15 January Leading Accelerator 1776 Brings Innovation to the Washington, DC Startup Scene January 15, 2014 By Josh Cohen e-Gov, Enterprise, Startups startups 0 Comment 2642 Views While Silicon Valley is widely considered “ground zero” for technology startups – and rightfully so – one of the things that has always annoyed me a bit is that many in the tech press do not realize that Silicon valley is not the be all and end all for startup ecosystems. If you dig a little bit deeper, its’ easy to find other US cities with impressive and vibrant startup ecosystems of their own. Here’s a question: Do you know which city in the US has more startups per million residents than any other in the country? The answer is Washington, DC. Yes, as much as DC is considered a “government town”, over the last several years a deep and vibrant tech scene has developed there. To learn more about what’s going on in the DC startup scene, I went down to meet Donna Harris, a Cofounder of a new startup hub called 1776. 1776 located on the corner of M and 15th Streets, right across from the venerable Washington Post newspaper, and a few blocks from the White House. I’ll admit upfront that I went in with fairly moderate expectations of what I would see there. While Donna has a very impressive background, 1776 only launched officially last April, and I was expecting a small space with maybe a couple of rooms and a few hipsters dashing about, essentially, something more in the concept and development phase. Boy was I wrong about that! Instead, 1776 occupies a full floor of a large Office building, there were hundreds of people there, and the buzz was simply unbelievable. Eager to understand more, I sat down with Donna to ask a few questions. IT Specialist: Donna, that you very much for taking the time out to join us today. To start with, can you tell me a little bit about your background and bio? Donna: Sure. I am a four time entrepreneur. I’ve been involved in two edtech startups, one health care technology startup, and one public relations startup. I’ve been lucky enough to have a series of successful exits, and have learned a great deal in the process. In addition to running 1776, I am also involved with Steve Case’s Startup America Initiative. More on my background here. (Editor’s Note: We recently profiled Case’s latest VC fund that will invest in non-Silicon valley startups). IT Specialist: What made you start 1776? Donna: I had been thinking about something like 1776 for approximately one and a half years. My belief is that the DC area, because it is so international, can be a global hub for entrepreneurs from around the world to make connections. We also have tons of technical talent, as well as a deep expertise in certain core areas that a place like Silicon Valley may not possess. Our objective is to make 1776 a platform to reinvent the world by serving as a global hub connecting the hottest startups tackling major challenges in education, energy, health care, transportation and government with the resources they need to excel. IT Specialist: I definitely agree with you about the talent here, but how do you overcome the perception – and to an extent reality – that DC is so focused on government? Donna: The Washington area economy is obviously at least partially driven by government, and there is no doubt that many see DC as a government town. However, when we took a step back, we decided that rather than get defensive about the role of government in the DC area, we would actually “lean into” this fact, and turn it into a strength. IT Specialist: Sounds like an interesting concept – can you elaborate on how you’ve turned area’s focus on government into a strength for the DC startup ecosystem? Donna: Absolutely – this is critical to our conception of 1776. Rather than focus on consumer-based, B2C social startups a la Silicon Valley, we decided to focus on sectors that are heavily regulated and influenced by government and government policy. If you think about it, anytime you have an industry regulated by the government – whether Federal, state or local – you will likely find sectors that are ripe for new ideas and disruption to the existing order. Hence, we decided to focus 1776 on four markets which we see as subject to government regulation, and hence subject to outside disruption to existing ways of doing business. We decided to focus 1776’s resources on four sectors in particular, all of which are arguably highly influenced by government regulation government’s natural tendency to influence and guide policy. These four are: Energy; Healthcare technology; Education; Smart Cities – for example, transportation and citizen engagement – think e-Government for example IT Specialist: Can you give a couple of examples of how these are regulated sectors? Donna: Happy to. Think about healthcare. Surely at the top of regulated industries in the US – think Obamacare. I think the government’s desire to regulate healthcare is pretty undeniable. And let’s face it, when it comes to healthcare technology, this is not necessarily a core strength of government – as anyone who has been reading about the Obamacare website recently can attest to. Likewise, take transportation. Practically every city in the country has its own taxi commission, and let’s face it, the taxi industry is certainly one of the more protected industries you could imagine, lots of entrenched interests there. Look at what happened when Uber launched. In every city they went into the local taxi companies and taxi commissions tried to block them. Or education. Again, heavily regulated and controlled by local governments and Boards of Education, combined with a heavy dollop of Federal regulations, standards and grants on top of that. By contrast, compare the sectors we focus on to the B2C sectors that have been so successful out of Silicon Valley. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – these companies went viral quickly as they were heavily driven by the millions of consumers who gravitated to these social media platforms, and government regulation has been practically non-existent. Now, one of 1776’s strategies is to take that same power of Internet, mobile, and social technologies and use those millions of consumers to build support for efforts to disrupt the status quo of these regulated industries. We are looking to assist companies in energy, healthcare, education and transportation to build the scale, expertise and resources to work around some of the challenges that government regulation creates, and one of the ways startups in these sectors can do this is by leveraging the power of social media. Look what happened when Uber went into Washington, DC. The DC taxi commission tried to keep them out, and tens of thousands of Washingtonians who had grown to love Uber went ballistic on social media to take on the regulations, and eventually the DC Taxi Commission had to back down. We want to help startups that bring these kinds of disruptive models to the table. IT Specialist: Can you give an example of the types of resources the DC area has that can help startups in regulated industries handle the challenge of government regulation and prevent this from being an impediment to growth? Donna: Reinventing how these regulated industries function inevitably results in clashes between those driving change and those defending their status quo position. Luckily, the Washington, DC region brings tremendous assets for startups committed to reinventing highly regulated industries. IT Specialist: Can you list two or three of the particular types of resources DC possesses that can assist startups looking to reinvent regulated industries? Donna: Let me mention a couple here. Let’s consider the lobbying industry. Think of the famous (or infamous) K Street lobbying firms, or the law firms with thousands of lawyers whose sole practices are based on an inside knowledge of government administrative agencies. These people understand the inner workings of government and government regulation better than even the smartest technology entrepreneur ever could. Our vision is to draw on these resources and insider insights that K Street and the law firms have, and link up K Street experts in regulatory policy with innovative startups that need help navigating these regulated environments. And, there are many people in K Street lobby firms and law firms that love the idea of assisting startups in regulated sectors, and many are serving as mentors and advisers to startups. Likewise, the DC region has the highest concentration of experts in the science, economics, and policy of these regulated industries. Many of these people have PHDs and years of experience in their areas of expertise – and again, many are willing and excited to share their vast knowledge with the DC startup community. IT Specialist: What is the best way for an aspiring entrepreneur to make the initial connection with 1776 Donna – is there an application or review process? Donna: We have a basic application process consisting of two ways we evaluate companies for joining the 1776 family: First determine if your startup fits within our core sector of disrupting regulated industries, and has a viable business model. Then, we determine if your startup can scale and build a viable business with real revenue. Once we accept a startup to 1776, they get access to our full panoply of resources. This includes mentoring, including advice from the legal and lobbying resources needed to deal with the regulation in your chosen vertical