Bringing Silicon Valley to Tel Aviv's beach

dganit rockach cowork bay

Dganit Rockach's new coworking space allows hardworking startup employees to take a coding break and physically surf.

Coworking spaces have been part of the startup scene for years, with new offices opening regularly to host legions of sleep-deprived programmers. Tel Aviv has its share of these unofficial tech bases, and other cities have picked up on the trend and are trying to lure local entrepreneurs.

Last Passover a new coworking space was opened in Tel Aviv, but despite the excess capacity of such spaces has managed to whet the appetites of Israel's entrepreneurial class. The 500 sq. m. Cowork Bay is located across from the Charles Klor boardwalk.

The old building, its lobby packed with restaurants serving simple, homemade offerings, stands in contrast with the chains and hipster food offerings that one can find in buildings around the other startup sections of town like Rothschild or Ramat HaHayal.

"We chose to found our business here because it's close to the water. The clearest thoughts happen across from the sea," said Dganit Rockach, a former business consultant who founded, renovated, and now manages the compound.

"The idea is to provide entrepreneurs the opportunity to get some air, go to the beach, swim or surf, and get back to work." To that end, the compound has a shower and Rockach recently bought surfboards for the entrepreneur who wants a surf session before he gets back to his coding project.

"Naturally, startup employees are at work for longer hours relative to other businesses, and the beach and sea allow them to maintain a healthier, better lifestyle." The compound's former neighbors can serve as an inspiration for the young startup hopefuls. Until last year, the cyber startup Cyvera, founded by Uri Alter and Netanel Davidi, resided next door; it sold in 2014 to Israeli firm Palo Alto Networks for $220 million.

For Rockach, it is a symbolic part of the cycle. "The karma is already here. Cyvera's entrepreneurs were also surfers. Actually, the idea for their company came to them during a surfing session, which only reinforces why it's worth working here," she said.

But it's not just the surfboards and the neighboring sea that distinguish the space from its competitors, it's also the location. "Last week I had a series of meetings with entrepreneurs seeking to escape their area, where the light-rail work has started," she said, "They tell me that they would rather break an existing contract to come to us then get stuck in traffic for hours."

The location, she believes, is strategic. "There is a nearby Tel-O-Fun station, the Carmelit Terminal is walking distance, and there are more than a few parking lots in the area with reasonable prices of NIS 15-20 per day or NIS 300-400 per month. But you need to get here early or else there's no space."

Dozens of Workstations

The coworking space has dozens of desks, including some private offices. A workstation begins at NIS 890 and entry to the site requires a biometric code. It is already host to more than ten startups from a variety of fields including big data, artificial intelligence, gaming, targeting shopping, and more. They are treated to enrichment learning experiences on relevant topics like raising funds, founding a business, and marketing, all while they are personally mentored by Rockach, who uses the experience she gained as a business consultant to advise the startups on when to recruit employees and how to screen and select them.

The compound was purchased and refurbished using the family's own funds. "As someone who worked in consulting throughout a variety of business climates, I reached the conclusion that my favorite period is the beginning phase. It's a little like child birth. You need to give all your money, your hope, and your skills to realize some sort of dream. Some sort of target which you picked.

"Generally, this whole startup issue matters to me closely because I believe that we are a country that has an advantage because it is not big but creative and we have experienced great responsibility at a young age during our military service. This is our advantage and it is our most important resource."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 31, 2015

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2015

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dganit rockach cowork bay
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