Since landing in Israel in January, the F***up Nights global forum has taken off and is packing out the house in its monthly Tel Aviv events, and is heading next for Jerusalem. As the name suggest, F***up Nights enable entrepreneurs to publicly share their business flubs and faux pas.

“The goal is to encourage a culture of dialogue in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tel Aviv on success and failure, while emphasizing the idea that failure is part of how we learn and grow,” says Leora Golomb, director of F***up Nights Tel Aviv.

Failure has oft been cited as one of Israel’s keys to phenomenal startup success. Even when failure seems the likeliest outcome, Israeli entrepreneurs continue to give it their best. And they’re equally known for turning those flubs into successes.

“I failed last year,” Golomb tells ISRAEL21c. “I had a great idea but I didn’t have the right team. Six months later, someone else succeeded with a startup. I was crushed. When I started telling people about failure, no one else was really talking about it.”

But Golomb knew that “the 99 percent of people who fail” at getting their startups off the ground also have meaningful stories to tell. When she was introduced to the F***up Nights series while in Australia for a short residency, she knew it would be a boon for her Israeli counterparts.

The local community was extremely welcoming. While all events are free, registration is a must and Golomb says every gathering so far has been filled to capacity, averaging 200 people.

“The feedback has been wonderful,” she says.

Golomb, a community manager in the high-tech world by day, leads a group of 10 young, tech-savvy volunteers in charge of running F***up Nights Tel Aviv. The new F***up Nights Jerusalem, set to debut on June 21, is run by six equally gung-ho volunteers.

It’s okay to talk about failure

The two teams invite top movers and shakers to tell their failure stories in seven minutes with a maximum of 10 slides. Golomb says that in January, when the first event was being organized, she had to ask 30 people before one agreed to speak. Today, as the series gains prominence, the ratio has narrowed to 12-to-one.

“In the Israeli entrepreneurial environment and the Tel Aviv ecosystem, our goal is to encourage a culture of dialogue about the failure-learning-success process, in order to create a community in which you will be able to learn from others’ mistakes. We keep hearing success stories and not enough failure stories that build us up on our way to success,” says Golomb.

“Our meetings allow entrepreneurs to talk with businessmen, politicians and intellectuals at eye level, to ask questions and hear about their failures. We make sure to bring speakers from different content backgrounds.”

Encouraging a culture of dialogue in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tel Aviv on success and failure, while emphasizing that failure is part of the learning process. Photo courtesy of Fuckup Nights Tel Aviv
Encouraging a culture of dialogue in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tel Aviv on success and failure, while emphasizing that failure is part of the learning process. Photo courtesy of Fuckup Nights Tel Aviv

Golomb says CEOs and top entrepreneurs in all fields are happy to take part. Among past speakers are Israel Ganot, managing director of MassChallenge Israel; children’s entertainer Yuval Shem Tov; education and social action entrepreneur Adi Altschuler; and Itzik Frid, CEO of Takwin Labs.

At the fifth Tel Aviv installment on May 18, entrepreneur and motivational speakerAvi Mashiah discussed a personal failure related to the diamond industry; Alona Bar On, CEO at Bait VeGag, told how her business failure helped her get where she is today; journalist and entrepreneur Hadar Aviel shared an entrepreneurial failure she experienced; and Itay Matityahu, director of marketing, communication and government relations at the Taub Center, discussed a political failure.

Networking and Q&A are also part of the events, which usually are held in Hebrew though the Tel Aviv branch has decided to hold a F***up Night in English every fourth month. The next dates in Tel Aviv will be June 14 (Hebrew), July 18 (English) and August 22 (Hebrew). The venue is announced prior to the event.

If the event takes off in Jerusalem, Golomb may expand to Beersheva and then to Haifa.

The forum was started in 2012 by five entrepreneurial friends in Mexico who believed in communicating failure as a positive step on the road to success.

Now, on any given month, these nights take place in 145 cities in 54 countries. In this past year, more than 200,000 people attended F***up nights around the world, and 2,150 speakers have shared their failure stories. Israel is the latest country to join the trend.

In a country known for its startup success stories, you can be sure that there are just as many – if not many more – failure stories waiting to be heard.