market; classes and training; help locating staff as needed; introductions to investors; and generally speaking, helping you find ways to comprehensively shorten your startup’s success cycle. We will also be launching a startup Accelerator shortly as well. IT Specialist: Are you focused solely on the DC metro area, or are you involved in other US cities and/or internationally as well? Donna: We are based in DC but we are definitely global. We now have over 185 companies who have been accepted into the 1776 community, and quite a few are from outside the US. We have also held events across several other US cities, as well as in Moscow, London, Tel Aviv and others. We have also held numerous events at our DC campus with an international focus – just to take one example, we recently put together a very well attended event on the growing Middle East startup ecosystem. The reason we decided to be international as well as DC-focused is that if you think about it, the challenge of disrupting the regulated industries of energy, healthcare, education and transportation is a global issue, not simply an American one. Different countries may have very different regulatory structures and have strengths in divergent vertical markets, but at the end of the day the common theme is how we can assist startups to manage the regulatory barriers they face to success, whichever country they are in. IT Specialist: Donna, are there any particular events upcoming you would like to highlight? Donna: We have multiple events on a regular basis. Our major initiative for the next several months however is our 1776 Global Challenge Cup. We will visit 16 cities, and hear pitches from startups in each one. From each city we will select four startups that will join a group of 64 finalists. A few of the cities have already had their competitions, but let me list all 16 cities with the dates for each one so far: Washington, DC October 29, 2013 Chicago, November 4, 2013 Moscow, November 9, 2013 Berlin, November 13, 2013 London, November 20, 2013 Los Angeles, December 4, 2013 New York City, December 11, 2013 Boston, December 18, 2013 Austin, January 17, 2014 Denver, January 23, 2014 Cape Town, South Africa, February 1, 2014 Sao Paulo, Brazil, February 6, 2014 Tel Aviv, Israel February 11, 2014 Delhi, India, February 15, 2014 Beijing, China February 21, 2014 San Francisco, February 27, 2014 IT Specialist: That sounds like its been a very ambitious schedule, almost like a Techcrunch Disrupt competition but on steroids! What happens with each of the 64 startups – the four from each city – who are selected as winners? Donna: All 64 will receive automatic membership to 1776. Then, in May of 2014, we will host a global festival and competition for all 64 startups at 1776. At that point, there will be a competition between these 64. In fact, for those fans of college basketball, you’ll be pleased to know we are actually running our May competition like the NCAA tournament. We will actually have brackets, and the list will gradually be winnowed down: 64 ->32->16->8->4->2->1. The winner will receive a good sized capital investment, and of course the global visibility which comes from having won the competition. IT Specialist: Turning briefly to 1776’s structure, may I ask where you were able to raise the capital necessary to jump start your organization? 1776 is clearly not a small endeavor. You've already got one giant floor for your campus, and as I understand will be continuing to expand 1776’s campus size? Donna: Actually, we are expanding to four more floors, for a total of five, so we will have quite a large campus indeed. Our capital has come from four sources: The founding team -- myself, my Cofounder Evan Burfield and a few others, put in some initial seed capital; We received a grant from the Washington, DC government; We have a great list of generous corporate sponsors – including such companies as Microsoft, Comcast and others; Finally, the membership fees of our rapidly expanding startup members. All in all, we consider ourselves well capitalized and primed for future expansion. IT Specialist: Finally Donna, for those interested in learning more about 1776 and in particular tracking your various events and activities, where can they go? Donna: To keep it simple, let me list the locations on our website where people can follow our activities: · Our Ongoing Events · Twitter and Facebook feeds · Our blog · News of activities IT Specialist: Thank you for taking the time out from your busy schedule today Donna, 1776 sounds like an amazing initiative and I’ll certainly be keen to track your progress and certainly your Global Challenge Cup competition (I love the NCAA bracket analogy by the way). And for any of our readers who are startup and tech aficionados, I’d definitely encourage you to stop by the 1776 campus when you are in the Washington, DC area. Showing 0 Comment Related Acceleprise Becomes the Leading Accelerator For B2B Startups As regular readers are aware, IT Specialist has focused on highlighting what we believe are many of the most interesting B2B startups out there. Although B2C startups may be more visible across a wide, non-IT audience, the real innovation is actually happening with enterprise-IT startups. One thing that I’ve always wondered, however, is why I’d never seen an incubator or accelerator that specifically focused on enterprise startups. Well, it turns out there is an accelerator out there doing just that. When someone forwarded me a link to Accelerprise, a Washington, DC-based accelerator that focuses solely on enterprise tech startups, I was very keen to talk to them to find out more. In that context, today I am joined by Collin Gutman, one of the founders of Acceleprise, who has kindly taken the time to answer some questions. 1. IT Specialist: Thank you for joining us today Collin. To start with, can you provide our readers and overview of the background of Acceleprise’s’s founders? As I gather, you have the core partners, and then also a team of mentors as well?? Collin: Sure. Acceleprise was founded by our 3 GPs, Sean Glass, Allen Gannett and myself. Sean previously founded a company called Higher One, a now-public student financial services company. Allen and I are serial entrepreneurs who were working together (with Sean) at a previous startup, and we all decided to launch Acceleprise together because of two trends we saw in the industry. We have our team of three partners, then a much larger network of about 120 mentors, all of whom have agreed to meet with any of our companies who requests a meeting. The mentors are the backbone of what we do, as they’re truly a spectacular group. The three of us certainly work with the companies and think we add value, but with so many experts from the enterprise software field, we point to them as the true engine behind Acceleprise 2. IT Specialist: Can you provide an overview of Acceleprise’s core mission, and perhaps provide some background on the inspiration for Sean,Allen and yourself that made you start Acceleprise? What made you decide to focus only on enterprise IT startups? Collin: Our core mission really is to be something of a cofounder to promising young enterprise technology companies. Due to the very quick growth of the very successful consumer companies, enterprise often flies under the radar until the writing is on the wall. We like to get involved with some capital plus a large network right before enterprise tech companies hit that inflection point. We decided to found Acceleprise and focus on enterprise tech because of two trends we saw in the startup/VC landscape. First, we noticed that 70%+ of early stage capital was going to consumer tech companies while 75%+ of venture returns historically came from enterprise tech companies. Meanwhile, there were literally no enterprise-only independent accelerators in the country, despite a total of about 340. Everyone else either did consumer only or a mix of anything. So we saw a huge market opportunity in that the sector in which it’s easiest to call future winners and produce strong returns was underappreciated and essentially ignored at the relatively early stage. Secondly, we knew that enterprise tech companies needed a common set of resources, so an accelerator focused on enterprise tech would likely be more helpful than your average accelerator. While most accelerators can help with product somewhat, or sometimes on how to test, or how to raise more capital, we know what our companies need: help scaling sales. To this end, we were able to assemble a team of mentors that can advise around this one key topic, focus on companies facing this as one of their major challenges, and really be much more focused and we think helpful in the way we work. 3. IT Specialist: It seems like we are seeing unprecedented change the last few years - what is your view of the overall state of the enterprise IT industry today? From Acceleprise’s perspective, are there any particular areas within enterprise IT that you find particularly attractive or ripe for additional innovation right now going forward? Collin: I think you’re right about this, on two fronts actually. There’s unprecedented change in the view entrepreneurs hold of enterprise technology, and that’s having ripple effects on the type of enterprise products being built. Enterprise tech used to be something no true “entrepreneur” would want to work in. The products were ugly and clunky, and customers took forever to buy. We’ve seen a massive change, which has led to an