A start-up summer

A start-up summer

Rutgers prof seeks students for course on Israeli entrepreneurship

If you are an undergraduate who is curious to visit Israel and study start-ups this summer, Gary Minkoff is looking for you.

Minkoff, who teaches entrepreneurship at Rutgers Business School’s Department of Management and Global Business in New Brunswick, is seeking 40 college students to spend June 7 to 17 in Israel, studying its reputation as a “start-up nation” and meeting entrepreneurs from many parts of the country. 

“This is a great opportunity for students to learn not only how to do business in another country, but to learn how the entrepreneurial and start-up ecosystems work in Israel,” he told NJJN. Students do not need to be business majors or enrolled at Rutgers University, and students of all faiths are encouraged to apply. 

Minkoff insists “this is not a trip. It is a 10-day course called ‘Doing Business in Israel.’”

Its intent, he said, is to “create mechanisms for students to understand the different perspectives of start-ups and innovation in general. They will get to meet people involved in start-ups and to learn about their motivations, their successes, and their failures.” 

The course will introduce the students to “a wide variety of Israeli entrepreneurs” — those who conceive ideas, those who fund them, those who launch and grow them, and those who are users of their products.

Although at this point their exact itinerary is unclear because, he said, “plans have not been confirmed yet,” Minkoff expects his class to visit “tons” of venues in all parts of the country during their time in Israel. “We are going to be on the go for all 10 days.”

He promised it will “not be just a business trip. We want to expose students to the culture.” Included will be a visit to Yad Vashem-The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, to the Western Wall, and to a private home for Shabbat dinner.

Still, “this is not a Jewish trip,” he said. “This is a business trip for students to get the full-blown experience of Israel. Every student is welcome.”

Minkoff does not expect participants to come strictly from Rutgers Business School. He believes students from other departments, such as its School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and its Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, could also benefit from the way such disciplines are handled by Israeli counterparts.

“Entrepreneurship and innovation are applicable in any setting — a startup, a corporation, non-profits, education, or public service,” he wrote in an email to NJJN. “People understand that resources are scarce and entrepreneurs are people who have the vision and creativity figure out how to use what’s available to them, and what others might not realize is available, to develop solutions to problems in ways others wouldn’t have imagined.” 

Those from other universities, regardless of their majors, who wish to take part are invited to apply to become students at Rutgers Summer Session. However, unlike full-time undergraduates at Rutgers, they will not be eligible for scholarships to cover the $2,200 fee for the study abroad program. The cost includes food, lodging, and ground transportation, but excludes airfare.

Before heading overseas, introductory classes on Israel’s social, economic, and political environment will be held May 29 and 31, and June 5 and 26.  

Minkoff said he made an exploratory trip to Israel last summer “to plant seeds and develop relationships which we are building on.”

He has high expectations for the students who take the course.

“Ideally some of them will be able to plant their own seeds and be able to make their own relationships in Israel. I hope they will be able make business connections this summer that will last for years to come.”

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