iAngels portfolio companies Arbe Robotics and Taranis mentioned amongst Siliconrepublic.com 23 amazing startups in Tel Aviv

This article was originally published on siliconrepublic.com 

Tel Aviv is alive with tech start-ups and it is a city with an unwavering eye on the future.

The second most populous city in Israel, and effectively the country’s business capital, Tel Aviv is a firm fixture on the world’s technology map.

It is clearly a city where people like to work hard but play hard, too, with a world-renowned nightlife. Nestled alongside the Mediterranean and home to thousands of start-ups, the city and its surrounding areas are home to hundreds of venture capital firms but also global operations of tech giants such as Google, SAP, Microsoft and Facebook, to name a few.

Boasting a technology cluster known as Silicon Wadi, Israel is a start-up nation, and much of the tech industry can be found in the area around Tel Aviv and in nearby cities such as Ra’anana, Petah Tikva, Herzliya, Netanya, Rehovot and Rishon LeZion.

The Israeli tech industry began to form in the 1960s with forerunners including Tadiran and Elron Electronic Industries. The industry’s evolution was boosted by the 1967 French arms embargo, which was a catalyst for the creation of a domestic military industry defined by cutting edge R&D.

Notable tech giants to emerge from Israel include Amdocs and Check Point Software Technologies.

From IT security to the cameras in our smartphones, Israeli entrepreneurs mostly based in or near Tel Aviv have played a key role.

As one of the most technologically influential hubs in the world alongside Silicon Valley, Berlin, Helsinki, Kista and London, Tel Aviv is notable for the sheer number of start-ups that go on to list on the NASDAQ Stock Market.

Like most start-up cities, Tel Aviv has a bustling events scene, with notable events including Blockchain Israel, GarageGeeks, UX Salon, Startup Grind and Yazamiyot for women entrepreneurs.

Useful groups to follow on Facebook include Start-Up Stadium, Secret Tel Aviv and Innovation Israel.

Annual tech events include DLD in September, Journey, Microsoft Tech Summit and Innovex.

Established incubators include The Time, Samurai Incubate and Techcode, while active accelerators include 500 Startups, TheHive, Kamatech and The Junction.

And so, here are 23 Tel Aviv start-ups that we think are worth watching in 2018.

Airobotics

Airobotics has developed a pilotless drone platform that collects aerial data and valuable insights for industrial facilities. Founded in 2014 by Meir Kliner and Ran Krauss, Airobotics has raised $71m in funding so far, the most recent being a $32.5m Series C round led by BlueRun Ventures, also including such investors as OurCrowd and Microsoft Ventures.

Click here to read more!

Outdoorsy, the ‘Airbnb of RVs,’ rolls up $25 million in fresh funding

This article was originally published on techcrunch.com

According to serial entrepreneur Jeff Cavins, more than 35 million people each year look to rent an RV — 38 percent of them so-called millennials. Yet they often walk away from the experience empty-handed. The reason, he says: There are fewer than 100,000 commercially owned vehicles available from traditional rental services.

Cavins says that his San Francisco-based company, Outdoorsy, is beginning to address this issue by enabling owners of the 14 million privately owned RVs in the United States to rent them to users, à la Airbnb.

The vehicles are mostly sitting around collecting dust anyway, says Cavins, who co-founded the company in late 2014 after heading up seven previous companies — two of which were  publicly traded.

“Americans desperately want time off, but what happens is they’ll buy a camper van, they’ll use it year one, then use it again maybe one week that second year,” says Cavins. “In the meantime, it’s sitting in storage, with the owner often dealing with both a mortgage and insurance payment. By year three, people go back to the dealership and say, ‘We’re done,’ and the dealer says, ‘I’m sorry but that vehicle you paid $100,000 for three years ago is now worth $40,000.’ ”

Intuitively, the platform would seem to make sense. RVs are unaffordable for most people. Storing them is a hassle. And people are increasingly interested in reaching places where home-sharing sites and hotels cannot take them. Think Burning Man, for example, or the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

But Cavins said venture investors “didn’t get it,” when he began pitching the idea to them several years ago. While he secured meetings with all the right firms, he said he was repeatedly ushered politely out the door by people who deemed the idea too risky.

In fact, Cavins says that he and his co-founder and life partner Jen Young wound up funding the company for its first year. During that time, the platform they created, with two “phenomenal” developers,  was compelling enough to attract four term sheets from VCs. He turned them down, though. (“I didn’t want to give my company to them,” he says.) Instead, his next move was to enroll the company in NFX, a venture firm and accelerator that works with a small group of companies each year that are focused on “network effects,” or ensuring that both sides of a marketplace keep coming back in larger numbers.

The time spent in the program paid off, says Cavins. “At NFX, we learned to professionalize the platform. You think about power sellers on eBay and real estate firms on Zillow and property management companies on Airbnb. What we needed was to get [partner companies] on the platform,” which Outdoorsy has begun to do. Outdoorsy has a cross-promotional partnership, for example, with Kampgrounds of America, the network of campgrounds known as KOA, which has roughly 500 locations in North America. “They sell the dirt and space and Outdoorsy brings the hotel room,” says Cavins.

