Jiu-Jitsu, Salsa, and Startups: A One of a Kind Olim Story
Written by: Perry Fried
Meet Max Finder. Max is 30 years old; he is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; he studied mechanical engineering at McGill University in Montreal; and he made Aliyah to Israel 3 years ago. Max currently resides in Tel Aviv, Israel where he is living out his dream working on a couple of his own startups.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Max earlier this week to learn about his experiences making Aliyah and being an entrepreneur in Israel. His transient lifestyle made for an interesting story, and he shared with me some wisdom he has acquired from his startup experience, which I will elaborate on later. But first let’s explore Max’s Aliyah journey.
So how did Max end up in Israel? His Aliyah story is not your typical one. Max has always wanted to work in the environmental technology industry.
“I enjoy working in the field of world-saving technologies because there is massive opportunity in the industry and you can feel good at the same time; you know that your work is helping people around the world”
Shortly before moving to Israel, Max embarked on a trip to Israel with the FIDF (Friends of the IDF). He decided to extend his visit for a few weeks and look for job opportunities in Israel. He made up his mind that he would stay in Israel if he could find a desirable job that pertained to world-saving technology in the Holy Land. Max crashed on his friend’s couch for three weeks and spent his days biking around Tel Aviv taking as many meetings as possible with environmentally friendly startups. Max eventually found an attractive job with a wastewater treatment company, so he ate up his plane ticket back to the United States and continued sleeping on his friend’s couch until he could sublet an apartment. He applied for a work VISA and found himself an Israeli girlfriend, so it made sense for him to stay in Israel; he later decided to officially make Aliyah.
After a short tenure with the wastewater treatment company, Max was presented with an amazing opportunity at a company called Lishtot, where he helped design a consumer device that detects contaminants in drinking water. Max enjoyed working at Lishtot, but he left the company a few months ago to begin working on his own projects. He currently dedicates a majority of his time towards his venture, Direct Current Appliances Company. He is developing products such as hair clippers, rice cookers, refrigerators, etc. that run on direct current rather than alternating current. Few appliances in the world today operate using direct current, although most developing countries only use direct current electrical systems. Max is also working on a side project called Gedalyah Innovations. Gedalyah is a vehicle that extracts intellectual property from universities and spins it out to companies. According to Max…
“there is a ton of world-saving technology that exists in universities, but there is not a very strong path to bring out these technologies and expose them to the world.”
To conclude my interview with Max, I asked him what advice he would give to an aspiring entrepreneur, to which he replied…
“That’s a tough question. I feel a little awkward giving advice because I don’t feel like I have a big win under my belt yet.”
Rather than sharing advice, Max shared with me an inspirational analogy. He put entrepreneurship in a context of Jiu-Jitsu and Salsa dancing; two new hobbies of his that he is trying to get good at.
“These things [Jiu-Jitsu and Salsa] have nothing to do with startups, they’re just skills. But in Jiu-Jitsu, you learn by doing. What’s cool about Jiu-Jitsu compared to other martial arts is that you start sparring on your first day, and you get the shit kicked out of you. It feels like a huge failure, and you suck for a long time. It almost feels like you’re going to suck for the rest of your life, because you can always fail and learn how to improve.”
Max explained that the same applies to Salsa dancing.
“I suck! And I know that I suck. I learn some new moves, and then I try to dance, and you have to try, because you can learn all you want, but you learn more from trying than from anything else. You have to embrace the fact that as you’re failing, you’re learning”
Max shared with me that he still feels as if he sucks at Jiu-Jitsu and Salsa, but he knows that today’s version of him doing these activities would absolutely destroy day one version of him doing them.
“You don’t feel that kind of progress, and in startups it’s the same thing; you get hammered all the time from every different direction, and you suck. But if you can embrace that and learn from it, you can look back at where you started and realize that you are light years ahead of where you were.”
Thank you, Max, for sharing your advice and your Aliyah story, and best of luck moving forward with Direct Current Appliance Company and Gedalyah Innovation!
Check out some of Max’s posts here on medium!
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