Reichman University to Help US and Israeli Veteran Navy Seals


Reichman University to Help US and Israeli Veteran Navy Seals

Reichman University Co-Launches Version Bravo Program to Help American and Israeli Veteran Navy Seals Launch their Startups


Photo credit - Reichman University

Reichman University, in collaboration with the Atalef Foundation and the American Friends of Israel Navy SEALs (AFINS), and the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, has launched the Version Bravo accelerator, an initiative aimed at assisting veterans of Israel’s Navy SEALs (Shayetet 13) and former US Navy SEALs in launching their startups in civilian life. The program, developed to aid elite naval commandos from both nations to leverage extraordinary work ethic, leadership skills and entrepreneurial spirit of military special forces to develop and grow their own business ventures and to form and benefit from a peer-community of special operators turned entrepreneurs.

The program was born after successful discussion and cooperation between Prof. Boaz Ganor, Executive Director of Reichman University's International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, Jonathan Davis, Head of the Raphael Recanati International School and Vice President of External Relations, Eric Zoller, Chairman & Founder of AFINS, Robert Brenner, Executive Director of AFINS and Yotam Dagan, Israel Director of Version Bravo. All sought ways to assist elite veterans dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress by integrating their ideas in the most entrepreneurial manner and channeling their passion and energy toward constructive endeavors. Leading the program's academic direction is Dr. Gali Einav, Head of the International undergraduate degree in Entrepreneurship at Reichman University in partnership with Prof. Thomas Knapp of the University of Southern California’s Marshal School of Business.

A carefully selected group of 17 veteran Navy SEALs, encompassing both Israelis and Americans, each with their own startup at any stage of development, were chosen by the program's committee. Over a span of ten weeks, the participants embarked on a journey to Israel and the USA, immersing themselves in visits to various startups, Google X, and the USC Marshall School of Business in the USA.

Dr. Einav, an experienced entrepreneurship educator at the Adelson School of Entrepreneurship for the past seven years, and Prof. Knapp provided the cohort with a comprehensive curriculum, as well as invaluable networking and mentoring resources. "It was fascinating to witness how their skills acquired in these elite military units seamlessly translated into entrepreneurship. Leadership, team-building, decision-making under pressure, risk-taking, and debriefing were all qualities that naturally transitioned into launching their startups," remarked Einav.

The program leadership committee, headed by Version Bravo Global Director, Nuri Golan, US Director, Andre Gomez and Israel Director Yotam Dagan, each a special operator turned entrepreneur, faced a difficult task in selecting participants from the numerous applicants vying for a spot in the program. “Bringing together leading Israeli and US Academic Institutions, the two Seals communities and serving them in a first of its kind joint program, strengthens not only the SEAL entrepreneurs, but the bond between our nations” says Dagan.

One successful applicant was Aviv Eytan, a 49-year-old Navy SEAL (Shayetet 13) veteran, whose startup focused on tackling food waste. Eytan's venture, ECO2nd, offers an innovative food waste management solution with a laser focus on reducing edible food wastage. The alarming reality is that wasted food from the retail sector alone is valued at roughly double the profit generated from food sales. Additionally, the production and cultivation of future wasted food in Europe and the US occupy a staggering 20 million acres of agricultural fields, contributing to 12% of global carbon emissions, soil pollution, and consuming 25% of the world's fresh water resources.

By adhering to a circular economy approach, ECO2nd presents a triple-win solution. This startup converts food loss into profit, not only addressing financial losses for businesses but also promoting access to more affordable food options, benefiting communities. Additionally, the solution has a positive impact on the environment by curbing carbon emissions and conserving vital resources. “Thanks to the program, I was six months ahead, focused, and saved a lot of time and money”

Another successful participant was Josh Cohen, a 37-year-old entrepreneur from the US, whose startup, Rapid Response & Solutions, specializes in expert handling and tailored logistical solutions for crisis situations. With a focus on conflict zones and challenging environments, Rapid Response & Solutions draws on their military special operations background to provide comprehensive expertise. With their extensive experience in austere nations, they are equipped to handle unforeseen challenges, including time constraints, geographic complexities, privacy concerns, security considerations, and logistical intricacies. Leveraging their extensive network, they diligently assemble the most suitable team for each client.

According to Cohen, "Version Bravo provided a great platform and knowledge base while expanding my network and mentorship. It has directly contributed by providing new connections and clients in Ukraine as I am growing my business.”

Beyond the individual startups, the Version Bravo program aimed to foster a growing community for these veterans, providing them with networking opportunities and support for their entrepreneurial endeavors. "What was fascinating to see was that despite these individuals coming from diverse backgrounds, both socio-economic and geographical, an immediate bond was formed. The shared experiences of the Navy SEALs and the Shayetet 13 played an instrumental role in fostering this connection. Throughout the program, they generously reached out and assisted one another in developing their ideas," remarked Einav.

Many of the startups were centered around making a positive impact, whether it was giving back to the community through education, sustainability and healthcare. One such startup dealing with healthcare is Gillui, led by a founding team of former Israeli Navy SEALs with expertise in animal training, navy missions, and healthcare management. Gillui is a revolutionary method for early detection of lung cancer. Using their proprietary device integrated with top-notch odor sensors - trained rats, Gillui offers a precise, non-invasive, and radiation-free urine test that can be conducted at home or in clinics. With lung cancer often detected too late for effective treatment, early diagnosis provided by Gillui's innovation has the potential to reduce mortality rates, alleviate suffering, and mitigate substantial costs for patients and insurers. The startup's founder Eran Lumbroso,(63) a veteran Israeli Navy Seal, stated, "Version Bravo changed the way I think about building a business. Most notably, the way I think about customers and customer's needs".

Another startup that benefited from Version Bravo was former US Navy Seal. Diego Ugalde's the Trident Approach, which consists of a distinguished group of former Navy SEALs turned executive and athlete mind training coaches.

The Trident Approach's unique methodology combines the invaluable lessons learned during their time in the SEAL Teams with profound insights gained through the careful use of psychedelic medicine. However, despite their exceptional niche, the Trident Approach faced challenges in effectively conveying their value to the marketplace. Version Bravo proved instrumental in helping them overcome their messaging obstacles and maintain their unwavering focus on their mission. According to Ugalde, (56) "Version Bravo helped us maintain our mission focus and recognize the value we bring to the world. They also went the extra mile by facilitating connections with influential individuals who share our vision of cultivating future elite leaders."

The program presented a unique opportunity for all involved to dedicate their time and knowledge to aid special forces personnel on both sides. People were honored to contribute to those who protect them. “It was amazing to realize the powerful bond that formed between the US and Israeli SEALs, and the extent that we share the same values and the drive to serve and do good” says Brenner. Overall, the program was a resounding success and a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of these elite veterans.

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