Jewish Journal

10 Israeli startups to watch

by Viva Sarah Press, Israel21c

Posted on Mar. 12, 2014 at 4:04 pm



Roojoom is the latest buzzword you need to know for online content. It’s a new Israeli platform that helps publishers, businesses and  individuals curate Web content, organize it and guide readers.

Sounds similar to Flipboard? Marni Mandell, head of business development for Roojoom, said that while Flipboard lets people curate their favorite stories into a personalized magazine as soon as they click on a link, the reader is led elsewhere on the Web. Roojoom readers stay in a pre-organized content space even when they click on a link or hyperlink, leading to increased engagement and improved click-through rates.

“It keeps people on topic even if they go off topic,” Mandell said. “Roojoom is like a guided tour on the Web. It is going to change the way people read online.” 

The new technology won Most Promising Start-up at Microsoft Ventures Tel Aviv Accelerator’s graduation party in November. Roojoom joined nine other startups in the accelerator’s third program that helps new companies create world-class products and services and take a significant leap into the global marketplace.

At the program’s Demo Day, international and local media came to have a peek at the cool new technologies. The other companies to have concluded the accelerator program that are likely to snag headlines in the near future are: Appixia, CellMining, ConferPlace, KitLocate, Navin, MetalCompass, Kytera, Semperis and Vubooo.

“We are building extraordinary startups around the world,” Microsoft Ventures Senior Director Zack Weisfeld said. “One of our biggest strengths is our unique partnerships with enterprise customers and our ability to provide startups with unparalleled access to markets. We’re giving startups a head start.”

MetalCompass has already taken the mobile gaming industry by storm with its groundbreaking technology that lets users play in a real environment with their smartphones. 

But Jonatan Mor, CEO and co-founder of MetalCompass, said the Microsoft course helped narrow their focus to “partner with other companies from all around the world that use our solution, and we’re helping them create the next generation of entertainment products.”

Vubooo — the largest interactive engagement platform for pro sports fans — joined the program with an already growing customer base of more than 500,000 Android users on its beta platform.

Still, Itav Topaz, Vubooo CEO and co-founder, said the accelerator had much to do with the company’s recent achievements.

“The progress we have achieved in four months is truly amazing and would have taken us at least a year to get to the place we are now,” Topaz said. “The accelerator is like a co-founder of the company. Its goal is that we succeed.”

Guy Schory of eBay, a partner with Microsoft Ventures Tel Aviv Accelerator, said it has been inspiring to see the startups that come out of the accelerator program.

“We are proud to have been a part of it,” he said. “Combine this highly talented batch of entrepreneurs with world-class mentorship and the creative energy of the ‘startup nation,’ and you’ve got a tremendous springboard for success.”

Microsoft Ventures runs accelerator programs for early-stage startups or first-time entrepreneurs around the globe. Its Tel Aviv Accelerator, opened in April 2012, has graduated 34 companies so far.

Eighty-five percent of the first 24 startups from the first two cohorts raised an average of $1 million in funding within half a year of graduation. Five of the 10 most recent graduates received an average of $1 million in funding or formal proposals even before the latest four-month program ended.

“The accomplishments of our third round of startups, the rising number of major multinationals participating in the program and the significant amounts of funding already achieved all point to the increasing success of our program,” said Hanan Lavy, director of Microsoft Ventures Accelerator.

“We’re even seeing companies which are skipping the seed stage and heading straight towards A-round funding — a testament to the quality of the entrepreneurs in this batch.”

The 10 recent graduates were picked from a pool of 380 candidates. They include indoor location-based services, cloud recovery, tele-care solutions for the elderly, guided Web browsing and augmented-reality gaming.

Navin, a crowd-sourced navigation platform/app that works indoors and out, and KitLocate, software development infrastructure that allows companies to provide location-based services using minimal battery power on mobile devices, believe they have something new to add to the navigation technology field.

KitLocate CEO Omri Moran said the Israel Defense Forces trains people to find new ways to navigate out of different situations, and that has helped Israel become a powerhouse in navigation technologies. 

Most companies joined the accelerator program with an idea. 

ConferPlace, the first conference platform that delivers a full conference experience online from anywhere in the world, officially launched at the graduation. The company started in March 2013, introduced a beta version in July and went live in November.

“The mentors in the program helped us focus our path, finding exactly where we want to be,” said Hilla Manor, CEO and co-founder.

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