20 Tech Innovators to Watch in 2018

20 Tech Innovators to Watch in 2018

In technology, huge changes happen every month. Here are 20 innovators that you’ll want to keep your eye on.

Machine learning, AI, predictive analytics, and other flourishing technologies are remaking the business landscape today. A brave new world is upon us, where every industry from agriculture to healthcare and commerce to advertising is innovating exponentially. The leaders and visionaries ushering in this exciting new era are the entrepreneurs behind the brilliant platforms being developed. Below are 20 innovative technology companies transforming their industries and moving the needle forward for all of us.

Argus Cybersecurity

A leader in a rapidly expanding market, Argus is a cybersecurity firm focused on cars. Just five years ago, the need for a company like Argus would have been marginal. But since the company’s founding in 2013, so many new cars have hit the road with “connected” features that car-hacking has become a pressing concern. When self-driving vehicles eventually make their way to consumers, car cybersecurity will take on even greater urgency. Based in Tel Aviv with offices in the U.S., Germany, and Japan, Argus works with car manufacturers and their suppliers. The company’s staff includes longtime cybersecurity experts as well as auto industry veterans who have helped to make Argus a go-to shop for cybersecurity on wheels.

BigCommerce

The dilemma for many e-tailers today is whether to focus on building their own online stores or dedicate themselves to selling through Amazon. BigCommerce allows them to do both with little incremental gain in cost and labor. BigCommerce builds and hosts online stores and provides the software to manage them. From the BigCommerce dashboard, retailers can manage listings, inventory, and payments in their own store as well as simultaneous listings with Amazon, Facebook, and eBay. The Austin-based company offers differentiated products–and pricing plans–for upstarts and high-volume brands, including Camelbak and Martha Stewart. Founded in 2009, the company has raised $155million from investors such as General Catalyst and American Express Ventures.

ControlUp

ControlUp allows a company to monitor, analyze, and troubleshoot its entire IT infrastructure from a single dashboard. In a sense, it is like having a whole IT staff carrying out maintenance, providing early warning signs, and sharing insights around the clock–which frees up actual personnel to do other work that produces value. With a base of 500 enterprise customers, ControlUp has collected valuable data of its own. It feeds all of the data it collects back into algorithms that help detect its customers’ IT problems early, identify where costs can be cut and share other insights. In many cases, ControlUp can even intervene automatically to fix bugs. When it can’t, it flags problems for a company’s staff. The company raised $10 million in March.

dLocal

dLocal is a platform that enables e-commerce companies and marketplaces to sell to consumers in emerging markets. The San Francisco-headquartered startup, founded last year, handles the merchant processing, backend and compliance for online payments from countries that Western companies find traditionally difficult to sell to, for a variety of reasons. These include fraud, regulation, tax complexity and others. By partnering with dLocal, a company can gain access to sell its products and services in dozens of markets – including Latin America, China and India – without assuming the country-by-country localization costs and fraud risks. With the ever-increasing trend towards globalization, dLocal seems to have picked the right niche at the right moment.

Exabeam

In the arms race between cybersecurity experts and hackers, the good guys often seem to be a step behind. The problem is that by the time they have developed tools to detect and repel the latest malware, hackers have developed something new. Exabeam, a cybersecurity firm in San Mateo, CA, has created an alternative approach. Rather than looking for hacking tools, Exabeam’s technology monitors human behavior on a company’s networks. Relying on big data analytics, it can identify suspicious activity and notify security teams. This user-behavior approach is particularly useful for protecting against insider threats–attempts at hacking or sabotage from employees or contractors who have regular access to a network. In a worst case scenario, Exabeam’s software can also be deployed as a forensics tool to analyze an attack that has already occurred.

Feelter

What if online shopping became an experience where peer reviews and ratings from across the web were curated and accessible next to any product on any retailer’s site? Feelter has made this a reality by creating a platform that enables an e-tailer to automatically aggregate consumer feedback from review sites and social networks and present the data in a simple screen layover next to every product on its site. The benefit? Bring wisdom and truth from the crowd right to each product on your site, in order to increase consumer confidence and conversions (or alert you to problematic products and what can be improved). The Tel Aviv startup has raised $4 million in funding and won GMIC’s global startup competition last year.

