreign investment over the past five years and the thousands of foreign attendees who will attend OurCrowd’s conference in February, Medved’s assessments seem right on target.