Israel Mission: Day 2 reflections

Day 2 of our Israel Mission kicked off with a short bus transfer to SOSA, home of the Australian Landing Pad in Tel Aviv for a full-day of back-to-back sessions and briefings.

Up first, we heard from Uzi Scheffer, CEO of SOSA Global. Founded in 2013 by 25 leading Israeli investors and high-tech entrepreneurs, SOSA (South of Salame) is a global network of tech innovation hubs with a unique, multi-pronged approach to innovation that brings together startups, entrepreneurs, corporations, and investors – all under one roof – to facilitate business opportunities for all parties.

Then we heard from Nimrod Vromen, a Partner at Yigal Arnon (law firm), who presented on “The Pillars of Fundability” – an in-depth overview of fund raising and investment readiness in Israel.  Nimrod has been living and breathing the Israeli high-tech community for the past decade. His specialties include representation of private technology companies and Israeli and foreign venture capital funds; particularly focussed on private financings, mergers and acquisitions, and general corporate and commercial matters.

Interestingly, the Yigal Arnon law firm do not require startups to pay for any legal fees from the time they first form, up to their first round of investment funding (i.e. the legal services bill remains unpaid until the startup closes funding). According to Nimrod, this can be a four year window, and it means that the law firm is selective in who they work with.  Through this approach, Nimrod has learnt that investable founders tend to be surrounded by other investable founders (or in his words, “entrepreneurs tend to live in swamps of other entrepreneurs just like them”).

After Nimrod, we completely switched topics, to hear from Alon Turkaspa from SCR Engineers talk about all things cows, specifically “the internet of cows”. SCR is a pioneer of cow and milking Intelligence. Monitoring millions of cows worldwide, SCR’s data-driven solutions are used by dairy farmers to deliver the insights and analytics needed to optimise the productivity of every cow.

For lunch, we were joined by the Australian Ambassador to Israel, Chris Cannan, who is just 7 weeks into the role.

After lunch the agtech startups took part in a great “Pitch Perfect” and communication workshop with Barry Katz.

Insights and highlights from day 2:

  • If you didn’t know the startup scene is here, you could easily visit as a tourist and have no idea of the level of innovation or startup activity. There are no visible signs of startups or technology in the streets.
  • “Israel is like one big family” – everyone knows everyone, and “any individual is no more than one SMS away”.
  • Israeli’s are not shy, and they don’t mince words.
  • This is a very collaborative startup community, and things move very fast here.  Participants are receiving introductions within minutes of a conversation, and are then invited to meet within the next 24 hours or sooner.
  • The influence of the mandatory military service on the startup community is significant.  The largest single military unit is Unit 8200 (pronounced 8-200) which is an intelligence unit. It apparently has within it a startup culture, including program models rivalling external accelerators and incubators. The Israeli military here conduct a lot of R&D and actually build startups and prototypes. Even their army briefings are reportedly like startup pitches.

Quotes of the day

  • “Ditch the pitch and learn to start conversations”
  • “Prepare as much as you can, then forget everything you prepared” – this was in the context of pitch preparation.
  • “Less is more” – speaks to the Israeli culture too.

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