Technology in Israel: I spent a week in Israel meeting with leaders in tech. The result is a thoughtful view of a tiny country that few ever get to see.
If you’re wondering why I haven’t blogged in the last week or so, it’s because I was traveling (with a very tight schedule). Last week I had the pleasure and privilege of taking part in a delegation trip to Israel to meet with the country’s leaders in technology (startups, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, investors, incubators and more). The invitation was extended by the Israeli Consulate of NY and Israel’s Foreign Trade Ministry. The attendees, in addition to myself, were a handful of fellow U.S. bloggers. The trip’s objective was to immerse the delegation into technology in Israel, a tech and startup scene that’s been dubbed the ‘Startup Nation,’ which is also the title of a best-selling book on the very subject.
In just 8 days, I met with over 100 Israeli startups, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, investors, incubators and government officials. The result was a clear insight into a tech startup world that few people ever get to see. Not only that, it was a nice market pulse; where tech is right now and where it’s headed.
Let’s start with some background (from Startup Nation). Israel is a country of 7 million. It’s only 60 years old. Surrounded by enemies and in a constant state of war since its founding, the country has no natural resources. It’s only export: people. Since its establishment, Israel has produced more start-up companies than large, peaceful, and stable nations like Japan, China, India, Korea, Canada, and the UK. On a per person basis, the country has attracted over two times the venture capital investment as the US and thirty times more than Europe. Israel has more companies on the tech-oriented NASDAQ stock exchange than any country outside the US – more than all of Europe and India combined. How is this possible?
Technology in Israel, my observation:
- Israel’s mandatory military service makes for a society that is prepared to communicate, create teams, and improvise. Men and women as young as 18 are often at the helm of military operations that have the lives of hundreds of fellow-soldiers depending on them. These youngsters are trained to operate tanks or other military craft worth in excess of $1 million. That’s a lot of responsibility at a very young age. There’s no college experience that can discipline a young person in a similar way. When they emerge from military service, Israeli’s are equipped with incredible leadership skills and an unsurpassed ability to operate in high stakes environments, under intense pressure. During service, many Israeli’s are engaged with engineering or scientific operations. Couple military service, a technology and scientific knowledge base and an adversity-driven culture, and you get a society that’s apt to put chutzpah over finesse. No exhaustive prep here. It’s a recipe for entrepreneurship.
What’s the downside?
- While I’m all for avoiding exhaustive prep, some Israeli companies aren’t doing prep at all. Many don’t thoroughly know their market, their customer, or their competitors (i.e. is another startup working on something similar, compatible, or that will make their product obsolete?). I found that some Israeli tech companies don’t see past their nose, so to speak. There’s this overriding assumption that if a technology solves a problem, a tech conglomerate (i.e. Google, Facebook, Microsoft) will acquire it and the entrepreneur can cash out, quick. But this isn’t always so. There’s a lot to be said for market research.
- While all the startups I met with do indeed solve real world problems, in my honest opinion, some of those problems are inconsequential. Of the 100 meetings I had, only a handful of the technologies were truly game-changing. But I’ll leave that assessment up to you.
The following is my trip itinerary with a short blurb on each company I met with (what they do and/or what problem their technology solves). Future posts will provide an expose on my favorite emerging technologies and how they can practically improve your lifestyle (link-ins to follow).
- TedCas – advanced natural touchless interfaces for healthcare. TedCas’s technology allows doctors and nurses to access digital information in the distance and in a completely aseptic way, using only air gestures. (http://tedcas.com)
- eyeSight – Touch Free solutions that enable the use of intuitive hand gestures to control a wide array of consumer electronics and digital devices, including mobile phones, tv’s, pc’s and medical devices. (http://eyesight-tech.com)
- BNC Systems – automotive-technology, developing, manufacturing and selling innovative hardware & software platforms for the automotive industry. (http://bnc-s.com)
- Comigo – a smart TV platform. A comprehensive multi-screen solution presenting exciting interactive and ground-breaking personal and social networking capabilities. (http://comigo.com)
- SmarType Keyboard – a keyboard with a small LCD screen on it that helps you see what you’re typing, when you’re typing it, right next to your fingers. (www.keyviewtech.com)
APPS & WEB PLATFORMS
- Tonara – a ‘kindle-like’ app that allows you to download and view sheet music on your iPad. Its clever algorithm listens as you play live music, showing you where you are on the screen, and even turning the pages for you automatically. (http://tonara.com)
- Commerce Sciences – The Personal Bar is installed via a short piece of code added to your eCommerce site, which creates a floating footer that increases sales and engagements by creating a personalized experience for each of your shoppers based on their own unique shopping behavior. (http://commercesciences.com)
- GroupShot – an app that lets you combine your favorite components of a group shot into one. Take the perfect group photo without the worry of one person in the group messing it up. (http://groupshot.com)
- Weesh – a social networking app for couples. We wrote about it back in August 2012 (read more).
