Last June, I met up with Techstars co-founder, David Cohen, at their program in Berlin.
I asked him when Techstars would be opening in Israel. While he could not share the news, plans were being laid for what would become a Fintech / CyberSecurity centric program that would be sponsored by Barclays.
Fast forward later into 2015, where in advance of the Tel Aviv Startup Challenge, I interviewed Greg Rogers, who is the Managing Director for the program that has locations in New York, London, Cape Town, and now, Tel Aviv. Like David, Greg should not share any news, but it became apparent to me that something might be in the works.
Then, in November of last year, Techstars held their grand opening event to announce the opportunity to apply to their Tel Aviv program.
Not only does Barclays have the Techstars program (Barclays is running the accelerator with Techstars), it also has a community called Rise, which is also housed at each facility. By tapping into startups and the broader community at large, Barclays is helping to foster and discover innovation that could be brought into its vast financial enterprises and initiatives around the world.
I’ve following Techstars for many years, and even where I am based in San Antonio, it’s the home to Techstars Cloud, another program focused on… you guessed it: all things cloud. Housed at Geekdom, the largest collaborative workspace in the State of Texas, Techstars Cloud has already graduated three classes.
The new class is in Tel Aviv is currently under way, and are housed at Mindspace, one of the coolest workspaces in Israel.
Barclays built out two floors for the program and I am thrilled to be a remote mentor now, through May 16, and then an in-person mentor when I return to the Israel, and staying through Demo Day, on the evening of June 22.
As with any program, it takes great and incredibly dedicated people to run a program of this magnitude. Liron Rose, Yasmin Nachum, and Mark Lazar work as an incredible startup trio running and operating the program.
They had to to curate the right companies and teams that require both buy-in from both the Techstars and Barclays teams. And even with the teams selected there is the selection of mentors, related support staff known as Associates, and keeping the program running on a day-to-day basis with the goal of getting the companies ready for demo day on June 22.
I’ve met most of the companies in an initial, introductory mentoring session via skype and will continue this way until my arrival in one month.
There are ten companies who come from Israel, London, Berlin, and New York in areas as diverse as international payments, remittance and malware detection.
When getting to know the companies, I have to keep in mind that many times they are solving problems, and connecting the dots in regions of the world that may not use financial services or even use banking the way I do. There are also challenges – and vast market opportunities that don’t always require the latest version of a smart phone or the fastest and latest network infrastructure and speeds, yet need technology, security, and brand.
I’ll be posting more stories in the future as the class evolves, and of course, from Demo Day.
If you want to see what the future of Fintech and CyberSecurity might look like, follow the program, the wonderful leadership, and the terrific people on the teams who are part this dynamic and inspiring program in this amazing region of the world.