Oren Knaan

Oren Knaan

Oren Knaan Startup Camel founder, a professional game producer, a badass music composer and a practitioner of black magic. Oren is leading the podcast's operation and also makes our podcast look and sound swell.

Sep 212014
 

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Startup Camel – Podcasting From The Heart Of The Israeli Startup Scene

Idan Hershko / Co-Founder at Startup Camel

Idan Hershko / Co-Founder at Startup Camel

In this episode, Itamar Zur and Lev Kerzner are interviewing Idan Hershko!
Idan is a co-founder @ Startup Camel and up until now was our only interviewer. This is the Lev and Itamar’s first interview at Startup Camel – hopefully the first of many others to come.
So on this interview you’re going to hear Idan talking about the process of starting a podcast, and how it helped him get his dream job!
Enjoy!

Aug 232014
 

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SkyGiraffe – The Full Stack Enterprise Mobility Platform

SkyGiraffe is a platform that enables an enterprise to provide read and write access to the backend systems for employees.
It bypasses multiple legacy management systems that can be found in many large organizations (as MS SQL, ORACLE, MySQL and so on), and controls selected components in their backend systems through a single modern and well designed UI. Moreover, it’s made to be used with comfort on a mobile device.
Another great aspect of SkyGiraffe is that once you have access to your backend systems, its implementation requires writing no code whatsoever!

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The name SkyGiraffe basically means the ability to see all the enterprise systems (from the sky) – feel free to listen to Boaz share the short story behind it in the interview.

phone-portraiteBoaz says that when he recruits developers, one of the most significant properties he’s looking for in his candidates is whether they have built stuff in their life or not. It also matters whether they studied or not to a certain extent, but if they managed to build something meaningful or solve some kind of a problem implies that they want it bad enough. Moreover, it implies about a certain type of attitude or personality – the example that Boaz gives is that “…when you arrive at the company, and we tell you ‘Hey, today we’re gonna build an app that does something because we wanna show it tomorrow’ you reply ‘Okay, let’s just get it done’ versus ‘no no no… I need three weeks because I need to get my head around it’, and that’s a personality type.”.
Boaz has a lot of gratitude for his team. He appreciates people like his team, who chose to go and invest their time in a company that don’t provide the best terms and try to accomplish something that goes against the odds, and says that it’s something one shouldn’t take for granted.

Jun 102014
 

Have you got the skills? Now put them to the test!

AngelHack’s new hackathon competition, The Whole Developer, will take place in 30 cities around the world and focuses on soft skills for developers, designers and entrepreneurs, guiding them towards better overall business acumen and an improved lifestyle. Get ready to compete in the most recognized global hackathon and win a chance to be accepted into AngelHack’s HACKcelerator program and a trip to San Francisco.

A treat for our listeners

Get FREE tickets with “Startup100TLVCamel” to AngelHack Tel Aviv @ http://ahtelavivs14.eventbrite.com

Jun 042014
 

An interview with Saul Singer who in 2009 published the book “Startup Nation”, about the challenges Israel is facing as a global innovation leader.

Introduction

Saul Singer

Saul Singer

In 2009, Saul Singer wrote, along with Dan Senor, a book that tells the story of the transformation of Israel from being a nation that struggles to survive with very limited economic growth engines, into a global innovation center – second only to the Silicon Valley. In the book, Shaul recounted the processes this young country was going through, and analyzed the reasons for its success in this area – the technological military units that provide the industry with qualified and experienced professionals; The Israeli culture, which contains an ongoing need to challenge and question the status quo; And the recognition that these Israeli qualities receive by the government, while supporting the economy in this direction by providing incentives for entrepreneurs and capitals to invest in them. The book made waves around the world, sold millions of copies and been translated into many languages, so there is no dispute that Israel is now a role model in technological innovation, almost like the Silicon Valley in California, USA.

