A Tech-Charge Approach To Innovation — And To Middle East Peace

This article was first published in The Times of Israel.

Yaron Binur—successful tech and social entrepreneur.

When Yaron Binur walks into a coffee shop near Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., it’s hard to distinguish the 34-year-old Israeli from the students. With his boyish face and well-worn knapsack, one wouldn’t necessarily take him for a successful entrepreneur. But he is — with both a Silicon Valley start-up and an innovative Israeli educational non-profit that he started while still in college himself.

“I’m a little extreme. I like doing things all-in,” Binur said of his apparent indefatigability.

The Herzliya native has been busily expanding the operations of his company,Redbeacon, which was acquired in January by Home Depot. He mentors new start-ups and organizes TechAviv, a bi-monthly Silicon Valley gathering for Israeli entrepreneurs. All the while, he actively works with the executive board of Middle East Education Through Technology (MEET), which he co-founded as an MIT undergraduate in 2002.

When Binur started working in 2005 at Google, where he led the product development of Google News, he told his boss he planned to start his own company within a few years. True to his word, Binur left Google in 2008, at the height of the recession, to co-found Redbeacon, a website that matches consumers seeking home services with home-repair professionals.

In July, Redbeacon launched a pilot with Home Depot in four American markets (Dallas and Austin, Texas, and Atlanta and the San Francisco Bay Area). In the three months since, the company has seen a 350 percent increase in the number of job requests from consumers, and a 450 percent increase in the number of service professionals who’ve signed up.

Redbeacon, which operates as an independent subsidiary of Home Depot, will continue to grow quickly, and expects to go national in 2013. It currently has 30 employees, but is opening a new office this month in San Mateo, Calif., that will add 150 additional workers.

Binur’s risk taking, at a time when most entrepreneurs avoided starting new ventures, paid off. “I believe you need to get out and do, and think a lot less. I don’t think you should overanalyze risk,” he said.

“I and others told him he chose a very risky path,” said Sol Gradman, an Israeli hi-tech executive who has backed him. Binur listened, “but decided to continue in his way, and succeeded,”  Gradman said.

The MIT grad is “a brilliant strategist who can plot victory in a seemingly insurmountable battle,” echoed Raj Kapoor, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who has invested in Redbeacon.

Binur took a similar approach as an college student back in 2002, when he co-founded MEET, which brings together teens from Israel — both Jews and Palestinians — with Palestinian teens from the West Bank to learn technology and business skills. Distressed to hear from family and friends at home that the second intifada had left them without hope for peace, he felt compelled to act, even before securing partnerships on the Palestinian side or completing fundraising.

Click here to read more.

© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.


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