Israel, The Start Up Upstart

For my second day of SXSW, I decided to do some digging on “whats coming next” and where its coming from. Turns out, Israel appears to be the darling of cutting-edge data and technology-driven innovation at the moment. Who knew? They are showing off encryption and security solutions, custom mobile gaming, targeted and customized data enhanced content delivery and even the seemingly mundane (now) photo messaging, video innovations and even file sharing. What I found most intereting is that this surprising blend of tech is fueled, oddly, by the notion of National Service.

Why? Well it makes perfect sense when it’s explained. When an 18 year old Israeli starts his or her National Service in the military, they are exposed to some of the most cutting edge technology on the planet. They spend 2 years (for women) and 3 years (for men) and then, they are out. Trained on high tech, immersed in data gathering, connectivity tools and server/cloud based communications tools, it becomes a natural next step to enter the tech development world and thus, attracting the attention of the biggest names in the consumer marketing world.

For instance, the global mega brand, Coca Cola, is hedging bets on Israel in a very uniqe way. They have created “The Bridge” as a conduit program to develop innovation with Israeli tech companies in 5 areas: Supply Chain, Consumer Retail, Marketing Innovation, Health & Wellness, & Consumer Engagement.

Zoe Levine, Sr. Manager, Digital Marketing, Coca Cola

Here at SXSW, on a panel about making mobile advertising relevant, engaging and effective, Coca Cola doubled down on tech and “location” as key to engaging consumers.

“We’re placing some bets on proximity, beacon or no beacon.”

So, with a focus on “personalization” and “customization” - the biggest trend and buzz I am seeing this year (wearables & the Internet of everything etc …) I set about seeing what Israel was serving up this year. I found, as part of the SWSW “accelerator” program, 5 categories:

SOCIAL CONNECTORS

Glide is touted as the world’s first and only live video messaging app, allowing users to send and receive video messages instantaneously.

Qork is a hyper-local social network app where you can discover news, start local conversations and discover what’s happening near you. Being local is emerging as a real “digital desire” for sure.

Fusic is a social video platform that lets you create a video of yourself singing karaoke or lip-syncing to, or dancing with, your favorite artists while allowing you to put your “selfie” performance into the original music clip.

Pretty neat. Mildy Cringeworthy.

SERVICE BASED PLATFORMS

Fiverr puts you in touch with people who can help you do just about anything

Fiverr is a digital marketplace offering tasks and services for just about anything you can think of.

Reviews tell you what kind of quality you can expect, services starting at, you guessed it:

$5 bucks!

Seat Serve is an app that lets the sports fan enjoy more of the game, by providing an “orders & payment” channel for food or merchandise from your mobile device and have it delivered directly to you in your seat.

CONSUMER TARGETING

Gigya empowers a brand to deliver targeted, personalized engagement

Gigya is a platform for “Customer Identity Management” which helps a brand build stronger relationships by turning the unknown visitors into known, loyal and engaged customers.

“Getting a clear view of the customer across devices was nearly impossible with legacy technologies. Gigya lets us take an identity-centric approach with a best in class Single Sign-On solution. Connecting the dots is so easy now.”

— Raghu Polavarapu, VP Digital Operations, Turner Broadcasting, Inc

Five Blocks platform is a personalized, long-term online brand strategy, focusing on “enhancing the positive,” optimizing all sites, content, and media that make up your brand’s online reputation.

HEALTHCARE

Fast Company says MobileODT is one of the 10 most innovative companies in Israel

MobileODT gives new meaning to “smartphone” by literally turning your device into a potential life saver. Currently focused in underserved areas of the world, the mobile device, high definition imaging and direct links to physicians aim to take on cervical cancer in a very innovative way.

VIDEO PERSONALIZATION

Onysus is at its core, a visual editor allowing anyone to create immersive experiences.

The platform appears to be a blend of Augmented Reality in a real-time display, with a “physics engine” that provides a more realistic integration.

Homage Technology seems to be a bit like Fusic mentioned above, in as much it allows the user to put themselves into a scenario for a personalized experience. The goal here is for a brand is to change the way media & advertisers interact with their consumers.

Overall, I see these Israeli based companies focusing on branded scenarios, consumer integration and immersive personalized experiences. As we move toward the Internet of everything, these factores will be key in this “me too” and even “me first” world.

What did you see that opened your eyes at SXSW 2015? Let me hear from you, I am Broadbandito on Twitter.

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