Over the years, several creative approaches have been developed to connect American and Israeli companies by the organizations whose missions are to promote these business and economic relationships.  They have included the industry-specific Business Exchange model that brings Israeli companies around a specific sector to a U.S. city to meet potential partners, investors, and customers.  Then there are major U.S. trade shows attended by Israeli delegations where the chambers, economic consuls, and BIRD Foundation work hard to arrange meetings for the visiting Israelis.  And probably most effective are the U.S. business delegations to Israel for industry conferences such as the recent MIXiii.

For the most part, the Israeli delegation visits take place in major American cities that host the trade shows and/or are home to Israel-related organizations.  They are often cost prohibitive for the participants, and the smaller communities miss out entirely.  The majority of “Economic Zionists” have not, until now, had the opportunity to participate in connecting to the Start Up Nation.

That’s why I’m so excited about the latest creative vehicle to bring together Israeli and American companies and investors.  “The Next Great Israeli Innovation” uses online technologies to make these introductions.  The brainchild of Seattle-based consultant Guy Nadivi, this concept uses webcast technology offered through Israel-based Watchitoo to enable three pre-selected Israeli companies to present their offerings to a wide American audience that can be located anywhere geographically as long as participants are near a computer.

The idea was hatched by Guy, a board member with the Washington Israel Business Council (WIBC), following his volunteer assignment to arrange meetings for Israeli companies with Washington companies attending the RSA Conference in San Francisco.  In preparation for that show, the Israel Economic Mission had arranged for the Israeli company delegation members to present themselves via webcast.  “Why not feature Israeli companies on a regular basis through this technology?” speculated Nadivi.  He developed a proposal that was accepted, on a trial basis, by Gili Ovadia, Head of the Israel Economic and Trade Mission to the West Coast and Nili Shalev, Israel’s Economic Minister to North America based at the Mission in New York.

On May 13th, “The Next Great Israeli Innovation” had its debut webcast featuring Connesta, Hyperactivate, and Wibbitz, three exciting New Media companies from Israel. Invitations for this trial run had been extended nationally through the economic consuls, chambers, and BIRD Foundation, and about 30 people participated. The Israelis presented their technologies, business cases, and action items to the American audience. Guy moderated, and online questions were answered by the Israeli CEOs. It was exciting to see connections being made right on the spot. Following the presentations and Q&A, audience members were asked, in American Idol fashion, to vote online for their choice of the Israeli company with the next great innovation, and there was a virtual tie among the three presenting companies.

Most participants felt that the presentation technology and interactive features were quite effective. Feedback indicated that in future webcasts, the Israeli company presentations could be more structured with very specific action items. Wish lists of US companies and investors could be created in advance to ensure more potential “tachlis”. It also would be helpful to know who, from the American invitees, was online.

The organizers are so encouraged by the trial run that decision has been made to make The Next Great Israeli Innovation webcast a monthly event. The next one, to feature three Israeli Cyber Security companies, is expected to take place in July. Times of Israel readers interested in participating are encouraged to contact Guy Nadivi (gnadivi@gmail.com).

I see The Next Great Israeli Innovation as a very effective and efficient tool to connect Israeli companies to potential partners, investors, customers, and distributors in the U.S. as well as “Economic Zionists”, as Guy Nadivi calls them, from all over the country, desiring to be part of the Start Up Nation.  Congratulations to Guy, Gili, and Nili on this very excellent beginning!