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Founder Interview: Kobi Marenko, Arbe Robotics

2017 has seen some big wins for the Israeli autonomous vehicle sector, with Mobileye’s sale for $15.3B at the beginning of the year and just last week, Argus, the Tel Aviv based autonomous cyber security startup was sold for a reported $430M. Founded in just 2013, its sale and that of Mobileye, demonstrates how rapidly the automotive industry is evolving and how Israel is primed to drive its transformation.      
 
We’ve been charting the sector’s growth and have been investing in it for several years now, with Arbe Robotics being one of our more recent investments. So to get a sense of how those on the inside are feeling with all this good news, we spoke to Arbe Robotics founder, Kobi Morenko, about what he believes this latest sale means for autonomous vehicles and Israel.

With another big win for the autonomous vehicle sector last week, is confidence running high?

“The Argus deal highlights that companies… with the right technology have a huge opportunity to capitalize on an industry that’s going through a period of huge transformation. And Israel is best placed to capitalize.

Why so?

“Because Israel is leading the way when it comes to R&D for autonomous driving. The innovation in the Israeli market is a close second to that of Silicon Valley and certainly far superior than any other place in the world.

All the large automotive manufactures & tier 1s (their integrators) have R&D centers in Israel or have at least a scouting team on the ground. I think that in the next few years we’ll be seeing overseas entrepreneurs basing themselves in Israel in order to tap into the local knowledge base. And if not base themselves here, they’ll look for an Israeli co-founder simply because this is where the talent pool is so strong.”

It all sounds very positive but there must been some areas of caution or challenges?

“For us the bad news is that the big players in the industry are showing that they’re not going anywhere. I can’t foresee much change happening in the next ten years  –  the majority of cars on the road will still be produced by the existing manufactures who will continue to have the stronghold thanks to relationships with their existing tier 1s.

It therefore means that the majority of automotive startups will be purchased and we won’t see the likes of Facebook, Uber or Amazon of autonomous driving. Instead, we’ll see 99% of successful startups being bought with valuations around the price of this deal ±.

Another point to consider is China, the world’s largest vehicle market, has recently announced its plan to end the production and sale of fossil fuel cars. This could have a huge impact on the balance of power between Chinese and Western manufacturers. We could see that in 10 years from now, the Chinese market, controlled by local companies, could quite easily conquer market share in the West, where the main asset of manufacturers is fossil fuel engines.”

How has 2017 been for Arbe Robotics?

“Regarding Arbe Robotics, we’re happy to announce that we finished a $9M A round, our prototype is working strongly and showed a 1 degree azimuth resolution, which is the key for autonomous driving, before any other player in the world. And we already have several fee paying customers that will begin driving with our product installed during this quarter and into early next year. So things are certainly looking healthy for us too.”

Find out more about Arbe Robotics

 

 

8 Women Rocking the Israeli Startup Scene

It’s no surprise that Israeli companies are rocking the startup scene. The nation is now rated #1 outside the Silicon Valley for startups and is known for their innovative and trendy ideas. In recent years, there has been an increase in the diversity of entrepreneurs with more and more women taking on entrepreneurial challenges. These women are true pioneers in their industries and are sure to leave a substantial mark for future entrepreneurs.

Here are eight women that are rocking the Israeli startup scene.

Orly Izhaki: Co-founder & CEO, Wisestamp

 As co-founder and CEO of Wisestamp, a marketing solution platform for small business and self-employed individuals, Orly Izhaki focuses on “simplifying complexity.” She is responsible for solving problems and overcoming obstacles that her customers face. Her goal is to help her customers experience rapid business growth by using Wisestamp tools and to continue finding solutions to their ongoing business struggles.

Wisestamp currently has more than 650,000,000 users and continues to grow at rapid rates. Their customers gain access to tools they need to run a successful business without having to pay enterprise business rates.