Floored

A standout in real estate technology, Floored created a new product category in a staid industry. Founded as a 3D modeling software firm in 2012, Floored “backed into real estate,” in the words of its founder David Eisenberg. While considering the process of leasing commercial real estate, he sensed an opportunity. Potential tenants would walk through empty spaces and compare metrics like square footage, while never getting a clear sense of how an office would look until they hired architects. He wondered how much more effective brokers could be in closing deals if they could show prospective tenants something more compelling. Today, Floored creates immersive, 3D models of offices that brokers can share during the leasing process. Tenants get the opportunity to digitally “walk through” a furnished, fully designed office before making a decision. In January, CBRE, one of the world’s biggest real estate companies, bought Floored–and hired its management team–for an undisclosed sum

Kaltura

Kaltura has become a leader in delivering video online. If you’ve ever watched a video on the web, you’ve probably used Kaltura’s technology without knowing it. Part of the reason Kaltura has become widespread–if, largely, invisible–is its relentless development of new video technologies. Today, the company’s products include everything from its bread-and-butter online video platform for organizations to a full OTT offering for media companies. Kaltura’s apps also support integration with almost any third-party software its customers might want to use, ranging from Moodle and Sakai to IBM Connections and Drupal. Rumored to be worth more than $1 billion, the New York-based, Israel-founded company has moved firmly out of startup territory even if it remains a nimble innovator.

Movable Ink

Movable Ink has created a platform for highly customizable marketing emails. Movable Ink refers to its emails as “containers” for content because they can be filled with just about anything–text, video, account information–at any time. In fact, the content of the email isn’t even determined until a recipient clicks to open it. At that moment, Movable Ink’s software accounts for where the recipient is, what time it is, and what device she is using, among other variables. Then it fills the “container” with the content it predicts is most likely to grab her attention. The company’s case studies boast impressive results, like the doubling of click-through rates. The New York-based startup’s client list currently boasts a diverse set of businesses including The New York Times, Delta, and McDonald’s.

Nextiva

Tomas Gorny has been on a mission to improve business communication for over a decade. After the turn-of-the-century, enterprise phone systems were still unaffordable, unreliable and hard to use. Gorny formed Nextiva to create a user-friendly and reliable phone system for SMBs and enterprises at an affordable price. A decade later, Arizona-based Nextiva has become a leading VoIP provider with 150,000 business customers, 800 employees and $125 million in annual revenue. But Gorny’s vision of improving how businesses communicate doesn’t stop there. The company is rolling out a brand-new platform, NextOS, which will combine every aspect of the business communication ecosystem – including phone, chat, CRM, surveys and others – into a cohesive customer sentiment analysis tool that helps businesses better understand and cater to each individual user. NextOS will be released at the company’s upcoming annual conference, NextCon, which is aptly focused on how businesses can improve their customer experience.

OptimalPlus

Imagine an autonomous car’s hardware systems freezing, malfunctioning or breaking down in the middle of a drive. Or picture your smartphone catching fire during a flight. Well, the latter doesn’t need to be conceptualized since it already happened with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7. In our world of rapidly accelerating innovation and transition towards electronic systems, there are tremendous risks and liabilities if hardware quality isn’t maximized and defects minimized. Enter OptimalPlus, an Israel-based manufacturing analytics platform that uses big data to reduce the number of defective parts manufactured in electronics and semiconductors. The awesome thing about this platform is that it doesn’t just detect and alert problems, it also diagnoses what needs to be done to fix them, and impressively, actively implements the necessary solutions without human intervention. In a world where everything is connected and technological, ensuring the integrity of systems is more important than ever – which is why OptimalPlus seems to have struck gold.

Pulsate

Dublin-based Pulsate was founded in 2013 to help brick-and-mortar businesses manage iBeacons. iBeacons were then a newly introduced technology, developed by Apple, that allowed businesses to transmit information to nearby consumers using Bluetooth. For example, iBeacons allow retailers to share deals or pull up loyalty programs in proprietary apps. Since its founding, Pulsate has evolved into a more comprehensive mobile retail platform. In addition to iBeacon support, it now embeds chat features and e-commerce functions in its customers’ mobile apps. Current customers include Paypal, Telepizza, and Coors Light. The venture-backed startup has raised a bit less than $3 million in two funding rounds.

