EMPLOYEES AT the 200 Apps smartphone and web application developer work in their new office in Jerusalem’s German Colony neighborhood.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A Jerusalem-based software development firm that builds smartphone and web applications for budding start-ups is launching a new studio and incubator, a sign that the capital is rapidly expanding its hi-tech ecosystem.
The three-year-old company, 200 Apps, which has already spawned phone and web applications for dozens of start-ups, is ramping up its activities by moving into a new development office in the ritzy German Colony neighborhood.
The expansion by 200 Apps is another sign of how Jerusalem continues to expand as an innovative start-up city and a rising competitor to Tel Aviv as Israel’s central hi-tech hub. With almost 30 employees, a mix of secular and religious Jews and Arabs, the company is the main hi-tech employer in that area of southern Jerusalem.
The born-and-bred Jerusalemite co-founders, Dan Bystritsky and Alex Ya’akobov, yearned to stay in their hometown, despite the many hi-tech opportunities Tel Aviv had to offer.
“One of them had a taken a loan for university and the loan required that Alex work in Jerusalem. He eventually paid off the loan, then moved to Tel Aviv, but he couldn’t stand it. So he returned to Jerusalem,” said senior manager Marc Bodner, adding that the company often hires science and technology students while they’re still in school.
“One of the things we do is to try to keep Hebrew University graduates in Jerusalem. Let’s say a guy graduates with a computer science degree and all these start-ups or venture capital firms want to hire him in Herzliya [north of Tel Aviv]. We’re very focused on keeping him here.”
200 Apps specializes in devising smartphone applications and web software for its many Israeli start-up clients in industries from healthcare to smart household devices, popularly called the “Internet of things.”
“Our main specialty is developing connected apps for hardware,” Bodner said. “Let’s say you had a medical device to test your blood pressure and you wanted to be able to read it on your phone. We would develop the app for you to be able to access it on your device.”
The company is also launching 200 Labs, a start-up incubator that will offer $100,000 in mobile and web support to different start-ups in exchange for a stake of the company. The new incubator plans to make some 10 investments in various Israeli start-ups by the end of 2018.
While most incubators lend money as an early-stage investor, 200 Labs is not offering equity, but rather tech services and business development.
“If you woke up in the morning and you had a great idea for an app, you might be a great business guy, but you need someone to develop it for you. You need to find a co-founder to be chief technology officer and take 50% of the equity of your business. You need to then raise funds to build the business and hire developers,” Bodner said.
For start-ups working at 200 Labs, “We’re going to give you access to our team of developers so you can develop the technology and the business,” he added.
200 Apps specializes in graphic design and improving the user interface and user experience, along with developing Apple IOS and Google Android software. The overwhelming majority of smartphones run on either Google or Apple’s operating systems.
Some of the company’s clients have launched successful crowdfunding campaigns, with two of them raising more than a million dollars. Another client raised significant venture capital and that company is now worth close to $10m.
In a sign of how the Jerusalem Municipality is trying to foster and expand the city’s startup scene, Deputy Mayor Ofer Berkovitch will attend the company’s launch event on Wednesday, at its new building at 44 Emek Refaim.
At the event, a few of 200 Apps’ clients will display their products, including Pictar – which developed a smartphone case that can turn your device into a professional camera. Another client is the healthy-eating Jerusalem firm, Poiike, founded by Isaac Hassan, who is a co-founder of Pico Jerusalem venture capital fund along with Hemdat Goldberg, a cook and member of the group Chefs for Peace.