- Huduyou – an online companion for finding local service providers recommended by your friends. Don’t go to Yelp or SuperPages, visit Huduyou and see who your friends recommend. (http://huduyou.com)
- If I Die – Facebook app that that enables people to leave a message that will only be published after they die. What happens to a Facebook profile when someone dies? (http://ifidie.net)
- WISHI – an app that lets you share your real clothes with the world. Wear it, share it! (http://wishi.me)
- Ringya – snap a photo of your paper lists or email digital lists to the app. Ringya transforms those lists into smart, organized groups or “rings” on your smartphone. (http://ringya.com)
- Traity – an app that scientifically measures your personality traits based on contributions from your Facebook contacts, so you can learn your own strengths and weaknesses. (http://traity.com)
- Cross Reader – a browser plugin that presents complementary and related stories, relevant to the page you are reading (featuring related stories, social updates and more). (http://crossreader.com)
- Summer – a browser plugin that appears on the right of your browser and gives you information about people you find interesting around the web. Simply click on their name, on the inline text. (http://summerhq.com)
- NewVem – analytics tool that provides timely actionable insights that are critical for any business in the cloud. Analyzes AWS cloud behavior and reveals insights related to costs, assets, and risks, and recommends solutions to manage a cloud more efficiently and effectively. (http://newvem.com)
- Wix – website creator tool that let users create customized beautiful website for free. Freemium-based model; Wix provides a free URL. For a premium, users can connect to their own domain, or remove Wix branding. (http://wix.com)
- Pluralis – optimize your website’s landing pages through crowdsourcing. Web designers and optimizers submit their work and you select and pay for only the best submission. (http://pluralis.com)
- Sty.It – integrated into Facebook, you can get your own personal stylist with this app. (http://styl.it)
- House of Einstein – your personal shopper. Select your tastes, receive clothes via shipment, keep what you like, and return what you don’t. (http://houseofeinstein.com)
- TireCheck Download this app and check your tire pressure with your smartphone by simply photographing your tires! Electro-optic method for monitoring tire pressure. (http://neo-matix.com)
- Tomigo – a social recruiting solution that leverages your employees’ social connections to find top talent for your company. (http://tomigo.com)
- 6Scan – secures your websites against hackers attempting to destroy or deface it, and prevents them from stealing your data. (http://6scan.com)
- Xeneta – offers insight into a global sea freight market when it comes to price, actual transit times and the environment. (http://xeneta.com)
- AnyClip – a tagging technology that extracts and indexes metadata of full-length feature films. The AnyClip database adds up to 5,000 tags to each movie, so you can search the database for an exact moment in a film that you’re looking for. (http://anyclip.com)
- Wibbitz – a text to video platform that analyzes text and matches it with the best visual representation for the text, adds voice-over narration and turns it into an engaging video. Turn almost any article, post or feed on the web into a short video clip, instantly. (http://wibbitz.com)
- Hoozin – a social network and mobile ‘hangout’ that allows you and your friends to interact without losing the special vibe and dynamics that you have in real life. (http://hoozin.me)
- Magisto – an app that automatically turns plain videos into beautifully edited and produced movies, perfect for sharing. (http://www.magisto.com)
- Familio – a social networking app for families to connect and share thoughts, photos and more. (http://familio.com)
- MyPermissions – protects your personal information by automatically scanning your app’s permissions. Alerts you when apps access private information. (https://mypermissions.com)
- StillShot – app that lets you create a full resolution photo from a video file by analyzing the frames one by one, letting the user to choose the best frame. Great when objects are on the move and it is hard to catch the moment or when a video was already taken instead of a still photo. (http://stillshot.me)
- iOnRoad – a personal assistant app for diving. Run the app and mount your smartphone to your dashboard, it will alert you when you’re too close to another car or there are other hazards in your path. Also incudes GPS navigation functionality. (http://ionroad.com)
- Fooducate – app that barcode scans groceries and returns a health grade, so you can choose the healthiest foods while you shop and before you eat. (http://fooducate.com)
