Long known as the Startup Nation, Israel continues to live up to its name. Despite having a population only the size of Virginia's, Israel remains, year after year, one of the leading global tech hotspots. In the first nine months of 2016, Israeli startups raised $4 billion, putting the country on pace for a record year. The holy land's tech sector shows no signs of slowing down, thanks to a new class of leading startups that are poised to make big moves in 2017. Here are 20 Israeli tech companies to keep an eye on this year.
As drones fill the skies, collisions could become a menace. Arbe Robotics was founded last year to solve this problem. The company equips drones with super-lightweight radar hardware that runs on proprietary software which consumes very little power. Arbe's co-founder and CEO claims that there is no other drone radar technology currently on the market. Additionally, he says, radar has much better range and resolution than the optical systems that currently help some drones avoid collisions. Barely out of stealth mode, Arbe was founded last year and is attempting to scale up in anticipation of rapid growth in the commercial drone market.
Bought by Snap Inc. in a surprise acquisition at the end of 2016, Cimagine is likely to grow quickly this year. The startup's 20-person team in Israel created an augmented reality platform that allows retailers to show 3D models of products to consumers in their own homes. Furniture retailers have taken a particular interest since the tool gives potential buyers greater confidence that a couch or table will look good in their home. Now that Cimagine is backed by Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, the startup's technology could find new applications, such as in 3D social media filters or virtual reality. Cimagine is also likely to become a Snap R&D center in Israel, which would add one more bona fide to the startup nation's tech credentials.
As users are increasingly tuning out banner ads, brands are migrating towards smarter, more targeted ad units: native ones. A native ad fits the form and style of the publisher in which it appears, and brings more personalized targeting, value and engagement. That's where Connatix comes in. It is a native engine that helps advertisers find the most relevant digital properties to place their native ads, while reducing costs -- and allows publishers to earn revenue and host relevant ads. Based in New York and Israel, Connatix has exploded in revenue according to CEO David Kashak, and has signed on clients including American Express, Bank of America and Delta.
The tools available to IT departments have not evolved as fast as the demands placed on them. ControlUp seeks to fill the void. Its software can monitor every aspect of a company's virtual environment and leverages the wisdom of the crowd to bring IT insights that can cut customers' costs and improve efficiencies. The platform detects problems and, in some cases, can solve them on its own. When that's not possible, it flags issues for technicians. The technology is a lifesaver for overmatched IT pros. ControlUp has received a total of $5.7 million in funding to fuel continued growth. The company now has over 500 corporate customers.
Imagine finding a shirt you like in a brick-and-mortar store. Now imagine that before buying it, you feel compelled to leave the shop and ask a bunch of friends what they think. According to Smadar Landau, the founder and CEO of Feelter, this is essentially what happens when people shop online. After finding something of interest, many consumers visit Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, and other sites, to research it. The wide-ranging research actually decreases the chance of completing the purchase. Feelter offers e-retailers a solution: a plug-in that pulls reviews and anecdotes from social media sites onto the page of an online store. That way shoppers don't have to leave. The concept has won fans among retailers and investors alike. Feelter won the G-Startup Worldwide competition in September, and raised a $2 million Series A round of funding last November.
Determined to become a leader in commercial drone delivery, Flytrex has created a cloud-based drone system that includes both the drones themselves and the software that controls them. Flytrex's boss insists he is not interested in a quick exit, but rather intends to shape the nascent drone delivery market for a long time to come. In a pilot project with the Ukrainian postal service, Flytrex's technology has performed as promised, safely delivering packages to consumers. The next step may be corporate partnerships. The Tel Aviv-based startup closed its first venture capital round, totalling $3 million, in January.
Like ocean traffic data, pricing in the trillion-dollar freight industry has long been opaque. Most quotes are still generated manually and turnaround can take several days. It is still a remarkably analog process for 2017. Freightos generates quotes instantly, in a way that would be familiar to anyone who has shopped for airplane tickets online. The company also offers an enterprise-grade dashboard for managing shipping costs, tariffs, and invoices. Founded in 2012 and based in Jerusalem, Freightos got started with almost $2 million raised from OurCrowd, a crowdfunding site for accredited investors. Since then it has raised millions more from venture capital firms. It has used the funding to drive international growth and to acquire a Spanish competitor, WebCargoNet, last August.
Glassbox enables its customers, mainly large enterprises, to replay website sessions in order to capture customer experience analytics. The replays, which Glassbox can analyze for trends, gives companies an unparalleled view into how customers interact with a site - such as why leads are not converting or which struggles are most common. For businesses looking to understand how visitors are interacting with their site - and optimize the process - this is a holy grail of data. Founded in 2010 in Israel and now headquartered in London, Glassbox has grown quickly. It counts Visa and prominent Israeli financial services firms among its clients. It raised its first round of venture capital funding-- $5.5 million--in 2015 to support global expansion.
Infinidat, a data storage startup, makes some big claims. Its system has only three seconds of downtime per year; it uses a third of the power of competitors' products; and it's priced at about half the market rate. Infinidat touts its hybrid flash and spinning disk systems as the next generation of storage. Venture backers, including TPG Growth, are buying in, pushing the company's valuation to more than $1 billion with investments totaling $230 million. Infinidat will need the cash because its long term plan is take on and beat storage giants, such as EMC and IBM.
For brands, social media networks have never quite lived up to their potential. Company pages on social networks are mostly one-directional: the brand communicates to the consumer. On top of this, companies often have to pay to engage with users who like their posts. Memeni seeks to solve the problem by taking the company page out of the social network. The American-Israeli startup converts a company's existing social media presence into a white-label community that the company controls, and in which it can engage more freely and richly with its customers. Founded in 2012, Memeni raised $2.5 million last year from angel investors.
