Israel, being a tiny winy country in the world map has surprised the world by building a well organized and stable entrepreneurial ecosystem in the nineties. The drastic growth in the startup ecosystem has attracted the attention of half the world. Last year, the sale of 70 startups has got around $15 billion in the pockets of Israeli entrepreneurs and 39 of these had several rounds of financing raising more than $20 million. Apart from many investors showing interest in Israeli’s startups, many big companies like Google, Apple and Facebook have acquired various Israeli startups like Waze – an navigation app, Prime Sense – 3D sensor for Kinect for Xbox and Onavo and many more.
Study by Startup Genome shows that Israel ranks second in the list of countries with the highest density of innovative companies, the pioneer being Silicon Valley. The culture and the mindset of the people attributes to the fast entrepreneurial growth of the country. Tel Aviv, which functions as the startup hub of Israel house around 970 startups among the 3300 startups in the country. According to 2015 Compass Global Startup Ecosystem Rankings Tel Aviv is the number one startup ecosystem outside the USA and is number three in terms of global talent. This radical growth in the startup ecosystem of the country is because of the road to success is paved with the new layer of high-tech “seed accelerators” that have bloomed in Israel in the last few years. It’s first accelerator was launched in 2011 and now, there are more than 200. Below has been listed the top accelerators of Israel who are well-known and high in demand for the startups to enter.
Founded in 2011 and powered by Genesis Partners (a pioneer early stage venture capital firm), The Junction is the leading platform in Israel for early stage startups to grow and advance their ventures into better products and companies. It functions as open house for the entrepreneurs, uniquely creating a ‘pay-it-forward’ acceleration model. It focuses on the tech startups dealing with Big Data, Security, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Enterprise Software, e-health, IOT and Located at Tel Aviv, the program places the startups into a community of active entrepreneurs of creativity, productivity and innovation. The selected startup founders who are part of the The Junction are called junctioneers. During the program, each junctioneer gets his own desk space, internet and unlimited coffee (which they call a wave).
The acceleration program runs for six months where every junctioneer receives five layers of support – initial funding, dedicated advisory board, corporate partnerships, industry expert mentorship, Genesis Partners knowledge. It has partnered with multinational insurance company Munich Re, SAP and HP to offer many added advantage to the participants. Few months ago, the accelerator changed the format where instead of 10 20 companies would be invited to a two-day boot camp called ‘Founders Camp’, where the dynamic meetings will be held alongside hackathons. After this process, 4 to 6 companies will be selected for the next cycle of The Junction where the actual acceleration program begins. The companies would then receive minimal discretional financing of $50 million from a group of angel investors in exchange of 5% equity stake. Aroundish, zengaming, Wyzli, Alum.ni, Picksu, Storyboard.me, Simplee, Vod.io, RideFrog, Hitpad, Check123 are some the companies graduated from Genesis acceleration program.
*Microsoft Ventures Accelerator:
Founded in 2012, Microsoft Ventures at Tel Aviv was founded with the ultimate goal to assist startups pave their road to success. Considered to be the Israel’s top accelerator, it does seed, early stage venture and non equity assistance investments to the startups. The biggest advantage to the selected startups in Microsoft Ventures when compared with other accelerators is that they get access to all the Microsoft products for three years, around 100 mentors and networking opportunities with global companies. It also offers a usability lab, video/demo recording room, tailored training and admin support, legal services and accounting. There services are estimated to be around $150K – 200K of value. But Microsoft does not invest in the companies nor do take any equity from them.
The 4 month acceleration program of Microsoft target at the early stage startups dealing with Cloud, Internet and mobile. Being part of the program, the participants get access to Microsoft’s customers and partners all over the world, increased visibility of investors, benefit from hands-on mentorship from top serial entrepreneurs, marketing, funding and many more.The mentors of the program are committed to weekly office hours with the companies they mentor. It accepts startups from other countries around the world. Notable graduates of the program consists of Appixia, which was acquired by Israeli website builder Wix, MusicSense, Stevie, Twtrland, RotaryView and KitLocate, which was acquired by Russian search engine Yandex.