Rain

Rain, a small L.A.-based startup, seems to have cracked the code for hyperlocal mobile advertising. The key is serving ads to users in apps they use frequently and while on the move–like Waze and Instagram. Rain’s clients–including chains like McDonald’s and CVS–use Rain to offer potential customers deals when they are just a few blocks away from a retail location. (In Waze, users can simply tap a button that says “Drive There” to take advantage of a deal.) If a user interacts with an ad, but doesn’t act on it, Rain can “re-market” to the same user by following him through other apps and the mobile web. On the backend, Rain offers detailed analytics so advertisers can track engagement and conversion rates–leaving no question about ROI.

Socrata

Seattle-based Socrata is a leader in creating technology platforms for government. In partnership with local, state, and federal government agencies, Socrata turns public government records into tools. In Dallas and Baltimore, police departments have partnered with Socrata to monitor and report data on violent encounters between officers and the public. In Douglas County, Kansas, Socrata has digitized the annual budget. In Massachusetts, it has analyzed and published state financial information so that agencies and the public can more easily draw insights from it. At agencies throughout the country, Socrata has provided or created tools to help governments track performance of public initiatives. Founded in 2007 with venture capital backing, Socrata has raised $55 million of equity investments to date.

StartApp

In our ever-increasing mobile driven world, applications and companies at large have opportunities to reach, penetrate and monetize markets like never before. But with the endless amount of users, interactions and data available, who can make sense of it all? New York-based StartApp is an insights driven mobile company that empowers app developers, social companies and other types of businesses to understand their users, better connect and engage with them, as well as improve monetization. The company started as a mobile ad network and collected so much data across so many devices that it began to leverage the insights it had gained by selling them to businesses. StartApp is now a one-stop mobile powerhouse, offering its legacy ad network to monetize and reach users, an ad unit creation service, data that helps businesses better understand their users, and a content creation offering.

Turbonomic

Boston-based Turbonomic provides a platform that predicts demand on network resources and distributes cloud computing power to meet it. It does this with what it calls an “autonomic platform” that constantly runs supply and demand simulations and has the power to auto-regulate complex cloud environments. The result is much more efficient and stable networks, which ultimately allows companies to move even more of their computing to the cloud. The company’s technology appears to be unique, which has attracted a flood of investment. Turbonomic has raised over $100 million and reportedly has been in recent talks with Cisco about a potential acquisition.

Vestmark

Vestmark provides a wealth management platform to professional financial advisors. Major customers include Fidelity Investment and Edward Jones. Overall, Vestmark’s software handles 1.5 million accounts with a total of $500 billion in assets. The software can handle the digital side of almost every aspect of account management, from monitoring stock trading to reporting account balances to clients. But perhaps the most valuable function is compliance. Vestmark helps its customers remain compliant with the thicket of ever-changing rules and regulations that govern their business. In an age when the political pendulum can swing quickly from regulation to deregulation and when federal rules are frequently reinterpreted, automated help with compliance is more than a convenience–it’s a business necessity. In the past year and a half alone Vestmark has raised $37 million in equity investments as it has continued to update and expand its software.

VisiSonics

After ten years of academic investigation at the University of Maryland, the researchers behind VisiSonics brought their “3D audio” technology to market in 2012. Now it will serve as the audio that pairs with virtual reality experiences delivered through Oculus headsets. VisiSonic’s technology allows virtual reality developers to include location-specific sound in their VR games and films. The sound of footsteps, for example, can “come from” behind you; when you turn you will hear the footsteps approaching you. Remarkably, this 3D audio experience is delivered through normal stereo headphones. Recording in 3D, on the other hand, requires special hardware: a spherical microphone developed by VisiSonics that records sound and location data with “pinpoint accuracy,” the company claims. Ultimately, this kind of immersive audio will be necessary to create fully immersive VR experiences.

