After a document 12 months for Israeli startups, 16 traders inform us what’s subsequent – .

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After a record year for Israeli startups, 16 investors tell us what’s next – TechCrunch

Israel's startup ecosystem has raised record levels of funding despite the pandemic and carried out 19 initial public offerings in 2020. Cross-industry tech companies are facing an even better year, according to more than a dozen investors we've spoken to in the country.

Major sectors like cybersecurity are still important but are maturing (more on that here). Some people are more excited about emerging areas like artificial intelligence, which has been a focus of the country's military for years, and how cybersecurity is now spawning many new founding teams. Other investors believed that a wider range of industries such as fintech and biotech would ultimately produce the largest companies in the country.

Overall, local investors cited the country's focus on global markets from day one, general support from the Israeli government, and close ties to Silicon Valley and other global technology centers as additional factors driving it forward today.

Here are the investors in their own words for any . reader interested in hiring, investing, or starting a business in the country. Oh, one more thing. We just started Extra Crunch in Israel. Subscribe to access all of our investor surveys, company profiles, and other inside information for startups everywhere. Save 25% on a one or two year Extra Crunch membership by entering this discount code: THANK YOUISRAEL

The investors:

  • Boaz Dinte, managing partner of Qumra Capital
  • Rafi Carmeli, partner, Viola Growth
  • Yonatan Mandelbaum, Director, TLV Partners
  • Natalie Refuah, partner, Viola Growth
  • Daniel Cohen, partner at Viola Ventures
  • Ben Wiener, partner at Jumpspeed Ventures
  • Inbal Perlman, partner at TAU ​​Ventures
  • David (Dede) Goldschmidt, partner of the Samsung Catalyst Fund
  • Dror Nahumi, partner at Norwest Venture Partners
  • Sharin Fisher, partner at Fort Ross Ventures
  • Adi Levanon Chazan, partner at Flint Capital
  • Chaim Meir Tessler, partner at OurCrowd
  • Noam Kaiser, partner at Intel Capital
  • Tal Slobodkin, Partner at StageOne Ventures
  • Ayal Itzkoviz, partner, Pitango First
  • Ittai Harel, partner at Pitango HealthTech

Boaz Dinte, capital of Qumra

In general, which trends are you most looking forward to?
At Qumra, we welcome companies that disrupt traditional industries, do good and improve the quality of life. Our portfolio includes some great examples like Fiverr, which disrupted the job market by tapping into the global talent pool, or Talkspace, which gives everyone access to therapy.

What's your newest and most exciting investment?
Our latest investment is At-Bay, the insurance company for the digital age. At-Bay offers an end-to-end solution with comprehensive risk assessment, a bespoke cyber insurance policy and an active risk management service.

Traditional insurers do not have the know-how to properly and continuously assess risk and address digital risk the way they do with physical products. It uses a statistical model that tries to predict the future based on past events. This is a great example of a company disrupting a traditional market.

Are there startups that you would like to see in the industry, but not? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
As a growth fund, we are sector-independent and diversify our investments across sectors. We would be happy to add proptech and agritech startups to our portfolio.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too difficult to compete for a new startup at this point? What other types of products / services are you cautious or concerned about?
We stay away from unregulated industries and don't invest in cryptocurrency companies, gambling, etc.

How much do you focus on investing in your local ecosystem compared to other startup hubs (or anywhere) in general? More than 50%? Fewer?
We focus on Israeli and Israel related businesses. As a growth company, they may have moved their headquarters to NY or CA and kept their R&D in Israel.

Which industries in your city and region seem well positioned to thrive in the long term or not? Which companies are you looking forward to (your portfolio or not), which founders?
The military, which spawned innovative cyber, AI, and machine learning companies, is nurturing a huge amount of talent. Extensive experience and know-how have also been gathered here in big data analysis. SaaS models and cloud technologies have removed some of the barriers facing Israeli businesses and allows companies to quickly get a proof of concept up and running.

Some highlights in our portfolio are AppsFlyer, JoyTunes, Riskified, Talkspace and Guardicore.

Data-driven AppsFlyer, led by Oren Kaniel, is an exciting mobile attribution company that is growing rapidly ($ 200 million + ARR in 2020) yet has a unique DNA. JoyTunes, led by Yuval Kaminka, created a music learning platform that skyrocketed in 2020. The platform has been widely adopted and does so much good for so many people in a short amount of time. Guardicore disrupts the traditional firewall market by providing fine-grained segmentation for greater attack resistance. Under the leadership of CEO Pavel Gurevich, the company has had excellent traction. Riskified makes e-commerce easier, more secure, and enables a thriving e-commerce environment. The founding duo Eido Gal and Assaf Feldman are a powerhouse of vision and execution skills. Talkspace not only created the leading online therapy business, but it also improves the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of Americans getting access to therapy for the first time. Founding husband and wife Oren and Roni Frank are the ultimate power couple – they create an incredible business while creating a real impact.

How should investors in other cities feel about the general investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Tech investors need to make sure Israel is part of their portfolio. Just as VC funds are intimately familiar with Silicon Valley, tech investors cannot ignore this innovation hub that spawned global market leaders and serial entrepreneurs

What opportunities can startups take advantage of in these unprecedented times?
Products and services that require everything that requires on-site visits and integration as well as a long sales cycle with face-to-face meetings and customer training are negatively impacted during this time. The upside is that companies that develop a remote and simplified approach can benefit from this time. One such example is Augury from our portfolio, who developed an end-to-end solution to provide manufacturers with early, actionable and comprehensive insights into the health and performance of machines. This has proven to be of critical value in the supply chain during the pandemic.

How has COVID-19 affected your investment strategy?
Earlier this month we closed our third fund, Qumra III, for $ 260 million. It did so in a short time at a time when travel and face-to-face meetings were impossible. Commitments for this fund, which is larger than its predecessor, included higher investments from existing LPs as well as new LPs from new regions. This is a vote of confidence in the Israeli growth market in general and in Qumra in particular and has been a great achievement and source of hope for the future.

Rafi Carmeli, viola growth

In general, which trends are you most looking forward to?
Platforms that transform the way people and companies work, conduct their business or leverage their core resources by using superior products, data and AI.

What's your newest and most exciting investment?
Zoomin software.

Are there startups that you would like to see in the industry, but not? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
Transformation of the CFO and treasury tool suite.

In general, what are you looking for in your next investment?
A + team, superior product with business / market traction and significant market opportunity.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too difficult to compete for a new startup at this point? What other types of products / services are you cautious or concerned about?

Any area that has to compete with both established companies and a number of already successful new age companies that have taken the first step in a major disruption.

How much do you focus on investing in your local ecosystem compared to other startup hubs (or anywhere) in general? More than 50%? Fewer?
More than 50%.

