By Steve Zylstra and Leib Boel
If you’re just jumping into our story, please take a few minutes to read blog one and two on the truly incredible trip to Israel by our group of technology-focused business leaders from Arizona. As members of the Arizona Technology Council and/or Arizona Israel Technology Alliance, we’ve traveled together to strengthen the growing business ties between Arizona and Israel, and support the transformative, innovative companies emerging from both geographies.
Shark Tank on the Mediterranean
Before departing Tel Aviv, we took full advantage of our luck in timing by attending the morning of JOURNEY 2018, Israel’s most prestigious annual business conference sponsored by EY. Featuring startups and keynote speakers from the technology industry, the Hilton Tel Aviv located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea served as the venue for the gathering. Yes, the view was as stunning as it sounds.
EY is a strong supporter of tech and entrepreneurship worldwide, as evidenced by their activities in both Arizona and Israel. The organization’s formidable network was on full display in Tel Aviv as the ballrooms, hallways and balconies at the conference were packed with professionals seeking to connect and learn about the latest innovations and what the future may hold.
The morning began with THE PITCH, a Shark-Tank type of affair, where eight selected entrepreneurs offered up their value proposition and business model, competing for votes from a panel of judges and the audience.
Guessing which one would emerge triumphant was a tough call to make, as each of these young new ventures are clearly full of promise. See if you can pick the winner among those that were on stage presenting in rapid fire:
- Anzu is connecting games and brands at scale. Existing ad solutions for games today is annoying, fraught with interruptions of play. Anzu’s API integrates ads directly into the user’s experience.
- Kindite is helping companies upgrade their cloud applications to work with encrypted private data. Kindite solves two hard problems simultaneously: keeping private data always encrypted – even at run-time, and making sure encryption never gets in the way.
- Skyline Robotics believes that humans are more than robots. That’s why, starting with window cleaning, the company aims to automate all tasks that are dangerous, dirty and dull. Watching their operating system OZMO control a robot that whizzed around on stage presented a great visual.
- SegaSec is a cybersecurity company providing threat intelligence and prevention, protecting organizations from phishing, pharming, CEO-fraud, ransom ware and brand theft.
- Flytrex offers a software solution that automates drones controlled over the cloud with a smart and easy control dashboard. It helps retailers, eCommerce marketplaces, delivery companies and private individuals achieve ultra-fast deliveries.
- DoMed knows that although the IoT Healthcare market is booming, cybersecurity risks put patients in danger. Whether it’s an interrupted pacemaker or getting the wrong dose of insulin, the risks are real. DoMed offers an embedded solution that protects the device itself.
- RedFalcon is on a mission to enable artificial intelligence computing for widespread deployment on low cost and low power edge devices such as smartphones, security cameras, connected home appliances, autonomous vehicles and robots, IoT sensors and IoT gateways.
- Amkiri has patents pending on the world’s first visual fragrance. The company incorporates the sense of smell and sight through an applicator that paints on a visible hypoallergenic perfumed “ink,” easily self-applied in whatever pattern you choose. Simple to remove with water, it’s a do-it-yourself social life product aimed at the social media generation.
Ready for the winner? If you picked Amkiri, you beat out our group. Most of us were betting on either Kindite or SegaSec. It seems the judges were more in the mood for something they could see and smell!
Next, we journeyed to Jerusalem, the land of golden opportunities.
Using Technology to Save Lives
After a sobering tour of Yad Vashem, the Jewish people’s living memorial to the holocaust, it was all the more rewarding that our next stop was at a non-profit dedicated to saving lives of every faith and every age.
We toured United Hatzala, an independent, Israeli emergency response organization that receives minimal government funding. Imagine having such a service in Arizona ─ thousands of emergency medical technicians, certified first responders, paramedics and doctors volunteering their time to reach victims in less than 90 seconds until an ambulance arrives.
United Hatzala of Israel was founded by Eli Beer, who witnessed the bombing of a bus in Jerusalem at age 15 in 1978 that resulted in five deaths. He was struck by the chaos of the incident and the dearth of emergency rescue resources.