Angie Geffen: VP of Marketing, CodeFuel

With nearly twenty years of marketing experience behind her, Angie Geffen is a leading marketing expert. As VP of Marketing at CodeFuel, she is responsible for leading and managing marketing initiatives that drive CodeFuel to successfully meet its brand marketing, revenue, and product placement goals. Her executive responsibilities include strategic decision-making, marketing/communication management, brand marketing, partner/channel marketing, and product planning and development.

Code Fuel is an engagement and monetization suite that helps publishers create, distribute, and monetize content. It delivers content to the users at the right times to increase online conversions.

Shelly Hod Moyal & Mor Assia: Founding Partners of iAngels

Shelly and Mor co-founded the Israeli crowdfunding network, iAngels. The powerful duo took iAngels from startup to a top-tier startup investment firm in less than two years. They are responsible for raising capital to fund iAngels, recruiting new investors, and managing a growing team.

iAngels offers entrepreneurs ease in researching and finding funding for their startup. Entrepreneurs can engage and build strong relationships with investors around the globe – and they never have to leave their office…

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post

 

5 of the Most Important Things When Founding a Startup

This article was written by Tomer Zussman, Co-Founder and CEO at TravelersBox, that allows travelers to convert leftover foreign currency at the end of their trip into usable digital currency (PayPal, iTunes, Skype, Pre Paid Visa, etc) through easy to use airport based kiosks.

Establishing a startup is tough and challenging, but there are a few principles, that no matter which field you’re working in, you must follow in order to start the company with the right foundations and chance to success.

1. Your first investor is the most important one – Choose well

We’ve all been there, you have this great idea, the presentation is ready, you practiced the pitch perfectly and the only thing left now is cash. From my experience, most of them are very nice and even if they do not invest, in most cases you can get great feedback for your next meeting. I know. It’s tricky and it depends on the momentum of your roadshow but the decision on the first investor will be one of the most important decisions you will make throughout the life of your start up.
Once the money is in, you start dealing with decisions that will affect your chances to succeed dramatically. Having the right person next to you to help you, advice, criticize, show you a different approach and help youngest more money is crucial.

What should you consider when choosing the investor:
• Industry related (You must get the best advisor)
• Previous investments (don’t be shy to ask and even get references)
• Chemistry (like any relationship, if you do not connect, it won’t work)
• Reputation (It is very important to your next investor who is the previous one)
• Personality – are they good people?

2. Don’t do it alone – Share the restless nights

When establishing my first start up, I did it all by myself. This isa great challenge but most certainly a big mistake. Start-ups involve stress, tough decisions, multi tasking and a lot of sleepless nights, endlessly wondering – about what I did todaywhat am I going to do tomorrow and how do I solve all of my R&D, Marketing, Operations and Finance challenges. Doing it by yourself makes it even harder, youfeel alone in the battlefield, and it is indeed a battlefield. Having someone else to help you carry the load is important, it really changes the weight you feel on your shoulders and helps to have a clear mind in order to be creative and motivated.

3. Don’t look back (or sideways), Focus!

Time is of the essence and in most cases you don’t have the amount of money you need in order to get to your next milestone (even when you are positive $1M will take you all the way).

You should run as fast as you can for your next milestone, don’t look back, never stop and don’t get distracted by anything. You will heara bunch of “No”s, “This won’t happen”, “You are crazy trying to achieve this” and more. Set your goal and go for it. Remember, momentum is very important at this point in so many levels.

4. Don’t save your way to Success

I’m not saying throw your money away. You should have a budget and you should try to stick to it.

But, if you discover a way to improve, get sales, bring users or anything else that will get you closer to your next goal – even if it is out of your planned budget – go for it. You received money in order to achieve specific goals.

You’re better off running out of money earlier than planned while you achieve important milestones, rather than presenting your next investors that you kept your budget plans and you are the best in controlling expenses, but have achieved no or few goals…

5. Find the best team possible – ‘A’ players only!

There’s never time to train employees, no time to deal with micro management, and you simply can’t afford hiring and firing at this stage. Every employee you hire must be a Touch Down. Your team will be the one who will help you achieve your goals, without them you are just an entrepreneur… Without your team – nothing will happen. Invest your time to find A players, don’t settle for less than AMAZING. They need to be independent, goal driven and self-motivated. Don’t expect less than you expect from yourself.

