I’m often asked why I decided to move back to Israel from New York to found iAngels.
Growing up in a high tech home, and later marrying into one, I found myself surrounded by talented entrepreneurs - young and ambitious colleagues, peers, and friends who have gone out to change the world by creating a product that launches into international markets. The dynamic Israeli startup ecosystem, with over 1,000 new startups founded every year, has cultivated a generation of young men and women with technology innovation at heart, and a determination to succeed despite the hardship along the way. This is my generation.
My friends from military service at Israel’s Central Collection Unit of the Intelligence Corps, peers from my bachelor’s degree in the Mathematics and Computer Science program at the Technion (Israel’s premier technology university), or from other circles were always working on the next big thing. Who is working on what, who raised a consecutive round, who launched in the US? These are the kind of dinner conversations we used to have on a daily basis.
Even though I personally knew these overachievers, I was not yet ready to take a more active role in “Startup Nation” by founding my own startup or even investing in one. I couldn’t yet afford to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single startup and it seemed too risky to put all my eggs in one basket.
Moving to NY to pursue my MBA at Columbia Business School, I was exposed to a completely different industry. I transitioned from a techy software engineer to a business and strategy professional in my own right. A strategy consultant for IBM and Amdocs, I witnessed firsthand some of the challenges entrepreneurs go through when launching in a different market and what the tech giants were looking for when considering an acquisition.
When talking to businesspeople in NY, I found that personal challenges, such as knowing how to choose the right investments or making sure my interests are being taken care of while balancing my portfolio and risk preference, were not only my own concerns but others' as well. These questions arise every day, especially now, as crowdfunding is booming.
I wanted to start something that would bring all of my skill set into play. Marrying the technology aspect with the business and strategy seemed only natural. The New York experience made me realise that investing in Israeli startups could make for a perfectly solid standalone business. Partnering with Shelly Hod Moyal, my Investment Banking friend of many years (Goldman Sachs associate and Avenue Capital research analyst are just some of her career achievements), we decided to enable those around us to conduct angel investing in a responsible, transparent and informative manner and start investing in Startup Nation at a capacity that makes sense for them.
Co-investing with the smartest people in the room, or better yet, the smartest and most successful professionals in the industry, makes a lot of sense. This is how the iAngels model was born.
The Israeli startup ecosystem is growing with second and third time entrepreneurs diving back into the industry, building bigger and better companies and focusing on international markets from day one. More than 100 exits occur in Israel every year, with significant IPOs such as Israeli record breaking Mobileye with $5 billion valuation and Matomy at $350 million. Tech giants are acquiring companies in Israel like the Google acquisition of Waze at $1 billion, the Apple acquisition of PrimeSense at $350 million, and the Rakuten acquisition of Viber at $900 million. The global community cannot get enough of what is now becoming Scale up Nation.
Today, we are following and learning from the best investors in the industry and are the Industry Insiders of Israeli Tech. Key verticals we see in action are Fintech, Enterprise Software, Internet, Mobile, Cyber and even Gaming. In future posts, we will dive into some of these verticals and the opportunity the Israeli ecosystem presents.