“Now is the best time to start a company” or “You should do all you can to keep your job”. Which approach would you support these days?
According to IVC online, no less than 40 startups were launched in Israel in the last 30 days, out of a total of 270 companies that launched in 2008. Calcalist suggests that it might be related to 1600 employees that were laid off from technology companies in November.
These new start ups have a few things in common: they all strive to develop software and hardware that would either save money to their clients, or make them money. Most of the companies were started by experienced entrepreneurs, and not by first timers. All of them treat the current economic situation as an opportunity rather than a crisis.
The article (Hebrew) proceeds to profile three of these young companies.
Vizmo: develops software to shorten the wait time of customer calls with organizations. a new way for companies to communicate with their customers, leveraging the existing capabilities of mobile phones. The service claims to provide a better customer experience at lower costs. The company was started in April by Tomer London and Assaf Revach, two students from the Technion, Israel’s version of MIT. The company is currently being incubated in the Technion’s Innovation Lab.
- On a related note, this reminds me of Fonolo, another Israeli start up in beta that shortens the time it takes consumers to reach corporations, through “Deep Dial”. Fonolo transcribed phone menus of large companies, enabling users VOIP dialing straight to their destination. Similar to JaJah – Fonolo uses a callback service – the user browses the company directory online and Fonolo phones the user back, similar to an online operator. Oh and yes, the iPhone app is on its way. Another company in the space is dialahuman.com.
Chizoom: in their own words, the site is designed “specifically to help users make decisions”. The product is in fact a shopping aggregation engine, that ranks product results using user reviews and forum comments. Team includes Eidan Apelbaum Ph.D, a former director of product management at Yahoo.
Jumali – in 1992 Eli Doron co-founded Radvision, an Israeli company that pioneered videophone technology with the help of Microsoft and Cisco. Now, after sixteen years, Eli has left Radvision to start his own venture – Jumalee. The start up is developing a medical device that will help physiotherapy patients mobilize through visual stimulation’s – think about the Wii Fit for patients. Eli approached 70 angels for investments, but they all seem to be in a holding pattern until the economical situation clears.
Sequoia Bullish on Israel, Blue Run Ventures runs out of the country
If you needed more proof that now is a good time to start a new venture, listen to Shmil Levy, a partner at Sequoia Israel, who believes that now is a great time to invest. Sequoia has a cash surplus from 2006 and experience in starting companies in bad economic times. According to Levy, Sequoia is about to announce two investments in Israeli companies – one in the clean energy field and the other in Internet.
On the same note, yesterday the Israeli office of Blue Run Ventures, which was started in 2003, said it will reduce its activity in Israel and divert more funds towards the US and China. In an interview to Globes, Yossi Hasson the partner of Blue Run who oversees the Israeli operations said:
“In terms of the risk/reward ratio and compared with what we see in other places around the world, venture capital in Israel seems less promising. I’ll continue to be a partner in the firm, and I’ll keep the companies we’ve already invested in. We won’t reduce the scale of our global investment, and we’ll even expand it in the US and China. We’re now looking for employees there.”
Time will tell which fund is taking the right strategy, but my personal opinion is that Sequoia is betting on the winning horse as they always have.