TribeWorks Provide an Enlightening Day for Jewish Entrepreneurs

On Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, nearly 500 entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial supporters convened for TribeWorks’ one-day educational and networking event. Co-organized by Yeshiva University and 13 other organizations including Mishpacha magazine, the Orthodox Union, UJA-Federation of New York, and The Jewish Entrepreneur, the event was designed to bring together innovators from all walks of Jewish life “in a historic effort to fuel economic progress.”

Laizer Kornwasser ’92SB, president and chief operating officer at CareCentrix, a professor of entrepreneurship at the Sy Syms School of Business and a member of the YU Board of Trustees, is also one of TribeWorks’ original organizers. He explained how the idea for TribeWorks began in a conversation he had with Isaac Wolman, who had come to one of Kornwasser’s classes as a guest speaker. Wolman is co-founder and board chair of The Jewish Entrepreneur, a global pro-bono business mentoring network that matches experienced and successful businessmen and women with entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their businesses. In their conversation, they brainstormed about how to create a program that “unites all Jews regardless of the color of one’s kippah by offering entrepreneurial education/networking focused on our similarities and not our differences.”

As Kornwasser said, Wolman “took the ball” and brought in numerous organizations and various movers and shakers to make TribeWorks a reality, with YU as the lead educational partner providing guidance on speakers, topics and various other issues. Thus began TribeWorks.

The day began with a networking breakfast followed by the first keynote speaker, Jason Feifer, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur Magazine, who discussed how to embrace change to scale one’s business. Attendees could then choose from several sessions and panels focused on specific aspects of their businesses, such as leveraging technology to maximize brand, marketing to the Jewish consumer and hiring superstar employees.

Dr. Noam Wasserman, dean of the Sy Syms School of Business, joined TribeWorks as a speaker again after being the lunchtime keynote speaker in the fall 2018 debut event. This year, Dr. Wasserman spent an hour discussing his two decades of research and data into the early decisions startup founders make that tend to come back to haunt them. In his interactive talk about avoiding pitfalls that can sink a startup, he examined how and when to found, whom to attract as co-founders and how to divide ownership among partners.

Additional highlights from the event were keynote speakers Tal Ben-Shahar, world-renowned lecturer and author, and Tim Brown, CEO of Upfield Foods USA, who was interviewed onstage by Dr. Wasserman and who explained how to build a business both through positive leadership and through doing good. The evening culminated in a roundtable discussion which allowed for further networking and insightful conversation.

“TribeWorks was an opportunity for entrepreneurs to significantly accelerate their knowledge and connections,” said Dr. Wasserman, “as well as a powerful show of unity across the wide variety of Jewish organizations who helped make it happen.”