Israel : Day 3 & 4

Day 3, 10th Jan’15 : North Israel.

We had the typical Israeli breakfast of cheese, bread and omelette around 8 AM. At 9 AM, we met our tour guide, Jacob. He came to Israel from Poland in 1957, he told us about the plan of covering north of Israel. He told us lots of biblical stories over the day. He had a unique way of telling a story, he use to ask us questions and answers. For instance, capital of Israel (FYI -its Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv); story of David vs Goliath and other questions on Christianity.

Our first stop was the Basilica of Annunciation, Nazareth. This church is a build on the cave where Angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her that she will give birth to king of all men, Jesus. Church is one of the largest in the Middle East and had cave replica made inside the church. Around the peripheral of the church, there were paintings from all over the world depicting Jesus and Mary (it showed how different part of world believes Jesus and Mary). On the gate of the church, there were carvings that depicted stories from new and old testament. There was a mosaic work art on the first floor of the church. It was beautiful painting depicting Mary as queen in the background, Jesus and Peter where Jesus is shown taller than Peter.  It was a wonderful experience. I learn a lot of things about Christianity. Before I walk into the church, my knowledge about Christianity was zero but when I walk out of the church, I got to know a lot about now. Most of the stories were told by Jacob.

Our second stop was the Greek orthodox church of Annunciation, it is the only existing church of the crusader era. Jacob told us the story of how it was save during the crusader war when one of the christian dressed up as the crusader who were going to destroy it that he has been order to look after the church. This way, he was able to save the church. It is a tiny church where you have to go down the stairs to go the cave like place. There was small steam flowing below the cave, it was consider as holy water.

Our third stop was the church of heptapegon, venerated a large rock which jesus is said to have laid the bread and fish before he fed 5000 people. It has been destroyed several times and has been restored several times too. It had a huge palm trees at the entrance and mosaic work on the floor of the church, there was a peacock drawn that indicates eternity in Christianity. It was a small church with lot of mosaic work on the ground from AD era. Then we drove to our next stop with a view of sea of Galilee as our background.

Our fourth stop was Capharnuam, the town of Jesus. Here Jesus perform most of his miracles. This is the next to the sea of Galilee  where Jesus walk on the water. It is actually a lake but in old times, if people can’t see the end of a lake they will call it a sea hence it got its name. We also saw Peter’s caved where Jesus stayed. Above jesus cave, a church was mde with a transparent shape where you can go inside and see the cave from the top. There were lot of artifacts found by the archaeologist in the extraction of the area that were kept outside for the display. There was a huge bronze statue of Peter. The view of sea of Galilee was beautiful with light blue color water reflecting different shades of light.

Our fifth stop was kibbutz where we has our lunch. It was a huge place that can accommodate 1000 people at a time. It was also on the bank of sea of Galilee. Every one order fresh fish as per the description ‘it was one of the best fish they ever had’. I ordered pasta, sometimes being a vegetarian sucks. Anyways, it was one of the most heaviest and tasty lunch of our trip, none of us could finish it. Jacob said that hobbies of Israelis is eating, now I understood that he was right.

After our heavy lunch, he drove us to Golan heights and told about the 6 day war where Israel capture this area from Syria, he showed us the Jordan border that had electric fencing along the road side.

Than we went to Jordan river where Baptism takes place. Jesus was baptized in Jordan but since many people can’t go to Jordan, they commercialized this place for Baptism. Honestly, I felt this place was one of those place where you make money on the name of religion as they were charging heavily for baptism in the holy water of Jordan. I just felt that the entire establishment was expensive and commercializing on the name of Baptism.

We reached our hotel in the evening and everyone when to their room as slept till 8 pm when we were suppose to meet Alex, our student guide.

Alex took us to a bar where there was a band playing live music, we ate pizza and drank Israeli beer. We talk mostly about our experience of that day. We reach our hotel around 10 pm, we watched live Raven’s match and around 12.30 AM, we went to sleep.