Zebra Medical Vision

One of the most valuable sources of health science data has usually been off-limits to researchers: clinical medical records. Zebra is aiming to change that by compiling and analyzing vast troves of records. Its objective is two-fold. First, founders Elad Benjamin, Eyal Toledano and Eyal Gura want to make their anonymized, indexed database of clinical records available to scientists as an open research tool. Second, they are using machine learning analysis of the records to develop new diagnostic tools. So far Zebra has released one algorithm that can detect breast cancer at an early stage and others that detect diseases of the liver and arteries. The founders say more algorithms are coming in the second half of 2017. In the long run, Zebra’s big data approach to disease detection could help doctors make earlier and more accurate diagnoses. Beyond the health benefits, early diagnosis can be financially valuable–by preventing more costly treatment of advanced diseases.

Zive

Founded by two veterans of the consumer electronics industry, Zive brings what it calls a “humanistic” and “friendly” design philosophy to software. The company’s first product, Kiwi for Gmail, converts the entire G Suite of cloud software–including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, and Google Docs–into native desktop apps. It enables users to access all of the functionality of the Google programs from well-designed desktop apps without ever opening a web browser. “The browser is great for content consumption,” says Eric Shashoua, Zive’s CEO, “but very limiting when it comes to content creation.”

20 Tech Innovators to Watch in 2018

Advertisements

The Most Brilliant Business Ideas

The Most Brilliant Business Ideas

Check out some of the most exciting from Entrepreneur’s ‘Brilliant Ideas’ series

 

20033B8B-BCB4-4CB9-97CA-F8164E23874C-644-0000007F415653FF

 

Entrepreneurship is about ideas. It is the foundation of everything — an insight into how to improve something, or what consumers want, or what they don’t even know they want. Consider it: A business is an idea come to life; an entrepreneur is an ideas-driven person. And if you want to truly learn from the smartest people around you, and calibrate to their way of thinking, you have to ask, What’s their core idea?

Below are some of the most insightful ideas from Entrepreneur’s “Brilliant Ideas” series in the June issue of the magazine.

Why MailChimp’s Insane Fake Ad Campaign Paid Off

For Entrepreneurs, VC Capital Is Not Always the Best Option

What Gary Vaynerchuk Learned by Experimenting on Himself

Ellevest’s Investing Platform Knows How to Speak to Women

The Website That Is Helping Companies Find Diverse Talent

Why Women-Only Coworking Spaces Are on the Rise

Don’t Be Afraid to Embrace Boring Ideas

How the Rules of Tech Branding Helped Raden Create a Smart Suitcase

9 Science-Backed Insights on Finding Success in Your Business and Personal Life

14 Leaders Share Their Inspirational Advice on Starting a Business

Businesses Disrupting Industries With Their Brilliant Ideas — And What You Can Learn From Them

IMG_1535

The Most Brilliant Business Ideas

How to Start a Business With (Almost) No Money

How to Start a Business With (Almost) No Money

You’re excited to start a business. Maybe you have an idea, or you’re just fascinated with the idea of launching and growing your own enterprise. You’re willing to take some risks, like leaving your current job or going without personal revenue for a while. But there’s onelogistical hurdle stopping you: You don’t have much money.

Related: 7 Myths About Starting a Business That I Used to Believe

On the surface, this seems like a major problem, but a lack of personal capital shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your dreams. In fact, it’s entirely possible to start and grow a business with almost no personal financial investment whatsoever — if you know what you’re doing.

Why a business needs money

First, let’s take a look at why a business needs money in the first place. There’s no uniform “startup” fee for building a business, so different businesses will have different needs. It’s important to first estimate how much you need before you start finding alternative methods to fund your company.

Consider the following uses:

  • Licenses and permits. Depending on your region, you may need special paperwork and registry to operate.
  • Supplies. Are you buying raw materials? Do you need computers and/or other devices?
  • Equipment. Do you need specialized machinery or software?
  • Office space. This is a huge expense, and you can’t neglect things like Internet and utilities costs.
  • Associations, subscriptions, memberships. What publications and affiliations will you subsribe to every month?
  • Operating expenses. Dig into the nooks and crannies here, anddon’t forget about marketing.
  • Legal fees. Are you consulting a lawyer throughout your business-development process?
  • Employees and contractors. If you can’t do it alone, you’ll need people on your payroll.