influx of interested entrepreneurs to enterprise tech. The consumerization of enterprise tech is one of the big trends we talk about on a daily basis - enterprise tech products now require the usability of a consumer product, can be built for the same price as a consumer tech product (no more $5M Sun Microsystem checks at the outset) and can be bought using a Box-like distribution model. The cost to build has come down drastically, the sales cycle has (in some cases) shortened by a wide margin, and building enterprise products has become “fun.” All of these trends have made starting an enterprise company much more viable to the most entrepreneurial among us, and we’re starting to see results. We’ll be publishing a “megatrends” report shortly that will go into more detail on the types of innovation we see as fundamentally changing enterprise tech in the near future. For now, I’ll give some of the highlights. One huge trend that’s as applicable in enterprise IT as in consumer is the mobilization of the world. With the proliferation of mobile, we’re very interested in how mobile enables new functions to be performed in an enterprise context. Two of our recent investments, Breadcrumb Tracking and UserPod, build off this trend. Secondly, we’re interested in how wearable technology changes what an enterprise can do. Not just what “cool” things come out of Google Glass, but can businesses do something new because wearable exists. ResolutionTube, which just raised $2M from a brand name Seattle based VC, is one of our deals that follows along this trend, as they enable better repair of machines thanks to wearable technology. Finally, distributed teams are going to be a part of the future, so we’re very interested in tools that help collaboration between virtual teams and companies. 4. IT Specialist: It seems like on a national level the Washington, DC area does not get the attention it deserves for what I think is a very successful and growing startup eco-system. From your perspective, are there any characteristics of the DC area that are particularly advantageous for startups? Collin: Well, the first key to note is that we’re not focused on DC startups and we don’t force companies to permanently move to DC - we’re focused on using the advantages that spending some time in DC has for an enterprise technology company. In addition to having easy access anywhere in the world - DC is a short train from NYC, an hour flight from Boston, and a great portal to both the West Coast and Europe, DC itself has a ton of advantages that make it a great place to spend some time for an enterprise company. Nobody quite realizes this, but trade associations are extremely important to the growth of an enterprise company and, whether you’re looking for the American Association of Community Colleges, the Society for Human Resource Management or the Association of Associations (I forget what that one’s called), they’re all here in the DC area. These associations are all looking for services to bring to their memberships. In addition, you’ve got the world headquarters of Marriott, Hilton, Corporate Executive Board, a huge Deloitte office, etc. In addition to the federal government (the largest buyer of enterprise software), you’ve got all the businesses that sell into government: Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman etc. We like to say DC is a big enough town to have some megolith sized businesses, but a small enough town to be able to get meetings with them. 5. IT Specialist: How would you compare the state of the B2B startup space versus B2C? From my perspective – and I am going to editorialize here a bit – it still feels like valuations between B2b and B2C can be out of whack sometimes. For example, VMWare recently acquired AirWatch for $1.5 billion. With AirWatch, we are talking about a profitable and growing startup with 1,600 employees that had raised something like $200 million; meanwhile, by contrast, we see a B2C startup like Snapchat with essentially no revenue turn down a $3 billion all cash offer. Is it just me, or is there something wrong with that picture? Collin: I think that you definitely see financings and sometimes acquisitions of consumer companies based off of something not related to revenues, as we saw with Instagram, Waze or Snapchat. Part of consumer internet entrepreneurship and investment is this modern day version of treasure hunting/lottery ticket buying. And when successful, the valuation and time it takes to get there is phenomenal. Enterprise tech will never appeal to get-rich-quick mindsets. As it turns out, however, the number of examples we can point to of these types of consumer companies is very, very, very small taken in comparison to the total number of angel backed startups, for example. It really is more like a lottery ticket than anything else. Enterprise tech is and always will be more like building a business. It takes time, but can grow in steps year over year, and you can tell that there’s going to be a business there much earlier. Also, Snapchat could theoretically evaporate overnight, whereas you don’t see that with enterprise companies. Overall, I think consumer web quick exits attracts a certain type of entrepreneur and will always have flashy successes that attract this crowd. I think I speak for most enterprise entrepreneurs and investors when I say we’re content to take a few years to exit for the usual SaaS 16x ARR (calculated off MRR). The numbers get enormous quickly, and with far less risk than a consumer company! 6. IT Specialist: Turning now to the specifics, can you provide an overview of the how startups can apply and join your Accelerator? What are your acceptance criteria and how many classes have been accepted and/or gone through your program so far? Finally, can you give us a sense of the terms under which you invest in new portfolio companies – is there a certain common standard you use for the investment amount and your equity participation, or is it really done on a case-by-case basis? Collin: Finally an easy question! Startups can apply to us on our website, www.acceleprise.vc. We have open applications, and welcome companies from all over the world. So far we’ve had companies from 9 countries participate in the program, ranging from South Korea to Bosnia (or Romania, or South Africa, whichever counts as farther the other way). We’re about to start our 5th class on March 3rd. We’ve had a total of 28 companies be a part of our first 4 classes, and this 5th will feature 8 companies. We can accept any company that is broadly an enterprise tech company, of any stage. We’ve accepted single founders before, and we’ve had 2 companies that were doing $600k and $1M in ARR before they applied, so we work with a wide range of companies. Our wheelhouse, however, is probably a company with an MVP already deployed with some customer traction, some proof that this product can be sold, but again, we can really do anything. We invest only on a uniform, standard term sheet, where for the program, connections, etc as well as the cash we invest, we take a 5% ownership stake. We’ve found that there’s no sense in negotiating. The value of your company WILL go up by far more than the equity stake we take over the course of the program, so anyone who tries to negotiate the overall ownership just doesn’t see the value. We also know it’s nearly impossible to give a better valuation to a company doing $1M ARR versus one with founders with 20 years industry experience apiece versus those who have invested hundreds of thousands in product development, so we have a very fair term sheet that works for any good enterprise company looking to grow and scale. 7. IT Specialist: From the perspective of the entrepreneur, what are the benefits that Acceleprise provides them? From looking at your site, it certainly seems like there a whole series of perks that Acceleprise provides them on the technology side in such areas as cloud hosting, legal services, hardware and other goodies? Collin: The perks are really very little, as is the cash we provide. Really it comes down to the network. Whether you’re looking to sell more, learn how to scale a sales operation, raise money to expand sales, etc etc, our mentors and our partnership can help with that. We believe there’s no faster, more efficient way to get the resources connections knowledge etc you need to build a scalable enterprise tech company than working with the Acceleprise team andnetwork. 8. IT Specialist: One advantage from working with Acceleprise that really jumped out at me is your “customer pnel”, whereby large enterprises have agreed to take sales calls from your portfolio companies. Can you explain a little bit more about how this process works? Collin: It’s pretty simple really… we’ve had companies (like Amazon, Corporate Executive Board, the Washington Redskins and other) agree to meet with all of the companies in a given class as a prospective customer. It’s a great way to get a few reference customers and big names for relatively early enterprise tech companies - not to mention high value contracts! 