As we near the end of another Jewish calendar year, its always a great time to take stock of the year that passed.
Zell 12 completed “Zell Live” or their magic (and sometimes manic) year and graduated into alumni status (finished their studies at IDC Herzliya as well). A few ventures continuing in one way or another, but the cards are still out on which will weather the storm and reality check of real world entrepreneurship or what I call the ‘August Test’ when the alternative cost of being an entrepreneur (i.e. being unemployed) becomes significantly different from the year past.
Two of the ventures had live working products by the end of the year: Repstampand Payground. Repstamp is now seeking to raise funds and Payground being put on the back burner. Fandome is also seeking funding and completing its alpha and Naked Caps is working on its prototype product. Supplime, Farmbow and Feedeo have disbanded and laid their ventures to rest. Some of the Zellots are looking for work in start-ups, starting internships, back to where they worked pre-Zell or otherwise trying to chart their new course in life post Zell. One even joined municipal politics!
Concurrently, Zell 13 kicked off after a challenging three-month application process starting with a grilling online application including open questions, CV upload, venture proposal submission and two letters of recommendations sent to us directly by the recommenders, followed by a faculty interview, four alumni interviews and an interview with two members of the advisory board. A group of 37 candidates were invited to take part in the summer induction program, or “SIP” of Zell. A chance for the program to get to know them better, for them to get to know the program better and to get to know each other better.
One of the highlights is the Idea Fair, where the Sippers present potential venture ideas to friends of the program, faculty, mentors and alumni (here Ofer Ben Noon with just returned Zell 5er Gili Haberman).
The program finale is also the final cut and the kick off of Zell 13, the thirteenth class of the program. 22 Zellots in all were chosen and with overlap: 9 Computer science, 7 women, 1 Heseg scholar, 1 professional musician, 1 scuba instructor, 10 IDF officers (no pilots but two IAF elite unit commanders), 3 RRIS (International School) students, an Olah from Holland and one from the US, many with start up experience or their own businesses and 7 of them finished their studies and are staying at IDC for a fourth year just to take part in the Zell Program…
Our alums are doing amazing things with their ventures with some great developments: Zell 11’s Feex raised a 3 Million Dollar round andRoomer 2 Million; Zell 10’s Segoma launched their diamond imaging product at the Israel diamond exchange, Boaz Bachar raised money for his new venture in agriculture; Zell 9’s Bizzabo raised a round and opened an office in NYC, Wibbitz launched their new mobile app and were listed in Fast Company start ups to watch forand Shmuel Rubashkin’s EasyBox just closed a strategic partnership deal with FedEx; Zell 8’s Arnon Harish and company ironSource has relocated offices to accommodate their 170 employees (and growing!). Yonatan Raz Fridman of Zell 8 has relocated to London with his new venture Kano Computing (my son is testing out their first generation product!) and Moran Nir also of Zell 8 and Funkkit is brewing her next venture (stay tuned); Zell 7’s Wibiya growing at Conduit; Tal Siach of Zell 6 andVisua.ly is making more and more info-graphics and expanding to video (see the Zell Impact Info graphic); Zell 5’s Espresso Date was sold; Offir Gutelzon of Zell 2 launched Keepy in NYC, and Oded Poncz also of Zell 2 launched Ubimo, which just raised first round of funding (from Pitango, where Eyal Gura is now venture partner) another fine example of Zellaboration; speaking of serial Zellaborators, Yaron Carni of Zell 2 has grown Tel Aviv Angel Group and is partnered with Google’s Campus Tel Aviv (so are we, see our clip) and now raising a new fund called Maverick Ventures.From Zell 1: Ori Zaltsman’sGogobot is growing fast in Palo Alto and Liat Mordechay’s 24Me launched in Techonomy from Israel and making waves on the AppStore’s top apps list and TechCrunch…and a new Zell first: Eyal Yaacov’s Somoto went public!
Entrepreneurial mindset is not just for start ups and we have some great developments in the corporate world: Matan Parnes of Zell 2 has become General Manager of PayPal Israel and head of Advanced Fraud Sciences, Paypal’s R&D Center (note both of eBay’s R&D arms in Israel are headed by Zellots), as noted above Eyal Gura of Zell 2 has joined Pitango Venture Capital as a venture partner and Aaron Dubin of Zell 11 as an analyst; Eze Vidra, who heads Google’s London Campus will be extending his reach to Europe, Maya Cohen is expanding PowerMat’s reach as director of Duracell PowerMat Ecosystem, and Ido Dotan of Zell 12 is directing the young voters for the Bielski campaign for Raanana municipality…and that is just the short list!
We have two grads starting at LBS in London (and in fact the alumni group in the UK is 7 Zellots strong, just had dinner out in London with a few), five grads presently at IDC’s MBA, two at Kellogg Recanati, one at Booth and one at Stanford.
It has been a great year and I am looking forward to an even better one, filled with good health, strong friendships, personal fulfillment and entrepreneurial dreams… Go Zell 13!