This mom and former Israeli tank commander is leading her Silicon Valley startup from a war zone

By Matt Egan | CNN

New York — Maayan Cohen was on a flight from Tel Aviv to Las Vegas when she learned through a text that a terror attack was unfolding in Israel.

After delivering a speech at a tech conference in Vegas, the Israeli-American CEO of health company Hello Heart hopped on a flight back to Tel Aviv the next day to be with her 5-year-old son and employees.

Cohen, a former tank commander in the Israeli Army, had no doubt she should immediately return to Tel Aviv.

“It wasn’t even a question,” Cohen, who was born and raised in Israel, told CNN. “If Jews are not protected in Israel, Jews won’t be protected anywhere.”

Based in Silicon Valley, Hello Heart is a digital health company that lets users monitor and manage their heart health by detecting their blood pressure and heart rate and by providing recommendations.

Before the terror attacks, Cohen had been splitting her time between California and Israel. Now she is leading Hello Heart from Tel Aviv, where the company employs about 80 people.

“It all feels like a nightmare. This is like the worst nightmare in the world and it keeps attacking you because Hamas terrorists videoed everything and put it on social media. It’s everywhere,” said Cohen, who co-founded Hello Heart in 2013. “This is not some far-away land that this happened in. This is our community.”

‘Truly scared’

Cohen and her family have been living in a bomb shelter at their home since the October 7 terror attack by Hamas. The scariest part of her day is commuting to the office, which also has a bomb shelter.

“This is the first time Israelis are truly scared. It’s the first time in my life I’m carrying a kitchen knife and pepper spray in my bag,” Cohen said. “We don’t know what’s coming next. I’ve never been scared like this as a civilian.”

Hello Heart has raised $138 million from venture capital firms and other investors and says its clients include CVS, Delta Air Lines and other Fortune 500 firms.

Leading a venture-backed startup in this crazy economy is never easy. Pulling that off in the middle of a war is another matter altogether.

“Our team is horrified. They go to funerals all the time. Everyone is scared and shocked,” Cohen said.

Israeli and Palestinian employees

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