With that said, you have two main paths of starting a business with less money: lowering your costs or increasing your available capital from outside sources. You have three options here:

Related: Starting a Business in 2016? Avoid These 5 ‘Beginner’ Mistakes.

Option one: Reduce your needs

Your first option is to change your business model to demand fewer needs as listed above. For example, if you were planning on starting a company of personal trainers, you could reduce your “employee” expenses by being the sole employee at the start. Unless you need office space, you can work from home. You can even do your homework to find cheaper sources of supplies, or cut out entire product lines that are too expensive to produce at the outset.

There are a few expenses that you won’t be able to avoid, however. Licensing and legal fees will set you back even if you cut back on everything else. According to the SBA, many microbusinesses get started on less than $3,000, and home-based franchises can be started for as little as $1,000.

Option two: Bootstrap

Your second option invokes the idea of a “warmup” period for your business. Instead of going straight into full-fledged business mode, you’ll start with just the basics. You might launch a blog and one niche service, reducing your scope, your audience and your profit, in order to get a head-start. If you can start as a self-employed individual, you’ll avoid some of the biggest initial costs (and enjoy a simpler tax situation, too).

Once you start realizing some revenue, you can invest in yourself, and build the business you imagined piece by piece, rather than all at once.

Option three: Outsource

Your third option is all about getting funding from outside sources. I’ve covered the world of startup funding in a number of different pieces, so I won’t get into much detail, but know there are dozens of potential ways to raise capital — even if you don’t have much yourself. Here are just a few potential sources for you:

  • Friends and family. Don’t rule out the possibility of getting help from friends and family, even if you have to piece the capital together from multiple sources.
  • Angel investors. Angel investors are wealthy individuals who back business ideas early in their generation. They typically invest in exchange for partial ownership of the company, which is a sacrifice worth considering.
  • Venture capitalists. Venture capitalists are like angel investors, but are typically partnerships or organizations and tend to scout businesses that are already in existence.
  • Crowdfunding. It’s popular for a reason: with a good idea and enough work, you can attract funding for anything.
  • Government grants and loans. The Small Business Administration (and a number of state and local government agencies) exist solely to help small businesses grow. Many offerloans and grants to help you get started.
  • Bank loans. You can always open a line of credit with the bank if your credit is in good standing.

Related: 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Your First Business

With one or more of these three options, you should be able to reduce your personal financial investment to almost nothing. You may have to make some other sacrifices, such as starting small, accommodating partners or taking on debt, but if you believe in your business idea, none of these losses should stand in your way. Capital is a major hurdle to overcome, but make no mistake — it can be overcome.

How to Start a Business With (Almost) No Money

These Are the Business Hot Spots in 2016

These Are the Business Hot Spots in 2016

These Are the Business Hot Spots in 2016

Startup Hubs

There is a world outside of Silicon Valley. Discover the 10 cities that host the greatest number of the fastest-growing private businesses in the U.S.

1. New York City

The Big Apple hosts 207 businesses on this year’s Inc. 5000, nearly double its closest rival. With cutting-edge firms like behavioral marketer Bounce Exchange (No. 7) and cognitive content platform Persado (No. 16), this city definitely doesn’t sleep.

2. Los Angeles

Yes, other businesses besides Snapchat call L.A. home. Dollar Shave Club just landed a whopping $1 billion in its sale to Unilever. And let’s not forget the Inc. 500’s No. 1 company, Loot Crate.

3. Atlanta

It’s not only the headquarters for giant companies like Coca-Cola and Home Depot; this southern city is also home to 101 of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation. Keep an eye on Company.com (No. 5), a B2B social network.

4. Chicago

Uber and Lyft have been threatening to leave due to the city’s strict regulations for their drivers. Even so, with 95 Chicago-based Inc. 5000companies, there’s no shortage of ingenuity in the Windy City.

