Yaron’s positive experience at Scheck Hillel laid the groundwork for a successful career in science and technology. Today he oversees a venture capital fund for health-tech startups in Israel.
What warms your heart when you think of your time at Scheck Hillel?
I joined Hillel at the beginning of Grade 11 due to my family moving from Israel to the US. What warms my heart is recalling how patient and welcoming my classmates and teachers were and how sensitive they were to my early-day challenges.
Share a funny/interesting/unique story from your time at Scheck Hillel. Was there a teacher who had a positive impact and made you feel special, like you could do it all?
An example of the above was my first experience with US literature. Mr. Cirulnik - Mr. C (that’s how we used to call him) was an inspirational literature teacher, and although I knew English quite well, I still lagged behind my classmates, and my first essay grade in his class was a “C.” I am embarrassed to say, but I had never received a C in my life. I went to Mr. C and asked how I could improve. Mr. C tried to assure me that was a perfectly reasonable grade in his class, let alone for a non-native speaker. I insisted I wanted to improve, so Mr. C suggested I submit my assignments a few days ahead of the rest of the class, and he would return the work with some suggestions and notes. I would then be able to re-submit with the rest of my colleagues. Within a few short months of this exercise, I started receiving the marks I was more accustomed to, and by Grade 12, I was writing and editing for the Hillel newspaper. Mr. C still symbolizes in my mind what an inspiring educator should be like.
Do you feel like your time at Scheck Hillel had an impact on your adult life and your choices? How so?
My time at Hillel was very impactful. First and foremost, the “soft landing” afforded to me and my sisters in a foreign country made us grow confident and patriotic. We are all indebted to the warm welcome and dedication of the staff at Hillel. Beyond that, the high scholastic achievements at the school and the opportunities to interact with great teachers and classmates pushed me to a lengthy academic career.
What educational path did you follow?
I completed my Ph.D. in the Department of Biochemistry at New York University Medical Center. I was awarded a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship by the American Cancer Society and did my postdoctoral research at the Weizmann Institute for Science in Israel. I also received my Business Degree (MBA) from the Technion.
What is your current profession, and where do you work? How did you come to work in this field?
Today I am a Partner at a $1B Venture Capital Fund called aMoon Ventures. aMoon (which means “trust” in Hebrew) is a global fund headquartered in Israel focused on early- and late-stage investments in Life Science and Health-Tech companies. I lead investments in early-stage companies developing transformational products and services to improve quality and access to care.
After completing my postdoctoral fellowship, I spent 14 years in the Biopharma industry, ten years as CEO of young companies. I spent three years as the head of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Technology Transfer Company, spinning out 40 companies based on university technologies and executing hundreds of collaboration agreements with global companies. After spending close to 2 decades as an entrepreneur, I decided to “switch sides” to the investor role, where I seek, evaluate, invest in and oversee early-stage companies operating in the healthcare space.
What is most rewarding about the work you do? What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about like-minded, passionate entrepreneurs who want to transform the way we practice and medicine today. I wake up every day with a strong sense of purpose given the mission we have – to generate investor returns by investing in the most promising health-tech companies and innovators. Reviewing nearly 1800 investment opportunities from around the world every year, I get to exercise both my scientific and business brains while doing it with an incredible group of people.
Looking back, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
I would urge myself never to be afraid of trying and failing and explore and exploit opportunities as they come. Some of the most incredible joys and successes in my life happened because I took a leap and dared to try.