Which industries in your city and region seem well positioned to thrive in the long term or not? Which companies are you looking forward to (your portfolio or not), which founders?

Lots of interesting options but like many other places to compete for the best of the best.

Do you expect more founders from regions outside of the big cities to spike in the coming years, with start-up hubs losing people due to the pandemic and the ongoing concerns and appeal of remote working?
Definitely see changes in the development of young startups given the behavioral changes caused by COVID.

In which industry segments you are investing in do you look weaker or are you more exposed to potential changes in consumer and business behavior due to COVID-19? What opportunities can startups take advantage of in these unprecedented times?
Any area that is exposed to massive physical engagement (bags in travel, food, sports, etc.) is at risk. Remote engagement and productivity can disrupt more industries; B. Corporate Events / Virtual Events.

How has COVID-19 affected your investment strategy? What are the main concerns of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
Founders are generally resilient and should decide on an appropriate level of caution / aggressiveness based on their assessment of the company's position after COVID (winner / risk) and available capital resources.

Do you see “green shoots” in terms of sales growth, customer loyalty or other impulses in your portfolio when these adapt to the pandemic?
Yes in many areas. In general, software has proven to be a winner, and SaaS in particular as a business model has proven its resilience.

What's one moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal, or a mixture of both.
The speed and determination with which humanity adapted to the effects and consequences of the pandemic, and most importantly, proactively got us all out of the health and economic crisis as quickly as possible (e.g. the speed of vaccine manufacturing).

Would you like to share more thoughts with . readers?
If something doesn't matter in five years, don't waste more than five minutes on it now – easier said than done!

Yonatan Mandelbaum, TLV partner

In general, which trends are you most looking forward to?
Fintech (especially Embedded Finance or Financial SaaS), synthetic bio. This is in addition to the traditional focus areas that we remain optimistic about – cloud infrastructure, ML infrastructure, and cyber.

What's your newest and most exciting investment?
Unit.co, meshpayments.com.

Are there startups that you would like to see in the industry, but not? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
There are simply not enough fintech innovations from the Israeli ecosystem. Our locale has managed to produce three of the most prolific insurtech companies (Next, Lemonade and Hippo), has a long history of successful fintech companies (Payoneer, Forter, Riskified) and even some early stage promising companies (Unit, Melio ). However, only about 10% of our total deal flow is fintech companies. Areas such as vertical banking, embedded finance, compliance as a service and consumer finance are repeatedly overlooked by young Israeli founders.

In general, what are you looking for in your next investment?
The cliché VC answer: strong team, big market. This remains constant at all times.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too difficult to compete for a new startup at this point? What other types of products / services are you cautious or concerned about?
(1) Cybersecurity – with one caveat. Israel will always be at the forefront of cyber innovation and therefore there will always be an opportunity for young cyber companies in Israel. That said, it's 100% oversaturated, and there are too many examples of strong tech founders creating "another" SaaS security startup. (2) Remote Work Collaboration – clearly a problem to be resolved, but unsurprisingly we saw an absurd number of companies in the room. They are largely reactionary companies, and the companies that will prove to be winners in this market have been around for quite some time (Zoom, Alack, Miro, etc.).

How much do you focus on investing in your local ecosystem compared to other startup hubs (or anywhere) in general? More than 50%? Fewer?
More than 50%.

Which industries in your city and region seem well positioned to thrive in the long term or not? Which companies are you looking forward to (your portfolio or not), which founders?
Fintech and bio are very well positioned to be successful in Israel. In 10 years, I wouldn't be surprised if Israel were better known for these two sectors than for its cyber companies. Some companies to keep an eye on: Next Insurance, Unit, Mesh Payments, Aidoc, Deepcure, Immunai.

How should investors in other cities feel about the general investment climate and opportunities in your city?
I'm not saying anything new, but Israel is known as a startup nation for a reason. There is an incredible, thriving entrepreneurial culture that produces fascinating companies every week. Interestingly, valuation trends appear to be about 12 to 18 months behind the US. For future VCs around the world, Israel can be an interesting opportunity to do business in the same quality as their locale, but at a cheaper price.

Do you expect more founders from regions outside of the big cities to spike in the coming years, with start-up hubs losing people due to the pandemic and the ongoing concerns and appeal of remote working?
Nothing special. Israel is a small country, and even if there could be an exodus of residential areas from Tel Aviv, there will be no commercial one.

In which industry segments you are investing in do you look weaker or are you more exposed to potential changes in consumer and business behavior due to COVID-19? What opportunities can startups take advantage of in these unprecedented times?
Travel and proptech are at greater risk due to COVID-19.

How has COVID-19 affected your investment strategy? What are the main concerns of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
COVID has not materially influenced our investment strategy. We have been looking for interesting software options in the early stages and our commitment to investing significant amounts in the starter round has continued. Portfolio founders' biggest concerns are slower company sales cycles due to WFH and smaller budgets from potential customers. Our early advice to the founders was to secure the runway for 18 months to weather the storm. Recently, after seeing the incredibly founder-friendly fundraising landscape, our advice has been to kick the pedal, hit certain benchmarks, and raise capital.

Do you see “green shoots” in terms of sales growth, customer loyalty or other impulses in your portfolio when these adapt to the pandemic?
No, there wasn't enough time. Nevertheless, I will say that the WFH's initial enthusiasm has subsided. The vast majority of our companies require a return to the office.

What's one moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal, or a mixture of both.
My grandparents both recently passed away from COVID-19. Despite the tragic loss to my family, there was a moment that really gave me hope. I had the opportunity to visit my grandmother at the COVID ward at a local hospital before she died (in full protective gear, of course). Before entering the ward, while the nurses were going through the logs with me and four other people who were there to visit their sick family members, I was surprised to find that the five of us in the room were an eclectic bunch. Jewish, Muslim, religious and not, young and old. At that moment we gave ourselves all strength, wished each other all the best and it gave me hope that we can really become a unified country in the near future. The next exponential growth in the Israeli ecosystem will be an influx of minorities (Arabs, ultra-Orthodox) into the workforce.

Natalie Refuah, viola growth

In general, which trends are you most looking forward to?
DevOps, Martech, digital health.

What's your newest and most exciting investment?
RapidAPI.

In general, what are you looking for in your next investment?
Exciting team, hypergrowth, disruptivity.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too difficult to compete for a new startup at this point? What other types of products / services are you cautious or concerned about?
Cyber, automobile.

How much do you focus on investing in your local ecosystem compared to other startup hubs (or anywhere) in general? More than 50%? Fewer?
Almost 100%.