5. Austin

The Texas capital is famous for its creative community. It’s also where coffee innovators Chameleon Cold Brew(No. 140) and real estate developerYourPark.com (No. 142) have set up shop. Perhaps creativity is contagious?

6. San Diego

The second-biggest city in California, San Diego represents a vibrant opportunity for entrepreneurs–particularly for those in the real estate and food and beverage industries. Just ask one of the 70 Inc. 5000 companies based there.

7. Houston

This city has long been known for its oil and gas chops, but it’s gaining steam in industries as diverse as technology management and health innovation. This year, 70 Inc. 5000companies call Houston home.

8. Dallas

Mark Cuban isn’t the only famous entrepreneur in Dallas. Another is Michael Wittmeyer, CEO of JM Bullion(No. 40). With more than $661 million in revenue last year, his online retail platform ranks first among 61 Dallas-based Inc. 5000 companies.

9. San Francisco
Of course, Silicon Valley remains one of the best places to foster entrepreneurship, especially tech-based. From FormSwift (No. 271) toRobotLAB (No. 273), San Francisco’s software companies are featured prominently on this year’s Inc. 5000.
10. Seattle

The Emerald City hosts 54 companies that are on the Inc. 5000. Three years after the launch of “Startup Seattle,” a public-private initiative focused on providing support and resources for entrepreneurs, the city is emerging as a hub for entrepreneurship.

These Are the Business Hot Spots in 2016

5 Relationships the Most Successful Entrepreneurs Cultivate

5 Relationships the Most Successful Entrepreneurs Cultivate

5 Relationships the Most Successful Entrepreneurs Cultivate

Learn the roadmap to entrepreneurial success by investing in these relationships now.

Everyone who decides to throw the proverbial caution to the wind, quit their job and become an entrepreneur hopes that things will work out, and they will have success. However, things are infinitely more complicated than we would all like to think. There are some crucial relationships that one needs to form, in order to become a successful entrepreneur. No man is an island, and we all need help, in some way or another. Especially when it comes to business, you rely on the good grace of others in a lot of different instances. Therefore, here are the 5 business relationships that you need, as a successful entrepreneur.

Bankers

While this list is in no particular order, the first has to be banks and bankers, because they are directly responsible for your financial stability. Chances are you are going to need a line of credit – especially in the beginning, you will need a start-up loan. And in order to receive it, you need to maintain good relationships with your local banks and bankers. How can you achieve that? By making your payments on time, first of all. If your name comes to be associated with poor or late payments, it’s difficult to get out of the dog house.Another thing you can benefit from when you have a close relationship with your bankers is ensuring the safety of your money. They can help you set a system in place that can secure your finances and make sure that your deposits make it through and no one can embezzle from you or other such actions. It pays (literally) to form a tight relationship with your banker.

Employees

Of course, employees are also vital to any business you may want to set up. To strike gold in this department, you have to do a good job finding and choosing people who are professional, qualified, serious, and dedicated to their job. But that is not enough for them to make your company flourish; you also have to inspire them. This is where the vast majority of “bosses” go wrong – they vastly underestimate their relationship with their employees, when that is arguably one of the most important of all.In order for your employees to work well, you have to make sure you maintain satisfaction. People have to be fulfilled in the workplace and be inspired and encouraged by their leaders. The mistake most entrepreneurs and people in management positions make is that they equate more time spent working hard with good results, more money and a growing business. But you should know better: you catch more flies with honey. That means that treating your employees with respect, compensating them fairly, and making sure they have time for their personal lives will be better for you in the long-run.

Customers

Every entrepreneur knows that customers can make or break your business. No matter how hard you work, how organized your company is and how intelligent your business concept is, if the customers are not happy, not stimulated, and not attracted, you either lose them, or you don’t attract them in the first place. In order to ensure the success of your business, you have to ensure the happiness of your clients.Now, customer satisfaction is achieved by paying attention, first and foremost. You have to put yourself in their shoes and ask “What would make this a positive experience for them?”, “What can I do to ensure good customer service?”. A good product or service that fills a need is essential, but so is excellent customer service – engage them on social media, make the experience personal, make them feel special. The benefits are twofold: first of all, you retain your existing clients. Second of all, word of mouth will travel about your business and how much you value your customers and that will act as free advertising, essentially.

