The student organization brought The Startup Nation Technology Fair to Baruch on Feb. 25 in partnership with outside organizations
Students at Baruch College are equipped to become impactful business leaders through extensive coursework in management, accounting and finance, offered by the Zicklin School of Business. Workshops are often offered to students by clubs, giving them the experience not teachable in classrooms. On occasional Thursdays and Fridays, students are lined up in suits and ties, ready to market themselves to big companies that come to internship fairs for recruitment. The TAMID chapter at Baruch works on campus to bring more casual opportunities for students to network.
TAMID, a nonprofit organization that develops undergraduates’ skills through interaction with the Israeli economy brought, in partnership with Israeli Ideas and Hasbara Fellowships, the opportunity to network with technology startups and learn about the Israeli community onto Baruch’s campus.
The Startup Nation Technology Fair held on Feb. 25 during club hours was the fifth tech fair held in partnership between Hasbara Fellowships and Israeli Ideas, as part of a traveling expo educating students about job opportunities and Israel. Given Baruch’s location and the New York City market, it was the largest turnout for any segment of the series. The series links burgeoning entrepreneurs with tech startups in some way connected to Israel—whether it be through business ties, where it was initially founded or by the nationality of its founders.
Mark Cohen, founder of Israeli Ideas, shared his purpose for holding such an event. “We are all content consumers, and we get our content from certain services.” By addressing stereotypical views of Israel and Israeli people held by some Americans, the event aimed to give “an exposure to a side of Israel that most people are not aware of,” said Cohen.
While Cohen advises that working for small businesses are not for everybody, he said that the goal of the event was “to enable the students to see behind the headlines and see the benefit with opportunities to learn and get real jobs.”
Israeli Ideas is an organization that networks with companies, showcasing Israeli innovation in order to bring goodwill to the country. Since the organization does not affiliate with colleges often, Cohen partnered with Hasbara Fellowships to reach out to student leaders who were believed to be enthusiastic about the project. “TAMID was just that,” said Cohen.
Benjamin Zeitz, president of TAMID’S Baruch chapter, opened the event with his judgment on the growing industry of tech startups.
“It connects students to a vibrant startup scene, both here in New York and abroad. Too often as students, we are told our only choices are to join a huge corporation or start a company of our own,” said Zeitz.
The STARR Career Development Center holds multiple yearly job fairs, offering students the opportunity to meet with employers from companies like J.P. Morgan Chase and Aflac. Given the success of those companies, students are compelled to participate in such events. For Zeitz and the TAMID organization, the tech fair gave students an opportunity to explore a different take on being part of a business. Employees in startup companies are challenged to play multiple roles in the entity’s production, exposing them to many aspects of working in the business world.
While large corporations offer employees a learning experience in a specific field, startup companies require more versatility because the job is more of a lifestyle, being that an employee is more inclined to know everything about anything in the organization, as Danny Weissburg, CEO of Voiceitt, suggested in the panel discussion at the tech event.
With Voiceitt, Weissburg created software that recognizes an unintelligible voice and translates it into an understandable message. His grandmother, who lost her ability to speak after a stroke, inspired him to give people their voice back through technology.
A panel of four CEO’s from tech startups shared their working experience and offered advise, giving students insight on the differences between small businesses and big businesses, in addition to bringing light to the perception of the Israeli community.
Yael Vizel, CEO and co-founder of Zeekit, an application that allows users to see themselves in outfits viewed online, shared her account on how she founded her tech startup. By applying her background in engineering, she applied the concept of topography to putting clothes on the human body. “The dream of Clueless 20 years ago of seeing yourself in outfits has come to life,” said Vizel.
Encouraging students to share their resumes, Vizel spoke on the importance of employees without tech backgrounds. “On top of the technology are the product people.”
Product people are expected to understand real-world problems and the capabilities of the product to enhance the product’s functions. She attributes innovative thinking to being able to challenge a concept and think differently.
Innovative Africa, one of the 21 tech startups at the event, aims to reduce poverty and drive economic development by disseminating information and knowledge on innovation. Morag Neill, the Africa Programs associate, highlighted the relationship between Israel and Africa. “Technology in Israel helped the land so much, there is an opportunity to take that and make a huge impact in Africa.”
Since Israel is not known for trade, they have a tremendous startup workforce, earning recognition as the innovation nation. Neill says that being part of a startup company “allows you to experience all aspects of business operations.” By being able to see the entire system and have access to programming and fundraising, she was able to apply herself to different fields in the business.
After panelists finished their discussion, the startup companies showcased their ideas and inventions to students who crowded around stations for the second portion of the event. 11 companies were actively recruiting for their companies, including three of the panelists’ companies.
Startup companies force employees to “constantly be challenged, think out of the box and be part of a small team,” said Cohen. In a big corporation, Cohen says employees are “assigned a specific role,” which is not necessarily bad but is a position where “you can get shoehorned.”