9. IT Specialist: Could you give us a sense of some of your portfolio companies, and are there any in particular that you would like to highlight? Collin: All of the investments we’ve made are available here, and we love all our companies! Just to avoid selection bias, I’ll focus on three of our companies that have raised a relatively large amount of money as the couple I highlight. TrackMaven just raised a $6.5M round led by NEA, and is a competitive intelligence company for enterprise marketers. StayNTouch raised $2M (or thereabouts) from Concur, a travel expense management company, to rebuild hotel PMS systems. ExecOnline has raised $3M led by Kaplan to bring executive education online. The key theme between these companies is strong teams. We invest in the best of people. The other is the clear pattern of sales. They’re selling to a buyer (hotel GM, CMO, Chief Learning Officer) something that they’re used to buying (PMS, marketing software, corporate training). We think behavior changes are hard, new budgets are hard and not having a clear decision maker is hard. So we like when you can sell something that people are used to buying that they desperately need… that’s obviously the best case scenario! These are just a few select highlights, from our first two classes (14 companies total), we’re overall extremely pleased at the rate at which our companies are succeeding and moving onto becoming big enterprise tech companies. 10. IT Specialist: Before concluding, are there any additional points you would like to make about Acceleprise’s program, such as upcoming events and/or any other interesting things we should look for from you going forward? Collin: Well, there is one thing we’re doing that’s very, very different. We’ve decided to “kill the demo day.” There’s massive investor fatigue industry wide with demo day - nobody comes and those who do come don’t pay attention. Instead, we’ve replaced it with catered 1 on 1 meetings with investors at the end of the program, so our companies can get direct, 15 minute meetings with people who actually write seed checks to enterprise tech companies. We think there’s much more value to be had this way than throwing a big event full of hype and hoping something sticks as a result. Acceleprise is different because of our enterprise tech focus, why not have a different type of concluding event that brings more value to our specific type of investments? IT Specialist: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Collin – sounds like you’re definitely providing a very much needed service in the enterprise IT startup space. Leading VC JVP On Cutting Edge of Investing in Cybersecurity Startups While the majority of the world’s largest and most well known VCs are in Silicon Valley, that does not mean that all of the best performing VCs are in Silicon Valley or even the US. One of the world’s top VCs by performance – which many casual tech aficionados in the US may not be familiar with – is Israeli VC Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP). JVP has been ranked one of the top ten performing VCs in the world, and they have helped birth a wide number if innovative Israeli startups, many of which have been acquired or gone on to an IPO. I am pleased to be joined today by Yoav Tzruya, a Partner at JVP. IT Specialist: Thank you for joining us today Yoav. To start with, could you provide some brief background on Jerusalem Venture Partners, such as how you got started and what is your role within JVP? Yoav: Jerusalem Venture Partners ("JVP") is a leading Israeli venture capital firm. Established in 1993, JVP now has over $900 million under management. With its nineteen year track record in Israeli and international markets, JVP is well positioned to source Israel’s best early-stage technology deals. Over the years, we have invested in close to 100 companies, and have been able to generate 11 IPOs - all of them on NASDAQ, the most of recent of which is QlikTech (NASDAQ:QLIK) - and 15 M&A’s–the most recent of which include CyOptics (acquired by Avago), and XtremeIO (acquired by EMC). We invest in all stages – starting from seed, all the way to late stage investments. Our focus areas are digital media, cyber-security, enterprise software and storage. The majority of the Fund's activities are led out of its International Media Quarter in Jerusalem with industry advisors in New York and Paris as well as an international network of strategic partners. In 2013, JVP established its Cyber Incubator, “JVP Cyber Labs”, in BeerSheva. The incubator specializes in cyber-security and enterprise software startups. Our incubator is the first Israeli early stage incubator focusing on cyber-warfare, enterprise-security and data protection. The incubator will be in close proximity to the new communications and intelligence corps of Israel's military. We work very closely with a network of key multinational corporations some of which have established R&D centers in close proximity to the JVP Cyber Labs, in the fields of telecom, IT, finance, energy and security. JVP's Cyber Labs aims to be the focal point for the next generation of leading technologies in cyber-security. IT Specialist: Is there any particular sector that you focus on - I know cybersecurity has always been one of your prime areas? Yoav: Yes, our focus areas are digital media, cyber-security, enterprise software and storage. Specifically, we’ve been investing in cyber-security since 2001. To name a few - we’ve led the investments in MagniFire (acquired by F5), that paved the way for WAF, Navajo (acquired by SalesForce), a leading cloud security and compliance company, and CyberArk – which is the global leader in privileged identity and session management. We recently invested in two other companies out of our early stage JVP Cyber Labs investment arm. One, in which we teamed up with GE (General Electric), called ThetaRay, which specializes in APT detection based on big-data algorithms,and the other, a startup with innovative, predictive end-point security technology. IT Specialist: Can you tell us a bit more about the background of JVP CyberLabs and what was the genesis for its formation? Is it somewhat like an accelerator or incubator, where you nurture a group of companies in exchange for equity? If yes, what are your criteria for selecting your participants - are you looking for a certain amount of revenue or proven traction in the market, or are you focusing more on the quality of the technology and the background of the founders? Yoav: JVP Cyber Labs is our early stage investment arm, focusing on seed and A-rounds for the cyber-security sector. We see hundreds of relevant companies each year, and invest in less than 1%, with an average of three new companies a year. Our initial investment is in the range of $1M-$1.5M. This is leveraged by a risk-free loan from the Israeli government that our startups are entitled to, of around$600K. Since we are looking for very early stage companies, most do not enjoy revenues currently. Our criteria revolves around the market they focus on, their understanding of the market, how critical is the problem they are solving, the uniqueness of their solution, their sustainable competitive advantage, etc. But most of all, it’s about the team, their ability to work together, their flexibility, experience and so on. We are very much a hands-on investor and we are involved with these early stage companies in every aspect of the company’s growth process – tech, product, marketing, business development, sales, fund-raising, etc. We also provide them with G&A services such as legal, finance, HR, purchasing, administration and more, allowing them to focus on their core activities. Since JVP Cyber Labs operates as part of a larger fund, another very important criteria for us is the ability to turn the newly formed company into a potential category leader, for it to become meaningful to our larger fund. IT Specialist: Turning to the Israeli startup scene, there was a recent article in Mashable noting that there were 5,000 tech startups in Tel Aviv alone. And of course, Israel has more companies listed on the Nasdaq than any other country in the world except the US. Why is it that such a relatively small country has a startup eco-system that is so large? More specifically, why is it that Israel is so strong in cybersecurity - as far as I understand, there is a strong connection between the military and the fact that those who complete their service in the IDF emerge with strong technical skills on the cybersecurity side? Yoav: There are multiple facets to this answer. First, entrepreneurship is embedded in Israeli culture. As a young country facing many challenges, the need for resourcefulness and improvisation is embedded in our psyche. Innovation was almost an existential need for our burgeoning country, and the culture persists. Unlike other countries or cultures where entrepreneurs are often looked down upon, (as if they couldn’t get a job in a nice, large, well-to-do company) in Israel, entrepreneurs are put on a pedestal. Second, Israeli institutions of higher learning are among the top in the world, especially around such IT-related subjects as computer science, electrical engineering, mathematics, etc.Third, the IDF and other defense organizations invest significant amounts of resources and time to train their young people. The compulsory army service, lasting 3 years (and for many IT-related professionals, even longer), creates a flow of highly trained and motivated entrepreneurial talent that is accessible to the various companies and startups. In recent years, we’ve been seeing an ever increasing cyber-security threat, and as such, many more such professionals who receive top-notch training in the Israeli military areever increasingly finding their way to the civilian market. Multinational corporations such as Microsoft, Google, Intel, Cisco, Motorola, IBM, HP, GE, Qualcomm and many others have recognized this advantage and have set up large R&D centers in Israel that further contribute to creating a high level of professionalism in the field. Finally, the success of such companies as NDS, CheckPoint, Imperva, Trusteer, Guardium, Palo Alto Networks, CyberArk and others specifically in cyber-securityenticesentrepreneurial talent to set up their own companies. IT Specialist: I'd be interested to hear your take at a general level about the types of cybersecurity threats that you view as facing Israel and the rest of the West as facing? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe I saw a recent Tweet from yourself or someone at JVP noting that the western world faced the real threat of a "Cyber 9-11" (this certainly caught my attention!) - do you see this as a serious threat that could actually happen where basic infrastructure such as the electricity grid could be penetrated and shut down? Yoav: I do believe cyber threats, whether launched by nation states, cyber terrorists, criminal organizations or even rogue hackers, do pose an ever increasing threat to personal, enterprise and national security. Over the last few years,malicioushackers of the types described above have switched from “carpet bombing” to “guided missiles”, meaning they have moved from generic viruses and malware to highly sophisticated APTs (Advanced Persistent Threats). It is not a question anymore of whether you’ll be attacked and whether your existing cyber-defense solutions will be breached, but rather when and how long it will take you to detect and remedy the situation. With new computing paradigms such as cloud, mobile devices (especially “bring your own device” – BYOD), the Internet of things, Machine-2-Machine and industrial Internet, new attack vectors continue to be exploited. Existing solutions such as traditional firewalls, IDS, IPS, Anti-viruses and the like are far from being effective at blocking the majority of these attacks. We actually view this as an opportunity to innovate and to bring innovative solutions to the market. IT Specialist: Looking at JVP's investment performance, how many funds do you currently run and what are your total assets under management? Can you describe how JVP's performance has been relative to other VC's on a global basis? Are there any particularly successful exits you've had - either via an acquisition or IPO - that have been particularly noteworthy? Yoav: We currently have more than $900M under management. We have been ranked by Preqin(a leading private equity research firm), as one of the world’s top-10 VCs in terms of consistent performance (based on IRR, TVPI and DPI). All of our funds from the last 12 years are top quartile performers. Over the years, we have invested in close to 100 companies, and have been able to generate 11 IPOs - all of them on NASDAQ, the most of recent of which is QlikTech (NASDAQ:QLIK), and 15 M&A’s–the most recent of which include CyOptics (acquired by Avago), and XtremeIO (acquired by EMC). IT Specialist: Turning our attention to your specific investments, are there any companies in your portfolio that are particularly intriguing in your view? There was certainly a good bit in the media recently when GE invested in ThetaRay, which is an existing portfolio holding of yours as I understand - what was it about ThetaRay that was so attractive to GE? Yoav: ThetaRay is indeed one of the more interesting companies we’ve seen in recent years. The company was founded by two professors – Prof. Amir Averbuch from Tel-Aviv University, and Prof. Ronald Coifman from Yale. They are two of the world’s leading professors in the field of applied mathematics. They’ve been working on new algorithms for anomaly detection in big-data. These algorithms have multiple applications in a variety of fields – performance management, algo-trading and also cyber-security. People have been trying to apply anomaly detection to these market needs for years, but have faced many difficulties related to computational complexity, the need to inject manual human insight, detection rates that do not justify the investment and high levels of false positives, requiring highly professional resources to sort these out. The shortcomings of these previous attempts came primarily from the fact that computational limitations forced companies to resort to processing only a couple of dozens of sensors/indicators at a time. What makes ThetaRay’s algorithms the holy grail of this approachis their ability to digest thousands of indicators at any point in time -actually benefitting from more data rather than having their performance and efficacy degraded. The technology is being applied today to a product in the cyber-security space, allowing for big-data anomaly detection and zero-day attacks detection, prevention and forensics. This unique approach attracted GE as well as other strategic investors that look to benefit from applying the technology and the products to a variety of needs, both internally as well as with their customers. IT Specialist: For my final question, for startups that may be interested in introducing themselves and their technology to JVP, is there a particular contact person or process they should follow? Yoav: The best approach would be to simply email us (contact information is available on our site – www.jvpvc.com), with an executive summary and/or a company presentation. The best bet is to demonstrate enthusiasm, market understanding, unique product approach and a winning team – that’s all that is needed! Mattermark Aims to Revolutionize How VCs Invest in Startups In a previous article, we profiled a very interesting startup called Mattermark, which aims to bring big data analytics to the process of investing in startups. The idea behind Mattermark is that in the same way that enterprises can use big data to unearth new observations, VCs and other investors are able to do the same thing to discover how startups are truly performing in the market. Joining us today is Mattermark's Co-Founder and CEO Danielle Morrill. IT Specialist: Thank you for joining us today Danielle. To start with Danielle, can you provide some brief background on yourself and your background? Danielle: Sure, I started out in global logistics, and then moved over to the tech side as Community Manager for a startup named Pelago handling data and a cross section of social media marketing (Pelago was acquired by Groupon in 2011). I was also employee number one at Twilio where I was the Director of Marketing leading a team of 30 employees and acting as the company spokesperson. I was then the Founder and CEO of Referly a way for people who like to curate products to earn extra cash off recommendations through affiliate revenue. After seeing that Referly was not growing revenue at the pace I wanted it, my Co-Founders and I shut that down and started two months later as a way to bring Big Data to startup investors (Editor's Note: Danielle wrote a an interesting post on her decision to shutdown Referly because she feared it would become a 'Zombie Startup') IT Specialist: The whole idea of applying data analytics to investing in startups is really one of the more creative ideas I've seen come out of Silicon Valley -what was your inspiration for starting Mattermark, and coming up with the idea of applying Big Data to Venture Capital investing? Danielle: While writing and blogging on startups, I noticed that the posts that were generating the most interest were those talking about using analytics to evaluate the performance of startups. I along with my two Co-Founders at Referly - Kevin Morrill and Andy Sparks - have backgrounds in data collection and analysis, and when we saw the interest in the use of data analytics to look at the performance of startups, we decided to start Mattermark. IT Specialist: What do you see as the state of the startup investing model now compared to the past? Do you see the current VC investing model as one which is fundamentally flawed in some fashion, or is Mattermark's solution meant more as a complement to how VC's have traditionally invested in startups? Danielle: There have been a number of things changing in the startup investing market the last several years. First, we've seen an increasing number of angels and angel syndicates entering the market to invest in early stage startups. Meanwhile, VCs are beginning to focus more on later stage startups that have demonstrated real traction in the market. From Mattermark's perspective, only recently has the data advanced far enough to apply analytics to investing in startups. We now have the availability of many more data points -social media engagement, app store rankings and other factors - combined with the technical data tools which are capable of capturing and formatting all of this information. With that said, we don't see the current VC model as inherently flawed. Rather, we look at what Mattermark is able to provide to investors as one more metric they can use to evaluate the performance of startups in which they might consider investing. IT Specialist: Could you give us a sense of some of the specific metrics you use to quantify the growth and performance of startups? Danielle: Sure, we use a number of data sets, over 20 in fact. Below are just a few of the ones we employ: · Web Traffic & Inbound Links · Mobile App Store Rankings · Social Media Following & Engagement · Employee Count & Open Jobs · Funding History & Details · Press & Blog Mentions · Geographical Data IT Specialist: What is the ultimate final "score" you come out