100 startups board ‘The Money Train’ in Israel

Representatives from dozens of start-ups boarded a train in Haifa, alongside representatives from major companies such as ebay, Bosch, and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Israel train (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israel train
When “The Money Train” comes to town, who wouldn’t want to climb on board? On Tuesday, representatives from dozens of start-ups boarded a train in Haifa, alongside representatives from major companies such as eBay, Bosch and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
Over the next few hours, as the train continued to Tel Aviv and eventually Beersheba, companies hopped on and off the train.
“We wanted to show that there’s innovation outside of Tel Aviv city, that’s it’s spread throughout the entire country,” said Barak Goldstein, a partner at Terra Venture Partners, which organized the event.
Terra, which focuses its own investments on start-ups that have a positive social impact beyond their own bottom line, is itself located in the North.
“The whole purpose of the event was to try and develop the periphery’s communities, so we thought the best way to do that was on a mode of transportation that would hit all sorts of areas,” said Terra’s head of business development, Gil Abrams.
Just last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a gathering at Afula that spreading high-speed train lines throughout the country was key to developing, and indeed for “canceling the concept of the periphery.”
As the train raced down the Israeli countryside, the start-ups hopped from meeting to meeting in speeddating- style networking and pitching sessions with investors and multinationals.
With plenty of press trying to squeeze through the crowd of entrepreneurs, investors and potential mentors, a PR woman cried “use your elbows!” – sound advice for those making their way through the startup scene.
One entrepreneur, Hadas Pe’er, pitched her company AppGrade, which helps people find energy inefficiencies in their homes, to Tel Aviv Stock Exchange CEO Yossi Beinart.
Tsvika Agassi, demonstrated his company SalientEye’s smartphone-based home alarm system to a representative from Singapore-based ST Engineering.
After several hours, the train arrived in Beersheba, a city that is quickly developing its own start-up infrastructure.
The Gav-Yam technology park adjacent to the train station is planning 20 buildings there, which would make it the largest tech park in the country.
Liz Bachar and David Weisz, whose Kiryat Gat-based company AniBone helps people do realistic, cost-effective planning on home-building and renovations, said they were glad to see increasing efforts to encourage hi-tech companies outside the country’s center.
“Five years ago it was hard to find hi-tech in the South,” said Weisz.
Though things have gotten dramatically better, adds Bachar, “It’s still hard to find hi-tech here and we’re glad that this event is happening.”