Cavins says Outdoorsy is also finding users through Facebook ads, via word of mouth, as well as through “emerging power sellers,” as Cavins calls them. He points to a single mother in Huntington Beach, Calif., who has acquired five RVs and using them to pay for her daughter’s law school tuition at UC Berkeley. “It’s almost like a cottage industry of folks who are running their businesses on our platform from their kitchen tables,” says Cavins.

Altogether, says Cavins, Outdoorsy now has 256,000 users, and he says it’s growing by 21,000 users a month. RV owners set prices, keeping between 80 percent and 94 percent of the total based on their “trust” ranking scores on the site and on how many vehicles they are renting. (The more they rent, the more they keep.) Outdoorsy separately keeps at least 10 percent of the overall rental price, in part to pay for on-demand insurance, along with unlimited roadside assistance, which it secures for renters through several partnerships.

It’s enough momentum that Outdoorsy, which now employs 50 people, just landed a sizable amount of Series B funding: $25 million led by Aviva Ventures and Altos Ventures, with participation from Tandem Capital and Autotech Ventures. (The latter had chipped into the $6.5 million that Outdoorsy raised previously — much of it from Cavins, who’d also taken earlier checks from NFX, Tekton Ventures and numerous angel investors.)

Even still, Outdoorsy has its challenges, of course. A look at some of the inventory Outdoorsy has unlocked shows a lot of pick-up trucks, which would seem to stretch the definition of recreational vehicle, at least in so far as people would probably prefer not to sleep in one (or visit Outdoorsy expressly to rent one).

There are also at least 10 other RV rental companies, including Mighway and Campanda.

And Outdoorsy has Airbnb itself with which to compete. Along with homes and other vacation rentals, Airbnb connects its users to RVs and campers.

Cavins argues that unlike these companies and Airbnb in particular, Outdoorsy’s users “connect emotionally” because unlike with Airbnb, where hosts and guests often never meet, Outdoorsy’s hosts have to meet renters in person in order to train them how to use their vehicles. (He insists that he has seen “families become best friends” and even “people get married” as a result.)

Airbnb has also somewhat famously had issues with renters destroying property. Asked how Outdoorsy handles the same challenge, the company explains that its insurance is “episodic” commercial insurance that covers all states, provinces, jurisdictions and territories. Once a consumer goes through Outdoorsy’s DMV check — the company says its software can do this in 20 seconds — he or she is approved for the insurance and covered up to $2 million for a trip. The insurance protects the owner, the renter and any third party in the event of an accident.

Cavins doesn’t mind being compared to Airbnb, as you might imagine. He suggests that in some ways, the two are very alike, pointing to the two companies’ respective focus on partnerships. Cavins notes that, among other things, Outdoorsy is working with numerous event organizers with the hope that in the not-too-distant future, when a customer buys a ticket to a NASCAR race or to a music festival, that person can also book a parking pass and an RV stocked with a favorite champagne.

It’s down the road right now, says Cavins. But “those partnerships are coming,” he adds.

Where I’m Investing in Blockchain – Shelly Hod Moyal

Uncertainties regarding regulation may discourage investors from backing blockchain companies. iAngels co-CEO shares blockchain investment insights

Written by Shelly Hod Moyal, this article was originally published in CTech

There are many similarities between the emergence of blockchain and the early stages of the internet. The Internet caused a lot of hype early on, but its real impact on our lives didn’t fully materialize until roughly 20 years had passed.

Many people don’t realize, but the blockchain doesn’t fully work yet for real-world applications, as the nuts and bolts aren’t fully in place. For example, real-world companies that process millions of transactions with millions of users can’t currently run on the blockchain, as the technology is too slow and too costly. For example, Ethereum can process 15 transactions per second whereas Visa processes 45,000.

This does not mean people should sit on their hands and wait for blockchain technology to mature. There are smart ways to invest in this still budding technology. Here is where investors should direct their attention in 2018.

Two words: blockchain infrastructure. With blockchain technology needing to pick up the pace, any technologies that enable the blockchain to be faster and more scalable are appealing. We have invested in several protocols that have built their own blockchain, Cardano and Neo for example, as well as networks, like Raiden, which enhance the performance of existing blockchains. Since each business comes with its own security, speed, and privacy requirements, we believe businesses will go on to adopt several blockchains for different uses. Technologies enabling blockchains to connect with each other, such as Aion and Icon, will play a key role in the future of the industry.

All eyes on China. There is a lot of uncertainty around the regulation, but if we look historically at how China dealt with the emergence of the internet and social media, it’s more likely that China will cooperate with local blockchain networks in order to take part in the economic opportunity they bring. Instead of outright banning blockchain, the likely scenario would be that China would compel the industry to comply with regulations, just as Chinese companies Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent have done. Given the size of the Chinese economy and the scale of the opportunity with companies like Alibaba, and Tencent—the most valuable internet company in the world—there is a lot of upside potential in China. We have made several investments in this theme, specifically in Chinese counterparts to some of the more established western blockchain platforms, such as Neo, Wanchain, and IOT Chain.