Vendors

Most businesses rely heavily on vendors, and unless you build a solid, trusted relationship with them, you might find yourself without essential items, not only when it comes to the product you might be selling, but even basic stationary or materials. You cannot afford not to be in your vendors’ good graces. The trick is to think of them as your employees, which means that you have to show them the same respect and attention. Get close to them, always have a means to contact them and make sure that, should an emergency happen – such as you needing to pay late, or needing materials urgently – they will be there for you.

Mentors

A business relationship that is also a personal one is mentorship. When you’re starting your own business, you need all the help you can get, from anyone who will listen. But most of all, you need someone with experience and extensive knowledge who can guide you. Find someone you look up to, a successful entrepreneur you would like to emulate, and ask for their advice. Again, this works in your favor in two different ways: you get the help you need, and you establish a positive business relationship. Remember always to show gratitude, treat them with respect and acknowledge their insight – it will pay off.

If you’re an entrepreneur, the investment in relationships is the best investment you will ever make. Take the time now to build them and your business will soar.

5 Relationships the Most Successful Entrepreneurs Cultivate

Israel is opening an innovation center to showcase Israeli technology and inspire young entrepreneurs

Israel is opening an innovation center to showcase Israeli technology and inspire young entrepreneurs

It’s no secret that Israel is a hotbed of technological innovation. Just over the past few years the country has given birth to popular consumer startups like Waze, Viber and Fiverr. Plus, Israel also is the birthplace of many hard science inventions like USB Flash Drives and coronary stents.

But Israel is at a crossroads of sorts. While the country wants to proudly show off these technology “wins”, they are also mindful of the fact that there’s no point in remembering the past if they can’t continue to drive innovation going forward.

The solution? Using tales of the past to inspire the next generation of inventors and entrepreneurs.

One way Israel is accomplishing this is through former President of Israel Shimon Peres’ new Israeli Innovation Center at the Peres Peace House in Jaffa.

Announced today, the center will highlight inventions and companies already created in Israel as well as future Israeli technologies yet to be developed.

But the point of the center isn’t to just brag about Israel. In fact, President Peres noted that the main point is to ensure that Israel never stops innovating:

The primary focus will be on the path to the future. We will prove that innovation has no limits and no barriers. Innovation enables dialogue between nations and between people. It will enable all young people – Jews, Muslims and Christians –to engage in science and technology equally.  Here we will emphasize that we can promote peace from childhood, and we will spark the imagination of every boy and girl and enrich their dreams.” – Former President Shimon Peres

So how will it achieve this? Firstly, part of the center will dedicated to “showcasing leading Israeli companies”, and Israeli inventions that span across different industries.

But more importantly, the rest of the center will serve as a community space. It will be a place for entrepreneurs to meet, work, learn and even participate in hackathons. Peres emphasized that it will be a place to gain hands-on learning experience not found in a traditional school or university.

The former president sees technology as the best way to better society and create peace in the world, and wants to make sure the next generation of makers and entrepreneurs are both inspired and trained to be able to do so.

And judging by the guests of honor at the dedication it’s safe to say that this will be the flagship technology center for the entire country – the event was attended by the country’s three most important people – former President Peres, current Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, and current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In fact, all three tried virtual reality headsets on at the ceremony. President Peres told us that trying VR was “something totally new,” and could help create the dreams that create a new reality”.

20160721_122829-1-1

Israel is opening an innovation center to showcase Israeli technology and inspire young entrepreneurs

These Are the Best Startup Accelerators in the U.S.

1

These Are the Best Startup Accelerators in the U.S.

Startup accelerators can too easily be black boxes. There are close to 200 of them, and they all make similar claims: That you’ll emerge from their programs smarter about business, better-connected, and better able to raise financing. Your company, meanwhile, will make progress at a speed just not possible anywhere else.

So how do you choose between them?

The recently released Seed Accelerator Rankings, compiled by a team of professors from Rice University, University of Richmond, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are a good place to start. In October, the researchers contacted about 180 accelerators, asking them about the state of their portfolio companies, all of their funding rounds, valuations, and exit information.