DAY 4: 11th Jan ’15 : Yokneam

We got ready by around 8 am, had our typical Israeli breakfast. At 8.45 AM, we left for Yokneam where we had to meet representative from Alon Medtech. We reached Alon Medtech where we introduced to the team. Professor Aronhime and his wide was also present there. Judith, CEO of Alon Medtech started the presentation. She talk about the incubator of Alon Medtech which is 8 year old private medical device and technology incubator that handles logistic, administration, marketing, future strategy, market connections, strategic consulting, business development of the companies in its portfolio. Its founder and chairman is Dr Shimon Eckhouse who is a leader in medical technology companies with companies such as Syneron (NASDAQ listed, $150M company), Lumenis (NASDAQ), Given Imaging etc under his portfolio. Then she talk about their Incubator model in Israel that is very successful. Israel has the world third largest no of start up per capita. Here, Office of Chief Scientist (OCS) provides 85% of the funding in a non recourse loan that is return from the future earning.  For instance, Alon Medtech has $800K of funding per medical device company in which 85% is provided by government. The model believes in converting a research into a successful model and its main principle is leveraging government money for early stage venture capital investment . Also Alon Medtech receives up to 50% of equity in the start up.

Than she talk about OCS Return of Investment model, mechanism to return money. After incubator period (2 years) is over, companies either goes for an IPO/ or stay private/ or M&A with foreign entity. The loan has to be return to the government in one payment with varying interest rate. For instance, if government gave you loan of say $3 Million and you are able to sold to the company for say $100 Million than the government will take more share (may be up to 6 times, it all depends on the contract sign). If in case, the venture fails than government bares the loss. To avoid the loss, incubator policy was converted from non profit organization to private.

A typical Incubator cycle varies as below

Stage 1 – Funding/ or seed stage (85% government + 15% Alon Medtech)

Stage 2 – After 24 months, end of Incubator period.

Stage 3 – After 36 months, Reality check where it invests with lead 3rd party

Stage 4 – After 60 months, lucrative exists (M&A or exit)

Note: Cycle can vary according to the project.

Alon Medtech has a very strict criteria and selects only 10% of the idea submitted to it. This how they typically manage a company –

Stage 1 – Selecting right companies. Over 200 applicants per year. They select on the basis of Technology innovation entrepreneur track record, legal and finance in medical device sector. Next, they have a internal investment committee that examines the worthiness of the project. Committee includes leading professionals and experts (including Doctors).

Stage  2 – Providing added value to the start up. Here they provide coaching, legal service, admin backing, strategic consulting, business development, financial banking, market exposure, connection to relevant players.

Stage 3 – Opening to the Market either IPO/ or M&A with foreign/ or sold to 3rd party.

Than the next presentation was given by Idan Geva, CEO of butterfly devices, one of the start up firm. They have made a min invasive solution for BPH (Benign Prostrate). Market size of BPH is $4 Billion (50% men suffer up to age f 50 & >70% at age of 70. Existing solution exists but has down side. The device fits into prostate, made up of Nitinol (no calcification), and delivered via a flexible cystoscope (hence office based). It has no side effect i.e no migration, min irritation, no bleeding as no incisions, in office based therapy (biggest advantage). Its trial begins by Q3 of 2015. Than he talk about the advantage and disadvantage of existing treatment such as TURP, Laser, Stents and Uro Lift.

Then the third presentation was by Eva Visual CEO, Vardict Eckhouse. They make 3D scanner for aesthetic planning.

Problem – No plan, simulate and document for aesthetic tratement

Product – 3 D scanner for face, body and organs

Clients – Dermatologist, plastic surgeon and practitioners.

The basic idea is that they don’t want patient to come back to come and say you didn’t do anything. Hence the scanner creates your actual before and after 3D image where customer can see his result after the operation. The device is in beta stage and they showed us a demo by composing a 3D scan of a hand. It gives high resolution image, decide is portable and software is easy to use. They use real time image processing, advance computer vision technology, and special algorithm. Their device has been patented.  They also talk about the existing products in the market by Visia, Vectra and Miravex and their benefits and drawbacks, how their product is different.

After the presentation, they took us to a nearby Italian restaurant pastio. I ate soup and pesto pasta. Here professor Aronhime told the success hisstory of incubator model in Israel. In brief, high tech culture & entrepreneurship culture in Israel was brought by Russians Engineers and scientist who Immigrated to Israel after USSR fall in 1989. Hence there was a boom in high tech culture in 1990’s. Also he ask me lot of questions on India as his daughter stayed in Hyderabad, India for 4 months for medical internship so he had lots of questions. I gave him lot of inside on the history and culture of India.

After lunch, we went to Syneron where we were given presentation on the history and description of the different medical devices creates by them. After presentation, we went to their research where we got live demo of Ultra shape (device to burn fat/or cells, Google more). Then their research head showed us their testing lab and how they test their new products base on specification, he showed us skin membrane cell using microscopic image on the computer and how does the device work Than we saw the 3D image processing head who show the image scanning basics and how it works using an example. Our session ended at 5pm.