with for each startup - I believe I've seen it mentioned that you have something called a "Mattermark Score"? Also, how many companies are you currently tracking and how well does your software scale? Danielle: That's correct. We use approximately 20 metrics in total, all of which are automatically updated daily - we are literally capturing millions of data points on a daily basis. We then take the 90-day moving average of each of these metrics and this results in a daily Mattermark score. We currently have over 150,000 companies in our database and there is no limit to the number of companies we can track. IT Specialist: Is your solution more applicable to B2C or B2B startups, or is it pretty much applicable either way? In the same vein, how about international, non-US startups - is Mattermark also capturing data from startups in these locations? One thought I had was that by tracking international startups through Mattermark, investors might find opportunities to jump in at a much lower valuation - and hence with more upside - than they might if they focused on Silicon Valley alone? Danielle: Mattermark's solution is equally useful for both B2C as well as B2B. Subscribers can also filter the startups they want to track at a very granular level, so that they can target the exact type of information they are looking for. We also track international startups as well as US startups. There are certainly startup ecosystems outside of the US - such as Tel Aviv, Berlin or London - that also have some very interesting companies. From an investor's perspective, however, it's not so much a question of getting into a startup at a low valuation, but rather the best strategy remains to find the highest quality startups rather than focusing on valuation. One thing I would also point out is that many of the most visible fundraising opportunities in Silicon Valley are very difficult to get into for many investors, as they tend to be heavily oversubscribed and many times the most well known VCs will have an advantage in accessing these opportunities. Mattermark customers, however, can use our platform to source deals which are just as attractive as the "big name" opportunities, but lesser known and hence not nearly as competitive to participate in. IT Specialist: So if I understand you correctly, Mattermark subscribers can get a heads-up in discovering quality startups that are less well known, especially if they are outside of Silicon Valley? Danielle: Yes, exactly. Mattermark subscribers benefit from streamlined alerts on private companies that may be demonstrating real traction long before they become a hot deal that is difficult to get into. In a sense, Mattermark subscribers profit from an early warning radar system that gives them "first mover" advantage in sourcing great investing opportunities that the general VC community may not be aware of yet. IT Specialist: What has been the response and up take from the VC community and have you started to see signups customers - I assume your primary target customers are VC's? Danielle: The response from the startup investing community has been fantastic. We certainly have many VCs as customers, but we also have seen a great deal of interest from private equity firms, hedge funds and other financial institutions, as well as from some angel investors as well. IT Specialist: Has Mattermark raised any capital to date and/or do you plan to do so in the future? Danielle: We have. So far, we've raised a total of $1.5 million. Our investors include New Enterprise Associates, Andreessen Horowitz and Ignition, all of whom backed us when we started Referly, and have done follow-on rounds when we shut down Referly and pivoted to start Mattermark. IT Specialist: For readers and investors who may want to learn more about Mattermark and your products, where can they go? Danielle: First of all, I would encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about Mattermark to sign up for our free weekly newsletter which is right at the top of our homepage - www.mattermark.com. For those may be interested in subscribing to our full service subscription feel free to visit Mattermark Pro. Finally, if you're interested in taking our service for a test drive, we do offer a la carte research from time to time as well. The Mattermark Mobile App Report provides all of the latest growth and performance signals for 2,000+ startups with mobile apps. IT Specialist: Thank you for joining us Danielle, and best of luck in the future with what seems a very interesting endeavor indeed. RockThePost Becomes Leading Crowdfunding Site For Startups When it comes to tech startups, crowdfunding is all the rage these days. Many people, however, tend to use crowdfunding as a catch-all term, when in reality there are different types of crowdfunding. Joining us today to help shed some more light on what crowdfunding actually is and how it works is Alejandro Cremades, cofounder of crowdfunding site RockThePost. RockThePost is actually a startup itself, and has been one of the earliest equity crowdfunding sites up and running on the Web for the past two years. IT Specialist: Thank you for joining us today, Alejandro. To start with, can you provide our readers and overview of the background of RockThePost’s founders? Does your team have more of a tech background, a financial background, or a combination of both? Alejandro: Thanks. Our team is very well diversified, and we believe we have the combined background and experience to truly create something game-changing. I have an extensive business and legal background. Prior to RockThePost, I was employed as an Associate at King & Spalding LLP New York office, where I was involved in the Chevron vs. Ecuador case, one of the biggest investment arbitration cases in history with $113 billion in damages at stake. I earned my Master of Laws degree in International Business & Trade Law from Fordham Law School, and this knowledge has proven critical in navigating the regulatory landscape revolving around the JOBS Act and equity crowdfunding. My Co-Founder, Tanya, has an extensive background in business, specifically in the areas of product design, operations, sales and marketing. Not only did she graduate from Parsons School of Design at the top of the Dean’s List but also previously worked for large US-based corporations including Forbes and Fox News. Our CTO, Drew, brings with him over a decade of development and engineering experience to RockThePost. His first startup, Fridge, was acquired by Google in 2011. In 2013, he was also part of the acquisition of Tumblr, to Yahoo! IT Specialist: Can you provide an overview of RockThePost’s core mission as you see it, and perhaps provide some background on the inspiration that made you start RockThePost? Alejandro: RockThePost aims to be a resource for both entrepreneurs and investors by streamlining the capital raising lifecycle, allowing for a larger pool of accredited investors to seamlessly invest in featured companies on the platform. Tanya and I are both children of successful entrepreneurs, and growing up we saw firsthand just how hard it can be to raise funds and begin a company. IT Specialist:We have heard a tremendous amount about crowdfunding, but nonetheless its unclear how much people truly know about the concept. Can you provide a general overview of crowdfunding – its background and perhaps how it works? Alejandro: Crowdfunding is the idea of pooling financing for projects or ventures from a large “crowd” of backers. When most people think of crowdfunding, the idea of Kickstarter or Indiegogo comes to mind – where individuals are incentivized to back highly innovative creative projects and be a part of bringing something to light. Equity crowdfunding, the space in which RockThePost is operating in, is completely different. We are still helping entrepreneurs obtain the needed funding to get their companies to the next stage, but rather than having “donations and rewards” act as incentives, we are dealing with securities of private companies in which only individuals who meet accreditation status as determined by the SEC are able to invest in private companies in exchange for a percentage of equity outlined in terms set in place by the entrepreneur. We put together some further information for readers interested in learning more about equity crowdfunding here. IT Specialist: Let’s now turn our attention to the government. Ronald Reagan once famously said that the scariest ten words in the English language were “I am from the government, and I’m here to help”. How helpful – or unhelpful – has the US government been in promoting the right type of environment for equity crowdfunding to succeed? Which is the main government agency you have to engage with or whose regulations you need to meet? Alejandro: In April of 2012, President Obama signed the JOBS Act into law, which changes the landscape of online investing and fundraising. There are several Titles of the JOBS Act that are currently being implemented and/or proposed as they are determined by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), FINRA, and the Federal Government. The JOBS Act is intended to provide easier access to capital for emerging and private companies in the US by allowing entrepreneurs to receive investments from the general population. This law states (among other things) that non-accredited investors can invest in private companies on its Title III. However, this legislation is not yet actionable (expected late 2014). Title II of the JOBS Act