Which industries in your city and region seem well positioned to thrive in the long term or not? Which companies are you looking forward to (your portfolio or not), which founders?
DevOps, cyber, business software.

How should investors in other cities feel about the general investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Very positive.

Do you expect more founders from regions outside of the big cities to spike in the coming years, with start-up hubs losing people due to the pandemic and the ongoing concerns and appeal of remote working?
There will be changes, that's for sure.

In which industry segments you are investing in do you look weaker or are you more exposed to potential changes in consumer and business behavior due to COVID-19?

Ecommerce technology companies will thrive.

How has COVID-19 affected your investment strategy? What are the main concerns of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
We have reduced our check size per company. My advice – if you are "with COVID trend" push hard, if you are "against COVID trend" – save money.

What's one moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal, or a mixture of both.
More time with my kids but in general I miss hugging people when I meet them and I prefer to meet people face to face.

Would you like to share more thoughts with . readers?
Let go of the vaccine!

Daniel Cohen, Viola Ventures

In general, which trends are you most looking forward to?
Games, vertical AI and AI agencies, digital health.

What's your newest and most exciting investment?
Hyperguest creates direct connectivity between hotels and OTAs. It's the perfect next-generation travel infrastructure for the post-pandemic world.

Are there startups that you would like to see in the industry, but not? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
The biggest trend in the post-COVID world will be the new work environment. We'd love to see more startups developing business solutions that are geared towards the future of work. This can be at work or at home.

In general, what are you looking for in your next investment?
Unique, innovative launch. Using technology to reach consumers in more innovative ways. It's basically an innovation in growth hacking, not just great products.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too difficult to compete for a new startup at this point? What other types of products / services are you cautious or concerned about?
Cybersecurity – the market is real and important, but there are too many startups with small niche solutions.

How much do you focus on investing in your local ecosystem compared to other startup hubs (or anywhere) in general? More than 50%? Fewer?
More than 50%.

Which industries in your city and region seem well positioned to thrive in the long term or not? Which companies are you looking forward to (your portfolio or not), which founders?
The most exciting local trends are all AI with a focus on B2B apps. The same applies to digital health and consumer-oriented health applications.

How should investors in other cities feel about the general investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Israel is the world's leading region in unicorn production, possibly the hottest startup region right now.

Do you expect more founders from regions outside of the big cities to spike in the coming years, with start-up hubs losing people due to the pandemic and the ongoing concerns and appeal of remote working?
No.

In which industry segments you are investing in do you look weaker or are you more exposed to potential changes in consumer and business behavior due to COVID-19? What opportunities can startups take advantage of in these unprecedented times?

The biggest change has been in corporate culture, which is difficult to maintain in a distributed work-from-home environment. Companies need to be innovative and creative to maintain / build the culture, which was a lot easier before COVID.

Do you see “green shoots” in terms of sales growth, customer loyalty or other impulses in your portfolio when these adapt to the pandemic? What's one moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal, or a mixture of both.

The announcements surrounding the vaccines make it clear that the end of the pandemic is near. I think 2021 will be great.

Ben Wiener, Jumpspeed Ventures

In general, which trends are you most looking forward to?
Jumpspeed invests exclusively in startups before and at the seed stage of the startup ecosystem in Jerusalem.

What's your newest and most exciting investment?
MDGo.

Are there startups that you would like to see in the industry, but not? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
Not really, we are more branch-independent / bottom-up than dependent on theses.

In general, what are you looking for in your next investment?
10x better paradigm shift solution for a large, short-term, acute business problem created and managed by a complementary founding team (Hacker + Hustler + Designer).

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too difficult to compete for a new startup at this point? What other types of products / services are you cautious or concerned about?
Cybersecurity, crypto, telehealth.

How much do you focus on investing in your local ecosystem compared to other startup hubs (or anywhere) in general? More than 50%? Fewer?
EXCLUSIVELY see above.

Which industries in your city and region seem well positioned to thrive in the long term or not? Which companies are you looking forward to (your portfolio or not), which founders?
Jerusalem is well positioned in certain clusters such as Computer Vision, General Business SaaS, AI / ML, and Healthtech.

How should investors in other cities feel about the general investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Our city's startup ecosystem is underutilized and offers some fantastic opportunities under the radar each year.

Do you expect more founders from regions outside of the big cities to spike in the coming years, with start-up hubs losing people due to the pandemic and the ongoing concerns and appeal of remote working?
Yes.

How has COVID-19 affected your investment strategy? What are the main concerns of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
Little direct impact on the strategy as I, by definition, invest in things that will come to market and mature over the years.

The founders' greatest concerns are the wellbeing of their employees and access to customers and markets overseas.

Tip for founders: stay calm and healthy, play the long game, take care of yourself, your family and your co-workers, don't panic and don't reactively cut down on staff.

Do you see “green shoots” in terms of sales growth, customer loyalty or other impulses in your portfolio when these adapt to the pandemic?
Yes, but not that I can directly attribute the pandemic.

What's one moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal, or a mixture of both.
Not a special moment, just the general resilience and adaptability to the radically changing new realities that our portfolio founders demonstrated.

Would you like to share more thoughts with . readers?
“Entrepreneurship in advanced technologies is not just a matter of decision making. It is about imposing cognitive order on situations that are repeatedly ill-defined. “- W. Brian Arthur," The Nature of Technology "

No situation has been so poorly defined in the past century. Stay calm and carry on 🙂

Inbal Perlman, TAU Ventures

In general, which trends are you most looking forward to?
At TAU, we are interested in a wide variety of industries and evaluate each potential investment independently. When it comes to trends, we look at trends with a grain of salt and understand that trends can come and go. When we see a particular trend, we try to understand if there is a need behind the trend and look beyond the initial hype. We want to make sure that a startup meets a real need in the market. We are particularly interested in technologies that don't take too much time and capital to get to market.

What's your newest and most exciting investment?
We have invested in a company called Xtend, which creates human-machine telepresence and enables us to step into a machine anywhere in the world while pushing the limits of physical reality. In particular, solutions are being developed that allow people to interact with drones and other unmanned machine technologies. The company's technology enables people to put themselves into the action by being able to virtually sit in the drone for various tactical missions. What's exciting about Xtend is how the technology can be implemented in a variety of ways, from defense and homeland security to redesigning entertainment, games, and cinematography.

Are there startups that you would like to see in the industry, but not? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
We see startups disrupting traditional industry by solving fundamental challenges and needs with innovative means. There are some industries that haven't changed in many years. And if you develop a technology that can be easily integrated into existing markets, it can grow in importance and change an industry drastically. We would be happy if more startups go "back to the basics" and ask questions about frequently perceived weaknesses and develop innovations to solve these problems.

