David Halperin founds $50m Contrago VC fund

Contrago Ventures plans working in the first stage out of Tel Aviv, and within a year to open offices in New York.

MARKET DATA at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.  (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
MARKET DATA at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

David Halperin, one of the owners of Israel's Halperin Optical" chain, together with his partner Amitay Yamin, has founded a new Israeli venture capital fund Contrago Ventures. The new fund will invest $50 million in B2B companies operating in cloud computing, the cybersecurity, fintech and food-tech, artificial intelligence and machine learning sectors. The fund's anchor investors include companies and some of the world's biggest angel investors, who are part of the global network of the connections of the Halperin family.

Contrago Ventures plans working in the first stage out of Tel Aviv, and within a year to open offices in New York. The firm will invest from seed rounds through to C rounds.

David Halperin (41), son of the Halperin family, and a partner in the "Halperin Optical" chain, has focused in recent years on philanthropy, real estate investments, and technology. 15 years ago, he founded "Shaming Shames Me," an NGO that works to strengthen a culture of positive online dialogue in Israel and to promote values of tolerance and mutual respect through raising awareness about the damage done by slander and shaming. The activities of the NGO are worldwide and the slogan has already been translated into 15 languages. Contrago Ventures will donate 2% of its profits to the "Shaming Shames Me"

"It flatters me much more that people recognize me as the founder of 'Shaming Shames Me' and only afterwards as one of the owners of 'Halperin Optical.' The activities of the NGO save lives and performs a lot of good things and I am proud of the change in awareness that we have achieved," said Halperin.

About Contrago venture capital fund, he said, "High-tech has a massive influence on almost every area of our lives and I see this in particular in the retail world that I know so very well. I expect that this trend will continue, and after years in which I have been involved in high-tech in an indirect way as an angel and consultant, now I am instituting these activities my activities by setting up Contrago."

A general view of Tel Aviv's skyline is seen through a hotel window in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 15, 2017. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)A general view of Tel Aviv's skyline is seen through a hotel window in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 15, 2017. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

The "Halperin Optical" chain is the largest optical retail chain in Israel and it operates without franchises. "Halperin Optical" was founded in 1988 by Rabbi Rafael Halperin, David's father, in order to allow Israelis from all backgrounds to buy spectacles, sunglasses and contact lenses, at affordable prices for all. The chain markets spectacles, sunglasses, contacts lenses and multifocal lenses, and solutions for contact lenses. Among the products that the chain sells are the Ray-Ban, Armani, Prada, Marc Jacobs brands, and more. The chain has 130 branches and 700 employees including optometrists and opticians.

Amitay Yamin (25) began working when he was 15, providing human resources for the hotel and restaurant industry. He quickly translated this activity into a startup that developed a software solution for managing human resources in the hospitality industry. Subsequently and simultaneously to his studies for a law degree, in the direct track to an MBA at Reichman University (IDC Herzliya), he joined the Hanaco Ventures venture capital fund, as part of the fund's investment team. After that he served as investment consultant for the angel investments of the Swiss ReInternational Family Office, which invested in more than 40 Israeli startups, and today he is one of the investors in the Contrago fund. "As an entrepreneur, I can say that entrepreneurs are looking for much more than money. Entrepreneurs are looking for a genuine partner for the journey. An investor who will constantly be by their side and understands what they need at each and every stage, both at a business level and in terms of their mentality. As entrepreneurs, we know how to support them even when not everything is rosy."

He added, "Contrago Ventures does not plan to compete with the large, veteran funds. If the money under management was the only measurement of venture capital funds, then we would face fierce competition, but I don't think that in today's reality that is the decisive criterion. When you combine work around the clock for the entrepreneur with harnessing Halperin's global business network, unique, significant and practical value is created for companies, which is finally translated into growth. Every company, ultimately, needs to justify the valuation that is given to it."