Though it was their second time visiting Israel, Hewlett resident Alexandra Paul and Jason Lieberman, of North Woodmere, experienced the country like never before with 19 other students through the Science & Start-Up Summer Initiative, an entrepreneurial program that focused on science and technology.
Offered for the first time this summer, students in the program were placed into small groups to develop an innovative idea and researched product development and marketing strategies before creating a product prototype.
Paul, a senior at the North Shore Hebrew Academy High School in Great Neck, lead a group of her peers to design an economical backpack called the Infinity Bag that is customizable by changing the size and usage by adding or detaching extra compartments. “We had several brainstorming sessions and eventually settled on an idea that I came up with,” she said. “I was actually CEO of our start-up and I learned a lot about leading a team as well as practical skills that I can apply to my own entrepreneurial ventures.”
Lieberman, a junior at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School, also brainstormed with his group and conceived the idea of the Spaceshift, a beanbag chair that converts into a coffee table. “Our target audience was college students who live in small dorms and have little money,” he said. “We thought that by combining two products into one, college students could save space and money.”
While not busy working on their products, the students stayed at the Art Gallery Hotel in Haifa, and travelled around Israel on weekends to Jerusalem, Acco and Hispin, near the border of Syria. “On my previous trip, I did not experience Israel in the same manner,” Paul said. “This country is absolutely incredible; when you’re there it’s sometimes hard to remember that you are in a country that’s about the size of New Jersey and faces numerous hardships — specifically drought and the constant issue of being surrounded on every side by enemies.”
Paul said she attempted start-ups of her own over the past few years and decided to join the program, which was based at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, to nurture her love of creativity and engineering. “I’ve always embraced the entrepreneurial spirit,” she said.
Working in a group environment to come up with a business idea showed Lieberman what it means to be an entrepreneur. “I learned a lot about hard work, motivation and creativity required to create a successful start-up,” he said.
In the future, Paul would like to pursue a goal of hers since she was 11. “I plan to become an engineer and hope to attend a college that has a start-up culture in which I believe I’ll be able to thrive,” she said.
The pair agrees that students who have an interest in invention or business should sign up for the program next summer. “This program is a must,” Paul said. “You will not find any other program as inspiring and well thought-out out as this one. You will have the experience of a lifetime!”