At today's roundtable, we had a jam-packed pitch session with five Israeli start-ups. Israel Startup Network (ISN), led by Arlene Marom, one of our affiliate partners, organized the event with us. Both the audience and the presenters had a significant representation from that extraordinary start-up nation.
In fact, Saul Singer, author of Start-up Nation had also helped us promote the event, resulting in a massive turnout that offered us a very interesting view into the early-stage Israeli start-up scene.
New Global Markets
First up, David Nordell from Kfar Ya'avetz, Israel, pitched New Global Markets, a solution for making it easier for banks to offer their customers global banking facilities. For example, say, Barclays has a customer in the UK who also wants a bank account in India. Barclays may want to have a partnership with State Bank of India and offer the customer an easy, seamless process to open the second account.
Easy as it may sound, this is a very complex process, fraught with regulatory issues. David is talking to major banks to validate his assumptions. I advised him to get a couple of banks to finance the development of his solution as service projects, with the understanding that he will build a product out of them. Intellectual property rights need to be negotiated accordingly. This will achieve both customer intimacy and bootstrap funding from customers.
Next, Yossi Dan from Raanana, Israel, presented TicTacDo, which consists of an engine that can mine data from various professional networks and find high value business opportunities for users. For example, say, you run an alumni network, and you would like to create value for your alumni members. Yossi can, conceivably, help you achieve that.
The product, however, is complex to build, and Yossi currently has a few beta customers to test the effectiveness of what he has built so far. I advised him to run several networks through the engine and see what kind of value he is able to create. I would be able to advise further after we have some of the use cases and data from those experiments.
Then Alisha Outridge from New York City, discussed TapTank, which she pitched as a B-to-C social media app for setting, tracking and achieving personal goals (health, career, financial, family, etc.). As I discussed her value proposition, it struck me that the business she is building is, in reality, a B-to-B advertising agency business, such that brands (example, Weight Watchers) would use her software and services to build and market a social app with specific goals (example, losing weight).
This observation, I believe, would require that Alisha rethink how to build this business. There is no need to build a consumer business here at all. It is a much lower risk and conceivably far more lucrative, B-to-B opportunity.
Ido Volff from Tel-Aviv, Israel, pitched Sleeve, a framework for social learning that he is testing at three Israeli colleges and universities. Sleeve has a digital notebook app that runs on multiple platforms, as well as marketplace, collaboration, and other features so that students working on a certain subject can learn with and from one another. They can summarize notes, sell them at a marketplace, etc.
Ido asked a critical question: How does a firm like Blackboard feature in this market? My assessment: If Sleeve is nothing more than a feature extension of Blackboard, then it will neither survive nor succeed as an independent company. Ido needs to rethink whether this is the best idea upon which to stake three, five or seven years of his life.
Up last, Noam Band from Jerusalem, Israel, presented Timest, an enterprise software product for testing which software applications are being used, how, what features are not being used, and then helping Training to teach the users how to better use the software. So far, Noam has tried to sell this to IT, although he feels that the better place may be to sell this to Training. The real beneficiary of the value proposition is a Business function or unit.
I agree with his observation, and advised him to go sell his solution to the VP of Sales, and help him identify how the sales force is using various unique and exciting CRM and sales force automation tools. The VP of Sales pays tremendous attention to sales training, has a defined budget and can easily pay for this if he sees value.
I asked Noam to go test this on 50 VPs of Sales, and then come back and discuss the feedback with me.
You can listen to the recording of today's roundtable here. Israel has a long tradition of entrepreneurial activity, and it was a real pleasure to hear from so many entrepreneurs. In fact, we had a completely sold out session today and will try to accommodate entrepreneurs who tried to get a pitch slot today to get scheduled in follow-on roundtables.
As always, I would very much like to hear about your business, so let me invite you to come and pitch at one of our free 1M/1M public roundtables. We will be holding future roundtables at 8:00 a.m. PDT on the following dates:
Thursday, September 29, Register Here.
We will be holding our 100th roundtable on Thursday, October 6 and are planning a special event for that day. You can register to attend here.
And if you want a deeper relationship with me, you are very welcome to join the 1M/1M premium program. If you have any questions about the program, please, first study the website, especially What to expect from the 1M/1M premium program and the FAQs. You can also take the 1M/1M self-assessment test here. If you have additional questions, please email me, and I would be very happy to respond. Please note, that I work exclusively with 1M/1M entrepreneurs.
I also invite you to join the 1M/1M mailing list for the ease and convenience of getting updates. This way we can stay in touch and it will help you to decide if 1M/1M is a program for you.
About Sramana Mitra
Sramana Mitra is the founder of the One Million by One Million (1M/1M) initiative, an educational, business development and incubation program that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond. She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant. She writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy and is author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020. From 2008 to 2010, Mitra was a columnist for Forbes. As an entrepreneur CEO, she ran three companies: DAIS, Intarka, and Uuma. She has a master's degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Israeli flag photo by Ron Almog