DreamIt program helping entrepreneurs help themselves

Start-up accelerator’s first program outside of US will offer mentorship, money and workspace in NYC to five fortunate companies.

DreamIt rep Mitchell Golner_311 (photo credit: Yaki Zimmerman)
DreamIt rep Mitchell Golner_311
(photo credit: Yaki Zimmerman)
A handful of unknown Israeli Internet start-ups could soon make a name for themselves in the United States, if recently launched start-up accelerator DreamIt Israel has any say in the matter.
DreamIt Israel’s opening was announced last week by Dreamit Ventures, a leading American-based start-up accelerator. Applications have already begun flowing in for the inaugural four-month program, perhaps lured by the prospect of receiving mentorship, guidance, a stipend of up to $25,000 and access to early stage capital.
Five Israeli start-ups will participate in the program, which will include three months of working alongside companies in the DreamIt NYC 2012 program in New York this summer. At the program’s conclusion, Israeli graduates will present to leading investors at two separate events in New York and Israel. After returning home, they will be offered workspace for up to two months.
Mitchell Golner, Dreamit Ventures’ representative in Israel, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that the program would give the selected start-ups greater access to the US market, which he said would be crucial for their success.
Many Israeli start-ups tend to focus too much on their own small domestic market – even if they do not intend to – and when the time comes to take their product to the United States, they find that it isn’t necessarily marketable there, Golner said.
There is a belief these days that one can create a start-up from anywhere on the planet, he added, “but there has to be an underlying understanding of the market you are serving, which sometimes means you have to be there to experience it and to interact with your customers.”
A US native and the founder of Tangramix, a strategic advisory firm providing services to Israeli companies, Golner said the second aim of the program was to help the selected start-ups overcome what he called the “experience gap.”
Many young Israeli entrepreneurs demonstrate technical know-how, business acumen and great passion for their idea, but lack the real-world experience to turn their start-up into a success, he said.
“If you have bright entrepreneurs, of course they will learn [eventually], but sometimes it helps to couple them with people in the industry who have been through that before.”
This is the first time DreamIt Ventures has launched a program outside of the US. Since its establishment in 2008, DreamIt’s accelerator program has helped launch companies like SeatGeek, the Internet’s largest event-ticket search engine; Take the Interview, an online video-interview software for employers; and Notehall, an online document marketplace for the purchase and sale of lecture notes and study guides.
As was the case with these companies, DreamIt’s Israel program will search for Internet-based start-ups who fit its “lean start-up” model. Lean start-up is a business strategy popularized in the United States that advocates the creation of rapid prototypes designed to test market assumptions in order to prove that the model works before large sums of money are invested.
The selected Israeli entrepreneurs will share workspace in New York with their American counterparts from DreamIt NYC, creating a “collegiate atmosphere” where they can help one another develop, Golner said. If successful, he added, the program will ultimately benefit both the US and Israel through job creation and relationship building.