lifts the ban on General Solicitation for private companies, and was officially implemented on September 23th, 2013. This means that private companies raising funds are now able to promote their raises publicly. More can be read about the JOBS Act here. IT Specialist: Turning now to the specifics, can you take us through all of the steps that a startup needs to take to both list on RockThePost as well as to actually receive investments? Alejandro: Any aspiring entrepreneur or early stage company can easily sign up on our platform. Upon signing up, they are directed to input information about their company – industry, market size, team information, traction, etc. If an entrepreneur has questions, we offer educational guidance to further educate them on what it takes to start a company and get to the point where they will be most successful and “suitable to raise funds.” Upon listing on the platform, there are a variety of strategies an entrepreneur can take in order to secure investments. We’ve worked with countless entrepreneurs and been through the fundraising process ourselves, so we know what works, and we do our best to get to know and personally help out every startup in our community. IT Specialist: Following up from the last question,how do investors participate with RockThePost? What rules or regulations do investors need to comply with? Alejandro: Apart from being able to contact any entrepreneur in our community, investors are matched with personalized deal flow based upon their investment preferences, and have the opportunity to participate in our Digital Pitch Events to provide direct feedback and request follow ups with selected entrepreneurs. In order to invest in startups, an investor must meet the accreditation criteria set in place by the SEC. An accredited investor is an individual who meets at least one of these requirements: A person with an income exceeding $200,000 or joint income with a spouse of $300,000 over the past two years A person with a net worth exceeding $1,000,000 individually, excluding the primary residence A person who is a general partner, executive officer, director, or related combination for the issuer of a security being offered An institution with over $5,000,000 in assets All investors must undergo a background check and review process before they are approved for official investment in a private company. IT Specialist: From the perspective of the entrepreneur, what are the benefits that working with RockThePost provides them? Alejandro: RockThePost offers many benefits to entrepreneurs, from giving aspiring entrepreneurs guidance, to connecting early stage companies with accredited investors, furthering their exposure, and streamlining the process of fundraising. IT Specialist: How do you differentiate yourselves from other equity crowdfunding sites? Alejandro: RockThePost is an accessible, yet highly curated and personal experience. We put forth as much effort as we can to genuinely get to know the companies we work with and determine how we can best help out. We host Digital Pitch Events on a monthly basis to get our startups in front of investors who would otherwise be hard to access, offer educational expertise regarding entrepreneurship, investing, and the regulatory landscape, and provide our entrepreneurs with analytics tools to best strategize their outreach efforts. 5 years down the road we envision RockThePost as the go-to market for individuals wanting to invest in high quality, personalized deal flow – “The E*Trade or Charles Schwab for startup investing.” IT Specialist: What types of startups have listed with RockThePost? Is it more B2C, B2B, or a combination of both? Are there any startups that you would like to highlight that have recently raised capital with RockThePost – for example, CoFoundersLab just completed a successful fundraising round working with you, correct? Alejandro: CoFoundersLab recently closed the minimum $680k in their seed round with RockThePost’s help. This is extremely exciting because they were the first generally soliciting company to recognize the benefits of Title II’s implementation. The majority of companies in RockThePost’s community are high-growth startups in a variety of sectors that already have at least a minimum viable product and some level of traction (revenue, partnerships, users, some seed investment, etc.). The average offering characteristics are as follows, but not exclusive: Seed-stage, Bridge, and Series A deals Convertible notes and priced rounds Median investment round of $750k, ranging from $100k - $4M Median minimum investment of $20k per investment, ranging from $1k-$100k IT Specialist: For those companies that have successfully raised capital on your site, are you generally seeing that they’ve done so through many different types of investors putting in smaller amounts, or has it been more one or two core investors who have ended up as shareholders of these startups? This all depends on the startup and their terms. Some companies have accepted low minimum investments from strategic investors, while others are able to close funding at higher amounts with fewer investors. IT Specialist: At the corporate level, has RockThePost itself raised capital, and who are your core investors? Alejandro: We have very powerful individuals pushing RockThePost with us as investors that believe in the vision and long term mission of the company. Some of their affiliations include Telefonica, Robin Hood Ventures, and Mid Atlantic Angel Group. IT Specialist: Finally, for either startups or investors who want to work with RockThePost, what is the best way to get in contact with you if they have any questions about starting the process? Alejandro: Feel free to get in touch with us at email@example.com IT Specialist: Thank you for joining us today Alejandro, and best of luck going forward. Innovation of a Startup Nation Featured at International CES Although Israel is widely described as the “startup nation,” the country’s tiny market means that Israeli startups need to look beyond Israel if they want to succeed. Not surprisingly, you’ll frequently find Israeli startups exhibiting at technology trade shows throughout the US and Europe. One upcoming opportunity for many of Israel’s most innovative startups to introduce themselves to the world is at the International CES show in Las Vegas from January 6-9. The Israel Economic Mission and the Israel Export Institute, along with the Israel Economic Mission to the West Coast based in San Francisco, decided to sponsor a concentrated exhibition of Israeli startups for CES at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. What’s interesting though is that only twelve Israeli startups will have the privilege of exhibiting at CES, and they were chosen by a highly competitive process from numerous applicants. So why were these 12 companies attending International CES chosen? What sets them apart from the other 500? They all offer something that hasn’t been seen before. They offer truly innovative products. International CES has a set of criteria used to determine the products at the show. These include, but are not limited to: 1. The product is or contains innovative technology and has a proven sales record 2. The product is in a growth-stage level of development 3. The product is relatively new. These and other criteria have set the 12 attending companies apart and sent them to Las Vegas. The Startups Human Eyes Technology LTD - The Human Eyes VR camera creates the most life-like and realistic 3D video on the market. They accomplish this by recording simultaneous, synchronized video streams from multiple, integral camera sensors disposed at fixed, regular angular intervals about a vertical axis. An available responsive helmet allows the viewer to inhabit the video, as if they were standing where the camera was, viewing all the angles as if it were real. www.humaneyes.com Idomoo - By utilizing a variety of video models, Idomoo offers the best in 1:1 marketing and customization, allowing companies of all sizes to generate engagement and conversion rates that are three to four times higher than the standard. www.Idomoo.com Kidoz Ltd. - An entertainment & discovery platform for kids on mobile devices, allowing children ages 0-12 to enjoy a safe and fun mobile experience by delivering top-notch, age-appropriate content and restricting unauthorized usage and unsafe content. With thousands of pre-approved videos, apps and games KIDOZ provide the perfect mobile experience kids love and parents trust. www.kidoz.net Lexifone - The world’s only privately-held automated technology for in-call interpretation. Lexifone translates outgoing and incoming calls on any landline or mobile phone in 16 languages. Both sides simply speak their language and Lexifone will translate both sides in real time. www.lexifone.com MUV Interactive - They have developed innovative wearable sensing technology that revolutionizes the way people can interact with digital visual content in 3D space. MUV’s unique wearable ring-like device, called bird, enables simple and intuitive physical interaction with digital media, in both 2D and 3D spaces, with unprecedented precision. www.muvinteractive.com Sensibo - Sensibo has developed a product that allows the user to customize their climate control experience. Users communicate with their existing home climate control via an app, and Sensibo learns the user’s habits and lifestyle, using the information to customize the air conditioning and save energy. www.sensibo.com