Tokenization is the theme. Tokenization of assets, equity, limited partner interests and other securities will be a very interesting theme in the coming years. In the long term, the majority of tokens are likely to disappear, leaving a select few that will be used for most blockchain applications. Like in the fiat money world, only a handful of strong currencies prevail. However, tokenization as a means to distribute a stake in a venture will gain popularity whether it be equity or LP interests. This will be applicable to any kind of venture. As blockchain technology develops, people will no longer want to lock up their funds in any given investment, as it will be possible to create liquidity throughout the lifecycle of the company, partnership, or network. Liquidity providers will include regulated exchanges like Quoine and Tzero for security-like tokens. We are already seeing innovators in this space. Recently, VC backed Kairos created a token distribution which includes both security and utility tokens and Spice VC is creating a platform allowing venture capital and private equity firms to create tokenized funds.

Blockchain-based business model. While we believe it is still relatively early to focus on the applications of blockchain, we are making select investments in businesses that have decided to transition to a blockchain-based model, and have pre-existing customers and revenues. Our investments so far in this space include Kin, Props, and Bread. These companies are unique because they are lead by entrepreneurs with business experience and assets they’ve built over the years, giving them a real shot at generating initial adoption of blockchain applications. Social networks, sharing economies, and mainstream access to blockchain assets are some of the applications that make a lot of sense for blockchain technologies.

Invest in the marketplace. In an economy with many networks and tokens, marketplaces that allow people to access, use, and convert token value are crucial. Any blockchain application will ultimately need to integrate exchange functionality in order to allow people to gain value. This is why we have invested in several exchanges, such as Binance, QASH, 0x, and Kyber.

Turning insight into action, I believe that the best approach to investing in the industry—with all the uncertainties around regulation and application—is to build a diversified portfolio of infrastructure companies with a heavy weighting towards tokens that are positioned to be winners can withstand volatility and market corrections.

Shelly Hod Moyal is the founding partner and co-CEO of iAngels, a Tel Aviv-based venture capital and private equity firm.

The Israeli Women VCs Taking on Blockchain

The following article was originally published in LadyGlobes Magazine print and online editions

Mor Assia and Shelly Hod Moyal say theirs is the venture capital fund of the future  – and a 300% return is hard to argue with.

“This technology is no less revolutionary than was the invention of electricity. Our generation grew up with the Internet revolution, but we can already see that the Internet industry is gradually switching to the next revolution: blockchain,” says entrepreneur Mor Assia. Together with Shelly Hod Moyal, she founded the iAngels venture capital investment platform, and the two women launched a fund for investments in blockchain two months ago, after realizing that this was a technological revolution likely to change the financial world, and other things as well.

Blockchain is a system for processing digital currency deals, based on a distributed and encrypted database. What is new about this technology is that it facilitates payments without a central entity (such as a bank or credit card company) supervising the transfers and controlling the database. The system is based on a communications network in which each of the parties is both a customer and a server, and there are no intermediaries between them.

The technology, which is based on “blocks” of deals, is designed for use in a range of industries. Last year alone, blockchain startups raised over $2 billion worldwide. This mighty stream naturally also drew in Israeli investors who spotted the opportunity, with Assia and Moyal among the leaders. They are in fact local pioneers in this red hot sector, which is still relatively virgin ground for investors. The new fund that they founded has already invested $15 million in seven startups.

“We started investing in companies operating in the sector because we realized that there are many funds that are afraid of it because of its controversial reputation. Many companies could not even manage to open a bank account in order to pay salaries, because the banks put spokes in the wheels of entrepreneurs in this field. Entrepreneurs founded offshore companies in order to remain beyond the regulators’ radar, and tried to build interesting technology with extremely limited resources.”

“So far, the fund has a 300% return,” says Moyal. “Such opportunities come along once in a lifetime. It’s risky, volatile, and can go down. We have already experienced sharp dips. This is a crazy world. My husband (Cyhawk Ventures general partner Kfir Moyal, R.K.) sometimes tells me, ‘I can’t talk to you; stop talking about blockchain.’ My whole day revolves around it; it’s addictive.”

“We invented a new animal”

Moyal, 34, has a strong financial background. Before founding iAngels, she worked as a financial consultant at the UBS investment bank, then as an analyst for the Avenue Capital hedge fund in New York, and later as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs Israel. Assia, 36, served in the IDF’s elite intelligence unit 8200 (Israel’s NSA), and has a BSc in mathematics and computer science from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology and an MBA from Columbia University. Before founding iAngels, she worked at SAP, IBM, and Amdocs Ltd.

Moyal and Assia met by complete accident a decade ago in New York at a party held by mutual friends. They hit it off immediately, and have not parted since. They returned to Israel at around the same time, gave birth around the same time, and when they were on maternity leave, each of them did her own soul searching, and reassessed her career.

