Iliana Montauk is the director of Gaza Sky Geeks, the first startup accelerator in Gaza, launched in 2011 by the global humanitarian organization Mercy Corps. Gaza Sky Geeks fills a critical need in Gaza, where young tech talent is abundant but opportunities are in short supply. It brought the first international private investment to Gazan startups in late 2013. In 2015, Gaza Sky Geeks ran the biggest crowdfunding campaign to date in the Arab world.
Montauk’s interest in harnessing tech entrepreneurship for development in frontier markets arose from her past experience at Google, a microfinance nonprofit and Wamda, a media outlet focused on startups in the Arab world.
She graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 2006 and completed a Fulbright in Jordan in 2012 focused on startups in the Middle East. Originally from Poland and the San Francisco Bay Area, Montauk speaks five languages, including Arabic.