By Sharon Szmuc
At Jerusalem Village we have a love for hearing people’s stories and really learning how this city has led them to great success and has become their home. As I interview Olim who have impacted the economy I begin to understand how much meaning folks found in their lives by not only studying here or raising a family here, but by contributing to the startup culture here. I had a chance to sit with Bob Rosenschien who had so much kindness in answering my questions but also demonstrated how wonderful it is to see the startup culture of Jerusalem grow and how the culture changes along with it.
Bob described himself as an American, Israeli, entrepreneur, a lover of Jerusalem and a lover of people. Bob originally hails from Pennsylvania, attended Jewish day school for most of his life as well as Jewish sleep-away camp in the countryside of Pennsylvania called Camp Ramah. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he got his degree in computer science and had found a fascination for Jerusalem when he studied abroad his junior year of college at Hebrew University. Bob and his wife made Aliyah with his family in 1983, and he realized this place was special because of the residents and the community. When I asked him how he really found himself in Jerusalem Bob said, “I was lucky to move here, I used to be a consultant and then continued to work for companies and go back to Los Angeles once a month. On one specific trip to California my company met with Microsoft Seattle, headed by Bill Gates who pitched the idea of Windows, and though my company did not buy Windows, I became the first programmer to use Windows in Israel. I then brought the idea over and created Windows in Hebrew and started the first Windows processor here named Dagesh.” Dagesh is the first word processor Windows programming that is both English and Hebrew and began to be sold to an Israeli market.
I enjoyed very much my conversation with Bob and not only because of his amazing success but for the way he spoke about his accomplishments with such passion. Bob founded one of the top twenty websites in the U.S., answers.com and sold it in 2011, and has now co-founded the startup Curiyo which is an application that will be the first topic hub where everything one wants to know about a certain topic or trend will be grouped together making the options of what one searches in a search engine much simpler and more direct.
When I asked him what has been challenging about working as an entrepreneur he said, “People have to realize entrepreneurship is risky, it’s really hard to stand out, hard to reach markets, and all the challenges exist. With good money, a good product, good connections, and good management that’s when a company has a good chance to flip a coin.”
But when I asked Bob what he is most proud of it had nothing to do with his profession, instead with a big smile he answered that he is proud of his four sons.
I learned a lot from my small talk with Bob, not only about how much success he had in helping the startup culture of Jerusalem blossom but how much love he had for the city itself. In terms of the future of Jerusalem he expects it to grow fast since so many young people are making an impact; there is a pleasant environment here, and people of international places that are contributing to the Jerusalem culture. As we exchanged our views on Jerusalem, Bob’s last words in our interview really summed up why this city is exceptional, “Jerusalem is a combination of a down to earth atmosphere, a bit philosophical, and spiritual thinking. It’s a place where real ideas have been born in these streets, it’s ancient and new.”
Then he left me with one last thought we should all think about, “how often can we create new startups in a city with so much historic value?” It’s true. That is the beauty of Jerusalem that new stories are being told and created. Thanks Bob, for sharing your story and love of Jerusalem!
Curiyo will be available as an app for Android’s so check it out or read more about it at curiyo.com!
Sharon Szmuc, our fabulous summer intern, is a fourth-year at Florida State University studying Creative Writing and Communications. In the fall she will start writing for Her Campus, an online magazine for US college students.