At the age of 17, Eli saved a man’s life by stuffing his yarmulke into the victim’s bleeding wounded neck until he could be taken to the hospital. When he later learned the man was a holocaust survivor, Eli knew he had found his calling and dedicated himself full-time to establishing a more flexible system to improve emergency response times.
Eli was familiar with the original Hatzalah emergency medical service model founded in Brooklyn New York by Rabbi Hershel Weber in the late 1960s and began to organize a similar model in his Jerusalem neighborhood. This volunteer unit purchased their own communication gear, medical equipment and supplies and was funded by the community.
Today, United Hatzala of Israel has over 4,000 volunteers. Medics, paramedics and/or a doctor arrives within the first critical two minutes of an emergency, a full 8-15 minutes ahead of the first ambulance on the scene. This incredible life-saving response time is thanks motorcycles equipped with medical equipment called “ambucycles,” mobile communications devices and the LifeCompass System.
The LifeCompass software draws a virtual perimeter around an incident that has been entered into the system. It then alerts only the volunteers in a predetermined radius to the incident. Each volunteer knows that when the LifeCompass alerts him, it is because he’s in the immediate vicinity of an emergency incident. Complete GPS guidance to the scene and complete recording capabilities ensure that every incident is responded to and recorded.
We were fortunate enough to go behind the scenes at the United Hatzala Command Center. We also learned the organization recently faced an equipment challenge when they were told their Motorola PTT mobile devices were being phased out. After conducting a global search for a replacement. every one of United Hatzalah’s 4,000 volunteers is now being outfitted with a Bluebird Communication device from Korea that accelerates response time, improves data streaming, and allows the resources needed to reach the scene of the emergency.
Additional Bluebirds are needed and United Hatzala is currently fundraising to bridge the shortage. Donations can be made online here. It’s a worthwhile cause and a prime example of how the technology industry is saving lives and bringing communities together.
A New Approach to Investing
Our next stop was to OurCrowd, an equity crowdfunding platform for investing in Israeli technology startups led by serial entrepreneur Jon Medved. Our delegation of Arizona business leaders lit up the conference room as they heard Jon describe the concept of gaining access to VC-level opportunities by investing online in fully-vetted companies with innovations that are changing the world.
“Almost all investment returns are now private,” said Jon. “Take for example, Facebook’s IPO in 2012. It was the biggest in technology and one of the biggest in internet history, with a peak market capitalization of over $104 billion. Over 95 percent of the investment came from private money that the majority of public investors didn’t have the ability to participate in.”
Our delegate Eric Miller, principal and co-founder of PADT, spends a great deal of time vetting and counseling startups through PADT’s participation in Arizona Tech Investors and volunteering with the Arizona Commerce Authority. Eric was impressed with the model of OurCrowd and the quality of companies the organization’s highly-selective deal flow has uncovered.
“This type of alternate financing is beneficial for both startups and investors,” Eric stated. “It helps entrepreneurs get access to the capital they need to get off the ground without having to pitch to a dozen different groups, and an opportunity for angel investors to come together, take advantage of professional due diligence and participate in deals that are normally only available to large institutional investors.”
The Arizona Israel Technology Alliance has been working closely with OurCrowd to provide Israeli-based companies establishing a presence in Arizona access to capital from this well-connected global investment community. Look for announcements in the coming weeks! Meanwhile, if you’re interested in jumping on board, you’ll be in good company, as a few of our delegates have already made the initial move to invest in innovation in this unique way. Learn how to invest online here.
After a packed week that left no time for naps, our visits to Israeli organizations came to an end, but not our group’s experiences. As we toured the Biblical sites, enjoyed the spectacular Tower of David light show and even floated in the Dead Sea, our personal relationships strengthened and enthusiasm grew. We took time as a group to reflect on what we learned and how we could apply it to bring technology companies from both Israel and Arizona to the next level.
Look for the final installment of our Innovation Trip blog this week as we share the direct insights from the travelers.
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