They asked graduates of accelerator programs to fill out surveys about their experiences, including questions about valuations, exits, and their general satisfaction with the program. “We get a lot of very honest feedback,” says Yael Hochberg, an entrepreneurship and finance professor at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business and managing director of the rankings.

One thing Hochberg and her team are not looking for: incubators. While the terms “acclerator” and “incubator” are often thrown around interchangeably, to Hochberg and her team, they mean very different things. Accelerators accept companies in distinct cohorts, for a finite period of time. “It’s a bootcamp type program where everyone works very intensively over a period of time,” she says. “With accelerators, companies either die quickly or take off quickly.”

She looks at incubators as co-working spaces with services. “We know what those look like,” she says. “On average, startups stay there for four years and don’t grow much.”

This year, the researchers did not assign the accelerators numerical rankings, as they have in the past. Hochbergs said that’s because the accelerators’ scores tended to be in specific clusters, making it very hard to make a clear call between, say, number eight and number nine. “I’m not going to declare one program i better than another without statistical significance,” says Hocherg. “I’m not going to declare a ranking based on a third decimal point.”

Instead, the team grouped accelerators into tiers. Here are the nine accelerators, listed in alphabetical order, in the highest tier:

500 Startups, which runs four-month programs in Mountain View, Calif., and San Francisco.

Alchemist, a San Francisco-based specialized incubator for enterprise startups.

Amplify.LA, an incubator for tech startups and based in Los Angeles.

AngelPad accepts startups–mostly tech, and mostly b2b–for residencies in both New York and San Francisco

Chicago New Venture Challenge has separate tracks for businesses looking to make a social impact, global businesses, and businesses started by University of Chicago students.

MuckerLab accepts companies to its Los Angeles-based program for anywhere from three to 18 months

StartX is an incubator for Stanford founders in any industry.

Techstars runs 20 accelerator programs in cities from Atlanta to Cape Town to New York. Some of its programs have an industry focus, such as healthcare, media, retail, or cloud computing.

Y Combinator brings a large number of companies–in its last class, 107–to Silicon Valley for three months of intensive development.

Finding Fit

Hochberg has some other advice for entrepreneurs looking at incubator programs. Outside of the very best accelerators, she says, you might be better off with an industry-specific accelerator if there’s one that is a good fit for you. “The very top programs can almost always bring in someone in your industry,” she says. The middle-of-the-pack ones might not be able to.

And she notes that accelerators are changing their own business models. The “virtual accelerator” is one variation, but Hochberg is not a fan. “We don’t see that these work, and the programs we see don’t wind up in the top of the rankings,” she says. “The things that have the most effect are the mentoring and the cohort nature of the program, having startups in one place going through the program at the same time together. The breadth and depth of mentoring really matters. You don’t get that in a virtual program.”

The financial model is changing, too. Just five years ago, she says, just about every accelerator took the same size stake in its companies and offered the same amount of cash. That has completely changed. This year, on average, the accelerators gave their companies $39,470 for 5.5 percent of equity. But some offer up to $175,000, and some don’t take any equity at all.

Accelerators are learning that long-term, they can’t live off of 5.5 percent stakes in their companies. That’s leading to consolidation, says Hochberg, and programs like TechStars where a variety of backers get together under one model. Others are adding venture funds to make follow-on investments. Says Hochberg: “That’s the only way you’re going to have a meaningful stake by the time the company exits.”

These Are the Best Startup Accelerators in the U.S.

In Silicon Valley Frenzy, VCs Create New Inside Track

Silicon Valley insiders are taking advantage of soaring values for technology startups by creating a potentially lucrative side business.

Venture-capital firms along with a cast of prominent entrepreneurs and executives, have each raised tens of millions of dollars for impromptu funds that take a direct stake in a single startup.

These funds, which often come together in a matter of days, give institutional investors, friends and business associates exclusive access to highflying companies. The funds also let the venture capitalists invest far more money in a company than they otherwise could. In many cases, the funds are blessed by the startups, which see them as a way to raise big sums quickly.

In Silicon Valley Frenzy, VCs Create New Inside Track