Life & Culture

Meet your guides to the future (as made in Israel)

A British-born entrepreneur is presenting a new TV series showcasing the best of Israeli tech


Sitting in a café in North Tel Aviv’s quaint Basel Square on a warm October evening, Jonny Caplan is feeling overwhelmed. After two years of intense hard work, the British-born entrepreneur has just launched his new TV series on emerging global start-ups, kickstarting the series by showcasing dozens of Israeli innovators.

His series TechTalk, just released by Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV, features a range of different technologies and business sectors. Sone of the innovations covered are flying cars, 3D holographic surgery, the Israeli robot soccer team, cannabis scanners and mind-controlled gaming. It’s the future, as made in Israel.

Caplan moved to Tel Aviv six years ago, giving up grey London to move to the vibrant, technology-friendly, fast-paced start-up capital of the world. There, he set up a media company with his partner Ronald R. Hans. The company, which produces other independent titles on tech, science and lifestyle, now has offices in LA, New York City, London and Tel Aviv.

Caplan serves as the writer, executive producer and co-host of Tech Talk, together with Israel’s The Voice finalist, Jessy Katz, who is the daughter and niece of Nancy and Steven Spielberg respectively.

“We chose Israel to launch the show as it is the start-up nation and the only location on earth that has such a vibrant mix of innovators and technologies in one space,” says Caplan. Future seasons will come from London, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, New York and Silicon Valley.

He calls Israel’s culture of innovation, individuality and sheer determination “multi-potentialism”, a concept coined by career coach Emilie Wapnick in a popular TED talk to define people and places with many different interests and creative pursuits in life. Caplan strongly identifies with this on a personal level.

“Defying the norm, ‘multipotentialities’ have no single definitive skill, yet we have a multitude of talents and creativity which we can pursue simultaneously,” he explains. He adds that when he was first introduced to Jessy Katz he recognised instantly this quality in her, knowing she possessed the range of talents that made her an ideal partner to co-host the series.

He likes that she is determined to work hard on her own account and not trade in her family connections and describes it as a “meeting of minds”. She has just returned from Madrid as a voice-over artist for the Spanish TV drama Money Heist.

Caplan’s foray into business and entertainment started early in life. Growing up in Southgate, North London, his creative talents were recognised by his parents early on. He was singing, dancing and acting on stage and TV, and appeared on a BBC schools programme with Timmy Mallet at just eight years old. He is also a talented artist, guitarist, pianist and writer.

In his teens he took a MENSA test and was told he had an IQ in the top one per cent in the UK. Perhaps this is why he found his time at Hasmonean High School for Boys boring. To break the tedium, Caplan divided his time between studying for exams and developing his first business. Aged 14, he developed digital games platforms as well as trading comics, before setting up a car-wash business with a group of friends, the following year.

Following his degree in Interior Architecture, he got the real entrepreneurial bug as the internet developed in the late 1990s. His first successful venture MoneyGaming, saw substantial investment from UK-born Michael Spencer’s ICAP Group, among other notable stakeholders. The company developed revolutionary online games, clients included Orange, FHM and Trinity Mirror.

Caplan credits his successes to the challenges he has had to overcome. When he was just a day away from his first birthday he was seriously burnt when a boiling hot drink spilled on his neck. The accident resulted in treatment at burn clinics across London for many years of his childhood.

“This taught me early on that life is not easy, and that we aren’t perfect as human beings and we only strive through self-reflection and continual growth,” he says.

Then, when he was in his mid-twenties he experienced the “unjustified takeover” of his company MoneyGaming, while he was abroad in Israel for a friend’s wedding.

“It was a harrowing experience, after achieving such a huge feat at a young age. However, looking back, this traumatic event was the very pivot of my business success. Setbacks and hurdles force you to learn to adapt and find new and innovative ways to achieve your goals.”

He promptly embarked on a new venture, building patented electronics-based gaming devices, stocked by industry giants such as Argos and Target. He set up the business in the UK, with production in China, and software development in Eastern Europe, receiving much media attention. Since arriving in Israel, he has provided strategic direction and resources to several leading Israeli start-ups.

Airing initially on Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV, then rolling out to a host of worldwide broadcasters, season one of TechTalk focuses exclusively on Israeli companies. While all the Israeli start-ups showcased are impressive, a few stand out as exceptional. EyeRon Systems are makers of toughened first responded drones that fly indoors into burning buildings to give fire fighters first warnings. The CEO and founder Nimrod Ron is an artist and one of Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30”.

Then there is Multitouch Technology (MTTech) founded by Gal Hamburger and Gabriel Galerenter. The company produces touchscreen smart devices for surfaces. The products were first produced in their garage, while the workers had other jobs. Today, their products are found in Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen dealer showrooms across the world.

Then there’s CityHawk, a flying car in development by Metro Skyways, a subsidiary of Israel’s Urban Aeronautics, which is due to take its first flight in 2021.

On the medical side, RealView Imaging makes a holoscope machine; a surgical device that enables the surgeon to look through a piece of a glass while operating. They can see a huge life sized 3D hologram of the organ that is being operating on, and move it around via voice commands.

Always working on the next project, Caplan has just been interviewing many high-profile cannabis related brands and figures, including the Israeli minister for agriculture, Uri Ariel, for his latest documentary series The Cannabis Biz.

The show profiles the burgeoning medical cannabis industry both in Israel and abroad, and will be released next year.

“Living in Israel is like an oasis for entrepreneurs, and a tropical paradise to reside in,” he says. “As the fastest growing hi-tech country in the world, there’s no other region in the world like it.”



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