Written by Shoham Nicolet, IAC Co-Founder and CEO
Nir Caspi is a successful entrepreneur and co-founder of Café Landwer, with over 70 branches in Israel and North America. He has spoken about his success in business and how his ‘Israeliness’ is an asset to middle school and high school students in the Israeli American Council’s Eitanim program. Below he shares some of his thoughts on entrepreneurial spirit and the lessons he now works to pass on to the next generation.
Lesson one: If you think something should exist, create it yourself
When I retired from the military, I went on a trip around the world with three of my friends from my unit. While on our trip, we talked about how we wished there was a way we could give back to our country and celebrate Israeli culture and food. From that conversation, we created Café Landwer, which has grown to 70 locations in Israel, and more on the way in North America.
Lesson two: Challenge yourself to take risks
As a member of Shayetet, I was trained to see risks as opportunities, and I’ve tried to keep that in mind when making business decisions. A few years ago I had the opportunity to come to Boston and start the first US-based Café Landwer. It was risky moving my family halfway around the world to a new city with a different business culture, but it was what we needed to do to grow the business.
Lesson three: Build community wherever you go
Community is critical for a happy life, no matter your age. The community members connected the Israeli-American Council (IAC) in Boston have inspired me and connected my family to our new identity as Israelis living in the United States.
Lesson four: Embrace your identity and make it your strength
As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’ve always been extremely proud of my identity as an Israeli. When I came to Boston, though, my three boys were too young to have a strong tie to their Israeli heritage – they could barely read in Hebrew! At the same time, they were also ‘too’ Israeli to be fully American, and they needed to see something that reflected both of those identities. The IAC showed them they didn’t have to choose between the two. Not only that, their ability to bridge two cultures is a strength that will serve them well for their whole lives.
Lesson five: Always look for ways to give back
I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere in life without the people around me – the other soldiers in my unit, who kept me safe; the business partners who worked with me to build something new; my family, who have unequivocally supported me; and my new IAC community in Boston, who embraced me as soon as I arrived. It’s critical to recognize that nothing ever gets accomplished without a network of support, and that’s why I try to give back to those communities whenever possible by offering mentorship, friendship, and support to those who need it.
At the IAC National Conference in Washington DC from November 3-6, I’ll talk more about these and other lessons I’ve acquired from my life as an entrepreneur, and I hope you’ll join me there.