Innovation in the Start-Up Nation

Reflection shared by Shiang-Wan Chin ’19

This past winter break of 2018 I attended the TAVtech Fellowship in Tel Aviv, Israel. The TAVtech Fellowship is a selective, four-week educational program based in Tel Aviv. Through an intensive curriculum and wealth of cultural and professional experiences, Fellows are able to broaden their understanding of technology development in a global setting. Fellows have the opportunity to meet with Israel’s top entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and successful business leaders to gain perspective from some of the Start-Up Nation’s most talented individuals.

Upon the return from Israel, I am committed to sharing my experience and what I learned. Through this exchange of promoting cross-cultural collaboration through technology, I learned three concepts during my time in the Start-Up Nation:

1. Hutzpah – This is a concept that permeates throughout the nation. Israelis are very direct, and they have no shame in getting any task done. For example, while waiting in line to pay for my groceries, I was cut in line by a mother and her infant daughter. She casually tipped over the baby’s stroller to get in front of me to pay!

2. Nationalism – Since all Israelis are required to serve in the military (3 years for males and 2 years for females), everyone has a strong sense of pride for their country. In addition, military ranking is more highly regarded than traditional college degrees.

3. Highly Technical – People in Israel are specialized in two complex technologies, blockchain, and cybersecurity. As such, they don’t have great customer service skills or brands and if they do, it’s not highly publicized. For example, did you know Waze is an Israeli founded company?

This experience allowed me to build on my classes at Cornell to pursue my aspirations in entrepreneurship. This experience came full circle this past month during the Cornell Digital Agriculture Hackathon sponsored by Microsoft, Cargill, and many more, where my team and I won first place for social impact! I fused my background at Deloitte, undergraduate agriculture economics degree from UC Davis, technical skills learned in Tel Aviv, and systems engineering to create farmVal. My team and I are taking a unique approach to agricultural credit evaluation. We leverage big data and our machine learning model to consider indicators such as agronomic performance, experience, growth potential, and sustainability to create a credit profile for farmers.


At the 2019 Entrepreneurship at Cornell Celebration, Shiang-Wan Chin ’19 and his farmVal team won first place in the Cornell Big Idea Competition

This experience studying abroad to learn practical skills to complement what I am learning here in the classroom and it would not have been possible without the generous support of the Smith Family Business Initiative at Cornell University.

Shiang-Wan Chin ’19 was the recipient of a $500 SFBI grant that helped make the trip to Isreal possible. As of April, Shiang shares that he has talked to his family about joining their family’s business, Happy Lemon

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