My parnassa plan/hope as I moved here was to lead the financing and development of a large-scale saltwater fish farm here in Israel. Working with my CTO, we spent countless hours preparing presentations and business plans. Israel imports almost 99% of its fresh saltwater fish, and the market opportunity here is great.
I got involved in this project because I want to do something to build Israel – I want to buck the trend and make a good, solid business in the land. I am absolutely not interested in doing anything in hutz l’aretz. For me, what’s the point? I guess that makes me a real Tzioni (notwithstanding the white shirt and black pants I’m wearing right now).
Over the past several months, we shopped the deal to numerous clean-tech VC funds and high net-worth investors. At the end of the day, we keep hearing the same thing: “How does this scale to make money in hutz l’aretz?”. And its not just non-religious investors, last week I met with an American chareidi group, and explained how we could build this business here and literally dominate the fresh saltwater fish business in Israel in 5- 7 years. The response, “We’re not comfortable with businesses focusing on the Israeli market.”
Granted, Israel has a tough business climate, but still, its frustrating that folks “as a business rule” just don’t want to invest in an Israel for Israel company. Israel for hutz l’aretz, no problem. But Israel for Israel, not interested.
Obviously, I am biased here, but still it hurts to hear so many people who are not inspired by an opportunity to build up the land. I understand where they are coming from – for many people, business is business, and we are living in a secular post-Zionist and/or religious pre-Zionist reality. But it hurts when folks don’t even express a passion, like, “We really want to finance a business in Israel that services the domestic market because this is a value to us, so let’s hear what you have to say and see if it makes sense.”
Its especially frustrating since I’ve met so many local fishmongers and restaurants who validate the my business plan – I just need a break and to find favor in the eyes of the right investor.
So, I am making an appeal to all of you out there who might read this blog:
- Take a look at our executive summary that describes the project.
- I have an extremely limited rolodex. If you have any ideas or contacts who might help us get the project funded, we would appreciate your help and we would provide a good finder’s fee for making a shidduch.
- Please daven for our success, if not in this venture, in another (as yet unknown one)!
HaShem should bless and protect all of the Jewish People!