10 Israeli startups to watch

Looking for the next new cool technologies? Look no further than the third graduating class of Tel Aviv’s Microsoft Ventures Accelerator.

KitLocate’s turn on Demo Day.

KitLocate’s turn on Demo Day.

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

Sounds similar to Flipboard? Marni Mandell, head of business development for Roojoom, says 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 tells ISRAEL21c. “Roojoom is like a guided tour on the web. It is going to change the way people read online.” 

The cool new technology won Most Promising Startup at the recent Microsoft Ventures Tel Aviv Accelerator’s graduation party. 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.

“We are building extraordinary startups around the world,” said Senior Director Zack Weisfeld. “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.”

At the program’s Demo Day, international and local media came to have a peek at the next new cool technologies. 

“The accelerator opened the proverbial rolodex of contacts to us. We’re so grateful for it,” says Mandell.

The 10 companies to have concluded the Accelerator’s program are likely to snag headlines in the near future, so in addition to Roojoom, remember these names: Appixia, CellMining, ConferPlace, KitLocate, Navin, MetalCompass, Kytera, Semperis and Vubooo.

Kytera – bringing contextual activity analysis technology to help seniors — gets a chance to present.

 

$5 million in funding

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,” says Director of Microsoft Ventures Accelerator, Hanan Lavy.

“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.

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,” Hilla Manor, CEO and co-founder, tells ISRAEL21c.

Being Israeli helps

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.

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.

Jonatan Mor, CEO and co-founder of MetalCompass, tells ISRAEL21c that 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.”

“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,” says Itav Topaz, Vubooo CEO and co-founder. “The accelerator is like a co-founder of the company. Its goal is that we succeed.”

“It was truly inspiring to see the great startups that have come out of the Microsoft Accelerator program, and we are proud to have been a part of it,” said Guy Schory of eBay, a partner with the Microsoft Ventures Tel Aviv Accelerator. “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.”

Navin, a crowd-sourced platform/app that makes navigation work indoors and out; and KitLocate, software development infrastructure that gives companies the ability to provide location-based services with a minimum usage of battery power on mobile devices, believe they have something new to add to the navigation technology field.

Many people were eager to see what the accelerator’s graduates had to offer.


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

The character of the Israeli public is also a boon for startups to test and improve their products.

“You need the cooperation of people, and there is an Israeli spirit to contribute for free to benefit the community,” Shai Rohnen, founder and CEO of Navin, tells ISRAEL21c.  

Says Alon Har-Tal, CTO at Vubooo: “The approach to technology and the chutzpa to attract customers, the creative way we’ve advanced the product — it all connects back to us being Israeli and being a part of the startup nation.”

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About Viva Sarah Press

Viva Sarah Press is an associate editor and writer at ISRAEL21c. She has extensive experience in reporting/editing in the print, online and broadcast fields. She has jumped out of a plane, ducked rockets and been attacked by a baboon all in the name of a good story. Her work has been published by international media outlets including Israel Television, CNN, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and Time Out.