Than we went to eat Falafal. We met our student guide, Gill, 3rd year Civil engineering, born and bought up in South Africa. He told us stories about growig up in SA, his combat soldier experience (3 year military service), his recent Australia trip. Falafal was amazing, I had for the first time and they were delicious. Than we went to Sushi restaurant as Sam didn’t ate falafal (she miss out something amazing) as she is allergic to bread. We spent time their and than everyone wanted to drink so Gill took us to a North Hiafa view pub, I drank expresso as I didn’t wanted to drink, everyone had Israeli beer, the view was the light of North Haifa, it was spectacular. We chit chatted about different topics, varying from religion and their relationship stories. Gill saw ganesha visarjan in australia so he ask me about it, I explain him the importance of festival. We call the night at 10 PM and reached our hotel at 10.30. I am writing my blog from past 1 hour, its 12.30 pm, time to sleep tomorrow as lot of work to do. Me and Raymond will be working on Eva visual, will spend time with them, understand their model in deep and make a business plan in the end for entering in US market.


Israel day 1 and 2


We boarded the bus at 5 and reached washington Dulles airport at around 7.30 pm. It took us lot of time due too much traffic but it was good as I got to know my team better. While in the bus, everyone talk about their hometown & how it was to grew up in particular area. For instance, Abby is born and raise in NY, raymond born in guam and his father was in naval so he stayed in many countries, & now his family is settle in Maryland, Sam grew up in Pittsburgh and every summer his family goes to their Lake house in South Carolina for family bonding, Katheline is born and raise in NY but now his family is settle in Florida, she told us about her recent trip to florida. This talk gave me a cultural sight of each team member.

Our flight was delayed by 20 mins but surprisingly, we reached Frankfurt 40 mins early. At Frankfurt, we had a layover for 6 hours. Sadly, I had to stay at the airport due to Visa issue but my teammates went to Frankfurt, I saw the pictures, it was amazing. Most amazing part of the Frankfurt airport were its bed, yes, you heard it right. They had sleeping beds lined up in series. After 8 hours of sitting in a flight with your body continuously changing the position, nothing can beat the joy of stretching your leg and sleeping for 3 hours. Felt really good. At the airport, I met a Canadian girl who was also traveling with us to Israel, she had a brain tumor since an age of 15 due to which her right hand was paralyzed. Listening to her story, made me realize that how minute my problems were in front of her’s. Her life journey inspired me.

Before boarding the flight, I went through one of the toughest security check, they literally were frisking everyone. I boarded the plan at 6 PM and reached Tel Aviv at 11 pm. It was a comfortable journey unlike the previous one, Lufthansa airline food was good especially the desert. We landed at Tel Aviv, the lady at the airport ask the purpose of my visit along with few supporting documents. Tel Aviv airport was  very modern and had lots of modern architectural design along with important historical pictures. You see those pictures everywhere that depicts Israel is very proud of its history and wants everyone who is entering the country to know about it.

Once I step out of the airport, we were receive by our cab who drove us to Haifa, It took us an hour to reach there but the roads were smooth with instructions in regular interval in English & Hebrew. The weather was similar to Baltimore. We reach our Hotel Marom at 1 pm, it was freezing outside as well as inside the room. We turn on the heater, I couldn’t sleep due to jet lag and woke up early.


DAY 2 – “ShabhatShalom”. Haifa

I woke up at 7.30 am and got ready to eat breakfast. Here people, people believe in the philosophy of eating breakfast like a King. Typical Israel B’fast comprises of eggs, cheese and different variety of breads. Raymond and me befriended the waiter who told that jam were home made and told us to try them & they were delicious. He also made Omelette for us when we told him that we like eggs. We learn Hebrew word for Thank You from him, it’s call – “thoddhaa”. It was a good experience talking to him.

We went to our room and slept like a pig, crazy jet lag, woke up around 12.30 PM for lunch. We both didn’t want to woke up but we didn’t want the team to wait for us so we quickly got ready. We went to the near by Burger place, I observe that when we enter at 12.45 PM, the place of completely empty. Waitress were really sweet to us, initially they brought a menu in Hebrew but later gave us an English version. Best thing about Israel that most of people speak English, luckily we didn’t had to use hand gesture anywhere. We order burger, veg burger sucks but non veg burger was good as per my team. I observe that by the time we were leaving the place, it got full that indicates that Israelis prefer to eat their lunch late, around 1.30 PM.