In general, what are you looking for in your next investment?
We want to make the entrepreneur feel like they are professional, ready for the entrepreneurial journey, have the right attitude and skills, and are about to take on the world. We know that early-stage startups are likely to change the product or service, so we pay special attention to the entrepreneurs themselves as an early indicator of future success.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too difficult to compete for a new startup at this point? What other types of products / services are you cautious or concerned about?
Technology trends that come and go frequently can create an oversaturated market for startups. For example, there used to be a hype about drones. Now only the strongest companies in the drone industry are involved. Today there are many startups responding to needs exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic such as distance learning and remote working. It's important to find out if these are solutions that will be around for a while, that will survive a post-COVID world or that are temporary.

We are more cautious about certain industries. At edtech, those who have successfully completed exits have done so in small amounts ($ 200 to $ 300 million). We are looking for bigger exits for ourselves. Blockchain is a difficult sector as there is no clear regulatory environment, which raises many questions. Similarly, the cannabis industry does not have a set regulatory environment in all countries. Any small change in regulations can have a big impact on the business. These are the sectors and areas where we are more cautious.

How much do you focus on investing in your local ecosystem compared to other startup hubs (or anywhere) in general? More than 50%? Fewer?
We invest in startups that are exclusively Israeli startups, but are geared towards a global market. At TAU ​​Ventures, we have 1,000 square feet of coworking office space, where most of our portfolio companies and accelerator programs companies operate on a daily basis. Every day we get involved with our startups through kitchen chats and encounters in the hallway. Through our coworking space, we invest directly in our local ecosystem to both support entrepreneurs and identify emerging entrepreneurs.

Which industries in your city and region seem well positioned to thrive in the long term or not? Which companies are you looking forward to (your portfolio or not), which founders?
In Israel, many Israeli entrepreneurs bring high levels of technical skills learned in the army such as cyber and AI. After acquiring this knowledge and skills, they are well prepared and can transfer it to the business park. For this reason, many successful startups come from Israel in these areas.
For example, the founders of our portfolio company SWIMM all come from leading elite tech training units in the armed forces (Aram, Talpiot) and, prior to founding SWIMM, founded the ITC (Israel Tech Challenge, a non-profit high-tech academy that offers technology training programs) in English in Tel Aviv, inspired by the IDF 8200 unit).
In addition, Tel Aviv University (TAU), our affiliate university, is a leading research institute and academic director in the fields of AI, engineering and other sciences, producing high-level entrepreneurs. 50% of entrepreneurs in Israel have studied at TAU. And TAU was ranked eighth in the world as one of the best universities to produce VC-sponsored entrepreneurs and the first outside of the United States. We are very excited about the added advantage we have of being closely associated with the university and the talent it brings out.

How should investors in other cities feel about the general investment climate and opportunities in your city?
The main advantage of Israel is its small size. Since there is little or no local market, startups automatically think globally in their marketing and growth strategies. To best understand Israel and the Israelis, it is important to understand the influence of the military and the reality of thriving in a complex political environment in the Middle East. Military service is compulsory for all Israelis under the age of 18. The army plays an important role in socialization, education, skills development, the social network and the structure of Israeli society. Many personal and professional networks are the result of military service. As Israelis, we live in an environment where we have to be constantly innovative and one step ahead in order to survive. This innovative mindset has been instilled into our state of mind and cultural DNA.
We pride ourselves on the fact that in Israel we have academics of the highest level in the world in a variety of fields. Multinational companies from around the world have local R&D centers or innovation centers in Israel that they can draw from the local talent pool. This presence of multinational companies creates a mutual presence for both startups and corporations.

Do you expect more founders from regions outside of the big cities to spike in the coming years, with start-up hubs losing people due to the pandemic and the ongoing concerns and appeal of remote working?
At TAU ​​Ventures, the majority of our portfolio and accelerator companies sit next to us in our 1,000 square meter coworking space. In our offices we love to see our founders and their employees regularly. We have thus successfully created a strong family culture in our VC. Throughout COVID, companies continued to come to the office in person. This has confirmed to us that there is no exchange for personal commitment. As early stage investors, we understand that this stage is all about people. At the end of the day, people want to be with people, and you cannot replace the experience of sharing a cup of coffee and shaking hands with someone.

In which industry segments you are investing in do you look weaker or are you more exposed to potential changes in consumer and business behavior due to COVID-19?
COVID has affected companies in different ways. For some, it has boosted business and for others, it has made them change their strategy and approach. Our companies that had customers in the travel industry or at airports were obviously affected. In this situation, the company examined its technology and considered where and how their technology might be relevant to other consumers and industries. This particular company saw the opportunity to switch to logistics and supply chain customers. COVID offers companies the opportunity to reevaluate their target market and discover new uses of their technology for different purposes.

How has COVID-19 affected your investment strategy? What are the main concerns of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
As a result of COVID, we understood that things just take more time, such as: B. collecting funds or reaching the next milestone. We are patient and empathetic towards the experiences of our startups.

Startups' biggest concern is that they won't be able to raise enough money before reaching their next milestone. And if they can't prove their milestones in time, they may have to close their stores. As a result, our startups collect more money during this time to ensure a longer runway. Our startups are also very much aware of how times of crisis could cause them to spin around and adapt to current circumstances. Startups make decisions about adjusting budgets, determining if customers are still relevant, anticipating if circumstances are temporary or normalizing, and ultimately if there is an entirely new way to focus on.
Given the circumstances, we advise our portfolio startups to raise more funds in the next few rounds to have a runway for at least 1.5 years and not be afraid of drastic changes (i.e. pivotal points, budget changes, more fundraising).

As a fund, we assure our entrepreneurs that it's okay for them to change their ways. Working from a coworking space with many of our founders enables us to stay up to date on the startups, foster a strong internal ecosystem and network, and provide our entrepreneurs with ongoing psychological security that startups desperately need in these unprecedented times becomes.

Do you see “green shoots” in terms of sales growth, customer loyalty or other impulses in your portfolio when these adapt to the pandemic?
Two of our portfolio companies have seen impressive growth and are thriving in 2020.
1. Gaviti is a SaaS company that specializes in expediting claims collection. The system maps the recording process in order to identify inefficiencies and to optimize customer processes. During the COVID in particular, many companies had major economic problems related to generating cash flows in a timely and efficient manner. Gaviti's solution helps companies manage their collections payments. As a result of the economic downturn this year, Gaviti saw rapid customer growth and did well in 2020.
2. Medorion believes that healthcare companies and hospitals want regular health checkups. Using AI and behavioral science, Medorion drives people to take action for their own health by increasing engagement and communication between insurance companies and patients. During COVID, they are fighting the coronavirus pandemic by using their technology to create highly personalized engagement and communication plans for those at the highest risk for COVID-19.

