What happens when graduates of Israel’s elite army tech unit turn startup entrepreneurs
Geektime spent the morning at the 8200 EISP’s demo day to bring you the dirt on some promising young startups you might want to keep an eye on.
Special forces geeks
First, a little about 8200 and the 8200 EIS Program. The 8200 is one of Israel’s worst kept secrets. They’re an elite unit in the IDF’s Intelligence division specializing in technology. These are the special forces geeks who have terrorists like UBL hiding out in caves in Tora Bora, riding on camels and using courier systems – anything to stay away from even the slightest hint of a digital signature.
Within the last couple of years, 8200 graduates have developed a reputation for creating stellar startups once they enter into the civilian market. Notable examples include Check Point, ICQ and Nice, to name a few. It’s almost as if the secret formula for startup success that every entrepreneur is looking for (despite most believing it to be a myth) is being taught at their restricted base in some hacker’s version of climbing ropes courses and crawling under barbed wire.
The 8200 Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Program (EISP) was founded by 8200 alumni wanting to share their expertise with promising and talented Israeli entrepreneurs, who themselves have served their country in national service capacities and would now like to transfer their skills to the free marketplace. This 3rd class consisted of 22 companies who graduated with a total funding haul of $21M by the courses end.
Meet the the 5
The following is a summary of 5 standouts that you might want to keep your eye on. I plan on doing more in-depth profiles of some or all of these 5 in the near future:
HARBO – (Cleantech) An extra light, extra versatile T-Fence system for quick containment of oil spills. The company is hoping to roll out the first viable new solution to oil spill containment in 40 years.
Giftedd – (ecommerce) A widget platform for small and mid-size businesses allowing them to sell gift cards on their websites. The company targets traditionally brick and mortar businesses and offers them the option of incorporating an ecommerce element into their business model. Giftedd has been available in Israel and, as recent as last week, is now available in the U.S. as well.
Zikk – (Mobile) A mobile application enabling users to remotely configure their friend’s and family’s mobile devices. A simple action-selection and and execute process; this may be the simplest remote troubleshooting solution I’ve yet seen.
LDS – (Biotech) LDS stands for Lyotropic Delivery System. Perhaps the most promising of all the startups present (at least from a market perspective), the company has developed an alternative nanotech delivery system to replace needle injections with a pill taken orally.
SwarmBuild – (ecommerce/ industry) An online marketplace connecting customers and designer with 3D printers, laser cutters and a global design gallery. The 3D printing market is only just beginning to take form and these first movers might become a mix of Amazon on Alibaba for a massive industry if they execute well and the winds of industry trends blow their way.