Israel’s premier startup showcase festival draws international investors

The annual conference, now in its ninth year, was founded by Geektime magazine in partnership with LeumiTech.

November 21, 2016 21:54
3 minute read.
CEO Moran Bar opening the 2016 conference

CEO Moran Bar opening the 2016 conference . (photo credit: MORIYA NEVA)

Israel’s largest tech and innovation event, Geektime Techfest, kicked off in Tel Aviv on Sunday, with the advertised aim of “fertilizing the tech ecosystem in the start-up nation.”

Israel’s most select and promising start-ups were introduced to a slew of local and international investors on Monday, at the fest’s main event, Geektime conference, held in the David Intercontinental Hotel.

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“The conference serves as a springboard for start-ups to be noticed by venture capital funds, ‘angel investors’ and big companies looking for the next thing,” Geektime CEO Moran Bar told The Jerusalem Post. “We have start-ups in cybertech, virtual reality, advertising tech, smart agriculture, medical tech, every sector really.”

The annual conference, now in its ninth year, was founded by Geektime magazine in partnership with LeumiTech. The online magazine is based in Tel Aviv and covers all aspects of local and global technology, hi-tech and start-ups. Leumi- Tech is a subsidiary of Bank Leumi tailored to the tech world.

Following an opening ceremony with keynote speaker and entrepreneur Tzameret Fuerst, conference guests chose one of three stages on which to focus.

The future tech stage introduced the hottest trends coming out of Israel for the future, including autonomous vehicles and smart cities. The growth stage presented leading product and marketing experts, who shared experiences of growing their startups and products. The start-up stage featured promising new companies to the conference.

Geektime picks 10 Israeli start-ups every year for a friendly competition in the start-up arena.

“The Geektime event is very much like the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, where 10 companies are brought to the stage to ‘battle it out.’ However, in Israel it’s not about the competitiveness, but cooperation between us, since Geektime always picks companies from different fields,” said Karin Kloosterman, founder of Flux, one of the 10 start-ups chosen this year.

“One of the things that makes the Israeli tech ecosystem so unique, is the fact that we are all dependent on each other, and have to cooperate in order to break through into the world,” Bar said.

The 10 start-ups were chosen out of more than 300 applications.

“We cherry-picked each of the start-ups we’re showcasing according to various criteria, including the level of exposure they have,” said Bar.

“We are looking for companies that already have a product that shows promise, but are still relatively unknown, so as to provide that initial exposure to more than 1,500 industry guests this year.”

The conference provides start-ups with an important springboard for future business, by promoting and introducing them to investors and funds that might invest in them, or to companies who might buy them out.

In previous years, some of the young unknowns included the software platform creators Overwolf, the WikiAnswers website Wix, and Cyactive, which was bought by PayPal in 2015.

This years international partners include IBM, Microsoft and Deutsche Telekom.

The conference itself attracted the attention of potential investors world-wide, mainly from Asia.

“Israel is the research and development center of the world, servicing European and American markets. Now it’s also time for the Chinese market, now that Chinese industry is upgrading itself right now,” Chinese angel investor Likai Li said.

When asked which areas of interest caught his eye, Li said smart agriculture, calling it a highly sought-after field in China.

“There’s a company here that has vegetable-growing tech. That company has something we are looking for in China,” he said, referring to Karin Kloostermsn’s start-up, Flux, which developed a robot and software for setting up a hydroponic farm.

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