What's one moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal, or a mixture of both.
In the last few months it has been inspiring to see our entrepreneurs continue to struggle despite the uncertain economic and global circumstances. Many of our companies continue to hire and hire people. Our founders are resilient and find creative means to be successful. It's also a blessing to have a large coworking space that houses the offices of 10 startups and to see employees come into the office with their teams every day.

Would you like to share more thoughts with . readers?
TAU Ventures is a Tel Aviv University-affiliated venture capital fund for investing in early stage technologies based in Israel. TAU Ventures is the first and only VC in Israel affiliated with a university.

The fund has a unique triangular model that creates ecosystem connections between industry, academia and entrepreneurs. We connect with the available resources of Tel Aviv University, maintain strong partnerships in the high-tech industry and support entrepreneurs in their collaboration in the VC's coworking offices on the university campus.

TAU Ventures also runs incubation programs in a variety of technology fields, offering entrepreneurs a vibrant hub with concrete opportunities for design partnerships with leading international companies: AlphaC Program (in partnership with NEC, Checkpoint, Innogy, Team8 and Cybereason) and The Xcelerator (an acceleration program with the Israel Security Agency).
In 2018 IVC awarded TAU Ventures an award for one of the most active VCs in Israel. And in 2019, Geektime named TAU Ventures among the top five VCs in Israel.

David (Dede) Goldschmidt, Samsung Catalyst Fund

In general, which trends are you most looking forward to?
Digital transformation and AI.

What's your newest and most exciting investment?
Solarisbank (Germany).

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too difficult to compete for a new startup at this point? What other types of products / services are you cautious or concerned about?
AI acceleration technologies seem overcrowded.

How much do you focus on investing in your local ecosystem compared to other startup hubs (or anywhere) in general? More than 50%? Fewer?
Less than 50%.

Which industries in your city and region seem well positioned to thrive in the long term or not? Which companies are you looking forward to (your portfolio or not), which founders?
AI, cybersecurity. Excited about our portfolio company Innoviz (LiDAR). Excited to see Avigdor Willenz, serial entrepreneur including our portfolio company Habana Labs, which was acquired for $ 2 billion.

How should investors in other cities feel about the general investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Highly dynamic and competitive, very global approach by entrepreneurs, risk takers and “can-do” approach.

Do you expect more founders from regions outside of the big cities to spike in the coming years, with start-up hubs losing people due to the pandemic and the ongoing concerns and appeal of remote working?
I don't expect this to happen as it would require a strong ecosystem of entrepreneurs, investors and service providers and it will take years for this to grow.

In which industry segments you are investing in do you look weaker or are you more exposed to potential changes in consumer and business behavior due to COVID-19?
In-store industries are likely to be weakened by the accelerated transition to online.

How has COVID-19 affected your investment strategy? What are the main concerns of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
Our advice was to be careful with cash. There is a discrepancy between the strong dynamics of technology finance in the face of the general economic crisis (unemployment, government deficits, etc.). We haven't seen the full impact of COVID-19 on tech startups yet and better be prepared for it.

Do you see “green shoots” in terms of sales growth, customer loyalty or other impulses in your portfolio when these adapt to the pandemic?
Yes, for pure digital games.

What's one moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal, or a mixture of both.
In all fairness, I remain concerned about the interruption mentioned above. Vaccination brings hope, but too early to tell.

Would you like to share more thoughts with . readers?
I am very concerned about a possible early stage crisis. While total funding numbers are increasing in almost all regions, investments are heavily targeted towards later stages and unicorns, and there are far fewer new businesses being started. This will have a dramatic impact on the technical ecosystem in a few years if it doesn't change in 2021.

Dror Nahumi, Norwest Venture Partners

In general, which trends are you most looking forward to?
We are a large fund investing in early to late stage companies across a variety of sectors with an emphasis on consumer, corporate and healthcare. My focus is mainly on Israeli companies and I see a lot of exciting startups in security, SaaS, enterprise and cloud infrastructure, robotics and semiconductors.

What's your newest and most exciting investment?
We are of course excited about all of our recent investments. I recently invested in three seed stage companies that are in stealth mode: an open source cloud infrastructure company, a SaaS people analytics (HR) company, and a next-generation business intelligence platform.

Are there startups that you would like to see in the industry, but not? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
I believe that startups have a tremendous opportunity to develop new solutions to drive the digitization of next generation companies. We are seeing innovation and activity in this sector, but there is still much more to be done, especially given the challenges and vulnerabilities that COVID-19 has uncovered. The hottest areas will be Human Resources, Manufacturing, Security, Infrastructure, Sales, and Remote Working.

In general, what are you looking for in your next investment?
We're looking for a great team, strong intellectual property, and good execution. The new product idea can be a replacement (i.e., replacing existing products that are aging, having poor performance) or a new category. Gong.io is a great example of a new category that we invested in early on. We created the new Revenue Intelligence category, which provides companies with automated, unfiltered, and real-time insights into customer interactions and transactions. This helps companies understand what is actually being said to change the way they go to market.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too difficult to compete for a new startup at this point? What other types of products / services are you cautious or concerned about?
Security is currently saturated. There are too many companies doing similar things that can make it hard for newbies to break through. Additionally, most emerging security startups claim to be using machine learning and AI to tackle the next level of security breach. These are important areas to focus on, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for these companies to differentiate themselves. That being said, we've made several major investments in security over the years and will continue to invest in great teams.

How much do you focus on investing in your local ecosystem compared to other startup hubs (or anywhere) in general? More than 50%? Fewer?
Our team in Israel is 100% focused on our local market.

Which industries in your city and region seem well positioned to thrive in the long term or not? Which companies are you looking forward to (your portfolio or not), which founders?
Numerous industries in the Israeli market are on the verge of success and are currently doing so. Examples include startups in security, SaaS, enterprise and cloud infrastructure, and consumer services. We are particularly excited to continue to see the growth and success of Gong, VAST Data, WekaIO, Cynet, Wiliot, ActiveFence, Ermetic and SundaySky while building new companies that are still in the stealth phase.

How should investors in other cities feel about the general investment climate and opportunities in your city?
At Norwest, and particularly at our Israeli portfolio companies, we were able to mature our companies. We have given them the time and support they need to reach maturity. This is a very different approach than other environments.

Today growth comes before M&A and companies are valued much faster. In the past few years it was difficult to raise money, but now it is not that difficult. In Israel, sales and marketing analytics help companies sell more effectively than they have been in the last decade. This gives entrepreneurs flexibility, room to expand into other markets and the ability to hire top talent around the world rather than just in their own region.