Fintech entrepreneur? Here’s a bonus tip for you –

Take your most difficult obstacle and use it as a barrier of entry

Fintech will always involve regulations. If you come up with a revolutionary idea, you will most likely be working in a gray area in regards to regulation and legislation.
As a start up with limited resources, it is always hard to overcome these challenges up to the point that you might be forced to stop your activity or pivot.

Another way to look at is, is to understand how the regulation can be a barrier of entry for your competitors while an open path for you.

It is only when you truly, deeply understand the market and the reasons for the limitations and regulation, that this could be achieved. Coming up with few sophisticated changes (and some brave, but not stupid decisions); you can create a tough barrier to your competitors while you achieve your goals.

 

This article originally appeared on finance Magnates

What To Look For in Entreprenuers

Recently, iAngels’ Founding Partners, Shelly Hod Moyal and Mor Assia, hosted a webinar for our investor community.  The topic of the webinar was: “What Investors Should Look For in Entrepreneurs”.

The following is a rundown of the key points highlighted during the talk, and you can find a video summary of the webinar below.

The following is a list of ten key points, not in order of importance, outlining what investors should be looking for in entrepreneurs when considering an investment. People talk about team team team all that time, but what are we really looking for?

1. Commitment:

It is critical that the the founder is fully committed to the venture. Bootstrapping or having skin in the game goes to show that the founder is putting his money where is mouth is and is willing to take that personal risk in order to ensure company growth.

2. Research:

It is important to see that the founder has thought this through. The founder needs to show that he has done the market research, looked into the competitive landscape,  and created an ambitious but achievable business plan that is not detached from market standards and expectation. If you can think of a question at an initial meeting that the founder does not know how to answer, the research wasn’t thorough enough.

3. Resilience

Founders need to be exemplars of resilience in order for them to be able to overcome challenges and work well together for many years.

4. Ego

When founders avoid becoming political and are not ego driven, you know that they are focusing on the business and not on their own agenda. It is important to understand the dynamic of the founding team.

5. Vertical Expertise

It is expected that a founder has decided to uproot his life and leave his previous job stability because there is something he is so passionate about, that he cannot live another day without making it a reality. This usually (but not always) means that the founder knows a thing or two about the space he wishes to enter.

Expertise is very important and must be ingrained in the founding team. Working in the specific sector for several years before starting the business, usually shows that the founder has identified a challenge in the space that he is now about to tackle.

6. Track Record

Starting a company is hard, but selling a company or taking a company public is even harder. Out of the global pool of entrepreneurs, there are not too many people who have already succeeded in doing so, and even if they did it is important to realize what returns their previous investors actually saw.

A serial entrepreneur is someone who is able to perform consistently, learns from his previous experience, and is now looking to do things bigger and better. Experienced entrepreneurs bring a lot of know-how into the business and have the ability to see another company through.

7. Diversified Skill Set

When constructing a founding team, there needs to be several pillars in place. Some angels favor companies that have a marketing expert, a technology expert, and a business development expert on board in order to succeed. Having a complimentary skill set in the founding team eliminates ensures the scalability of the company.

8. Fundraising Abilities

The founders need to be able to tell a story.  Young companies are constantly raising money. Inability to communicate the vision, the mission statement, the story and the technology in a way that is audience focused to investors, is a major issue. Execution and meeting KPIs should be what the CEOs are focusing on and as founders are able to conduct successful rounds they are able to get back to business.

9. Personality

Traits such as flexibility and agility will help founders overcome obstacles. Over achievers by nature are relentless and cannot seetle for mediocrity.  Being responsive and respectful of other people’s time shows that the founder is humble and understands the fact that there are many smart people in the world who can help.

10. Visionary

Startup investing is risky. If the vision is not big enough, it might not be worth attempting. Many founders have a good product, but what is going to happen with this product in a year or two from now. Founders not only need to have a product to sell, but they need to understand how to build a company around it. If the founder cannot convince you to buy into his vision, how will he build a successful company around it?