TECH TALK: Israeli startups find fusion with Los Angeles

ITTAY HAYUT (bottom) and, from left, Yair Vardi, Aviram Sharon, Guy Katsovich, Liat Sade- Sternberg and Rami Kirshblum. (photo credit: FUSION LA)
ITTAY HAYUT (bottom) and, from left, Yair Vardi, Aviram Sharon, Guy Katsovich, Liat Sade- Sternberg and Rami Kirshblum.
(photo credit: FUSION LA)
Fusion LA, the first accelerator for Israeli start-ups in Los Angeles, has announced a $5 million financing round to support a long-term bridge of innovation between LA and Israel ecosystems.
The program offers free office space in Santa Monica, subsidized housing, and a $20,000 investment in return for equity in the startups.
Fusion LA pledges to help entrepreneurs who are selected with a soft landing, including legal and financial support for the relocation to the United States.
The Israeli entrepreneurs complete a 4-month program aimed to help their companies gain traction, raise capital, and work with industry leaders in the US.
The accelerator is currently accepting applications for its next batch, which will start in February 2018.
Los Angeles, the 2028 Olympic Games host city, is the fastest growing tech ecosystem in the US. Known as Silicon Beach, southern California is home to companies like SnapChat, Tinder, Dollar Shave Club, The Honest Company and SpaceX. Venture capitalists pumped $5.3 billion into LA-area startups in 2016, six times as much as in 2011.
The accelerator was founded by Guy Katsovich and Yair Vardi, who met during their military service as officers in Unit 8200, Israel’s equivalent of the NSA. Both have worked with Israeli technology in recent years: Katsovich was the managing director of the EISP entrepreneurship program for Unit 8200 alumni until recently.
Vardi oversaw innovation partnerships at the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles.
The $5 million investment comes from the Legziel family office, a well-established investor specialized in real estate, diamonds, and early stage tech investments.
Simon Legziel who led the family’s venture capital portfolio, has joined the accelerator as a Venture Partner.
The six companies of the first class of Fusion LA were selected from 200 candidates: – CEO Liat Sade-Sternberg: an Augmented Reality (AR) free app that allows you to star side by side with your favorite characters and performers. will present at CES next month.

– CEO Rami Kirshblum: a pro-active TV-based solution that allows senior citizens to stay active and connected in their own homes and communities.
Reducing loneliness & depression, Uniper has demonstrated success in Israel, offering its solution to leading care providers and governmental agencies, and has secured two first US pilots in California for the beginning of 2018.
Hoopo – CEO Ittay Hayut : the emergence of low-power networks has led to a significant market demand for low-power tracking and asset-management solutions.
Hoopo enables these solutions by determining the location of any low-power device without utilizing GPS.
Quarterback – CEO Jonathan Weinberg: a whole new eSports competition platform where fans can challenge players’ skills in real-time, predict their next move and influence each other’s gameplay.
Musico – Founders Yonatan Pistiner and Barak Inbar : a music co-creation and production platform, inspired by the way musicians work.
Musico’s main goal is to create a common language for musicians. Think of it as ‘google docs’ meets ‘GitHub,’ but for music.
InTheGame – founders Aviram Sharon & Itai Arbel: a patented real-time fantasy platform for eSports, live sports and broadcasts.
Inthegame gamifies every viewing experience, generating an additional revenue source for streamers and broadcasters.