Today, five years after the publication of the book, we talked with Saul about the challenges Israel is about to face if it wants to keep on being a startup nation. His answers, some of which were very surprising, less revolved around the need for Israel to lead in terms of technology, but focused on matters apparently not directly related to innovation – the importance of examining the non-american markets in which he believes many opportunities lie for Israeli entrepreneurs, and the importance of Reducing the gap between the engine of growth, i.e the hi-tech sector, and the more traditional sectors, in which Israel lags behind many countries in the world.

For your convenience, a summary of some interesting points from the interview:

 

Entrepreneurship

Idan – What challenges will the Israeli industry have to face while it develops and sustains its position as a leader in global innovation and entrepreneurship?

Saul – The main question that is being asked on this matter is why Israel has only startups? Why are there no giant Israeli companies such as Google and Facebook?
And although this is an interesting question, I think that at this point in time we have a different, more important question to ask.

Israel has about 4,000 startups, its venture capital per capita is 2.5 times greater than the U.S. and 30 times greater than Europe, and its ecosystem is getting stronger and more mature. This actually makes Israel the largest innovation ecosystem outside of Silicon Valley.

In the last 5 years startups appear around the world, in some places even the local residents are not aware of the presence of start-ups in their country. Some countries also try to become Startup Nations.

As Israeli entrepreneurs, our opportunity is to find how to connect with these initiatives.
So the question we need to ask ourselves is – what role we can we play in this worldwide network of entrepreneurship and innovation?

Idan – So you think we should devote more resources to connect with these entrepreneurial centers around the world?

Saul – We have created a highway, so to speak, between Israel and Silicon Valley, between Israel and the U.S. market.
Israeli companies’ go to market tends to be the U.S. market, and they tend open their offices in New-York or in the Silicon Valley, and it has become the norm.

This highway has been helpful for us and we relied on it so far – but it is not enough anymore, and it better not remain our main path in the future.
This is because the so-called “emerging” markets around the world are larger and they grow faster than the U.S. market, and all the problems that we solve for the U.S. market also exist outside of it. It’s also rather strange situation that we are in, since the U.S. market is the only market that we have to compete on, head-to-head with the Silicon Valley.

So yes, we should take the opportunity that await us outside the United States.

 

Economy

Startup Nation Book

Startup Nation

Idan – We talk about the opportunities that await the state of Israel and the world. Countries that has a need for Israeli innovation and can become new markets for Israeli entrepreneurs, but as every Israeli knows, and as you mentioned in your book, the hi-tech is just a small part from a variety of industries in Israel. Other sectors in Israel are considered less prestigious, employees receive lower wages, which in effect expands the gaps in the Israeli society.
How these gaps may affect the future of Israel as a global leader in technology and innovation?

Saul – Yes indeed, we did mention this topic in our book, and it is certainly an important one. We have basically two economies in Israel – the high-tech, and everything else. That is a crucial problem. The thing we should do first of all is stop the distinction between the high-tech sector and low-tech sectors. This distinction goes away. In order to thrive, technological elements should be integrated in every part of our industry. In fact, the integration of technology in traditional industries makes a great opportunity, of which many startups already take advantage.
Instead of taking the high-tech sector as something that creates gaps, we should try to bring the rest of the industry closer to this sector.
We should note that in general, the hi-tech sector (in Israel) enjoys low taxes, little regulation and a highly competitive environment. The rest of the economy deals with high taxes, lots of regulation and little competition. Therefore, I’m not surprised that the rest of the economy doesn’t reach similar results as those of the hi-tech sector. Improving our education system and our human capital will bring amazing results in all the sectors. We should learn from the success of hi-tech economy and apply to the rest of the economy. These two things are crucial in my opinion.

Idan – It reminds me that in your book, you mentioned the “Yozma” (enterprise) fund as something that helped kick-start the hi-tech sector in Israel, by providing incentives for investors that invest in Israeli companies. Maybe we should use this model and apply it to other industries in the economy?