In an attempt to move beyond Google Maps, Moovit not only maps public transport routes but also monitors them in real time. In more than 1,000 cities, Moovit tells users if subway line are closed or if buses are delayed, and can provide alternate routes. The app runs on Android, iOS and Windows mobile, making it accessible to almost anyone with a smartphone. Unlike Waze, a driving app that sold itself to Google, Moovit intends to stand alone. Investors, including heavy hitter Sequoia Capital, have provided the funds to make this possible. As of January 2015, the Israeli company had raised more than $80 million. In November of that year, the company closed another round of funding for an undisclosed amount.
A hack of a high-ranking executive's phone could cost a big corporation millions in lost information and cybersecurity countermeasures. Sirin Labs is betting that companies will be willing to pay a small fraction of that amount to decrease the chances of a breach. Sirin's new mobile phone, called Solarin, will retail for less than $20,000 and includes cybersecurity technology not available on the open market. The company's founders hope to capture a tiny sliver of the global mobile phone market, perhaps selling only thousands of phones a year. But with high margins, the business model could prove lucrative. So far the British-Israeli startup has raised $97 million from investors including Singulariteam, an Israeli venture capital firm.
By adding organic compounds to traditional lithium-ion batteries, StoreDot has created a charging system that can fully refuel a smartphone in minutes. By all accounts the technology works. The only obstacle to rolling it out is adoption. The system requires a new kind of charging port and a non-standard charger. So the only shot StoreDot has is partnering with an OEM. The company seems to have worked this kink out. Samsung became an investor and may incorporate StoreDot's technology into a production run of a smartphones this year. If that happens, expect an arms race in phone charging technology--and a payday for StoreDot's investors.
Last November, Syqe Medical, a manufacturer of a cannabis inhaler, signed a deal with pharmaceuticals giant Teva. According to the Times of Israel, the deal marked the first time a major pharma company agreed to market cannabis. The deal was a coup for Syqe. Founded in 2011, the Tel Aviv-based startup already sold its product to a hospital in Haifa. But the Teva deal could give it much broader reach this year. For the moment, Teva has announced plans to distribute the inhaler throughout Israel. International expansion could come as a second phase of the partnership. The Teva deal marked the second time in 2016 that Syqe aligned itself with a major multinational. Last January, Phillip Morris International invested between twenty and thirty million dollars in the startup.
A cybersecurity think tank, incubator, and investor, Team8 turns the usual tech model on its head. Rather than looking for promising companies to nurture and fund, Team8 looks for problems. To solve an identified problem, Team8 brings together entrepreneurs and experts to create a new company from scratch. Founded by a former head of an elite Israeli military intelligence unit, Team8 has spun off several successful cybersecurity firms, including Claroty, which emerged from stealth mode last September with a $32 million funding round. High-profile investors, including Microsoft and Qualcomm, see promise in Team8's concept and have contributed to the $58 million the firm has raised since 2014.
Touch of Modern, an online retailer, has a rotating cast of hundreds of suppliers. Seeking Alpha, a web publisher, works with hundreds of writers around the globe. Both companies use Tipalti to manage their massive volume of global payments. Tipalti's software automates the payments process, from processing invoices to disbursing cash. It also keeps running tabs on regulations and tax law to make sure companies maintain compliance. Tipalti claims that its technology can replace up to 80% of the labor associated with supplier payments. This value proposition has created a stir. GoPro and Vimeo are just a couple of the household names now using Tipalti. Meanwhile, venture capital firms have poured money in, most recently in a $14 million Series B round that closed last September.
A lot of tech startups claim to be the Uber of whatever business they hope to disrupt. Vroom is the rare company to actually have a pretty strong claim to this label. It sells used cars in an undeniably Uber-like way: open an app, hit buy, and a car will arrive at your door. Vroom has a vast inventory of used cars for sale and it delivers them quickly and for free to much of the United States. After delivery, a buyer gets a week to test drive the car with the option of sending it back at no charge. Vroom sets itself apart from competitors such as CarMax by actually owning and refurbishing the cars it sells. That's why free delivery and returns are possible. The company claims it brought in $900 million of revenue in 2015. Investors are betting on quick growth. So far the Israeli-American startup has raised almost $220 million of venture capital funding.
Around 10 billion tons of goods are transported by sea every year. But, by the standards of modern data, the oceans remained a black box until recently. Data was fragmented--with hundreds of agencies and corporations around the world storing their own tiny slivers of the overall picture. Windward is changing this. Based in Tel Aviv, Windward compiles global data on ocean traffic and organizes and analyzes it. Its clients include government security agencies combating smuggling and investment firms studying commodity flows. Founded in 2010, Windward has raised $16 million in fundraising rounds led by Aleph and Horizons Ventures.
Wise Data Media
The perennial challenge of web advertising is serving the right ads to the right users. Irrelevant ads waste money on both sides of the transaction: the advertiser's dollars are misspent and the publisher misses an opportunity to collect a fee for a click. Wise Data Media's algorithms help advertisers and publishers solve the problem by building detailed user profiles that are portable across devices and sites. The result is efficiently priced ads that are much more carefully targeted. The Tel Aviv-based company is a lean operation run by founder Tomer Sade. It launched with $1.5 million of seed capital in 2013 and as of early this month, was acquired.
Zebra predicts that as the global population ages and more people enter the middle class, demand for medical imaging diagnosis will outstrip the supply of radiologists. Using machine learning, Zebra has created an algorithm that it says can help meet the excess demand and improve diagnostic accuracy. The first application of the technology is for detecting breast cancer in mammograms. In the future, Zebra intends to teach its algorithms to diagnose other diseases, as well. The technology has attracted a wide range of investors from Marc Benioff, the billionaire Salesforce founder, to healthcare-focused venture capital funds.