Meet the Israeli woman building bridges to connect Israeli innovation to the world.
Most of us hear far more about blockbuster start-ups such as WhatsApp and Uber than the companies working behind the scenes to help them get onto their feet. Magma Venture Partners, based partially in New York City and Tel Aviv, does just that; offering the investments, guidance, and networking resources to allow world-changing ideas to break through and, just as important, reach foreign markets.
To date, its most well-known project has been Waze, the interactive GPS app, which achieved a high degree of popularity around the world and was sold to Google for over $1 billion. Inbar Haham is no stranger to phenomenal success for Israeli innovation, as she is also a veteran of the team that designed and launched the acclaimed Website builder, Wix. Inbar then moved on to Magma VC’s team, where she currently serves as head of business development and shared some of her thoughts on the secrets to Israeli tech’s success.
“I would define Israelis in three words”, she says: “independent, opinionated and assertive. Chutzpa isn’t necessarily a bad thing. CEOs have to make so many critical decisions every day that being possessive and assertive, taking charge of a situation can be extremely valuable.”
Inbar was referring to the business scene, where the ability to seize opportunities and implement innovation is critical to success. She believes that Israeli’s possessiveness and readiness to take charge of a situation lends the Jewish State an edge over other markets. She believes the vibrant tech scene in Israel is a driving force behind the nation’s meteoric rise to prominence as a global hi-tech leader.
“Tel Aviv has a much brighter tech scene, which is comparable to Silicon Valley than New York. New York was known mainly as a financial city until the last few years, and the tech sector is only just developing. In Tel Aviv, everything is built around tech, the whole makeup of the city. Something is always happening.”
Though she couldn’t share too many details of specific projects, she shared a few of the firm’s investment principals.
“We are looking for two things: A great idea and a great team. Once we have those two things, we are interested in both financing the program and offering our support. The main thing is to contribute and offer guidance without interrupting the team’s creative process. A major event in our company is the annual CEO’s gathering. We feel it’s a huge help to bring together industry leaders who can network and help each other grow.”
The business, Inbar explains, has actually changed significantly since the venture capital firm was launched.
“We started off investing in semiconductors and mainframe conductors, but the as time went on, we have focused increasingly on social media apps. We deal with Information Communications Technology, (ICT). Today, a major emphasis is on cloud-based technology. Our focus is on projects that have some connection to Israel, where one of the founders is Israeli or the company is heavily based there.”
Inbar Haham is a member of AlmaLinks New York and Head of Business Development for Magma Venture Partners.