One of MIT Enterprise Forum’s proudest achievements is TRI / O Tech - a high-tech entrepreneurship center that includes an entrepreneurial school and LaunchPad - in Kafr Quasim. TRI / O Tech is a joint venture between Tsofen and the MIT Enterprise Forum, facilitated by the support of the US Department of State (MEPI - Middle East Partnership Initiative). The project aim was to create a vibrant Arab-Israeli entrepreneurial community of hundreds, including women, in Israel’s Triangle Region. By developing tech business ecosystem in the Triangle-area city of Kafr Quasim, TRI / O Tech was set to expand the opportunities for young Arabs to enter a world in which they are currently disadvantaged – resulting in more young people choosing to make the leap into entrepreneurship.
The MIT Enterprise Forum in collaboration with Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), the organization responsible for the annual Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), ran three 40-hour technology entrepreneurship courses called the Technology Entrepreneurship School (TES) at Kafr Quasim. The courses provided Arab entrepreneurs with the required know-how, using mentors (experienced managers and investors) and professionals (for special skills) to guide them. TES provided students with an understanding of the tech environment and the tools which will assist them in their entrepreneurial practice.
For three months, students, most of whom were full time engineers in demanding jobs, drove up to 3 ½ hours to get to TRI/O Tech from the north to Rahat in the South.
TES trained entrepreneurs of three cohorts of 15-20 participants each during the project’s lifetime, and provided its graduates with a toolbox for their future ventures. Topics covered in the courses include business presentation and professional writing, intercultural education, IP and relevant legal matters, financial literacy, assessing business models, negotiation skills, leadership and supervision approaches, prototyping and the lean start-up, go to market strategies, success factors, various sources of funding, and the business planning process as a whole.
25% of the first cohort students expressed an interest in joining the Accelerator which TRI/O Tech had ready for them, however the maturity of the startups was insufficient, except for one case in the first cohort, and a couple more in the cohorts to come.
Tsofen could not locate startups with appropriate potential for the Accelerator, and hence TRI/O Tech focused on consulting to and assisting the few successful ventures, which indeed matured nicely.