Founded in 2012, UpWest Labs is an accelerator that brings teams from early-stage Israeli startups to Palo Alto for an intensive, three-month experience meant to expose them to the U.S market and help them move their companies grow. It invests in Israel’s most promising entrepreneurs and boost them to move ahead in the market. The selected startups are offered the essentials for success which includes seed funding, proximity and access to markets and capital, a supportive community of talented peers and mentors and a workspace environment to speed up the process of development. Till date, it has enabled more than 180 Israeli entrepreneurs to develop their product closer to market and create valuable product momentum. The process to enter the accelerator is highly competitive and the process consists of face-to-face meetings with members of the UpWest Labs team, who visits Israel often to hunt for the best and bright.
UpWest Labs does not take in more than 5 teams who mainly focuses on consumer internet, mobile, enterprise software, e-commerce and cloud computing. The companies’ leadership teams are brought to Silicon Valley for three months and placed at Menlo Park with a stipend of up to $20,000. They are mentored by the Silicon Valley professionals, offered workshops on product development, marketing and guidance to work with investors. In exchange of the stipend and mentoring, the accelerator structures like a venture capital firm gets up to 8% equity in the startup companies. Till date, the graduates of the accelerator have raised over $50 million in funding with an average seed round of more than $1 million per company. Notable startups graduated from this program are Contapps, Offscale, Drippler, HoneyBook, SentinelOne Superfly and more. This accelerator perfectly bridges the gap between abundant talent lying in Israel and the abundant funds lying in the USA.
Founded in 2011 by Uri Glazer and Tom Bronfeld, Elevator is another Israeli accelerator that prefers being called innovation studio rather than accelerator. It is part of the Global Accelerator Network and has partnered with “The Summit Series” for more connections and networking. It focuses on early stage companies and offer them with essential business development, design and operational expertise and services. Elevator’s secret ingredient and the main value proposition is bridging the gap between Israel’s top talent and the markets to which they are selling (mostly USA and Europe) and connecting talented entrepreneurs with the financing and mentorship they need to grow. Another unique feature is that it offers in-house designer, helping startups focus on their design.
Program at IDC Elevator runs for four months where the 10 selected startups are trained for three months in Tel Aviv and one month in New York, USA. It has partnered with large corporations to offer them direct access to innovative companies and technologies in the fintech, med-tech and media sectors by acting as their local investment office in Israel. It has a unique method for early stage startup funding, with works to speed up market validation, a process that usually takes 18 months. It makes small investments of less than $1 million in the ‘market ready’ companies. In exchange for the investments, it takes 10% equity on the company.
*DreamIt Ventures Israel:
Started in 2012 in Israel, DreamIt Ventures catapults early stage startups by offering all the needed resources needed to succeed in the short span of time. It offers startups mentorship, guidance, stipend, working office space where the young entrepreneurs work along with the other entrepreneurs building their businesses and get access to early stage funding. The principle of the Philadelphia-born accelerator is that if the obstacles on the pathway are removed and the entrepreneurs are offered with needed resources and support, magic of success can happen with ease. This is another accelerator that helps Israeli companies launch their business in USA.
DreamIt Israel is a four-month accelerator program followed by 2 months of workspace. The program takes place for a month in Israel followed by the next three months in New York City working along with companies in the DreamIt NYC 2012 program. The startups are offered with the stipend of $25,000 and one-on-one mentorship. The program does not take more than five startups per batch. At the end of the program, the startups face demo day in New York City and another demo day in Israel to meet the Israeli investors. It has accelerate many successful startups like SeatGeek, Take the Interview, CloudMine, Notehall, SupplyHog, Adaptly and many others. DreamIt companies have raised more than $100 million in follow-on funding after graduating from the program.
RAD BioMed is a success driven accelerator for Israeli life science startups and part of RAD Group of companies. It focuses on companies operating in biomedical sector targeting at medical technologies, diagnostics, medical devices and pharma. Apart from this, it also invests in media, internet retail and online services. For the selected startups, it offers professional facilities, management expertise and market knowledge needed to bring an idea from initial research through proof-of-concept, clinical trial and follow-on investments all the way through to the go-to-market phase.
Unlike other accelerator program, RAD BioMed also accepts single entrepreneurs from their focus areas. The entrepreneurs with ground breaking ideas are identified and offered the framework they need to succeed that includes funding, disciplined mentoring, business development, marketing, HR and administration services and state of the art lab and working spaces in the center of Tel Aviv.