- eVolero – platform for creating an interactive website for an event you are organizing. Manage the site’s layout, branding, information and registration. A web-based eco-system for your conference to make the most out of it before, during and after the event day. (http://evolero.com)
- Spoteam – aggregates video content from various search engines and enables users to rank them actively and passively using a smart algorithm. (http://spoteam.com)
- Mallzee – create your own personal online shopping mall by picking your favorite stores from the 200+ already signed up. Mallzee then finds products suited to your tastes from them all, lets you interact with friends as you shop, so they can help you find your best look. (http://mallzee.com)
- Roomer – a secondary marketplace for non-refundable hotel reservations. If you have a reservation and you can’t make it, don’t pay the cancellation fee, sell your reservation and make some (if not all) of your money back. (http://roomerit.com)
VENTURE CAPITALISTS, INCUBATORS, ACCELERATORS & ANGEL INVESTORS
- JVP (Jerusalem Venture Partners) – a leading Israeli venture capital firm dedicated to building world class media technology companies. Established in 1993, JVP now has over $900 million under management. (http://jvpvc.com)
- JVP Media Labs – an affiliate of JVP, is JVP’s early stage investment arm providing startups a suite of customized services, including seed financing, hands-on management, office space and strategic guidance. (http://jvpstudio.com)
- Jon Medved – one of Israel’s leading venture capitalists. In 2008, The New York Times named him one of 10 most influential Americans in Israel.
- Bob Rosenschein – the founder, CEO and chairman of Answers.com prior to its acquisition. Bob is a venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur, named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009.
- AlmaLinks – a private program that brings together young professionals and senior business executives to connect personally and learn from each other professionally. (http://almalinks.org)
- Boot Camp Ventures – a strategic corporate advisory firm for emerging technology companies, offering pre-filtering, selection and preparation of companies throughout all stages of the capital raising and business development process – a discipline uniformly appreciated by entrepreneurs, investors and partners. (http://bootcampventures.com)
- IDC Elevator – invests in initial seed funding of startup companies, providing office space and startup capital in exchange for a small equity stake in each startup. Startups receive mentorship in addition to services from a wide array of partners, including lawyers, bookkeepers, accountants, designers and more. (http://idcelevator.com)
- Lool Ventures – incubator for emerging startups in the technology space. (http://lool.vc)
- DLD Conference – (Digital – Life – Design) is a global conference network on innovation, digital media, science and culture. Connecting innovators, tastemakers, investors, and more. Chairmen of DLD are publisher Hubert Burda and serial digital investor Yossi Vardi. (http://dld-conference.com)
GOVERNMENT & EDUCATION – TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH
- Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, a world-renowned research university pursuing teaching and research in sciences, engineering, and technology. (http://technion.ac.il/en)
- Haifa Municipality – a municipality of an Israeli city, standing as a center of high tech industries in Israel and the globe. Home of MATAM, Israel’s Silicon Valley. (http://haifa.muni.il)
- hiCenter of Haifa – unique business accelerator focused on technology-based businesses. The hiCenter is backed by the Office of the Chief Scientist of Israel and provides entrepreneurs with a solid launching pad to ‘start-up’ their business. (http://hicenter.co.il)
- Kinrot Incubators – founded as part of the Israeli Incubator Program, Kinrot Incubators provides a solid platform for developing and commercializing water innovations / clean tech (http://www.kinrot.com)
- IAI (Israel Aerospace Industries) – a globally recognized leader in development and production of military and commercial aerospace and defense systems. IAI’s invests substantially in research and development, including investments in green tech products. (http://www.iai.co.il)
If you’d like to read more, there is a nice press release by IAI describing the overall objective of the delegation during our weeklong tour of technology in Israel. There’s also a sweet photo with me and an Israeli drone, a pilotless aircraft operated by remote control.
Editor’s Note: One more press release about my trip, by NewVem.