Thus was their venture capital investment platform born four years ago, based on a crowd financing model in which investors from all over the world can take part in a financial opportunity that would ordinarily be closed to them by investing $10,000. “We have raised $100 million at iAngels to date, and have invested in more than 100 startups. We invented a new animal. We’re actually creating the venture capital fund of the future,” Assia explains. “Entrepreneurs can operate with a single investment concern, instead of being split among various firms, while on the other hand benefiting from a connection to a network of investors from all over the world.” iAngel’s network of investors includes 1,000 people from 50 different countries.

“Globes”: How long did it take you between spotting the potential and founding the blockchain fund?

Moyal: “We started investing in blockchain startups over two years ago, but it took time for things to get going. The feeling was that it was taking more time than people expected. About 10 months ago, I realized that something was going to happen. I felt a very significant change was about to occur with the potential to change the world. It was a moment of inspiration. I knew that this was it, that it was coming now. It was very exciting for me. I haven’t experienced such a sense of conviction as I felt at that moment for a long time.

“It usually takes 12-18 months to found a fund by the time you do all the auditing, especially when you’re dealing with a new asset. We did it in seven months, and we were among the first to establish such a fund, which shows something. This doesn’t mean that we now understand exactly what’s happening in this industry. Everyone is as a point at which they’re preparing themselves for every possibility.”

This is the place to mention the close connection between blockchain and the digital currency stirring up the market – bitcoin. This currency, which has been soaring in recent months, with the price reaching a record $20,000 for a single bitcoin during December, exposed blockchain technology to the world. Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently referred to bitcoin, saying, “Will the banks disappear in the future? The answer is yes. Will it happen tomorrow? Will it happen because of bitcoin? That is the question.”

“I agree with a lot of what Netanyahu said. The banking world will undergo a transformation, and the role of the bank will change,” Moyal says. “Bitcoin was created in response to the 2008 financial crisis as an expression of rebellion against the authorities printing money and diluting its value for us, the average citizens, in order to save huge irresponsible companies.

“If bitcoin becomes a substitute for gold, as many speculators are hypothesizing, the value of bitcoin currency could reach $300,000 much more quickly than people think.

“There is a libertarian and anti-establishment kernel in the community that uses the currency, similar to the free-of-charge software culture in the 1990s. This community has strong anti-commercial and anti-establishment values. Despite the dominant commercial aspect, there’s something deeply ideological here.”

Is blockchain an expression of a world in which consumers try to break free of the corporations’ chains?

Assia: “The center of power is passing to the consumers, and they want to be the ones who decide. Consumers are demanding transparency, immediacy, added value, and autonomy in relation to their money. A consumer who has already been exposed to cryptographic (digital) currencies usually wants to increase exposure to these financial assets, and is not inclined to convert them back to ordinary currencies. A new market has been created here of consumers who do not consume services from the conventional banking system.”

How will it change the financial world?

Moyal: “Blockchain infrastructure enables people to cooperate, conduct deals, and trade directly, almost free of charge, and without any prior knowledge. This infrastructure is already partially available to us through the banking systems, some of which will become superfluous when blockchain penetrates the market in depth. This doesn’t mean that the banks will disappear, but it certainly means that their role, as we know it today, is going to change. Blockchain will do to the financial and regulatory system what the Internet did to the media and advertising companies.”

Everyone wants bitcoin

Moyal has a simple clear answer to the question of why companies are issuing new digital currencies: “The capital market is broken. Companies don’t want to offer shares on the stock exchange now; they prefer to remain private companies. The offering process is lengthy, expensive, bureaucratic, and involves a lot of exposure. Trading volumes on stock exchanges are falling, while a multi-billion dollar trade is now taking place in digital currencies. For example, if a company wants to raise capital from investors all over the world, each of whom will invest $50,000, it can’t do it through an offering on the stock exchange. Blockchain is giving companies options for a global offering.”

What is the average profile of a blockchain investor?

Assia: “Most of the money in the industry today comes from a few dozen billionaires who made a great deal of money from bitcoin, and are seeking to enrich their portfolio with other types of currencies. At the same time, new investors are entering the market every day.”

Moyal: “It’s terribly difficult to characterize the new investors, because they are people from all walks of life – even my babysitter asked me how to buy bitcoin – which adds another layer of risk. I get calls from a lot of people who want to take part in what’s happening. Almost everyone I know bought bitcoins in the past month.

“This market has passed the $500 billion mark, and we’re seeing a major rise in prices at a time when the technology is not yet being used in our daily lives. Its value has risen far more than the value it delivers right now, so you have to be cautious. Everyone has to sit and think about what is appropriate for him or her, because the market can go down the same way it’s going up now. We have already invested in currencies that have fallen 80%, then went back up even more.

“On the other hand, there’s something exciting about this, like the first Internet technology revolution. There are things here that have always have always attracted the most brilliant minds, talented entrepreneurs, and big investors. We’re investing in infrastructure technologies that we believe can survive a crash.”

Can we already speak of a bubble in the digital currencies market?

