The Israeli Tech Scene: What You Need to Know About “Start-Up Nation”

Last week it was announced that PayPal will be acquiring the Israeli cyber security company CyActive in a deal reportedly worth $60 million. This will be PayPal’s second acquisition in Israel (back in 2008 the company acquired Fraud Sciences).

PayPal is not the first to wade into the tech scene in Israel. Tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and IBM have flocked to the “start-up nation” in recent years, buying companies and snapping up talent left and right.

So, What Makes Israel Such a Hot Tech Market?

Even though it is a small nation, Israel has become a hotbed for start-up success and innovative technology, making a name for itself on a global scale. It is the world’s second biggest producer of start-ups (behind Silicon Valley), with approximately 4,800 tech companies. Israel boasts $170 in venture capital per person (the most in the world), and only China and the United States have more companies listed on the NASDAQ.

Israeli start-ups have proven themselves to be smart investments, maturing quickly and reliably becoming profitable. They have thrived in a healthy start-up ecosystem, created in thanks to military training, government programs, networking, and risk-taking.

What Up-and-Coming Israeli Start-Ups Should You Know About?

Innovation in Israel has spanned multiple industries, from media to finance. Keep an eye on these notable companies that are on the rise.

BillGuard was founded by serial entrepreneur Yaron Samid and data security expert Raphael Ouzan as a way to streamline the process of checking credit card statements, though it soon became a powerful fraud detection app. BillGuard detects fraudulent charges and allows users to flag some as well, thus improving the service over time. In 2014, the company completed a third round of funding, rolled out an Android version of the app, and partnered with the leading credit services firm Experian for identify theft insurance.

Yevvo, led by co-founder and chief executive (CEO) Ben Rubin, allows users to share a live video stream with followers at any time. Dubbed “the Twitter of live streaming,” the company raised $3.7 million in a Series A round.

Moovit is crowd-sourcing information from users and designing software to give public transportation directions. It’s currently focused on expanding its user base and collecting more data. Ideally, it will follow in the footsteps of Waze, sold to Google for $1.1 billion.

Interlude was founded by musician Yoni Block as an interactive platform for creating music videos. Brands like Microsoft, Shell, and Revlon have already jumped on board as users, and Interlude has raised more than $20 million from investors like Sequoia and Intel Capital.

SundaySky offers personalized informational videos for brands to deliver to their clients (e.g. a health insurance company providing an overview of the previous billing period in video form). In October of last year, the company closed a $20 million round. Brands like AT&T, Orange, Office Depot, and AIG have already started using SundaySky.

What Do Israeli Start-Ups Need to Do to Be Successful in the U.S.?

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New York City has become quite the hub for Israeli start-ups within the last few years for a variety of reasons, including that it’s closer than Silicon Valley, has a large network of VCs that are looking to invest, and a strong network of Israeli-based entrepreneurs. There are more than 200 Israeli start-ups that are headquartered in New York, but there is one main barrier that they need to overcome to be successful: culturally, Israelis and Americans are very different from each other. Therefore, the process of incorporating the Israeli tech start-ups into the NYC network is a challenge.

A few ways for them to fill in the cultural gap is to be patient when working with American counterparts (since processes can take way longer), improve their writing skills so that they can present themselves in the best light possible, attend networking events (there are tons of tech events always happening in the city), and keep their ideas fresh and stay true to themselves. We need that perspective, hard work, and “go-getter” attitude that many of these Israeli visionaries are bringing to the table.

Watch out for these big companies coming your way. With the combination of Israeli innovation and American business savvy, the sky is the limit.

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