Do you expect more founders from regions outside of the big cities to spike in the coming years, with start-up hubs losing people due to the pandemic and the ongoing concerns and appeal of remote working?
Israel is so small that you are never really too far out of a big city. We expect our startup hub to remain intact even if individuals and businesses choose to move slightly outside of the main CBD.

In which industry segments you are investing in do you look weaker or are you more exposed to potential changes in consumer and business behavior due to COVID-19? What opportunities can startups take advantage of in these unprecedented times?
The travel industry has been massively affected in all markets worldwide since the outbreak of COVID-19. However, this means that there is a great opportunity to fill gaps based on business and consumer needs as we near a post-pandemic normal.

I would say that solutions with great potential target the hybrid workforce as companies rethink the future of work. These have the potential to benefit significantly from the pandemic in the short and long term.

How has COVID-19 affected your investment strategy? What are the main concerns of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
COVID-19 did not affect our investment strategy. However, in recent conversations with our portfolio companies, it became clear that brands with adaptable strategy, adjusted expectations, strong marketing and B2C communications, and compassionate leadership can emerge stronger than ever.

Over the past few months, we've recommended companies in our portfolio to focus on building their business while prioritizing the safety of their employees. This could mean expanding the work from home guidelines further or making remote working a standard option in their hiring practices. The ability of companies to innovate and adapt as they build their business around the new normal will be better positioned to thrive in a post-COVID landscape.

Do you see “green shoots” in terms of sales growth, customer loyalty or other impulses in your portfolio when these adapt to the pandemic?
While this is not a special moment, there have been many times over the past year that our portfolio companies have faced major challenges and continued to grow their businesses due to the pandemic. Every quarter of sales that shows growth and success gives me hope.

Sharin Fisher, Fort Ross Ventures

In general, which trends are you most looking forward to?
Most of all, I'm excited about AI / ML technologies, cybersecurity companies, and the global opportunities offered by B2B SaaS companies in general. Companies that help optimize business processes and increase efficiency (e.g. one of our portfolio companies, Kryon, is involved in the automation of robotic processes, evaluates business processes and recommends which ones need to be automated in order to free up underutilized human talent) . We see many successful Israeli SaaS companies across the board, from marketing and collaboration tools to business intelligence products to payment systems.

What's your newest and most exciting investment?
My last investment was in a B2B SaaS company disrupting a huge market. I am particularly pleased about the team, which includes managers and second entrepreneurs with specialist knowledge.

Are there startups that you would like to see in the industry, but not? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?

We're looking for companies with a large market, a compelling history, and a clear path to building a great company. When we invest, companies already have traction, a diverse customer base, established and repeatable sales processes and metrics. So, when we dig deeper into business metrics, we want them to support the business's assumptions and ability to scale properly.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too difficult to compete for a new startup at this point? What other types of products / services are you cautious or concerned about?
WFH activation tools (from security to communication tools).

How much do you focus on investing in your local ecosystem compared to other startup hubs (or anywhere) in general? More than 50%? Fewer?
We are a global VC with a dispersed team focused on investing in medium-sized companies based in the US and Israel that can become global leaders. I lead our investments in Israeli companies around the world.

Which industries in your city and region seem well positioned to thrive in the long term or not? Which companies are you looking forward to (your portfolio or not), which founders?
Israel is well positioned to build and grow large companies that can become segment leaders. We see many leading companies in different sectors like mobility (Moovit, Mobileye), cybersecurity (Armis, Cybereason, SentinelOne), Fintech (Lemonade, Payoneer, eToro), information technology (Jfrog, Snyk) etc.

How should investors in other cities feel about the general investment climate and opportunities in your city?
The Israeli ecosystem has matured significantly over the past decade, largely due to repeat entrepreneurs bringing in knowledge and relevant experience. You strive to build meaningful businesses. In addition, more capital is available in the late phase, so companies can stay private longer and become mega-acquisitions / IPOs.

Do you expect more founders from regions outside of the big cities to spike in the coming years, with start-up hubs losing people due to the pandemic and the ongoing concerns and appeal of remote working?
The COVID-19 crisis has affected Israeli founders on how and from where they work. With many Israeli startups looking to enter the US market, they usually move fairly early, mostly to build relationships with prospects. Since the pandemic has created a situation where you need to sell your product / service remotely, the physical location has become less relevant. In the short term, I believe that more Israeli founders will be working out of Israel, especially when you consider the benefits (e.g. lower cost of living compared to other places like NYC / San Francisco). In the long term, there is a high likelihood that founders who can maintain the same sales efficiency remotely will continue to work outside their home country.

In which industry segments you are investing in do you look weaker or are you more exposed to potential changes in consumer and business behavior due to COVID-19? What opportunities can startups take advantage of in these unprecedented times?
All of the segments we look at are thriving or have not changed significantly. I'm mainly interested in startups that are able to sell remotely and have an established in-house sales team with easy integration / deployment, as I believe they are better able to scale faster even in this climate.

How has COVID-19 affected your investment strategy? What are the main concerns of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
Our investment strategy remains the same; We still strive to support companies that become global leaders and can disrupt large markets. In terms of working with our portfolio companies, our founders have already made the necessary adjustments and are now focusing more on capital efficiency and runway expansion.

Do you see “green shoots” in terms of sales growth, customer loyalty or other impulses in your portfolio when these adapt to the pandemic?
Most of our portfolio has adapted to the crisis quite quickly and has enough runways to reach the next milestone. For some of our portfolio companies, especially those supporting digital transformation, the pandemic has created business opportunities and accelerated the adoption of their technology. As a result, we have put in additional capital to capitalize on this momentum.

What's one moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal, or a mixture of both.
Although the pandemic has created uncertainty for all of us, in the past few months we have still seen more (+14) Israeli companies attain unicorn status.

Adi Levanon Chazan, Flint Capital

What's your newest and most exciting investment?
Sensi.ai.

How much do you focus on investing in your local ecosystem compared to other startup hubs (or anywhere) in general? More than 50%? Fewer?
A little more than 50% of the portfolio are Israeli startups, the remaining 50% is shared between Europe and the USA.

Which industries in your city and region seem well positioned to thrive in the long term or not? Which companies are you looking forward to (your portfolio or not), which founders?
Fintech has continued to grow and will thrive over time. I'm passionate about companies like Melio, Unit, Acrocharge and Rapyd.

How should investors in other cities feel about the general investment climate and opportunities in your city?
It is very important to have local partners and try to expand the local network as much as possible. It would be best to have someone on the ground devoted to Israeli investments.

Chaim Meir Tessler, partner at OurCrowd

In general, which trends are you most looking forward to?
Fintech, cloud services, quantum software, cyber.

