Amir Sandel MBA’01 and Nir Yelinek MBA’06 team up to start a business.
On paper, Amir Sandel MBA’01 and Nir Yelinek MBA’06 have quite a bit in common: they share similar career ambitions; both set their sights on living and working in Israel; and of course, both earned their MBA at Babson. However, Amir and Nir never overlapped while on campus, and only met years later after they had both graduated and were living in Tel Aviv.
When their paths crossed at an alumni event, it was the beginning of a friendship that eventually led to a business partnership. Today, Amir and Nir are partners at YS – Strategy | Innovation | Ventures, a company that serves the Israeli tech sector with business development services and technology scouting. The entrepreneurship ecosystem in Israel boasts the second-largest number of startup companies and venture capital investments behind the United States, and Amir and Nir leverage their Babson education and network to promote Israeli companies and technologies worldwide.
Why did you choose Babson?
Amir: Coming out of college, I had a strong technical background in computers. I knew that if I wanted to find my own path in business, I needed to go to an international business school. Babson was an easy decision: it offered the perfect balance of corporate and entrepreneurship skills.
Nir: Most of the schools I looked at were only oriented toward teaching skills that help students land jobs. I liked the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation at Babson, and the opportunity to learn how to run a business from A to Z was exactly what I was looking for.
What made you decide to go into business together?
For both of us, starting our own business was one of the main reasons we’d chosen Babson in the first place. We met at a Babson alumni event, and it was clear that we shared the same mindset and attitude. We kept in touch after that initial meeting. Several years later, we got together for a beer, and decided then and there that the time was ripe to make our move. Between us, we had worked for Intel, McCann, P&G, and Orange, but we both quit our jobs within two months of that night.
What has been your biggest business success?
We worked extensively with a local startup and helped it launch its service with a global telecom company. We were also able to get Google to chip in and participate in the deal.
How do you stay connected to Babson from 5,500 miles away?
Many of the private investors, VC partners, and corporate senior managers we work closely with are Babson alumni. Together, we explore new businesses and technologies that have been developed here in Israel. But, by the end of the day, we’re always trading conversations about Babson, so sometimes it seems like we never left.
What has surprised you the most about Babson alumni?
We’ve been continually impressed by the commitment alumni have to help one another. Every time we reach out to alumni and ask for their help, we get the warmest responses and a helping hand.