Saul – Yes, sometimes there is room for such initiatives. The “Yozma” fund was not an attempt to replace the private sector, but rather a way to bring the private sector to invest in Israeli businesses when there was no capital available in Israel at all. The fund did an excellent job in attracting local and international investors. In this case, the government as a catalyst may well be very important, but I think there are things that can be done without spending any money at all, as removing barriers that prevent people from initiating their own ventures in Israel. For example, it is more difficult to open a restaurant in Israel than to establish a hi-tech company. We are paying a heavy price because of this bureaucracy, and it costs nothing to remove it. This is not about investment of millions of shekels, it’s just a matter of removing barriers. In the hi-tech sector there are no such barriers. So the first thing I’d do is remove those barriers that are there in the first place because of the government.

Idan – It’s interesting that you mention the fact that it’s so hard to establish a restaurant in Israel, because only a few weeks ago our minister of economy noted that the study done by his office, in which they revealed that small businesses create more jobs than big and well-based businesses. So maybe we should stop chasing after technology giants like Intel, and focus on small business?

Saul – Well, I think that Bennett is right. Many studies have already proven that small businesses, not just start-ups, but small and medium businesses – specifically medium-sized businesses that have already passed the stage of the startup and grow rapidly, such companies are the biggest source of new jobs. We need to focus a lot of efforts to comprehend how we can make the establishment and growth of such companies become easier, and again – it is less a question of access to capital, although it probably also can improve a few things, but this is mainly a question of tax breaks and less regulation. There are creterions by which one can measure how hard it is to start a business in a particular place, whether it takes a few days, a few months, international indices of the level of bureaucracy – and we are not well placed in these indices. There are many existing models including those in Estonia and England, who made major improvements by using online government services that made them much more accessible.

 

Personal Note

Idan – Before we wrap this up, I can’t let you go without sharing with us your future plans to publish another book. Do you have such plans and will it be a continuation to The Startup Nation?

Saul – Dan and I are getting to think about our next book, we’re at the very early stages of this now and I can just say that it won’t be Startup Nation 2, a sequel to Startup Nation, it will be a different book, also about business but more global, though there will be connections to Startup Nation, Israel will be a part of the story, no doubt. There are other things going on with Startup Nation – we’re working on a movie, that I’m not sure when it’s going to come out, and we keep getting requests for more translations for more languges, so Startup Nation keeps rolling on.

Apr 242014
 

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Applango – Make SaaS work for you

Daniel Sarfati is the CEO and founder of Applango. He recalls being drawn towards entrepreneurship since he was young. He managed to make his first few bucks by writing a program on a commodore 64 computer.
WS-1-Logo
Daniel was born in Milan, Italy. He pursued his studies in mechanical engineering. He later moved to Israel, where his passion for entrepreneurship was reignited. As a first step in this direction, he started interviewing friends and professionals from various industries to get to know the professional challenges they faced. He wanted to deliver value and help solve professional obstacles as best as he could.

Israel Team

Israel Team

Soon enough an opportunity came up when a friend told him that he couldn’t find a way to measure the value his company got from various SaaS that the employees used. Moreover, he couldn’t precisely quantify the annual costs of SaaS they used. So Daniel took on the challenge and started building Applango – a service that measures the value and the level of implementation of SaaS products in companies. It presents data that help you determine whether a SaaS product is cost effective. Moreover, it also indicates the areas where the SaaS is not being used effectively.
Daniel says that he is very optimistic about the future of Applango. They get very positive feedbacks, and at this point they make efforts to add more apps into their repertoire.

USA Team

USA Team

Featured:

SignEasy 25:40
Skygiraffe 27:45

Apr 112014
 

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Keepy – For now. For later. For ever.

Offir Gutelzon is one of the founders of the Israeli startup Pic Scout, which was acquired by the stock photography giant – Getty images.
After the exit, Offir moved to New York city to take up an executive job at Getty Image. Not too long after, did the entrepreneurial bug bite him again to spearhead a new, exciting project – Keepy.

Offir Gutelzon / Co-Founder, CEO at Keepy

Offir Gutelzon / Co-Founder, CEO at Keepy

Keepy is all about collecting memories and the interaction around those memories. The idea struck him when he found himself regularly posting pictures of his children’s artwork from kindergarten on Facebook so that his parents could see it. He realized that many parents stumble upon this exact same problem in trying to somehow encapsulate and share their child’s growth with their family and close friends.
Ultimately, Keepy turned into a place where people could not only store information, but also interact amongst themselves. So now, every grandma can comment on her grandchild’s picture or a video, and take part in the “keepy”.

