Picture: Prize winners (from left) Zehava Arky (Aleph to Zee), Akiva Hollinger (Negev Family Fabrication), and Zoey Tabak (iRealize) .
(photo credit: NEFESH B'NEFESH)
Aleph to Zee, a digital marketing start-up also serving as a training academy for new immigrants and the ultra-Orthodox community, proved victorious at Nefesh B’Nefesh’s inaugural entrepreneur boot camp pitch night in Beersheba on Monday night.
North American immigrants Zehava Arky and Bruria Efune impressed a panel of distinguished industry leaders with their innovative business idea to take home the trophy and emerge with the top prize of NIS 12,000 in seed-stage funding.
The pitch night concluded a six-week entrepreneur boot camp run in partnership with Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, the Jewish Agency for Israel and Jewish National Fund–USA.
“The business idea features both a business and social initiative,” Arky, who moved to Israel in 2014 from New Jersey, told The Jerusalem Post
. “On the business side, we’re opening a digital marketing company for English content to bridge the gap between Israeli businesses and non-profit organizations with potential partners overseas.”
Building on their experience in the nonprofit sector and familiarity with both the immigrant and ultra-Orthodox population groups
, Arky and Efune aim to use the company to bolster the employment prospects of the two sectors.
“In the case of the ultra-Orthodox community, what we learned was due to their background in learning Talmud and Halacha in yeshiva and seminary, they learn to be very analytical, know how to problem solve from various angles and be creative in their analytics,” said Arky. “It’s very transferable to digital marketing. We would like to open up a training program in the South to teach them how to do the back-end of digital marketing, such as the analytics, the SEO and gain an understanding of what works for different companies and non-profits in making them more accessible.”
Having already completed a successful trial period training a member of the ultra-Orthodox community, Arky and Efune plan to now develop their company further and training programs in each area of digital marketing.
The six-week boot camp aimed to give immigrant innovators living in the South the support and tools they needed to be successful.
Sessions took place once a week and were dedicated to topics such as building a business plan, marketing and sales consultation, networking, bookkeeping and tax practices and, ahead of the finale event, how to successfully pitch your company to potential investors.
Akiva Hollinger’s Negev Family Fabrication Company, which creates affordable custom bunk beds for small apartments, picked up the NIS 8,000 runner-up prize, and Zoey Tabak’s iRealize picked up the third prize of NIS 5,000 for an initiative turning customer ideas into tangible product concepts with 3D designed models.
Ziv Mor picked up the “People’s Choice Award,” determined by an audience vote, for his “Peace Through Gaming” initiative which aims to facilitate conflict resolution through online gaming.
“In recent years we have seen growing numbers of olim moving to Israel’s North and South,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “Particularly in the South, there is a strong emphasis on hi-tech and innovation. The entrepreneurial spirit is ingrained in Israeli culture and we’re thrilled to be able to provide these important resources for olim in this region to be able to partake in it.”The boot camp program
formed part of the “Go Beyond” initiative launched by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and Nefesh B’Nefesh to encourage new immigrants to settle beyond Israel’s center. Since May 2018, more than 350 North American immigrants have made the Israeli periphery their home through the program.
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