Assia: “Like the Internet revolution and the dot.com bubble that burst in the late 1990s, there are also signs of a bubble now in blockchain. There’s hype, there’s fear of missing the boat, and there’s a gold rush. People hear success stories about those who invested in bitcoin six or seven years ago, when it was worth less than a dollar, and the currency has since increased its value thousands of times over, and they think that if they invest in a new digital currency, maybe it will succeed like bitcoin. Even when the bubble deflates, a lot of good successful companies stay successful, and there are important companies that will probably remain stable.”

How is an investment in a blockchain company different from an investment in an internet startup?

Moyal: “Here, you don’t invest in a company; you invest in a network, and you buy a token, not a share. In a company, a shareholder has rights, such as voting rights and profit rights. You don’t have those rights in blockchain; you’re in the same boat as the entrepreneurs, the users, and the other investors. It’s like investing in a cooperative economy, and this technology has enormous potential.”

The level of information security of the blockchain platform also carries risks. For example, due to the anonymity of the platform, it is also useful for criminals, who use it as a convenient refuge for realizing dubious businesses. “There were recent cases of a digital currency offering in which money was stolen during the offering,” Assia says. “It happened because a hacker planted a wrong digital address on the website of the company making the offering, and participants in the offering unknowingly transferred their participation money to that address. This is another good reason for investors who are not well acquainted with this market to avoid taking part in offerings that have not been checked out, and where steps have not been taken to prevent any possibility of such a situation occurring.”

Is there way of making sure that the companies offering a digital currency fulfill their obligations to the buyers?

Assia: “You can ask exactly the same question about an investment in a startup that has only a prototype product, and wants to raise $1 million. How do we know that the entrepreneurs won’t take the money and go to the beach? That’s why we conduct due diligence before any investment, assess the entrepreneurial team, and also test the sentiment in the blockchain community towards that startup. Where companies that already have a beta product are concerned, we meet with the teams and see how the product works and who’s working there. If we believe in the product, we expect its value to rise after the ICO.”

“I got my life back”

“When we founded the fund, we came into it with a lot of naivte,” Moyal says. “We thought that we’d set up a website, do marketing on Facebook, and people would come and invest $1,000, but it doesn’t work like that. Building a business is a challenge. You have to build networks of relationships and trust with people. We began everything from the cellar of my home. Every morning, we thought, ‘What will we do today?’, and set targets for ourselves.”

You left a comfortable job with a safe income for your business.

Moyal: “Before I became self-employed, I worked around the clock. It was normal to go home at midnight. When I gave birth, I got my life back. I gained perspective; it opened me to the world. I realized that this was an opportunity to take my life to the next stage. I took time out to ask myself what I wanted to leave behind me as a legacy. These are acute points in life at which you can do soul searching.”

Entrepreneurship is a gamble that takes courage. Weren’t you afraid?

“At the beginning, we worked without any capital. We slowly began to build a product. It was difficult to raise the first investment capital. We did a pitch and went all around the industry. We met with Gigi Levy-Weiss. He didn’t know us, and it took a long time for him to free up time for us. I remember that at the end of the meeting, after we spoke of the vision and the dream, he said, ‘Good, I’ll invest.’ We were in shock. We asked how much, and he said, ‘$50,000.’ We were so excited that someone believed in us and wanted to invest in us. We raised $300,000 more immediately afterwards, and got going. As we see it, above all we’re entrepreneurs.”

Are you entrepreneurs or investors?

“Both. When we’re taking to entrepreneurs, we can connect with them on a different level, because we know what they’re going through. They appreciate us being on the same level as they are, and see in us the hunger and the ability to take on board and understand situations.”

Over the past four years, the two women have managed to expand their families as well as their business. Assia has four children (the youngest is five weeks old), and Moyal has three. “There’s a division of labor between us in births,” Assia laughs. “When one of us is on maternity leave, the other works like crazy.”

“I met my spouse when we were 20. I saw a lot of women in New York who said, ‘We’re spending 10 years on a career now, and then we’ll invest 10 years in a family.” From my point of view, it can’t work like that. That’s even truer in high tech, where you can’t even take six months off. So there’s no choice; you have to do things simultaneously. There’s private life and there’s work, and we run 200 kilometers on two tracks simultaneously. We’re deeply into this. We live, dream, and even think all day how to make the business grow.

“This juggling act of doing it all – both raising three or four children and putting all of ourselves into entrepreneurship – is non-stop insanity and adrenalin. In one week, I experience several super-amazing and super challenging things all at the same time, and it makes me mentally tough. We’ve learned to cope and acquire talents that help us deal with the life of an entrepreneur.”

What, for example?

“Staying cool. If you were to take me back four years and tell me to deal with the situations I face today, I wouldn’t be ready for it. We’ve learned to keep on top of the things that happen to us. Even if there’s a very difficult day at work, we’re able to put it aside and be with our families, and even to sleep at night.”

