For from Zion shall come forth… mobile apps

A PC-friendly site alone is no longer adequate, as it often will not render or operate properly on a small mobile device.

At Quickode, one of the first software development houses that specialized in creating native apps for the iPhone (photo credit: QUICKODE LTD)
At Quickode, one of the first software development houses that specialized in creating native apps for the iPhone
(photo credit: QUICKODE LTD)
As technology usage trends shift dramatically at a rapid pace, any company with an online presence needs to meet its customers “where they are,” which increasingly means on their mobile smartphones.
A PC-friendly site alone is no longer adequate, as it often will not render or operate properly on a small mobile device.
This changing dynamic drives many companies to create parallel versions of their web-enabled applications – mobile apps – that require specialized development.
Alongside its flourishing start-up scene, which has ballooned in the past three years from 100 start-ups to over 600, Jerusalem has seen a number of mobile app development houses spring up around the city. These software development houses will develop a company’s mobile app on an outsourced basis, saving that client the largely onetime expense of creating a mobile-friendly version of its application. Mobile software technologies change and evolve quickly, and with two dominant but different platforms on the market (Apple’s IOS and Google’s Android), it is increasingly difficult for all but the largest companies to maintain suitable in-house software development talent.
Companies increasingly seek outsourced solutions for mobile app development, and a growing number of these companies turn to the following notable Jerusalem-based app developers to build their apps.
Yoni Colb is the son of a prominent patent lawyer who was groomed to enter the family law firm. After studying physics, Colb planned to become a patent agent at his father’s firm, but after working there for two years he realized that he was not interested in that line of work and was instead drawn to software development. In 2008, Colb took an eight-month coding course, purchased one of the first available books about software development for the new Apple iPhone platform, IOS, and the rest was history.
Colb and his partner, Eli Krief, launched Quickode, one of the first software development houses that specialized in creating native apps for the iPhone (and other platforms as well).
Quickode’s business took off and today the company’s Malha office is home to 38 employees. While most clients are Israeli companies – from small start-ups to very large corporations – Quickode has clients from the US and Europe as well.
“Our target market is any start-up or product company that needs either A-to-Z services (specification, design, development, QA) or any combination of one or more of these services,” says Colb. “We act as team extensions for many technical companies.”
Colb grew up in Rehovot, and Krief was raised in France and immigrated to Israel at age 18. Both studied in Jerusalem after completing their army service (Colb at the Hebrew University, Krief at Machon Lev) and both developed a love for the city while pursuing their degrees. When it came time to launch Quickode, the two partners decided to establish the company in Jerusalem.
“We both wanted to live in Jerusalem and we both had kids when we started Quickode, so it was obvious to us that we wanted our business to be based here,” states Colb. He points to the vibrant recruiting landscape in Jerusalem as a major justification for their decision. With five institutions in the city that teach computer science or computer engineering, Quickode has developed expertise in identifying, recruiting and training young, raw talent fresh out of university, keeping and creating jobs in the city.
Colb says with satisfaction, “People told us we were crazy and that we would not succeed unless we were in Tel Aviv, and we proved them wrong.”
On the other side of town, in the Har Hotzvim industrial park, is an app development company notable as much for its “inputs” as its outputs. OpalNet, led by CEO Chedva Ovadia, is managed and staffed by haredi women. Ovadia and her partner, Dina Weiss, met while studying for their master’s degrees in management (each earned a bachelor’s degree in technology) and embarked together on a mission to advance employment in the haredi sector.
They first worked together at Tmura, a program founded by Weiss for haredi women that grants a degree in software engineering in conjunction with Azrieli College of Engineering Jerusalem. In 2014, Ovadia and Weiss jointly created a non-profit called JobTek for haredi job seekers, and their work with haredi job seekers led the pair to launch OpalNet in 2015.
Ovadia recalls that while their motivation in creating JobTek was to help haredim find employment in the technology sector, there were not enough positions in advanced technologies and with acceptable terms to meet demand.
“We understood that in order to provide high-quality job opportunities, we simply had to create them ourselves,” says Ovadia. “We created OpalNet to offer employment opportunities on the cutting edge of technology, tailored to the work environment needs of haredi employees.”
OpalNet’s 12 employees provide a full range of Web and mobile software development services for corporations, start-ups and private ventures. Mobile development has been the main driver of the company’s growth.
Ovadia notes that according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, demand for good mobile developers jumped by over 40%, primarily in the greater Tel Aviv area, in recent years, so OpalNet represents a stable, high-quality yet lower-cost alternative to in-house development.
Dan Bystritsky and Alex Ya’akobov initially joined forces to chase their own start-up dream. Start-ups are hard and risky, and when the mobile app they developed didn’t hit their desired targets, the pair decided that they preferred to use their talent and expertise to help other start-ups. In 2014 Bystritsky and Ya’akobov launched their mobile app development studio, 200apps. Located at the Jerusalem Venture Partners office compound, 200apps today employs 15 designers and developers and provides end-to-end app design and development services for start-ups from Jerusalem and beyond.
So has the company actually developed 200 apps? Not exactly. The company’s name is not a reference to a number but rather a homage to the city it was founded in. “200apps” is a play on the Hebrew word for two hundred: “ma’atayim,” which in Jerusalem-area slang is pronounced with two alefs, and in fact the company’s name in Hebrew is spelled with a double alef.
“We wanted our love for Jerusalem to be built in to our company’s name,” says Bystritsky.
The writer is the managing partner of Jerusalem-based venture capital fund Jumpspeed Ventures and a board member of MadeinJLM. For more information about the Jerusalem start-up eco-system: