Microsoft Ventures in Israel graduated the sixth class from its accelerator Monday night. Here are Geektime’s picks for the four most interesting pitches
The sixth class of startups consisted of 11 companies chosen from a pool of 330 applicants. The companies chosen operate in the fields of e-commerce, marketing, fintech, cybersecurity, agritech, human resources, tourism and more. This class is considered to be one of the most successful with seven of the 11 companies having managed to raise or received offers of funding.
Eleven startups out of 330 applicants
This is not surprising since the companies chosen for this class were at a more mature stage, with working technology and market share. The program itself focused on business development, strategic considerations involved in opening an office abroad, advanced marketing, positioning and business law.
Almost all the companies that pitched last night presented creative solutions to real widespread problems. Nevertheless, here are the four that captured our imagination.
Liran Kotzer, the company’s founder and CEO, presented an interesting statistic. He said that at any given moment, about 80 percent of workers would actually prefer to be in another job. However, only about a fourth of these aspirants are actively seeking a job by sending their resumes, registering with websites and bulletin boards or searching on LinkedIn.
Highr is an automated headhunter that allows these sub-optimally employed people to continue to be passive. The user enters information about her education and experience, and the conditions and salary expectations she has. On the other side, companies enter their criteria, and only when there is a perfect fit does the user get a notification and choose whether to respond to the company’s request. At present there are a few hundred jobs on the site. According to the company, the response rate to notifications is 80 percent.
Udobu has developed a system for optimizing the sale of tickets to sports and entertainment events. In other words, the company allows sports clubs to see at any given moment how many tickets they have left, to compare the rate of ticket sales to that of previous events, and to launch a sale for tickets that aren’t bought, all so that there are no empty seats in the stadium. Gaby Kaminsky, the company’s CEO, told Geektime, “It’s simply amazing that the biggest soccer clubs in the world are only now being exposed to methods that for years have been used by airlines and hotel chains.”
The platform that the company developed replaces boring Excel files with a colorful simple-to-use dashboard that also allows you to create profiles of fans. So, for instance, if a team sees that a certain fan has not been coming to games, it will suggest that he sell his subscription and split the revenues. The company already signed a partnership with one of the largest soccer clubs in the world. But for Udobu, soccer is just the beginning. Kaminsky told Geektime that in the future, they plan to offer the platform to other branches of sport as well as ticket offices, amusement parks and any venue that sells tickets.
If you’ve ever transferred money abroad by bank wire transfer, it’s frightening to see how little cash is left after the banks take fees on both sides of the transaction and give you a poor conversion rate. Covercy’s service offers two distinct advantages. The first is transparency. You enter the amount you want to transfer and Covercy tells you exactly how much the other party will receive in local currency. The cost of the service is also lower than banks. We checked what would happen if we transferred 10,000 shekels to an account in Europe. If we use a bank, we would get 2,325 euros. If we used Covercy, it would be 2,355 Euros.
How do they do it? The company is an expert in Forex transactions. The company’s CEO, Doron Cohen, was one of the founders of Leverate, a rising star in forex services. When Geektime asked whether the service might provide an opportunity for money laundering or financing of criminals, Cohen said that this is an issue that is very important to the company and that the first thing they do when they enter a new market is get the approval of the local regulatory body. The company is already operating in Israel.
Taranis wants to bring big data to agriculture. According to the company, 90 percent of crop loss derives from bad weather and its consequences. The company uses big data, satellite photos and sensors in the fields to create models that are 20 times more accurate than those in use today. This information will allow the farmer to choose the optimal time for spraying crops, or when the crops are in danger of contracting disease. The company’s CEO, Ofir Shalem, said the company has worked with agribusiness enterprises to test the model and discovered it is 97 percent accurate.
Other startups that presented at the demo day include GetJob, Personalics, Fringefy, SkyFormation, Bontact and Dov-E.
So far, 410 companies have participated in Microsoft Ventures’ accelerator programs around the world and 80 percent of them raised venture capital funding. In Israel, 70 startups have participated in the program, of which three have made exits: Kitlocate, which was sold to Yandex, Appixia which was sold to Wix, and Conferplace, which was sold to MEDA Group.
Simona Weinglass translated the original article.