At 2PM, we met our student guide, ALEX, who is an architecture in Technion university. Funny. intellectual and friendly, are the words that comes to my mind when I think about him. He took us to Carmel center Metro station that has subway at 45 degree inclination. He told us about the uniqueness of the subway that had only 6 stop. Haifa is a topological place on a hilly region, it took lot of effort to build that metro (engineering marvel, I would say as building a train rail at 45 degree inclination is a tough task). As he was telling us the story, a person came and told him in hebrew that its closing  time. Alex told us about jewish tradition of ‘shabath’ where everything closes early on friday evening till saturday hence in Israel weekend is on Friday and Saturday. Than he took us to the highest point of Haifa with a view of Mediterranean sea. It was one of the most blissful view, I have ever seen. Different shades of blue water,sun reflecting his rays. He also told us about the British blunder of making a port that blocks water front line. Than he pointed towards different part of Hiafa such as german colony, ministry area and showed us that beyond which mountain lies which country, whether it was Syria or Lebanon. This made us realize how closely Israel share its border with its neighbor. In terms of demography, Israel is same size as of New Jersey.

While we were walking towards Bahai Garder, he showed us many war memorials & told us story about different wars such as 71, Lebanese war 1 and 2. Also gave us lot of cultural introspect, told us about their land schemes, compulsory military training, different architectural style and history of Israel.

We reached Bahai garden, we couldn’t go inside as it was close due to rain & slippery stairs. He told us stories of the Bahai religion, it’s founder bob *that means gate* and his son who spread his religion after his death. The garden is one of the most beautiful maintain garden in the world, it was a spectacular view. We got to knew different ideas and views of the bohemian religion.

Than we went to Caramel church, Mercedes told us Biblical significance of each symbol on the gate of the church. It was 5.30 PM and it was getting dark outside plus it was really cold outside so we decided to go to a drink coffee but instead we ended up in bar where we tasted wine from Gholam Height region in Israel. Significance of this area is that it has high bauxite and volcanic soil, as Alex joked “we are drinking gun powder” & I would say it was one of the most tasty gun powder drink, I ever drank.

After enjoying our drink where we got to know Alex better through his personal stories. He told us about how he propose his wife near a freezing lake in chicago, different countries he travel, his views & travel experiences. He told us an interesting fact that Israelis love hiking & most of them after their military duty take an year off for hiking, he went to Chile for hiking after his training. We really bonded with him over a drink.

Than at 7, we left for dinner at asian fusion restaurant ‘Giraffe’ where we met Head of Technion International Affair, Arial, he was an amazing person and an avid traveler. He said he has travel almost all the continent in the world and more than 51 countries. On monday, he is travelling to china, he told us a lot of insight of Chinese culture, his INSEAD experiences, hiking experiences in Nepal, India, Latin America. In Dinner, sushi and noodles were amazing. We had a great time there. At 9.00 pm, we left for our hotel.

After we reach our hotel, we played “card against humanity”, this game help me to know the funny and quirky side of my teammates. It was fun. Now it’s 12.45 AM, time to go to bed.

Ghost fan

Its freezing. I cant feel my toes. I am riding on my to airport. Huge traffic. Snow around. I an reading high fidelity and listening to music. I always thought guys couldn’t do multi tasking but I guess I am wrong. It isn’t the first time, I have been prove wrong. I thought ghosts exist. Don’t they? I would tell my mom and she would reply don’t worry nothing will happen. Ghosts take away bad kids. Phewww. I was relieved. Hey but yesterday, I called one of my school friend asshole. O’ know now ghost will capture me. I think ghost will understand if I tell him the story of that asshole. But can ghost listen ? O guess not or may be. I will find answers soon and suspense will be over.
How does ghost look like? Big sharp teeth and invisible. But if he is invisible, how can I see him. Can I take his autograph, what if he says no to sign in my fanbook. How would I convince him. Would he talk to me but what if the ghost is she. I don’t talk to she. My teacher punishes bad boys by making them sit between two girls. No no. It has to be him. What will ask ghost? Is it fun being ghost ad scaring people. It must be, once I scared my friend. It was fun but would it be fun what he is one of those people my dad talks about stuck in the wrong work. No no ghost must have an entrance exam to ensure good quality. I am not sure whether I will pass that exam. May be I can pass if they ask history of ghost. Its my favorite topic. I told this to my teacher, I think she liked it too that’s why she called my parents. They were really happy that night. In the evening, they lock me in the room. It was good and peaceful.