Bar-Ilan University | President’s Report 2022

40 When asked how he ended up founding UnBox, the venture builder and accelerator of Bar-Ilan University, Ariel Sella explains that after decades of founding technology startups in Israel, Silicon Valley, Houston, and even Cambridge, he decided to come home and give back to its entrepreneurial community. There, he met lots of scientists with brilliant ideas—ideas, however, he knew might never get off the ground. “I realized that very few Israeli entrepreneurs understand the process of customer validation,” says Sella. “Yet it’s the key to granting an idea wings.” Years later, when he was asked to establish a venture builder at Bar-Ilan, he was excited by the opportunity to create an entrepreneurial culture on campus. Which is to say, a culture of innovation focused on consumer needs. UnBox, the result of Sella’s mandate, focuses its programmatic efforts on removing the three main reasons for the failure of most startups. “First, if ideas aren’t solving a problem, or at least a problem that people know they have, they’re not going to carry a company,” he says. “Also, teams tend to fall apart when the going gets tough, and often a startup is launched without sufficient funding.” To help Bar-Ilan researchers and their entrepreneurial teams—often, he notes happily, talented post-doc students become the startups’ CEOs—address each obstacle in turn, UnBox first offers theman intense, semesterlong “boot camp.” Taught by serial founders, venture capitalists, and successful CEOs, the experience helps participants find a problem worth solving through their technologies. Once teams have honed their idea for a product, they can apply for pre-seed funding and favorable IP rights from the University. And then, they’re finally ready for what Sella calls by far the hardest part: listening. 12 new ventures founded by UnBox, and more popping up every day... Ariel Sella Unbox Ventures