The hive creates a buzz

“TheHive helped us a lot. We met a lot of people from the industry,” said Daune. “Our vision, long term, is to become an academy for gaming, a place of knowledge for all the industry.”

Powners co-founder Max Daune (second from left) in TheHive (with staff members) (photo credit: DEBBIE ZIMELMAN)
Powners co-founder Max Daune (second from left) in TheHive (with staff members)
(photo credit: DEBBIE ZIMELMAN)
Making aliya, often starting from scratch, is something that requires a special spirit, one that TheHive accelerator program believes has plenty in common with entrepreneurship.
This is the underlying belief of the program, which is aimed at helping olim and returning citizens build a successful start-up.
TheHive was created in 2011 as the entrepreneurial branch of Gvahim, a nonprofit organization, established by the Rashi Foundation, aimed at providing new immigrants with the tools to succeed in the Israeli labor market.
It operates two branches, in Ashdod and Tel Aviv, and totally accelerated 127 start-ups from both branches. Around 250 entrepreneurs have already enjoyed the benefits offered by the program, such as professional mentoring; training and office hours with top-tier experts; creative co-working space; access to investors; and a one-week boot camp at Google. Around 40% of all participants raised funds, and 70% continued working on the start-up after graduation.
“We believe in the mission of aliya,” said Izabella Filipov, TheHive program coordinator in Ashdod and Tel Aviv. “We believe in olim and believe they are natural entrepreneurs because they decided more than once to make this huge step and make aliya and come to a new country and start fresh. Starting a start-up isn’t easy for Israelis, and it is even harder for olim.”
TheHive has a rigorous selection process, at the end of which it picks up to 10 start-ups each season (there are one-and-a-half seasons per year). After conducting personal interviews with a selection of applicants who filled out the online form, the program chooses 15 to 20 start-ups that go into the next stage, which includes a screening committee consisting of investors, businessmen and entrepreneurs.
TheHive doesn’t financially fund the companies, instead aiming to provide tools and support required at the early stage of setting up a start-up.
“We don’t take shares and don’t invest,” added Filipov.
“Even if they get investment at the stage they get to us, the money won’t be spent wisely. We give them tools and knowledge of what to do with the money.”
OF THE many recent start-ups that are receiving support from TheHive are KashKlik, an influencer marketing platform that connects social media stars with advertisers for marketing campaigns, and Powners, a gaming coaching platform.
Besides being olim, the founders of KashKlik and Powners have a background in competitive sports in common, one that they believe will help them form successful companies.
KashKlik’s founders include its CEO, Hayim Makabee, a former youth chess champion who made aliya from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992; Ariel Verbner, the CTO, who played professional basketball in Argentina and made aliya from Buenos Aires in 2015; and Jacob Kutschenko, the CMO, who holds a black belt in aikido and made aliya from São Paolo, Brazil, in 2010.
Galina Kravchenko, the marketing manager, is a former gymnast, who made aliya from Moscow in 2017.
“We build a marketplace in which we connect between advertisers and influencers – people who have many followers in social networks such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and they have the capacity to influence the decisions of the followers, in particular the decision to buy products and services,” explained Makabee. “In KashKlik the advertisers create campaigns, and the influencers go to the platform to find campaigns they want to promote, and when they promote them they get paid.
“What is very unique about our platform is that we have a model of pay-per-click in which advertisers only pay for real results and the influencers get paid on the number of clicks they are able to generate.”
KashKlik was launched in December 2016 and has already raised money twice, reaching more than 15 million people globally, according to Makabee.
“Our influencers are not generally celebrities. Our focus is on micro-influencers, people with between 5,000 and 100,000 followers. They are not celebrities, but they have influence on their particular niche. All the studies have shown that these influencers create much more engagement. This means that promoting campaigns with micro-influencers is much more effective than big celebrities.”
Makabee feels the sporting background he shares with his co-founders has played an important role in KashKlik’s early success.
“What we see in KashKlik is an amazing level of teamwork in which each person brings skills and experience, and we complete each other amazingly,” he noted. “For me, chess helped develop several important skills, like decision-making, and also helped me with concentration and focus.”
MAX DAUNE, who made aliya from Belgium two-and- a-half years ago and co-founded Powners with Quentin George, comes from a family of sportsmen.
His father and grandfather played soccer in the first league in Belgium, and he used to play hockey professionally in the top flight, twice being called up to the Belgian national hockey team. This background is directly connected to his start-up, an interactive coaching platform for video games.
“I started playing hockey late because I started in soccer, and when I moved to hockey it was harder for me because the other kids had started earlier,” explained the 25-year-old Daune. “I trained a lot and spent a lot of time learning. The only thing I couldn’t get good at was video games, because you don’t have anything to train with; so that is the initial thinking behind Powners. I would be stuck at the same level for years, and it would get so frustrating; so we decided to do something.”
Powners currently focuses on League of Legends, a multiplayer online battle arena video game, which is played by over 100 million active players. Powners includes practice modules and theoretical modules, with around 2,000 people currently using the platform as beta testers.
“TheHive helped us a lot. We met a lot of people from the industry,” said Daune. “Our vision, long term, is to become an academy for gaming, a place of knowledge for all the industry.”
Makabee also credits TheHive for helping to get KashKlik up and running. “We got from TheHive lots of interesting thoughts and guidance on how to develop the start-up. We also met amazing people, mentors and experts who came to help us. It is wonderful to see people with lots of experience coming to help without expecting anything in return. They helped us make contact with customers and partners, and the last investment we got included someone we met at TheHive.”
If Makabee’s estimates prove to be correct, TheHive will be able to pride itself in helping to create another profitable company by next year.
“KashKlik was built from the beginning as a global company because we know we address something which is universal,” said Makabee. “Our model is very simple and can be applied anywhere. We expect that, by the end of 2019, we will be running something like 1,000 campaigns per quarter and will be profitable.”