The average exit

Assia’s father, Amdocs cofounder Dr. Daniel Keret, and Moyal’s husband, Kfir Moyal, cofounder of the Matomy media company, are on the board of directors. Assia’s husband, Yoni Assia, son of Magic Software founder David Assia and cofounder of the eToro investment platform, is also closely accompanying iAngel’s growth.

How is your activity today different from the way you started?

Assia: “Over the past year, we have become a leading investor in the early rounds of startups, and the volume of our activity has grown. While we formerly invested up to $500,000 in a company, today we are already investing $2-3 million. Since we started by working on a joint investment model, many entrepreneurs in the industry are still unaware that we can invest $2 million in a startup. The investments we led over the past year, however, have had an impact around us, and the industry is starting to realize that we can lead financing rounds.”

Moyal: “95% of the companies that iAngels have invested in to date are still active. Five companies in which we invested have already had an exit, and 30 more have had a round-up – another financing round at a value higher than the one at which we invested. In addition to that, we have enabled our investors to sell their investments in four portfolio companies between the first and second financing rounds at returns of 2.5-5 times in a year. We have other companies in advanced stages of being sold.”

Move, and quickly

iAngel’s profit model is based on a 2% annual management fee for four years from the entire investment portfolio – a total of 8%. “In addition, we receive 20% of the profits from each investment, but that’s only after an exit or IPO,” Assia says. “When we make an investment in the early financing stages of a startup (seed or A round), our expectation is an investment horizon of at least five years. This is a long-term strategic investment.”

How is the experience of working with Israeli entrepreneurs different in comparison with US entrepreneurs?

Assia: “Israeli entrepreneurs have flexibility in thinking and business. If an Israeli entrepreneur runs into a wall, he turns right and bypasses it. Our need for constant renewal and movement is inherent. Many investors prefer an entrepreneur who makes a decision and moves quickly, even if the decision isn’t always right, to an entrepreneur who doesn’t make decisions.”

What have you learned in the past year that has changed how you do things?

Moyal: We learned a lot about management the hard way. We learned that when you provide employees with a pleasant and liberating environment and let them create, they are more effective, loyal, and happy than employees whom you constantly supervise, and whose mistakes you correct all the time.”

Only three of your 20 employees are men. That is quite rare on the capital market scene.

Assia: Since we’re more open to accepting women, more successful women tend to be attracted to us. The women working at iAngels are all ‘sharks’. Everyone who comes to the company feels the energy of the office immediately. We’re looking for superstars.

“We’re the firm that has invested in the most women’s startups to date. Still, women are a minority among entrepreneurs. Only 10% of the startups we have invested in have women among their founders.”

Many in Israel have been bitten by the startup bug, and jump into the deep end.

“Israel has the most engineers and managers per capita. When you look at LinkedIn, everyone has startups. Women are less inclined to take risks, but I tell them to challenge themselves. I work many more hours today than I worked as an employee, but now I’m the one who sets the rules of the game and my priorities, and that puts a lot of power in my hands.”

The full Hebrew version of this article appeared in “Lady Globes” magazine.

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News – www.globes-online.com – on January 18, 2018

 

Israel-Based Crowdfunding Platform iAngels Launches Blockchain Fund

This article was originally published in Ctech by Calcalist

iAngels is raising a dedicated blockchain fund that has already invested $20 million, co-founder Shelly Hod Moyal said in an interview with Calcalist on Monday. The fund is currently going after additional investors, targeting $100 million in commitments by the end of 2018.

Founded in 2013, iAngels operates as an equity crowdfunding platform that allows accredited investors from around the world to invest in Israeli startups. “We conduct similar due diligence processes when we seek out a Blockchain company,” explained co-founder Mor Assia. “We look for strong teams, scalable tech solutions and initiatives that will help this new ecosystem grow.”

The firm intends to invest in blockchain-related startups immediately before or through their ICO (initial coin offering). It seeks to make long-term investments, Ms. Assia said.

“We started investing in this industry two years ago,” Ms. Hod Moyal said. “We decided that since this industry has a slightly different economy, we need a fund that will focus solely on this kind of technology, and we have witnessed an amazing growth spree in this field, things we assumed will take years are being done within months.”

As cryptocurrency gained popularity, domain-specific investment vehicles were created, including MetaStable Capital, established in 2014, and Polychain Capital, established in 2016. Menlo Park, California-based Sequoia Capital, hedged their bets by investing through these cryptocurrency funds. In December, TMT Investments, a tech-focused venture capital firm, launched a blockchain focused fund.

iAngel’s new fund will not be limited only to Israel-based companies, and the two intend to look for investments globally, with a specific focus on China.

ICOs have been steadily gaining popularity, but recurring frauds, lack of regulation and speculative investments have reflected poorly on the domain. “We can’t have a conversation about Blockchain without someone asking us whether it’s a bubble. There are indeed plenty of indications to the existence of such bubble, but I believe we will see a lot of growth before we see a correction,” Ms. Assia replied.

