Entrepreneurs often ask me “What is the secret to transforming a technology idea to the venture capital stage?” When I answer “Business Networking,” they are often surprised.
Sonya Davidson is a great example of an entrepreneur who has successfully used business networking as a tool to develop her company. As one of Israel’s top energy companies, H2 Energy Now was chosen to take part in the New York Venture Summit called “Where Innovation Meets Capital.” The company used the opportunity to strengthen its presentations and make connections for the future.
H2 Energy Now, a company focused on creating hydrogen and storing the energy for future use, started its journey to the NY Venture Summit on a positive note after having been chosen out of almost 15,000 companies — including other Israeli companies like Clinch Labs, HeraMed, and Vocal Zoom Systems. Some of the companies they beat out to represent Israel at the Summit were founded in France, Germany, Sweden, the United States of America, and more.
H2 Energy Now’s President Sonya Davidson said, “As you can see from the participants and countries represented, this is quite an accomplishment for a Be’er Sheva start-up company. You work very hard to develop a business. If it is a high tech product that might involve a lot of research both online and in the library, it often includes finding innovative solutions to overcome the challenges that arise.”
Davidson worked with advisers from The Jerusalem Business Networking Forum to prepare for the summit. She attributes much of her success to JBNF’s business adviser Michael Horesh. He helped Davidson prepare and gain confidence for the summit. “Self-confidence is important to putting yourself out on a world stage,” she said. “I learned to present my product and company better because of the feedback [from JBNF]. Networking is a skill I use at JBNF, and it is even more critical when you are on a national stage like the conference.”
During the course on the first day at the Summit, companies heard a panel discussion, gave presentations, and heard feedback from investors. “Investors have a different way of looking at companies and products they will consider to invest in. That often means learning to speak their language of risk avoidance and showing what you have overcome,” said Davidson. “You learn first by increasing the level of your presentation. By taking feedback from Venture Capitalists, changing your presentation, and making adjustments, you learn to tell a better story.”
On the second day, H2 Energy Now received the chance to share their improved presentations again during a conference with over 650 participants from around the world. Davidson said the companies were given seven minutes and that was plenty of time for H2Energy to shine.
She took a lot away from the conference. She said attending allowed the company to reach a goal. “You on occasion reach a milestone. I envision my company to become big enough to be traded on Wall Street.” She also said that she learned about becoming a better presenter and a better listener. “At a two day conference like this, you have many opportunities, and you present your elevator pitch to many investors. Your self-confidence is the start, but your courage is also needed to sell your vision, company, and product to a stranger. It was competing with some of the best in the world.”
“We have had some success as a result of the conference. We are in negotiations with two potential investors in our company. The first is a large, worldwide company which could become both a strategic partner and whose contacts within the energy storage industry will be very helpful. The second would be an investment by a company with many contacts within the industry to enable us to reach round B and C funding just based upon their connections,” Davidson said.
The company also received an engineer from the Jerusalem Start-up network. She will work with the H2Energy to commercialize its product. The company is also talking with universities in hopes of finding a strategic partner to help them move from a principal product proof to a commercial product.
With the help of JBNF and the NY Summit, Davidson and her company are making a steady growth in the business world. H2Energy is on the path to becoming one of Israel’s latest Start-up Nation success story. As Davidson notes “When you believe in yourself, you never know where you will end up.”