What's your newest and most exciting investment?
Closed at the time of writing: D-ID.
Are there startups that you would like to see in the industry, but not? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
Built from the ground up for remote educational platforms.

In general, what are you looking for in your next investment?
Founders who I enjoy working with and who I believe in.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too difficult to compete for a new startup at this point? What other types of products / services are you cautious or concerned about?
Micromobility, autonomous vehicle sensors.

How much do you focus on investing in your local ecosystem compared to other startup hubs (or anywhere) in general? More than 50%? Fewer?
60% -70% local.

Which industries in your city and region seem well positioned to thrive in the long term or not? Which companies are you looking forward to (your portfolio or not), which founders?
Cyber, computer vision, semiconductors, and quantum computers are thriving.

The emerging banking infrastructure companies look fantastic.

How should investors in other cities feel about the general investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Great market, easy to network, mostly co-investing friendly.

Do you expect more founders from regions outside of the big cities to spike in the coming years, with start-up hubs losing people due to the pandemic and the ongoing concerns and appeal of remote working?
When the world becomes flat, innovations will definitely emerge in new areas.

How has COVID-19 affected your investment strategy?
COVID only had a major impact on our overall strategy with a slowdown in March / April. The biggest concern is insufficient funding / runway.

What's one moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal, or a mixture of both.
When we realized that at a moment in history we had landed in this pandemic, we had the tools we needed to enable a large portion of the world's population to continue working without having to be in a specific physical location.

Noam Kaiser, Intel Capital

In general, which trends are you most looking forward to?
Cloud introduction through digital transformation to hybrid cloud, 5G, vertical AI-based SaaS.

What's your newest and most exciting investment?
Cellwize – basically opens RAN (4G and 5G) for any API and cloud environment compatibility.

Are there startups that you would like to see in the industry, but not? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
Solution that allows applications to run across data sources in multiple buckets in hybrid / multicloud environments.

In general, what are you looking for in your next investment?
Deep understanding of the area and customer needs, a complementary trend, high sales potential within five years.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too difficult to compete for a new startup at this point? What other types of products / services are you cautious or concerned about?
MLOps, too many, too fast, memory in general.

How much do you focus on investing in your local ecosystem compared to other startup hubs (or anywhere) in general? More than 50%? Fewer?
More.

Which industries in your city and region seem well positioned to thrive in the long term or not? Which companies are you looking forward to (your portfolio or not), which founders?
Safebreach – Red Team Automation for Cybersecurity Teams, Verbit – Vertical AI, Transcription.

How should investors in other cities feel about the general investment climate and opportunities in your city?
It hasn't slowed down, there are a lot of options, you have to move quickly.

Do you expect more founders from regions outside of the big cities to spike in the coming years, with start-up hubs losing people due to the pandemic and the ongoing concerns and appeal of remote working?
I don't see the pandemic that way. Hubs remain unchanged.

In which industry segments you are investing in do you look weaker or are you more exposed to potential changes in consumer and business behavior due to COVID-19?
Everything that relied on on-prem slowed down; These can be semiconductors and retail. but it is recovering.

How has COVID-19 affected your investment strategy? What are the main concerns of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
Not really, we are investing the same amount in the same number of companies in the same stages as before.

Do you see “green shoots” in terms of sales growth, customer loyalty or other impulses in your portfolio when these adapt to the pandemic?
Yes, deals are being closed, financing is taking place, as is mergers and acquisitions.

What's one moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal, or a mixture of both.
Simply a lively investment atmosphere, new rounds and several M&A processes arise.

Would you like to share more thoughts with . readers?
Careful optimism, aggressively raising and making money when possible, refreshing the pipeline and getting started, companies are closing deals again.

Tal Slobodkin, StageOne Ventures

In general, which trends are you most looking forward to?
Cloud Computing and Software Infrastructure / Cybersecurity / DevOps / Everything Connected / Deep Compute, Big Data and AI / Next Generation Storage and Data Center.

What's your newest and most exciting investment?
R-Go Robotics is a pioneer in artificial perception technology that enables mobile robots to understand complex environments and how people can work autonomously.

Are there startups that you would like to see in the industry, but not? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
More sophisticated cyber solutions, additional MLOps technologies, AI solutions.

In general, what are you looking for in your next investment?
Deep tech technology to solve complex business challenges.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too difficult to compete for a new startup at this point? What other types of products / services are you cautious or concerned about?
We see that many monitoring services / SaaS cloud startups can compete with very similar technologies.

How much do you focus on investing in your local ecosystem compared to other startup hubs (or anywhere) in general? More than 50%? Fewer?
Israel 85%; USA 15% – always aiming to expand in the US market too.

Which industries in your city and region seem well positioned to thrive in the long term or not? Which companies are you looking forward to (your portfolio or not), which founders?
StageOne portfolio companies: Coralogix, Silverfort, Epsagon, Avanan, Neuroblade. Other companies: OwnBackup / RunAI / Verbit / Indegy – all based in Israel.

Do you expect more founders from regions outside of the big cities to spike in the coming years, with start-up hubs losing people due to the pandemic and the ongoing concerns and appeal of remote working?
Less relevant to Israel and more to the US, but yes we will likely see new founders from different regions, which is a good thing and opens up new opportunities for people who may not have thought of starting a business before.

What opportunities can startups take advantage of in these unprecedented times?
We see COVID-19 having less of an impact on the cybersecurity industry as many companies look to new solutions as the risk of cyberattacks increases due to remote working and the realignment of much of their activities towards the digital world.

How has COVID-19 affected your investment strategy? What are the main concerns of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
Our companies continue to adapt and make the necessary changes and plans for the near future. Most companies have continued the work-from-home policy.

Do you see “green shoots” in terms of sales growth, customer loyalty or other impulses in your portfolio when these adapt to the pandemic?
We see our companies continue to grow and grow in both people and products. They have all adapted to the situation in both the short and long term. They continued to raise funds, and some companies have even developed additional products to help with COVID-19-related issues.

Ayal Itzkoviz, partner, Pitango First

In general, which trends are you most looking forward to?
Disruptions in traditional markets that demand innovation, such as retail, insurtech, logistics, etc.

B2B2B: Companies no longer want to build things that they can buy. By purchasing key components of the product / software, companies can focus on the innovation side. One example is Frontegg – the company offers a number of pre-built, essential SaaS product functions that can be easily and seamlessly integrated into any new or existing SaaS application. That way, development teams can focus on perfecting the truly differentiating and valuable features that are at the heart of their SaaS offering. Another viable example is Stripe and its offering in the payments market.

Cyber: 2020 taught us many lessons. One of them is that as the digital transformation increases, the technology is becoming increasingly exciting, and the other is that the digital revolution brings with it cyber challenges that did not exist before. This creates persistent opportunities for disruption in this area.

