Startup Soldiers: From the IDF to High-Tech Success

The Israeli military’s ranks have included future politicians, celebrities, journalists and many other success stories. Some of the high-tech geniuses who have changed the world also wore the IDF uniform.

Technology and business experts worldwide rave about the successes of Israel’s entrepreneurs. Israel has produced a huge range of startup companies, some of which have transformed our technological world.

Behind almost every Israeli startup is an accomplished innovator who calls Israel home. But before setting out on the road to success, most of these brilliant minds served as IDF soldiers. Here we remember their roles in the IDF – and the accomplishments that followed.

Waze founder Uri Levine

Uri Levine got his start as a developer in the IDF. Levine even chose to go beyond his required length of service, serving for five years instead of three. After his release from the military, he applied the ingenuity he developed in the IDF to become an entrepreneur.

In 2008, Levine founded Waze, perhaps the world’s most successful GPS software. The interactive smartphone application not only provides users with driving directions; it also lets them share information about what is in the area – such as traffic, accidents and police.

Levine recently sold his company to Google for more than a record US $1 billion. The sale made major headlines throughout the international community.

Uri Levine

Uri Levine, founder of Waze

JoyTunes creators Yuval Kaminka and Roey Izkovsky

Yuval Kaminka and Roey Izkovsky first met while serving in an elite Intelligence Corps computer unit of the IDF. Years later, Kaminka called on his old friend to collaborate on a new computer program.

Using their combined skills in science and computer programming, the two created JoyTunes, an interactive computer and iPad app that uses games and exercises to teach people how to play musical instruments.

Since its founding in 2010, the startup has garnered praise across the globe. One of its milestones was winning the UN’s prestigious World Summit Award in 2011, standing out from 460 other projects from 105 different countries.

Yuval Kaminka, creator of JoyTunes

Yuval Kaminka, creator of JoyTunes

Veribo CEO Roei Deutsch

Roei Deutsch served as a technology researcher and project manager in a classified unit. Deutsch was already a young tech whiz, selling his first tech company at the age of 16. Though he could have continued his job as an international web consultant for Fox News, Deutsch understood the importance of serving his country. Like other Israelis his age, he enlisted as a soldier in the IDF.

Now, only two years after his army release, the 23-year-old Deutsch is CEO of Veribo – an online reputation management company.

Roei Deutsch, CEO of Veribo

Roei Deutsch, CEO of Veribo

Yossi Vardi

Yossi Vardi served as an instructor at the Israel Air Force Flight Academy. He was born in Tel Aviv in 1942, six years before the State of Israel was established. Since the age of 26, he has established over 60 technology companies (including one of the first Israeli software companies) , oil companies, was heavily involved in the development of the world’s first instant messenger, ICQ, and helped build Answers.com.

Many of Vardi’s companies have been instrumental in creating the online world we know today. His company Mirabilis, which created the ICQ messenger, was sold to AOL for $400 million in 1998. This sale was the catalyst that sparked the Israeli startup movement.

Entrepreneur Yossi Vardi

Entrepreneur Yossi Vardi


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