Late last month when I published my first article about my trip to Israel, I mentioned how the startup community in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is very strong and how the people in it are constantly looking to improve it. Of course, finding ways to bring in not only more talent, but diverse talent is a prime example of an improvement that’s being worked on. But there are other ways that the startup nation works to continue to improve.
One of those ways is by collaboration. Every one I spoke to in Israel (at least in the tech scene) appeared to have a feeling of unity. In my observations, people in the startup scene there were happy to give advice to others. Now, I’m not saying that type of thing doesn’t happen in the Valley or in NYC — because it does, but the fact that it does happen is a crucial reason why the Israeli startup scene is so successful.
A Visit to Nautilus
On my second full day there, I had the opportunity to visit Nautilus, a startup accelerator, backed by AOL (don’t cringe, they’re actually doing something right in Israel) right in the heart of Tel Aviv. In fact, get this: the hotel I was staying at was in the same building as the Nautilus offices (which are really great by the way). And here’s two other fun facts: the Israeli Facebook offices are in the same building as well. According to Mira Marcus, International Press Director at the Mayor’s office in Tel Aviv, the fact that Facebook has offices right in the heart of Tel Aviv is actually surprising. Why is that? Because real estate in Tel Aviv is very, very expensive. Every other large corporation (e.g. Google, Microsoft, etc) has their offices a bit outside the city.
Why does this matter though? It matters because as I’ve been saying: the fight for talent is real. People love to live and work in the city of Tel Aviv — it’s just that simple. I’m guessing that’s why Facebook has splurged (at least for the time being, they only have 2 or 3 floors) on prime office space.
But back to Nautilus. As of right now Nautilus has backed eight (8) companies. Every company that the accelerator backs receives $125,000, office space at Nautilus, and access to expertise in various forms.
Merav Rotem Naaman, who runs Nautilus, told me she wants the accelerator to act as a bridge between Israel and the U.S. for the startups. She also wants to offer a tailored approach with each company in the accelerator. When I spoke with Ms. Naaman inside her office at Nautilus HQ (which has a fantastic view overlooking Tel Aviv by the way), her enthusiasm about each of the startups in her accelerator was infectious. That enthusiasm and her vision for how Nautilus should help these companies really stood out and is why I believe under her lead, Nautilus will be the place where many amazing companies are able to spread their wings.
While I was there I also got to meet with a handful of the startups in the accelerator. All of which are working on amazing stuff. I’m including the details below.
Spree is disrupting the huge market currently dominated by antiquated companies such as Home Shopping Network and QVC, by bringing this shopping experience to the digital, millennial generation via dedicated mobile app and website. For example, you can create a video and with Spree it will easily make the items shown in the video purchasable. I’m in love with Spree personally because I think it’s something that could benefit my girlfriend’s business, an online boutique called Cheerful Chic.
You can learn more at the Spree Website.
Shoppimon (though I’m told that the name is subject to change) keeps an eye on your online store–so you don’t have to. It offers 24/7 monitoring and is built for Magento (E-commerce), though I’m told there are plans to support other platforms at later dates (including Shopify, Volusion, etc). What’s really awesome about Shoppimon is that it offers a domain specific, pattern based approach to web application monitoring meaning it’s not just pinging your site to see if it responds, the technology actually has bots that try and perform different actions and report back whether or not they were successful.
You can learn more at the Shoppimon Website.
Reactful is a powerful, yet simple tool that produces meaningful business impact by helping you react to the digital body language of your users in real-time. Sounds cool, right? I know. As a huge analytics geek myself, I really loved seeing the demo of Reactful. With Reactful you can create different A/B tests in realtime, add functionality to your website with the click of a button, and much more. It’s extremely cool and I definitely think it’s a worthwhile tool for increasing conversions.
You can learn more at the Reactful Website.
SoundBetter is the leading music production marketplace, enabling millions of musicians to achieve release-ready songs. The inner-music lover in me really thought this was a great platform. I’m not a musician but I love music and have several friends who are musicians and/or music producers. Not to mention, my brothers are musicians and have a band (check it out here). Anyway, the point of SoundBetter is that it is disrupting the inefficient music-production services market by connecting musicians with vetted professional mixing & mastering engineers, producers, singers and other production pros who get them to a great sounding finished product.
You can learn more at the SoundBetter Website.
Suffice it to say, in Israel, AOL is doing at least one thing right.