Special sauce: the intern who brought an Israeli startup and McDonald’s together

Duke student Alexi Braun, who participated in TAMID Group and Onward Israel's summer program, reached out on behalf of Israeli startup RightHear to a McDonald’s New York franchisee CEO and created a connection that could lead to a major deal

Daniel Farber-Ball 17:3101.06.21

Alexi Braun, a 21-year-old intern, can add a line to her resume not many professionals can. The Duke student connected the CEO of a McDonald’s franchisee in New York with the CEO of RightHear, an Israeli startup that offers navigation solutions for people with vision impairment. The cooperation is expected to lead to a major deal, which will see RightHear’s technology used across 76 New York area branches of the fast-food giant. “I wanted to imagine a world where anyone could go anywhere independently – a world where everyone is capable, confident, and empowered,” Braun said.


Alexi Braun Photo: Zoe King Alexi Braun Photo: Zoe King

The economics and psychology student landed her internship at RightHear by taking part in a summer fellowship organized by the TAMID Group, a nonprofit that connects emerging professionals around the world with Israeli startups through remote consulting projects and in-person internships, and Onward Israel’s, an umbrella organization for mid-length internship programs for American college students.


Usually, the program offers American students an opportunity to work and live in the startup nation. However, with the rise of the global pandemic, the program pivoted its eight-week in-person program to a remote one.


“The internship was, for me, an excellent opportunity to further my passion to do good – and of course to take advantage of the period of Corona when everything else seemed to ground to a halt. As the date of my internship grew near, RightHear was looking for ways to enter the US market. Since I’m from the US, it was a lot easier for me to network and work on ways to bring this important technology to North America.”


During her internship, Braun handled several projects intended to grow RightHear’s activities in the U.S., focusing on major metropolitan areas such as New York. Braun worked closely with RightHear CEO Idan Meir, and despite the distance said that “Idan communicated with me frequently about the company’s goals, what was working for them and how they operated. This support and clarity around the work I had been brought on to do, helped me to broker a major deal with McDonald’s, even though I was 8,713 km away from the company in Israel.”


Following the successful experience with Braun, Meir was happy to give the young student her due, ”Thanks to Alexi we were able to reach the biggest franchise owner of McDonald’s in New York, demonstrate our solution and advance the conversation towards a joint project. This is an opportunity of extraordinary strategic importance for us. Moreover, Alexi led a webinar that included the CEO of the global society for visually-impaired persons, the WBU, and a senior director from the umbrella organization for the blind in the United States, the NFB. The reactions to it were amazing, and this experience was for Alexi (and for us as a company) the first time producing such an event – with far-reaching and valuable implications for all of us.”

McDonald’s meal McDonald’s meal


Summing up her TAMID Group experience, Braun said “During the internship, I gained real-world experience in business development, learned how to prepare joint-project proposals and contract proposals, marketed the technology, and developed expertise negotiating with senior leaders.”


According to Yoni Heilman, the CEO of TAMID Group, today there are more than 2,800 student members at 60 chapters worldwide; more than 2,500 alumni; about 1,500 Israeli company partners; and more than 6,000 donors.