“Wherever there is innovation, or financial awakening speculation will soon follow, and our economy needs these speculations because they attract the most brilliant minds and the most sophisticated investors,” Ms. Hod Moyal added. “This is the economy’s way to grow, and this is how companies like Facebook or Amazon were created. It’s natural. A lot of the time the technology is moving faster than the regulators, but they will catch up.”

 

TheMarker’s 40 under 40 List names iAngels Co-Founder as ‘Inspirational Leader’

The following interview was originally published in Hebrew in TheMarker here

Like many other young people who decide to go on a trip after the army, Shelly Hod Moyal decided to pack and fly to the United States. But instead of selling mud from the Dead Sea in malls, she enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in economics and philosophy at Hunter College. Her journey led her to UBS, where she was involved in portfolio management. Her second job was working at one of the world’s largest hedge funds. This period coincided with the economic crisis in the United States and the hedge fund specialized in “special situations and distressed companies,” so Hod Moyal found herself examining and investing over $1 billion in the most high profile companies of the time, such as AIG, GM and Citigroup. As part of her job, she also volunteered to provide advice to the US government on the TARP program. 

At the end of this exciting period she decided to return to Israel, where she joined Goldman Sachs, Investment Banking where it was her first time in diving into the VC and tech world in Israel as  part of a team consulting funds and high tech companies regarding mergers, acquisitions and strategic investments. Three years later, in parallel to the decision to establish a family, Hod Moyal also chose to embark on an independent career. Working in a large corporation with huge brands and mainly dealing in investment and analysis, she saw the opportunity to attract investors and build a company of her own from scratch. Together with her business partner, Mor Assia, they launched iAngels – a platform that connects investors from around the world to start-ups in Israel. iAngels’ business model operates by doing the due diligence on the start-ups and negotiates investment conditions. After a period of rigorous analysis they then decide whether or not to open up an investment opportunity to their international investor community, who are able to invest from a minimum investment of $10,000. iAngels currently manages $100 million, and has invested in nearly 100 start-ups in its four years of activity.

What qualifications are you required to use in your current position?

“In terms of managing a business, interpersonal skills are obviously a huge requirement – recruiting and nurturing employees, creating a supportive and constructive organizational culture, marketing, sales and basically everything that a business needs to exist. “

What tools did you get from the studies you are using today?

“I studied organizational psychology, management, strategy, marketing, branding – all of which have given me additional tools that have helped me on my new entrepreneurial journey. Getting to know interesting and successful people from all over the world, many of them coming from backgrounds different to mine has been a fascinating and life building experience.”

In a career there are often decisions which are game changers; decisions which advance you forward. What were the decisions you encountered of that nature?

“The decision which was big game changer for me was the decision to establish iAngels.

To leave a stable job with great prospects to moving to work from a basement with my business partner Mor, was a total 180-degree change. This decision came from both of us wanting to produce something of our own. I have always felt that I would return to Israel and as a person who grew up and lived here, I also feel responsible for the future of our country and much of this future lies in the technological initiatives of Israel, which is one of the most significant growth engines that we have. In the United States, we identified the potential of connecting entrepreneurs in Israel to investors all over the world who wish to participate and invest in Startup Nation and hence, the idea to launch iAngels began, combining the right combination of an important social goal with personal self-fulfillment. “

What is the main challenge in your current job?

“To build a company from scratch is a big challenge, and in most large and stable companies, as long as you are a good and diligent employee, there are always opportunities for advancement, and in your company you can be the best and most successful worker and still nothing in the future. I’m not sure that four years ago I had the mental ability to cope with some of the situations that have come to my doorstep today. In this sense, I feel that parenting my three children has also contributed a great deal in requiring me to be more responsible and mature. You can not suddenly fall apart when something does not add up because there are people who rely on you, so I’m forcing myself to meet expectations, to rise, to look forward and be positive. “

What would you like to change in the field?

“I would like to change the image that Israelis sometimes have in the world, because there is a lot of magic and uniqueness in Israeli entrepreneurship, but sometimes something in the business potential is missed because of a cultural gap. Because we work with people all over the world, we have the opportunity to set a high standard for respectful professional conduct.”

What kind of management do you dream of leading?

“I feel that I am leading this move today with iAngels, and this is exactly where I want to be, with the people I want to work with and I really enjoy coming into work and being a partner to so many talented investors and entrepreneurs who are changing the world, who have huge dreams that we’re able to partner with. And as two female founders, it is important for us to promote the female voice in society. Out of our 20 employees, 15 are women and it’s an opportunity to lead by example and show fellow females as well as our daughters that everything is possible. ”

A manager who inspires you? And why?

“I was fortunate in my career, wherever I went I won the attention of principals who took me under their wing, developed me and taught me a lot. And my co-founder Mor Asia and partner Kfir Hod Moyal, have given me a huge amount of inspiration.”

 

iAngels Founding Partner Mor Assia on stage at the 2016 NOAH Conference

At the 2016 NOAH Conference in London, iAngels’ founding partner Mor Assia discusses key challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for accredited investors. In times of volatility and slowing economic growth, investors look to innovation as the main source of wealth creation. After all, asset classes where you can see the potential to 100x your money are few and far between.