Offir shares a great piece of advice that his father gave him, namely, “You have to go out there and start doing something, if you want people to join you.” He took this ideology one step forward, by realizing that the most important person in a movement or a company is not the first one, but the second one to get on the bandwagon. Hence, it is extremely important to empower the first person who joins you, who in turn would help you turn your idea into reality.

The biggest perk of his current undertaking is the fact that it has helped translate his love for his family into a business opportunity.

A valuable tip Offir offers all aspiring entrepreneurs is to know when to shut down and walk away from a stagnant project. It is indeed hard, he says, since you put in so much effort and time into it, but one must attain the right balance between optimism and realism in order to succeed in the startup world.

Offir Gutelzon, Yael Sahar and Abby Pecoriello

Offir Gutelzon, Yael Sahar and Abby Pecoriello

Apr 062014
 

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Sol Chip – Lets the sunshine in, and the batteries out

The journey of Dr. Shani Keysar, founder and CEO of Sol Chip, started unexpectedly several years ago.

Shani Keysar / Co-Founder, CEO at Sol Chip

Shani Keysar / Co-Founder, CEO at Sol Chip

Shani, who was then working in the chip industry, had for some time the desire to promote the usage of solar energy in Israel. One day, while driving one of her daughters home, her daughter asked her if she could use solar power to activate the chips she was working on. That question turned out to be the beginning of Shani’s journey into entrepreneurship.

Amusingly, Shani also met her mentor in a surprising circumstance – she happened to be her own neighbor, who on one day revealed herself as a source of support and useful advice while they walked their dogs together.

Shani’s greatest challenge took place when she tried to get accepted into an incubator. The money that the incubation program provided would be insufficient for developing a proof of concept for the solar-powered chip. Therefore, in order to enter the program, she had to raise another round of investment. Moreover, this all took place in the midst of the economic crisis, when investments at that time were extraordinarily hard to secure.

Rami Friedlander / Co-Founder, VP Business Development and Applications at Sol Chip

Rami Friedlander / Co-Founder, VP Business Development and Applications at Sol Chip

Shani had an opportunity to meet with the owners of a private chip manufacturing company in Scotland. She then decided to take a flight on her own to Edinburgh and present her pitch to the owners of that company. It was extremely hard for Shani to believe in herself and that she could actually make all this happen; in the end, they invested and acted as the chip manufacturing service, and Shani got Sol Chip accepted into the incubator.

Now, you can probably imagine what makes Shani say she believes that the most important thing is to have a lot of faith in your idea and especially, in your own abilities.

Sol Chip wins Energy Harvesting Award at IDTechEx

Sol Chip wins Energy Harvesting Award at IDTechEx

Mar 292014
 

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Stevie – Turn your feed into an awesome TV channel

Yael Givon / Co-Founder, CEO at Stevie

Yael Givon / Co-Founder, CEO at Stevie

Since moving away from the big city, Yael Givon and her husband Gil found themselves driving a lot more than before; consequently tuning in to the radio more often, they found it to be rather boring. This is when they had their eureka moment. They got an idea, built a prototype, raised money and created Stevie – a service that lets you generate your very own TV channel out of your Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Yael believes that viewers in the future will expect their TV to know who they are, who their friends are, and what they like to watch. Stevie is available on iOS, Android, Samsung TV, Windows 8 and the Web.

While Yael does not have any formal education in the field of marketing (she actually holds a BFA from Bezalel Academy of Arts), she managed to become the Director of Marketing in one of the most renowned Israeli companies – ICQ.

Gil Rimon / Co-Founder, Creative Technology at Stevie

Gil Rimon / Co-Founder, Creative Technology at Stevie

Later on, Yael co-founded Sense of Fashion – the online marketplace for indie fashion, and served as VP Product for Speedbit and Director of Marketing for ICQ (AOL). She was a product strategy consultant for startups such as Innovid, Face.com (sold to Facebook), Yedda (AOL) and Foxytunes (Yahoo).

