Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem Blog

In addition to my work as a business coach, one of my interests is blogging about life in Israel. This is a country full of contrasts – over eight million citizens living in an area the size of Wales. You can see snow and the lowest place on the globe in the same day. Although surrounded by geopolitical extremes, Israel has achieved a decade of high economic growth. My work brings me in contact with an array of new companies, exciting technologies and dynamic characters. Sitting back with a relaxing cup of strong tea (with milk), you realise just how much there is to appreciate in the Holyland. Large or small operations, private sector or non profit, my clients provide experiences from which others can learn and benefit.

About once a year, I publish a full article that has been posted elsewhere. As we are in mid-December, I feel it is finally time to ‘honour that tradition’ in 2020.

The financial newspaper in Israel, Globes, has just announced their annual award for the most promising start up of the year. Congratulations to Bizzabo!

However, such announcements always prompts the question: Whatever happened to last year’s success stories, especially as one might expect covid-19 to have a negative impact?

Globes has not disappointed. Below you will find a list of the top ten performers in 2019, startups that “were able to surmount the obstacles, get back on track, and even prosper,” this year.

I encourage you to read on and learn how they overcame the roadblocks:

No sooner had the year begun, when IoT security company Armis (fourth place) announced on January 7 that it was being acquired by venture capital fund Insight Partners for $1.1 billion. It was an unusual model for an exit being acquired by a venture capital fund. In effect it was a large secondary deal with the founders and employees realizing some of their shares and the company continues to operate independently.

Armis was forced to develop a product that could be installed remotely and after a weak second quarter, activities recovered and they are set to end 2020 more or less realizing their original forecasts.

Last year’s top ranked startup of the year was DriveNets, which has developed cloud software for communications networks infrastructure. DriveNets, founded by CEO Ido Susan and chief strategy officer Hillel Kobrinsky also had to find alternative ways for installing its solutions on customer’s networks. But the company enjoyed high demand from the start because of the changing ways in which Internet networks were being used – the shift to home working and studying made existing networks inefficient because they were built on the major part of capacity being within the office.

DriveNets made it possible to manage networks more flexibly and communication companies understood that this solution was needed by them. DriveNets also announced during 2020 that the core network of AT&T would be based on its technology.

Last year’s most promising startup runner-up JoyTunes, which has developed an app for learning the piano, also benefitted from the Covid-19 crisis from the very start. By April, JoyTunes had surpassed its annual target and in a June interview with “Globes” CEO Yuval Kaminka said, “Coronavirus uncovered something that in fact we knew that people really want to learn.” It’s clear that they will invest less time when they return to routine, he added, but somebody who has discovered that they love to do something will invest more time afterwards.

Third placed Fabric also benefitted from the pandemic. The company builds urban supply chains for retail in city center warehouses operated by robots. Fabric said the company enjoys high demand but operations are still in the relatively early stages although it has opened its first warehouse in New York.

Fifth placed Verbit, which develops technology for automatic transcripts and captioning, raised $60 million last month, to bring the total it has raised to $126 million and said that revenue has risen 400% over the past year.

Sixth placed Trigo, which develops technology allowing stores to dispense with checkout tills, said that it has met its targets in 2020 despite Covid-19, despite the shift in purchases from brick and mortar stores to online, in part because people are reluctant to wait in link at checkout because of the need to social distance.

Seventh placed Papaya Global, which has developed a payroll and payments automation platform, completed a $40 million financing round and has raised $95 million since it was founded.

Eighth placed, which has developed an open code based data analysis system for programmers that can identify errors, raised $23 million, after raising $52 million in 2019, and has raised a total of $120 million.

Ninth placed Wiliot, which has developed a battery-free Bluetooth chip, has also enjoyed heightened interest during the Covid-19 crisis because of the increased amount of deliveries and the need to track the consignments that are sent. Medical deliveries for example require tracking to ensure that chilled temperatures are maintained.

Tenth placed Duality Technologies, which has developed technology for analysis of encrypted data, said that it continues to grow and has imposed no layoffs or salary cuts.


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