Idan Cohen on Finding Inspiration and Support Living in New York City

In Chapter 4 of 13 in his 2013 Capture Your Flag interview, technology entrepreneur Idan Cohen responds to "Living in New York, it's an aspirational city and people have big dreams - how has being around that community of people affected you?" Cohen shares how much more optimistic and supportive people are in New York City than where he lived before in Tel Aviv. As an entrepreneur, he finds the diverse, positive support system helps him dream big dreams and work toward those dreams.

Idan Cohen is a technology entrepreneur and product management leader at Samsung Electronics. He co-founded Boxee, which was acquired by Samsung in early 2013. 


Erik Michielsen: Living in New York, it's an aspirational city. People here have big dreams. How has being around that community of people affected you?

Idan Cohen: So I think the main thing for me, moving here and being here, was the positive and optimistic approach that everyone has. You know, coming from Tel Aviv, which is a very entrepreneurial place or Israel in general, and a lot of people have a lot of aspirations, and they do something about it, and they are not afraid to shake things up, definitely more than anywhere else. They're always ready to cut corners and go around walls, and they have their own unique and successful way of doing that.

But the main difference of being here is, first of all, I feel that at the end of the day, it's just that people have more appreciation to what other people are doing. And I remember when I first moved here, when you would meet people and you'd tell them what you were doing or they would tell you what they were doing, and everyone is just, you know, “Wow, that's great. That's so awesome that you are doing that.” And in Israel, that was not like that. Everyone would start punching holes. It's kind of like the nature, that nature of, you know, “Yeah, it's great that you're doing that, but this is not going to work, this is going to work.” And it's not a bad thing. I mean, it's okay, but at some point, it starts grinding on you.

And here, even though sometimes it might be a little superficial, but that-- the fact that, like, everyone is a big support system, and in a place like New York, which is actually so big, and in a place like the US, then it's wonderful, and it helps a lot. And then combine that with being in a city that's extremely diverse and funnels the most talented people in the world, you know, in every domain, I think that's what makes it so interesting because where I came from, yeah, I was in a community that was doing-- you know, that was around technology, but even there, it's very segmented to very specific things just because you can achieve very specific things when you're, like, from there. Like, not every startup is the right startup. I mean yeah, I can give tons of examples, but things that you couldn't build in Israel. Or, I mean, you could move here and do them. Obviously I did that, but still, yeah, maybe even Boxee is not something that you can do from Israel. You have to be here. And that's the thing. Just in New York, you can find all these people, and they're all a big support system, and that's wonderful.