Despite the pandemic, Israel’s startup ecosystem raised record amounts of funding and produced 19 IPOs in 2020. Now tech companies across industries are poised for an even better year, according to more than a dozen investors we talked to in the country.
Mainstay sectors like cybersecurity continue to matter, they said, but are maturing (more about that here). Some people are more excited by emerging areas like artificial intelligence, which has been a focus of the country’s military for years, and cybersecurity is now producing many new teams of founders. Other investors felt that a broader range of industries, like fintech and biotech, would eventually make the biggest companies in the country.
Overall, local investors cited the country’s focus on global markets from day one, general support from the Israeli government, and deep relationships with Silicon Valley and other global tech centers as additional factors that power it forward today.
Here are the investors in their own words, for any TechCrunch reader who is interested in hiring, investing or founding a company in the country. Oh, and one more thing. We just launched Extra Crunch in Israel. Subscribe to access all of our investor surveys, company profiles and other inside tech coverage for startups everywhere. Save 25% off a one- or two-year Extra Crunch membership by entering this discount code: THANKYOUISRAEL.
- Boaz Dinte, managing general partner, Qumra Capital
- Rafi Carmeli, partner, Viola Growth
- Yonatan Mandelbaum, principal, TLV Partners
- Natalie Refuah, partner, Viola Growth
- Daniel Cohen, partner, Viola Ventures
- Ben Wiener, partner, Jumpspeed Ventures
- Inbal Perlman, partner, TAU Ventures
- David (Dede) Goldschmidt, partner, Samsung Catalyst Fund
- Dror Nahumi, partner, Norwest Venture Partners
- Sharin Fisher, partner, Fort Ross Ventures
- Adi Levanon Chazan, partner, Flint Capital
- Chaim Meir Tessler, partner, OurCrowd
- Noam Kaiser, partner, Intel Capital
- Tal Slobodkin, partner, StageOne Ventures
- Ayal Itzkoviz, partner, Pitango First
- Ittai Harel, partner, Pitango HealthTech
Boaz Dinte, Qumra Capital
What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
At Qumra, we get excited about companies that disrupt traditional industries while doing good and improving their quality of life. Our portfolio includes some great examples, such as Fiverr, which has disrupted the labor market by unlocking the global talent pool, or Talkspace, which provides access to therapy.
What’s your latest, most exciting investment?
Our latest investment is At-bay, the insurance company for the digital age. At-bay offers an end-to-end solution with comprehensive risk assessment, a tailored cyber insurance policy, and active, risk-management service.
Traditional insurers don’t have the know-how to properly and continually assess risk and approach digital risk the same way they approach physical products, through a statistical model that tries to predict the future based on past events. This is an excellent example of a company that is disrupting a traditional market.
Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
As a growth fund, we are sector agnostic and diversify our investments across multiple industries. Would be happy to add proptech and agritech startups to our portfolio.
Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about?
We stay clear of nonregulated industries and do not invest in cryptocurrency-related companies, gambling, etc.
How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less?
We are focused on Israeli and Israeli-related companies. As growth companies they may have moved to NY or CA with their headquarters and maintained their R&D in Israel.
Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not, long term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders?
A significant amount of talent is cultivated in the military, which has spawned innovative cyber, AI and machine-learning companies. Also, considerable experience and know-how have been accumulated here in big data analytics. SaaS models and cloud technologies have eliminated some of the barriers for Israeli companies and enable companies to quickly set up and set up a proof of concept.
A few highlights in our portfolio include AppsFlyer, JoyTunes, Riskified, Talkspace and Guardicore. Data-driven AppsFlyer, spearheaded by Oren Kaniel, is an exciting mobile-attribution company that is rapidly growing ($200 million+ ARR in 2020) yet maintains a unique DNA. JoyTunes, led by Yuval Kaminka has developed a music-learning platform that has skyrocketed in 2020. The platform has been widely adopted doing so much good for so many people in a short amount of time. Guardicore is disrupting the traditional firewall market by providing fine-grained segmentation for greater attack resistance. Led by CEO Pavel Gurevich the company is seeing excellent traction. Riskified makes e-commerce easier and safer and enables a thriving e-commerce environment. Founder duo Eido Gal and Assaf Feldman are a powerhouse of vision and execution capabilities. Talkspace has not only created the leading online therapy business, but is actually improving the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of Americans, which are gaining access to therapy for the first time. Founding husband and wife Oren and Roni Frank are the ultimate power couple — creating an incredible business while creating some real impact.