Last week’s series of US-Israel investment meetings was punctuated by two important gatherings for potential investors.
The US-Israel Business Council, “USI”, held a high level networking breakfast meeting at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday Nov 18. The meeting, which included a visit to the floor of the exchange for the opening bell ceremony, hosted both venture capital investors and pre-IPO Israeli company founders who focused on the synergy between Israeli and American innovation.
The meeting commenced with remarks by Paul Dorfman, Managing Director of the New York Stock Exchange, Gil Galanos, the founder of USI and the former Deputy Economic Minister of the Israel Economic Mission to North America and David Bratslavsky, Executive Director of USI. Galanos and Bratslavsky stated: “Israel as a startup nation has matured. Israeli entrepreneurs are moving past quick exits to grow and expand their companies to a stage where IPOs are appropriate. To get there, forward-thinking companies take advantage of new capital models, including crowd funding and strategic acquisitions, in contrast to earlier generations of entrepreneurs who developed revolutionary products often to be acquired by bigger, usually foreign, companies”.
The sellout event was highlighted with panel presentations by Dr. Uri Geiger, Managing Partner at Accelmed and Mr. Jon Medved, Founder and CEO of “Our Crowd”. The panel moderator was Andrew Peskoe, Partner at Golenbock, Eiseman, Assor, Bell and Peskoe.
Mr. Peskoe is an active private investor in early stage companies which are principally in the media and technology area, is an investor in numerous venture capital and private equity funds and is a principal the $150 million Israel Cleantech Ventures LLP. funding group. He serves as co-head of his law firm’s corporate practice group, and is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College.
Dr. Uri Geiger, is Managing Partner at Accelmed, a private equity investment firm he co-founded together with Mori Arkin in 2009, with the goal of forming a leading investment company solely dedicated to the medical device industry .He also served as the CEO of Exalenz Bioscience Ltd., developer of an innovative breath-based technology for diagnosing liver and gastrointestinal disorders that he acquired from Oridion Systems (today part of Covidien) and took public in 2007. Geiger is also the founding partner of Dragon Variation Fund, one of Israel’s first hedge funds which was sold to Migdal in 2007. He is the author of the books “Startup Companies and Venture Capital” (Tel Aviv University Press, 2001) and “From Concept to Wall Street” (Financial Times – Prentice Hall, 2003).
Dr. Geiger explained that Accelmed specializes in long term value creation for medical device and life science companies in Israel and offers access to both capital and hands on support to company management for future growth and development. Dr. Geiger noted that Israel is great at creating startups and selling or merging their startups into foreign entities, but does not do well in acquiring foreign companies and bringing them to Israel. Accelmed excels at acquiring potential competitors outside of Israel and utilizes this as a means of accessing foreign markets. This aggressive strategy makes it easier for Accelmed’s portfolio companies to grow from within Israel.
Jon Medved, is an investor and famed Israeli serial entrepreneur, who founded in 1995 Israel’s leading venture capital fund, “Israel Seed Fund”. In 2006 he co-founded and became CEO of Vringo and was instrumental in completing its IPO in June 2010. Medved, is currently founder and CEO of crowd funding hybrid “Our Crowd.” This crowd funding, model started in 2012, is Israel’s fastest growing generator of venture capital for Israeli startups. With over 25 million in investments into 30 startups, Our Crowd has given new meaning to the famed book by Dan Senor and Saul Singer, “Startup Nation.” Senor and Singer have described Medved as “one of Israel’s legendary business ambassadors”.
In his presentation, Medved emphasized the differences between Our Crowd’s funding system and general crowd funding platforms. Our Crowd is more akin to a traditional “Venture Capital” company than an internet crowd funding platform. The difference is its ability to allow accredited investors of high net worth to invest in any of its many portfolio startup companies in increments as low as $10,000. Heretofore, individuals could only invest in a startup by putting up either a large monetary commitment and doing much personal research and due diligence or by investing capital into a venture vapital Fund, where it would become a small part within a large share structure. Our Crowd allows for smaller individual investments by utilizing its staff of specialists who select, research, perform due diligence and negotiate an investment agreement with a startup. Our Crowd can than mentor the startup’s management and will very often co-invest with other venture capital firms to further enhance the worth and growth of the investment.
Medved noted that Our Crowd’s phenomenal growth with Israeli startups will be further enhanced by future investments into international startups located in numerous other countries. Our Crowd currently has over 2300 accredited and registered investors on their site with 90% from countries other than Israel”.
A second investor meeting, specific to Our Crowd, took place on Wednesday Nov 20 at the DLA Piper law firm. Present in the full conference room were almost one hundred Our Crowd accredited investors who came together to hear presentations from Jon Medved and Our Crowd General Partner, Elan Zivotofsky about its structure, growth and future.
The meeting included company presentations by four of Our Crowds star portfolio companies, Surgical Theatre, Abes Market.com, Crosswise and Maverick.
“Surgical Theatre”, one of Our Crowds most sought after companies, developed a “space age” solution for the utilization of the science of flight simulation for training surgeons in new surgical techniques. Heretofore, surgeons who wanted to learn new techniques would either have to practice on cadavers or on human beings, as there was no method for accurately simulating the surgical event with the three dimensional realism of a real surgical procedure. Moti Avisar, CEO and a former officer in the Israeli Air Force with 20 years experience in flight simulation and Alon Geri, VP and an Israeli Air Force
R& D officer both developed the company and obtained unique patents for their platform of converting patient specific CT/MRI scans into 3-D models that respond to surgeons’ hand actions.
For further information on Our Crowd’s investment platform, the internet site can be accessed by requesting the URL “ourcrowd.com”.