Just about every day, I am at another workspace, accelerator, startup, meet-up, or one-on-one session with a couple of entrepreneurs who have a gleam in their eyes about building something out of nothing.
It’s not always about having a startup, or making money; it’s about a sense of purpose and will that I find is unique here in Israel.
I see various approaches, different missions, and in some sense, varying ideals. What remains core to what I see here is something that I can only define as purpose.
Don’t get me wrong.
You have to be accountable for what you do.
And when you are using other people’s money to do make something out of nothing, then at the end of the day… well, you are doing something in the vein of business.
A few months ago, I started to meet with Mika Josting.
Mika has been part of the ecosystem here in Israel, having run The Junction and freelanced on several startup organizational gigs. Mika is very smart, a bit feisty, and very purpose driven.
Recently, she reached out to me to let me know that she was joining an accelerator started and entirely funded by Entrée Capital and supported by Yahoo! Israel as the lead sponsor. Aviad Eyal and Eran Beilski represent the team from Entrée Capital and Ido Yablonka represents Yahoo!.
Collectively, the team is an interesting mix of hard-core serial entrepreneurship, venture capital, and one of the world’s leading consumer technology brands.
Aviad’s idea behind the SigmaLabs accelerator was to raise the bar a bit by helping to expand the ecosystem and offer a unique flavor and secret sauce through the ‘for founders by founders’ program, and access to Yahoo’s data sets, key executives, and product managers.
Think of it as having your own R&D house inside your startup that can help you rapidly apply and test your thesis about your startup and baseline it against massive data sets.
SigmaLabs was born in September of this year, with a focus on startups in Big Data, Native and Video Advertising, and Fintech, operating from the Moshe Aviv Tower in Ramat Gan, which is Tel Aviv’s downtown area.
Each time I have visited the office, there’s always been a guest speaker with the teams huddled in the open area listening to, and gaining insight from someone who’s been there and done that. In the work areas, teams are collaborating, coding, and building.
SigmaLabs curates and grows startups for a three-month period and gives the team another month of access post graduation while they find their own home. It’s a pretty standard fare, with a few exceptions:
SigmaLabs does not require founders to give it equity.
SigmaLabs (and Entrée) is ok if you raise funds from another group of investors that may fit your team better.
SigmaLabs works on a ‘pay it forwards’ model where graduates of the program commit to contribute to future classes of startups and have the option to contribute equity back to the accelerator.
You don’t have to work with Yahoo!, if it’s not a good fit.
So what’s in it individually and collectively for Entrée Capital and Yahoo!?
Simple: the desire to grow great startups here in Israel with the core belief that the right team, the right company, with the right fit, will make for an ideal partnership for all and adds value to the Yahoo and Entrée brands..
On the horizon, the team at SigmaLabs has a vision to replicate their model in other regions of Israel, and will offer a graduate program in New York and London.
It’s in that spirit that makes SigmaLabs yet another example of the sense of purpose that makes Startup Nation, none other than StartupNation.
The team at SigmaLabs are now curating for the next class for 2016. The deadline to apply is December 30. If you think you have the right stuff, apply here.