In this talk, Mor Assia discusses the importance of creating a diversified portfolio and how Israeli high-tech fits into the global economy. In a mobile-first world, learn how iAngels has pioneered a fresh approach to angel investing from the comfort of your smartphone. Combining prominent co-investors with thorough due diligence, iAngels provides visibility and access to proprietary dealflow, changing the way that accredited investors build exposure to the venture capital asset class.

Watch Mor showcase the iAngels due diligence process on stage at the 2016 NOAH Conference, the preeminent European event where Internet CEOs, executives and investors gain deep insights into the latest proven concepts, network with senior executives and establish new business relationships.

Israel cybersecurity tech helps NatWest catch online crooks

BioCatch, which tracks behavior to detect online fraud, says UK bank has successfully tried its tech with clients

BioCatch, a cybersecurity company that tracks behavior to catch cyber crooks, said UK’s NatWest bank has successfully tried its technology with clients.

NatWest, one of the largest banks in the UK, has deployed BioCatch technology since the beginning of the year within its private banking arm Coutts and for some of its business customers, successfully preventing online fraud and helping to protect its 14 million customers, BioCatch said in a statement.

NatWest and BioCatch plan to pilot the technology with the bank’s personal banking customers sometime in 2017.

BioCatch’s system captures more than 500 points of behavior such as hand-eye coordination, pressure, hand tremors, navigation, scrolling and other finger movements to create unique user profiles. This allows BioCatch to distinguish the normal behavior of an authorized user from that of an unauthorized user, as well as to recognize automated BOTs, RATS, malware and other malicious account takeover attacks, where the victim is typically unaware that the banking session has been hacked…

This article was originally published on the Times of Israel

Israeli Caja competes with Amazon’s robots

Caja Systems has made the startling realization that the public likes buying online and wants to make getting your items out of the warehouse even easier

The e-commerce market is continually growing. The bottleneck for companies is their logistics warehouses, which have trouble maintaining a large variety of products and meeting tight supply schedules. Israeli company Caja is taking advantage of the situation by offering a cloud-managed robot service capable of accomplishing real time optimization.

A short pitch: What does the company do?

A: Caja, a startup, turns any manual warehouse into an automated one in just a few hours.

A slightly more thorough explanation

A: Behind every delivery you order online is a warehouse with a limited inventory and times for picking out the item that are growing shorter by the year. Most warehouses, however, still operate according to the same principles as the physical retail sector: inflexible shelving, predetermined demand, and many orders for a single item. In a desperate effort to meet the demands and remain profitable, logistics companies are employing workers who walk an average of 18 kilometers during a shift, because the items are stored on shelves that are two meters high. The companies are setting targets of collecting an item every 30 seconds for 7.5 hours, while trying to optimize warehouse dimensions.

Caja is seeking to change the fundamental assumption of storage theory by completely adapting it to e-commerce. The company uses easy and elastic shelving that is variable at each point in time. Reliable robots are in action 24/7. An overall system on the cloud performs real time optimization. The brain of the system is based on 4D navigation, meaning that the robots do not move and respond according to sensors. They know in advance where on the warehouse map they should be at all times. When the time dimension was added, we achieved complete coordination between the robots, complete optimization of the warehouse, and the ability to supply goods in just a few minutes.

Q: How did you get the idea?

A: As software engineers and e-commerce website founders, we were very familiar with the manual warehouse problem. With the rapid growth in unknown demand, we realized that the weak link was on the logistics side, and decided to take up the challenge. We initially looked for automatic alternatives, but found solutions that were very expensive and solved only some of the critical problems. The more we looked, the more we understood the problems. We also saw an opportunity, and that’s how Caja (“box” in Spanish) was born…

This post originally appeared on GeekTime.

 

Zeek announces million pound investment as it debuts new TV ad campaign with the help of Guerillascope

Gift card marketplace, Zeek has launched its first through-the-line marketing campaign, with a seven figure investment in television, OOH, digital and PR.

The website and free app allows users to buy and sell physical and digital gift cards at a discount, and was named by Forbes as one of London’s most exciting start-ups of 2016.

The television ad debuts the characters ‘cat’ and ‘mouse’ – cat doesn’t like cheese but mouse is a cheese junkie – to show how users can both make and save money on unwanted vouchers and gift cards.

Airing from 23 November and running until January, spanning a channel mix that includes Channel 4, ITV 2, E4 and Dave, the campaign was devised by Antidote, with TV planning and buying conducted by Guerillascope.

It will be supplemented by VoD activity on All4 and ITV Hub, with additional outdoor and digital placements managed by Tomorrow TTH. Creative PR campaigns will be led by Tin Man.

The investment follows some key hires across the business with staff numbers doubling to over 40 and an expanded UK headquarters opening in the last six months. Jonathan Clark joins as marketing director from Blinkbox movies, whilst David Wall has been appointed as business development director, previously at InComm Europe and Zapper.com…

This post originally appeared on The Drum