Yael’s lack of technical background does not stop her from being an expert in her field. On the contrary, she believes artists are builders and that this is why they have a good chance of becoming good product managers in the startup scene.

Yael credits her connections and friends from the local startup scene for significantly contributing to her venture. One of them, who supported her all along the way, and is also the closest thing to a mentor that she has is Yossi Vardi – A well-known Israeli investor. She pointed out that a significant thing she learned from him was his approach to people that enables them to express themselves.

As for today, Yael has her hands full nurturing her two babies – her young son and her startup company. Surprisingly, she also gets to sleep sometimes in between.

Stevie Team

Featured:

MailChimp 45:00
Trouble on Triton 47:00
Zula 48:05
Evolero 49:25

Mar 222014
 

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Panoramic Power – Enterprise Energy Management Solutions

Adi Shamir / Co-Founder, COO at Panoramic Power

Adi Shamir / Co-Founder, COO at Panoramic Power

Yaniv is the CEO of Panoramic Power – which is trying to change the world of energy consumption data.

They provide device level energy management, or if you want to put it in simpler words, they bring data about energy consumption directly from the appliances, making it easier for their customers to make educated decisions regarding the way they manage their energy consumption.

Their secret sauce is a combination between innovative hardware – sensors which are totally self sufficient and software which enables them to offer their service as a SAAS (software as a service).  

Panoramic power was founded by Adi Shamir and David Almagor, since they felt that there isn’t enough detailed information in the energy field, as opposed to the field of telecommunications in which the costs are much clearer.

David Almagor / Co-Founder, Executive Chairman at Panoramic Power

David Almagor / Co-Founder, Executive Chairman at Panoramic Power

After they built the technology and proved that it works, they started a pilot with a potential customer and learned the needs and information that is required by the industry. 

Yaniv told us that he was always attracted to entrapreneurship – at the age 15 he came up with a plan of how he will finance his car by helping customers assemble computers.

He gained his most of his experience abroad while working in a project manager position and solution consultant. Despite having a degree in industrial management- engineering and information systems, most of his career revolved around sales and business development.

Yaniv became the CEO of Panoramic power in 2012 after he Co-founded and managed Sparta systems Europe.
Panoramic power is a pioneer in providing device level energy management solution.

The company was recently chosen by a global fashion chain to assist in reducing the energy costs around the world. Consequenly, energy costs were decreased by up to 25%.

Featured:

Blueprint to a billion 30:45

Mar 152014
 

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Zazoo – Where music lovers never miss a beat!

Listen to your audience, and they will listen to you

​Listening to your audience and being prepared to make changes in your product is the best way, and maybe the only way, to ensure that your product is actually going to be useful and desired.
Last year Gil Blumenfeld had participated in a pitch competition. At some point, one of the participants addressed him with a question asking whether they intend to open their system to developers. They did not, but Gil ​recognized it as a sign that the need exists and before too long, a framework that would allow the creation of 3rd party mini apps was in development.
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Starting up

Gil’s first experience working for a startup company occurred when he already had 15 years of experience in the Hi-Tech industry behind him. The special environment of the startup gave him, to his words, space to grow as a professional, and also as a human being. Later on he met an old friend, an expert in fraud detection, with whom they built their first startup company – Vibesec.

Today, Gil Blumenfeld is a co-founder and the CEO at Zazoo – a technology that enhances the experience of watching music video clips online. This is done by overlaying a contextual content layer above the video, such as the song’s lyrics, a direct way to purchase show tickets, information about the artist and so on.

A good advice that Gil shares with us was given to him by his mentor – one of the founders at Zeptolab, the company that built the known game “Cut The Rope”, who said that the company and the product aren’t the same. the product is the way the company engaged with its users, but the company’s philosophy and culture are as much important as its products.

Featured

Flipboard 40:05
Mark Suster’s blog – both sides of the table  41:53
Fiverr 43:25

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