(I'm late after everyone with this follow up, so it's kinda old news. Anyway, thought it's still worth to shell some notes about the concept and the participating companies).
Great venue, cool surprise with Shimon Peres
The event itself was very well organised, with nice atmosphere and cool reception area. A nice addition to the agenda was obviously the keynote from Shimon Peres, which resonated most of his Leweb 3.0 speech (See full video of Leweb speech in English). I recommend watching it, as it includes many notions that weren't presented on TWS, especially the last parts where he addresses the potential of Cleantech and Africa - a subject I find myself interested in more and more lately (practically since this is really the next tech leap for Israel, which also bears a significant chance for Israel to take active part in advancing Africa).
I think it's the first time Peres is presenting his "Internet, Memory and the shifting Economics" vision in Hebrew, so big kudos to Yaron and Yami for arranging this opportunity. A video should be avail as well, soon.
The companies presentations
The main part of the event was a long run of about 2.5 hours, where each company had around 20 mins to present the product and talk about the big ideas they are delivering (or maybe 'Midwifing', see Peres video when he talks about La sage-femme). There was no fixed format, so we saw different approaches: some focusing solely on a "product tour" and some presenting the market potential with a beefy orientation to investors pitch.
Here are some quick notes on some of the presentations (not necessarily making them the best candidates, just that I'm lazy to write on all):
- MatchMyPet - described a vertical which I didn't even know had a real traction as they showed, which is pets matching and breeding. I only knew about the bulls competitions in the Kibbutz :) But their portal solution should integrate community, trading and matching capabilities, and should provide the first real online solution (as they claim), to this growing sector. I usually like strong vertical concepts, since they have good chance to hit a sweetspot and gain fast growth - but I'm quite clueless in assessing this opportunity. Let's see how it goes...
- G.ho.st - the Israeli player in the sleeky Virtual OS/Startpages sandbox (YouOS, Goowy etc.). The presentation was definitely one of the best, and got a nice 'wow' effect. You can go and play with it online - it's working very nice. The one thing I'm not sure about this kind of services is where does their promise goes beyond a "great flashy UI" and can really become a useful daily environment. Using parallel desktops, in my view, creates a redundancy that will eventually be cumbersome for the user. Because eventually you might want "One Desktop to rule them all" - and if you look at the coming dev tools like Apollo, Vista and MacOS, they are very much focused on allowing a quick dev of offline/online apps, placed on the single root desktop. Personally, I feel that it's easier to stay with one desktop, offline/online functionality and smart app grouping. Seems to me that tools like Desktopize, which is a contrast approach to YouOs and G.ho.st, could gain a higher adoption from users and developers. But I'd still be very happy if G.ho.st will succeed - as I learned from the Giza VC blog that this project is a joint Palestinian-Israeli venture, based in Ramallah and Jerusalem. We need these kind of projects to be successful - and I'm full of respect for the founders who decided to set up the company as such.
- iGiza - I'd rather look at them as a mix between vertical and SMB 2.0 - they offer a well designed business management suite for the MLM people. Now, I actually quite dislike (to say the least) MLM - I think it falls in the "sneaky/phishy" pot of trades, no matter what amazing stories are told about it. The whole growth model is based on a subtle deception, and hence I can't hold my restraint when I hear about traditional MLM business. However, it's a big market today, and more importantly, a very big community of traders that are zealous to increase their network and revenues. Here, iGiza's platform has a good potential, as it looks like a smart and useful organizer that addresses all the managerial gaps that MLM traders are facing. It's essentially a compact suite for freelance marketing, and I was impressed from the UI and design. So, good potential, real solution to a problem, but kinda in the bad guys yard :)
- Urbanseeder - some vivid screens of a typical garden have been shown, but the interesting thing was a subtle note at the end of the presentation about the features for relationship visualization. That it - how to represent graphically the current communication status between you and your contacts, so you can instantly get an indication where the communication is flourishing and where it's neglected. In this case, it was demonstrated using the plants graphics, which looked very nice and I saw it has drawn the attention of some people. This is however not the core functionality of the service, and I guess the seeders aren't planning to expand this concept at the mo, but nevertheless it's a fascinating avenue, which still hasn't been implemented properly in today's "social communicators" - whether social networks, IM, emails etc. As for the business model, it wasn't presented ,which I think was a good decision. I've been wondering recently about possible intersections between Urbanseeder and vFlyer - maybe there's a way to come up with a business model based on the two services..dunno.
The VC's take
Well, reps from almost all the active VC's in Israel attended the event, headed of course by Giza, who helped organising the event and was main sponsor. Shai from Giza shares his thoughts on the event, highlighting that probably only 1 or 2 of the companies could qualify as a viable VC investment. I tend to agree, but we are also seeing that many VC's are taking the lab/miniestadi approach and creating a side operation to handle typical web startups investments. See also Ouriel's summary.
As TechCrunch 20 is now open for submissions - I assume that maybe 2 projects could be relevant, though I'm not sure about the terms of being first exposed on T20.
Ok, we can't finish without some "oi nu" blurb. I think that the real miss of the event was the networking. I know Yaron and Yami have given a lot of thought to this and designed the name tags so people could see who's investor, but in the end it didn't work. After the presentations have ended, nobody really stayed for more than 30 mins, so basically there wasn't an effective entrepreneur/investor networking. For me and many others, this was the main target of the event, so it was a bit disappointing.
The no-english page in the website and no-english blog is also something I find a bit embarrassing. Again, I know that it's mainly due to lack of time. But I was surprised to hear from people in the event that they don't really care about this. Sometimes it's easy to sink into the "Israeli hood" and think that for a local event Hebrew only coverage is ok. It's not ok from many reasons, the main one is that we're just part of a global web business scene, and unlike the 90's web 1.0 era, when activity was very much in national silos, today the boundaries are almost transparent.
The Ego Corner
So here's the best part. The Co.ils honchos made a nice Web 2.0 A-Z poster, which was handed for free. I had a chance to contribute 2 terms there (many others were rejected :), and since I know Yaron is planning to sell those posters - I'm ready with the royalties calculator...
Ah last thing - the music in the breaks - man this was awful...why those Tiesto trance beats @#!%#$
Maybe next time consider something smoother, like:
|Señor Coconut - Smooth Operator|
|"Smooth Operator" 12''|
|Stylish latin sleaziness fused into a classic lounge tune|