Silentium Ltd. - By using noise cancelling technology, Silentium has developed The Quiet Bubble™ to create a personal quiet zone around the user’s head without the use of headphones. This adds to their existing technology, which involves cancelling the sound waves at the source by installing the product in home appliances and industrial machines. www.silentium.com StoreDot - StoreDot has developed two products made with new bio-organic materials: • FlashBattery™ – A Smartphone battery that charges in 30 seconds, and provides extended battery life. • Flexible Display – The World’s first BioLED™ display – Cadmium Free for an environmentally friendly answer to smartphone display technology. www.Store-Dot.com Umoove - A mobile face and eye tracking software that can be easily integrated into various software and hardware products. Umoove is focused on utilizing its technology to develop consumer based healthcare apps that can monitor and improve brain activity. www.umoove.me VocalZoom Systems Ltd. - This clever product is SEEON™ (Speech Enhancement Microphone), a miniature Optical Microphone Module that enables reliable speech recognition and clear communication in any noisy environment. SEEON™ comes in miniature modules, for applications such as automotive, mobile communications, PC and mobile computing, wearables, headsets and personal/commercial conferencing. www.vocalzoom.com WonderVoice Technologies Ltd. - WonderVoice is an always-on personal voice assistant that connects people to their social networks and apps in an eyes-free environment. WonderVoice offers a mobile app for consumers and B2B solution for mobile and wearable devices. www.wondervoiceapp.com ZUta Labs - This company’s product made it to the finals of the Innvovation Competition! They have developed a Mini-Robotic-Printer; a little printer that is a robot with wheels. Instead of having the paper feed through the printer in order to print, the small robot runs on the paper and prints while doing so. It's the first ever truly mobile printer. It's the smallest printer in the world that can print on any size of paper, anywhere you are. www.ZUtaLabs.com If you’re near Las Vegas in January, CES is a “must attend” event for techies, and I highly recommend checking out the twelve above. Carmit Yadin is a seasoned sales professional and entrepreneur and author of the award winning How To BOOM B2B Sales. She tweets at @CarmitYadin Silicon Valley Startup Cumulogic Brings Maximum Flexibility to the Cloud Continuing IT Specialist's series of profiles on startups with new solutions or technology which we feel could be of interest to IT professionals, we are pleased to introduce Cumulogic. Joining us today is Cumulogic Founder and and VP of Products Rajesh Ramchandan who has kindly taken the time to answer some of our questions. If you are either a Cloud service provider or enterprise Cloud user, Cumulogic has a solution that will provide you maximum flexibility. IT Specialist: Thanks for joining us today Raj. To start with, can you provide our readers and overview of your background and what was your inspiration for forming the company? Raj: I worked an Sun Microsystems and was involved in building the first public cloud for Sun. One of the things I noticed was that developers were still doing many tasks manually, and I realized that a Platform on Demand (PaaS) service would dramatically increase the ease of of deployment for the developer community. IT Specialist: As I gather, one of Cumulogic's primary value propositions from the beginning has been your Java PaaS offering, is that correct? Raj: That is indeed correct Josh. However, since our founding, we have moved well beyond just Paas for Java. We now offer a comprehensive suite of options that allow Cloud providers to essentially offer the same type of extremely diverse offerings that AWS provides in their Cloud. CumuLogic PaaS eliminates the need for developers to be installing, configuring and managing the application This allows developers to do what they do best - coding quality applications. IT Specialist: Can you explain in more detail what you mean by your ability to offer what I understand is the full suite of Amazon-style Cloud services for Cloud providers? Raj: We now offer the following features: a multi-language PaaS; SQL & NoSQL; Cache aaS; Elastic Load Balancer. Cloud providers love us because this increases IaaS consumption as well as turn-key access to new, high-value services. Essentially, we offer Cloud service providers the ability to compete with Amazon and even differentiate themselves from AWS. Using Cumulogic's software-suite, IaaS Cloud providers can launch all of these new services in under 30 days. IT Specialist: Can you provide a high level overview of the Cumulogic value proposition and unique differentiators: Raj: Sure, let me provide an overview: 1. Only platform in the world to bring AWS-like services inside the firewall and the unique architecture designed to support complete integrated platforms (PaaS). We are the only Cloud services platform that truly provides unlimited flexibility using an API-driven Service Framework allows for easy integration of any desired service. 2. We are the only Cloud services platform on the market that isolates application-level risks & security. This provides protection against rogue application risk. 3. We are the only product designed from the ground up for use by Cloud Service Providers. 4. Only product to come pre-integrated with Citrix CloudPlatform and CloudPortal. This provides an extremely easy to deploy out-of-the box integration. 5. The user is not locked into any any single Cloud vendor, as Cumulogic makes all of your applications fully portable. IT Specialist: Raj, can you get into a bit more detail on Number Five above. This seems like a very powerful differentiator for end-users as it would allow them to avoid being locked into a single Cloud vendor like Amazon, do I understand you correctly? I guess this has to do with your API-driven Service Framework? Raj: Yes, you are indeed absolutely correct on both counts. About the multi-cloud support, we wanted to build a platform to abstract the underlying infrastructure (IaaS) and deliver a platform with a consistent experience across different clouds. CumuLogic platform hides all the complexity of IaaS clouds to give the same, consistent experience to users, and also make applications portable by not relying on the features offered by IaaS clouds. For example, we build an autoscaling engine in our the platform, which scales automatically the application server tier based on CPU, memory, HTTP response times, etc. If you were going to rely on the autoscaling capabilities of clouds such as Amazon, you'll be locked-in, and if you want to move your workloads to your private cloud (i.e. VMware vCloud), you will have to remove your autoscaling dependencies before moving the applications. With CumuLogic PaaS, you don't have to worry about any of those dependencies - just point your workload to a different cloud and you get the same platform behavior. Similarly, if you were using VMware vApps on a vCloud, you are locked into vCloud, but if you were deploying applications through CumuLogic PaaS, we hide all the vApp complexity from the user and deploy apps exactly the same way on vCloud, OpenStack, Apache CloudStack, Citrix CloudPlatform, etc. IT Specialist: From the perspective of enterprises and IT managers, what does Cumulogic's allow them to do that they would not be able to without your suite of software? Raj: As I noted above, the CumuLogic API-driven service makes it easy for enterprise developers to design, deploy and manage their applications on any cloud. This dramatically improves the time for bringing applications to the market. As noted, this allow for the portability of any enterprise applications, which eliminates cloud vendor lock-in. To summarize, Cumulogic provides IT departments with AWS-like capabilities, but it allows them to deploy and manage these capabilities within a private cloud. IT Specialist: How has your traction been in the in the market to date, and are there any examples of partners or customers that you could share with us? Raj: Cumulogic is proud to have a closely established partnership with Hewlett Packard. HP provides their robust IaaS capabilities, combined with all of the advantages of the Cumulogic suite of software noted above. IT Specialist: For enterprise customers who may be interested to try Cumulogic's product-suite, what is the best way to interact with you? Raj: They can go to http://hpcloud.cumulogic.com. HP and Cumulogic will offer customers a free 90 day trial of our joint-offering. In addition, you can feel feel free to contact Cumulogic directly. For more general questions, feel free to contact our VP of Marketing Laura Ventura. IT Specialist: Has Cumulogic raised any capital to date and/or do you have plans to do so in the future? Raj: To date, we are proud to have seed funding from the Citrix Startup Accelerator as well as Crunchfund, which concentrates on seed stage investments. In the future we will look at raising a Series A. IT Specialist: Finally Raj, are there any future plans or particular new initiatives that you might want to share with us? Raj: We have had tremendous traction in the Cloud service provider market, and we expect to announce partnerships with a number of additional Cloud providers in the near future. IT Specialist: Thank you for taking the time out from your busy schedule Raj, and best of luck going forward.