Back in the day, one of the jobs people like us (“people of a certain age,” that
is) used to aspire to was the profession of “roadie.” Being a roadie
meant following your favorite rock band from city to city, helping to set up for
performances and clean up afterwards, and spending long, hard grueling hours on
buses, planes and trains.
Of course, rock has long been dead, but the
profession of roadie is still alive and well. Except that today, you don’t go
out on the road to follow the music. If you’re a hi-tech entrepreneur, you go
out to follow the money, or, more specifically, to follow a trail that leads you
to the investors, angels, venture-capital firms and all the other people who
have the cash you need to bring your big idea to life.
There are so many
Israelis seeking investment funds out there these days that a whole culture has
sprung up around these road trips, with dozens of companies offering to prepare
you for presentations and business strategy meetings. But like with rock bands,
you want to go on the road with a group that is going to help you reach your
To that end, Israel’s Trendlines Group (www.trendlines.com
organizing what CEO D. Todd Dollinger says is going to be a unique roadie
experience for 14 startups who are members of Trendlines Group’s Misgav and
Mofet B’Yehuda venture accelerators, giving them the opportunity to meet with
dozens of qualified investors and angels, located in four cities across the US –
all in the space of five days! “We’ve taken startups to the US to meet
investors, but this is definitely our most ambitious project yet,” says
The road show will take the startup folk to New York,
Baltimore (that portion will be sponsored by the Maryland-Israel Development
Center), Chicago and Los Angeles. CEOs will have the opportunity to make a
five-minute presentation to investors, telling them what they do and why it
would be worth their while – and money – to invest.
Afterwards, the CEOs
meet with investors in a one-on-one “speed-dating” format, switching seats and
beginning a new conversation with another investor after 15 minutes.
a rock roadie, you have to be in shape to take on a regimen like this: not just
good physical shape (to survive the ravages of the road), Dollinger says, but in
good presentation form.
“The five-minute presentation is like an elevator
pitch on steroids,” he says. “They have to communicate their product, purpose
and value in as clear a manner as possible.”
To get the startups into
shape, members of the Trendlines staff will be working with each one, every day,
throughout March, in preparation for the trip at the end of the
“The people who run the startups we work with are top engineers
and scientists, but they may not know how to market their ideas well,” Dollinger
says. “We see it as our mission to get their great, life-saving and
life-changing ideas out to the market.”
The portfolios of the
accelerators run by Trendlines consist almost exclusively of medical-device
makers, biotech developers and clean-tech companies. These are “areas that
produce ideas and products that improve the human condition,” Dollinger says.
“We provide them with all the backup assistance they need, from accounting to
office space, so they can concentrate on development. And when the time comes,
we prepare them to present their ideas to investors.”
Leaving nothing to
chance, Dollinger draws on the services of Trendlines Group’s Signal Business
Development unit to teach startup folk what it takes to impress investors.
Rocky-like, the startups get toughened up, practicing their pitch in full-dress
simulations and improving their game until they’re ready for the
Call it the “Trendline Way,” and it works, Dollinger
“We had an event in December in which 22 startups in Israel
presented to dozens of investors,” he says, “and a number of funding deals were
closed,” a rare result for a situation in which investors only days before had
come to know their new partners.
Trendlines has been in business in the
US and Israel in various forms for more than 30 years, but it got into the
startup accelerator business only a few years ago. Nevertheless, the company has
chalked up numerous successful exits for startups.
“We have a reputation
for picking good startups to work with, and we have a lot of contacts both here
and in the US, so we’re able to effectively help the companies in our
accelerators,” Dollinger says.
Over the past three years, Trendlines has
garnered some $100 million in outside investments for startups and company
projects, besides the money the company itself invests in the startups in its
And the startups participating in the road show do look
• The Occiflex medical device, which simulates the “hands-on” work of
physical therapists, effectively treating chronic neck pain and headaches. It
already has a strategic agreement with a large European rehabilitation-equipment
• ProIV, which invented a better way to manage blood
• Mantissa, which is developing a mini-radar sensor for
perimeter security, using cutting-edge RF technologies and proprietary software
and hardware to keep cities safer.
• Breezy, which makes a lollipop that
fights bad breath and oral bacteria, making it the first candy in history that’s
good for your mouth and teeth! The ideas and products by these startups and the
others participating in the road trip, Dollinger says, are part of Trendlines
Group’s efforts to “improve the human condition.”
The road is calling out
to these startups, and when they come back with an investment deal to fully
develop their projects, life will, hopefully, get a little bit better for