What's your newest and most exciting investment?
Frontegg – a startup that is transforming the way SaaS is built so that developers don't have to develop nondifferentiated code or functionality. Frontegg offers a state-of-the-art SaaS-as-a-Service platform that is perfectly integrated into the company's stack and enables it to do what it does best: develop its own product. Frontegg is the first pre-packaged suite of universal SaaS capabilities that allows teams to focus on the core functions, reduce time to market and increase user adoption. Frontegg's mission is to accelerate the delivery of SaaS applications to businesses while delivering the most secure, secure, and optimal user experience.

Are there startups that you would like to see in the industry, but not? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
First: more open source projects. While they exist, they usually work under the radar and exit stealth mode when they are already mature and beyond the phase of semen and the phase that Pitango First is focused on.

Quantum computing has reached a point of no return in our view. We will be happy if entrepreneurs, scientists and business people in Israel jump on the opportunity car now and start building businesses before the quantum market begins, which is sure to be exponential growth.

After all, these are startups with a double bottom line; H. Startups that solve a weak point in the market and have the potential to become category leaders, but also deal with an impact category. Pitango is the first VC to incorporate ESG practices into its core activities. As part of this strategy and as a first step, we focus on our extensive portfolio of companies and work closely with them to embed them

ESG into their core practices through a "migration" process.

Pitango aims to move the needle in the venture capital space through the “AND” philosophy: profit AND purpose, capital AND impact. Pitango introduces a new paradigm of how venture capital works and integrates the “AND” philosophy by addressing a new opportunity: the impact of migrants. i.e. those startups that, while may not have been founded under the SDG narrative, have the potential and desire to understand and track their impact. They will define their impact mission, incorporate SDG goals into their business performance, and track impact in line with financial goals, without losing sight of their primary mission of achieving superior financial returns.

In addition, Pitango applies this AND philosophy beyond the existing portfolio to the future review of the deal flow. We call it “mainstreaming” impact investing.

In general, what are you looking for in your next investment?
The Israeli market has developed tremendously in recent years. While the IPO market used to be inaccessible for Israel-born companies, it is no longer. We are looking for the visionaries, the dent blowers, the unconventional types who want to solve the greatest challenges and want to build an IPO-ready business rather than an M&A deal.

How much do you focus on investing in your local ecosystem compared to other startup hubs (or anywhere) in general? More than 50%? Fewer?
Pitango First focuses on startups with an Israeli / Israeli connection. From time to time we identify an investment opportunity in areas that we have defined as strategic, where the Israeli market is not mature enough, and where we believe we can add significant value and then invest in non-Israeli companies.

Which industries in your city and region seem well positioned to thrive in the long term or not? Which companies are you looking forward to (your portfolio or not), which founders?
Israel is a super strong innovation center. One of the major development trends in recent years is that the traditional glass ceiling that Israeli startups have dealt with has been shattered. Global players are realizing that they can now get the same advantage as SV companies, on much more reasonable terms and sometimes with less competition.
A little counterintuitively, we see the investment climate in these times of COVID-19 as extremely dynamic and competitive. Strong teams are collecting significant rounds with record values, leading to the current belief that COVID-19 has not slowed down digital transformation, but accelerated it.

What opportunities can startups take advantage of in these unprecedented times?
For many early-stage startups that have secured funding, COVID-19 has seen no setbacks in their plans as they are further removed from the market from more mature companies. However, such companies use this period to gain strength by acquiring companies in their ecosystem and better position themselves on the curve outside of the pandemic that may come here if backed by strong investors, even though they may have one Revenue decline in a few short quarters.

What's one moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal, or a mixture of both.
The pattern of long-term investment during the pandemic. As veterans of previous crises, we were able to share our experiences and insights and help them deal better with the crisis. Nor can that question be answered without mentioning the COVID-19 vaccines, which are a great example of how humanity can benefit when technology, medical companies, and governments join forces and become part of a group.

Ittai Harel, Pitango HealthTech

In general, which trends are you most looking forward to?
The consumerization of health care.

What's your newest and most exciting investment?
HomeThrive – a technology-based health services company that addresses the challenge of aging at home and helps families help their loved ones age happily.

In general, what are you looking for in your next investment?
An all-star team building a category-defining or category-leading company with proven clinical AND financial results.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too difficult to compete for a new startup at this point? What other types of products / services are you cautious or concerned about?
Narrow wearables that cannot be integrated into a clinical or life workflow.

How much do you focus on investing in your local ecosystem compared to other startup hubs (or anywhere) in general? More than 50%? Fewer?
Pitango HealthTech focuses on startups with an Israeli / Israeli connection. From time to time, we will identify an investment opportunity in areas that we have defined as strategic, where the Israeli market is not mature enough and where we believe we can add significant value, and then invest in non-Israeli companies.

Which industries in your city and region seem well positioned to thrive in the long term or not? Which companies are you looking forward to (your portfolio or not), which founders?
Israel has many thriving health sectors – from RPM and Computer Vision in digital health to cardiovascular disease in medical devices to drug discovery in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. We are excited about our portfolio companies Variantyx (a provider of unique platform solutions for whole genome sequencing and analysis) and Alike (a platform for patients that allows individuals to access and analyze their medical data and connect with other similar people) . We're also excited to be part of this ecosystem and lead the thought leadership within it.

How should investors in other cities feel about the general investment climate and opportunities in your city?
The health innovation ecosystem in Israel is thriving. There are incredible entrepreneurs and opportunities with global potential and reach that global investors should know about.

Do you expect more founders from regions outside of the big cities to spike in the coming years, with start-up hubs losing people due to the pandemic and the ongoing concerns and appeal of remote working?
We are witnessing a stronger payoff in Israel to some extent, but there is still a strong incentive to band together in hubs and we anticipate Tel Aviv and the central area in Israel will continue to dominate the appeal for strong teams .

In which industry segments you are investing in do you look weaker or are you more exposed to potential changes in consumer and business behavior due to COVID-19?

Hospitals have seen a sharp decline in voting procedures and a general disruption to their operations and budgets. Startups that are able to adopt new technology to make this shift efficient and painless can benefit from the current trend.

How has COVID-19 affected your investment strategy? What are the main concerns of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
For the healthcare industry, COVID-19 has brought challenges – but also opportunities. Overall, we believe that our businesses (and the industry at large) will benefit from the relocation as stakeholders adopt changes more quickly that previously took much longer. We recommend our – and all – portfolio companies to prepare for the days after COVID and to consider which changes in their specific segment will last and "stay here".

What's one moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal, or a mixture of both.
When the first person in the UK – a 90 year old woman – received the vaccine. Hopefully a turning point for the whole world.