Posted on Monday, Mar 12th 2012
During today’s roundtable, we partnered with Microsoft Israel and the Israel Startup Network, to work with 10 companies. Below is a recap of the pitches, followed by the announcement of the winners of the three scholarships.
As I worked with the entrepreneurs today, a couple of recurring gaps became apparent: (a) lack of thorough competitive analysis and positioning and (b) imprecise segmentation. Many of the entrepreneurs are operating in highly competitive market segments, and these gaps HAVE to be filled ASAP.
First, Racheli Levkovich pitched Zuznow, a solution for turning websites into mobile compatible formats. Racheli has started signing up paying customers, but this is an example of an intensely crowded market, and there needs to be a clear strategy on how Zuznow will be navigating it. Currently, no market penetration segment has been identified. It needs to be.
Next, Tsfrir Lahav pitched IT Analyzer, a datacenter analytics solution that promises heavy duty ROI numbers based on a year of being in the market and selling to a handful of early customers. Tsfrir is looking into penetrating the U.S. market, and again, a thorough competitive analysis is needed to be able to identify what eco-system partners could act as channel partners.
Then Ophir Zardok pitched Evento, an event marketing and management platform using social media. Ophir has deep domain knowledge and an unfair advantage in sports event marketing, so I advised him to focus his market entry segment on sports. We have work to do in defining the go-to-market strategy based on the size and the sales cycle of the target customer base, including penetrating the U.S. market. Ophir had questions about business models – precisely, he is being offered different business model suggestions by different potential investors – and wanted to know my opinion. Well, my opinion is to ignore investors and validate the business model and pricing model based on customer feedback.
Then Nir Cohen pitched SociaLasso, a social media conversation analysis concept. As Nir pointed out in his presentation, the market for social media marketing is projected to grow to $3.1 billion by 2014. And as is customary in any large market, the level of competition is intense. Nir’s current pitch doesn’t have enough teeth to win in this crowded market. There is a lot of work to do.
Next, Yoni Avital pitched Smart-X, a virtualized end-point management solution that already has 5,000+ free users. This is a very interesting company, and the go-to-market strategy for it will need to be defined soon based on a thorough analysis of the usage patterns and the demographics of the free users. And, of course, competitive positioning will be an essential piece of the process.
Erez Mizrachi pitched KidsCash, a payment solution for parents to give kids pre-paid currency with which to play games and participate in virtual worlds. Erez has signed up an early list of merchants who are interested in rolling out KidsCash as a solution. My biggest question mark on this concept is how to get to the parents? Ultimately, the success of the business depends on marketing the solution to the parents, not to the kids. But the 33 million users that they now have access to through about 19 merchants are all kids.
Then Ilan Yaniv pitched ProductionMap, an Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) solution. Again, ALM is yet another intensely crowded market, so Ilan needs to figure out the eco-system map and the competitive landscape and identify potential partners for whom he can fill a gap, enough to warrant using them as channels. Microsoft is a potential channel partner here, according to Ilan.
Then Katya Goldstein pitched Evolita, a data visualization technology that she says can be used by everybody from large company C-level executives, to students, to bloggers. Well, maybe. But that ain’t how you build a business, Katya.
Gil Sadis pitched Licensario, a software subscription license management and payment solution that sounded like a competitor to Chargify, Plimus, etc. to me. Plimus, for example, has over 7,000 users. I wasn’t convinced about the differentiation yet. Needs work.
Finally, Gev Rotem pitched RotaryView, an image viewing platform for e-commerce, whereby merchants can display 360 degree views of their products. Gev will need to define whether he wants to go to market in the high end or in the low end and accordingly, work with e-commerce software vendors who can OEM the technology.
And now, the winners of the Microsoft Israel scholarships are:
-Ophir Zardok @Evento
-Yoni Avital @Smart-X
-Ilan Yaniv @ProductionMap
The 1M/1M team looks forward to working with you! I would especially like to thank Arlene Marom, Gilad Steinberger, Raya Volinsky, and Donna Abraham for pulling this dynamic event together.
You can listen to the recording of today’s roundtable here. As always, I would very much like to hear about your business, so let me invite you to come and pitch at one of our free 1M/1M public roundtables. We will be holding future roundtables on:
Thursday, March 15, 9 a.m. PDT: Register Here.
Thursday, April 12, 8 a.m. PDT: Register Here.
Thursday, April 19, 8 a.m. PDT: Register Here.
Thursday, April 26, 8 a.m. PDT: Register Here.
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This segment is a part in the series : Roundtable Recap
. August 28 - Interesting Businesses Amidst End Of Summer Blues . August 14 - Be Careful About Funding Assumptions . August 7 - You Can’t Have The Cake And Eat It Too . July 31 - Does Your Idea Scale? . July 17 - Avoid Pipe Dreams, Look for Pragmatic Solutions . July 10 - Beware of Free Loaders! . June 26 - USA Qualifies in 2014 World Cup Soccer . June 19 - Please Articulate Your Investment Thesis . June 12 - Celebrating Freshdesk’s $31M Series D Funding . May 29 - Get A Diagnostic On FundabilityMore »» . May 22 - Homework Is Key . May 8 - Discussion On UltraLight Startups . May 1 - Women, Children and Entrepreneurship . April 10 - Chisel Your Raw Ideas To Find a Viable Positioning . April 24 - Series A Pitch Needs Clarity On Hard Numbers . March 27 - Bootstrapping Using a Paycheck Trend . March 20 - Spotlight on Penn Students . March 6 - You’re Never Too Old To Startup . February 27 - Confidentiality is Overrated . February 20 - In The Wake of WhatsApp . 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August 19 - Niche E-Commerce Is Great For Bootstrapping . August 5 - Paying Customers =>Validation =>Valuation . July 29 - Startups In Malaysia . July 22 - Bootstrap Using Services . July 15 - A Market Of Late Adopters . July 8 - The EJ Methodology . July 1 - Get Your Pricing Model Validated . June 24 – Three Startups That Can Hit One Million Dollars . June 17 – Online Education Startups . June 10 – Efficient Targeting . June 3 – Defining Market Segments . May 27 – Is The Venture Worth Your Time? . May 20 – Validation, Validation, Validation . May 6 – Defining Value Proposition . April 29 – Finding The Right Direction . April 22 – The Original Runners . April 15 – Small Is OK; The Goal Is Profitability . April 8 – A Focus On E-Commerce . April 1 – Bootstrapping Tips . March 25 – A Mixed Bag Of Advice