Tag Archives: Entrepreneur

Jew of the Week: Dean Kamen

Inventor of the Segway

Dean Kamen on a Segway

Dean Kamen on a Segway

Dean Kamen (b. 1951) was born in New York, the son of famous illustrator Jack Kamen. He dropped out of Worcester Polytechnic Institute to focus on his career as an inventor and entrepreneur. His first big success was inventing a wearable drug infusion pump, after which he started his first company¬†AutoSyringe. Following this, he worked on portable kidney dialysis machines, robotic arms, insulin pumps, the Stirling engine, water purification systems, as well as solar power and off-grid electricity in the hopes of raising the standard of life in developing countries. Among his more interesting inventions are an all-terrain wheelchair, and a device that launches people into the air, used by law enforcement agents and emergency workers to get to the top of tall or inaccessible rooftops and buildings. Above all though, his most well-known invention is undoubtedly the Segway – the cool, self-balancing, two-wheeled personal transporter. Though it has yet to catch-on among the public, it was once thought to be an invention “more important than the internet”, and Steve Jobs said it was “as big a deal as the PC”. Meanwhile, Kamen founded an organization called FIRST, aimed at inspiring students to enter technology and engineering programs. The organization provides over $15 million in scholarships. It also runs the famous FIRST Robotics Competition, now held in some 60 locations around the world, with over one million students having participated over the years. All in all, Kamen holds over 440 patents. He has already been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and has won a great number of awards and honourary degrees, including the National Medal of Technology, and the UN’s Global Humanitarian Action Award. In 2010, he also starred in the TV show Dean of Invention. Kamen is a hobbyist pilot, and owns a collection of jet aircraft and helicopters, which he usually flies to work.

Words of the Week

He was this little guy David, and he had this really big problem, Goliath, and he took him out because he had a little piece of technology, and I thought, “Wow, technology is cool.”
Dean Kamen, on being inspired by the Biblical story of David and Goliath

Jew of the Week: Naftali Bennett

Software Entrepreneur, Special Forces Commander

Naftali Bennett

Naftali Bennett

Naftali Bennett (b. 1972) was born in Haifa to Modern Orthodox parents who made aliyah to Israel (from San Francisco) following the Six-Day War. He studied at Yavne Yeshiva, where he became a youth leader for Bnei Akiva, the religious Zionist organization. After his studies, Bennett joined the IDF and served in the Sayeret Matkal and Maglan special forces units, rising to the rank of company commander. His primary area of operations was in Lebanon. After completing his service, Bennett studied at the Hebrew University, earning a law degree. In 1999, he moved to New York and co-founded the software company Cyota. As its CEO, Bennett built the start-up into a successful tech firm and sold it in 2005 for $145 million. Bennett then returned to Israel and continued his work as a software entrepreneur. At one point he served as CEO of Soluto, which was recently sold for nearly $130 million. Not long after his return to Israel, the Lebanon War broke out and Bennett returned to the IDF, leading a number of search-and-destroy missions in Hezbollah territory. Following the war, Bennett joined Netanyahu’s Likud party and soon became his Chief of Staff. Between 2010 and 2012, Bennett was the director-general of Yesha, the organization that represents Jewish settlements in Judah and Samaria (commonly known as the “West Bank”). After founding a number of other organizations promoting Israel and the Zionist cause, Bennett left Likud and joined HaBayit HaYehudi (The Jewish Home), a religious Zionist political party. He immediately ran for party leadership and won by a landslide. Just a few months later, Bennett was able to win 12 seats for the party in Israel’s Knesset (compared to just 3 seats for the party in the previous election). Among other roles, he became the Minister of the Economy and Minister of Religious Services, as well as a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. He has been praised for his work as Minister of the Economy, opening up new trade agreements with emerging markets around the world, boosting trade with Russia, China, Brazil, and India, as well as dealing with increasing boycotts of Israeli products. Bennett is continuing to lead HaBayit HaYehudi into Israel’s coming elections in March. Some of his platform positions have been controversial, among them opposing a Palestinian state, and fighting Israel’s big unions. At the same time, he is pushing education reform, more investment in underprivileged parts of Israeli society and in small businesses, and providing affordable housing and land provisions for veterans. He is also focused on integrating Israeli-Arabs and Ultra-Orthodox Jews more tightly into Israel’s society and workforce. Bennett remains a reservist in the IDF, holding the rank of Major.

Words of the Week

The fact that the entire world says something does not mean it is correct.
Naftali Bennett, in an interview for Israel’s Channel Two.