ALL ABOUT OUR ACCELERATOR PROGRAM
At Siftech, we help startup founders progress through the early stages of their venture creation.
Our approach is based on the premise that no two startups are alike; each is at a different stage and is dealing with different challenges. We focus on what’s best for each team, doing whatever we can to help you take your idea forward. Along the way, you will make significant connections, get introduced to investors, and meet fellow founders.
What we’re not
This is not a one-size-fits-all program because that sort of model doesn’t fit with the evolution that every successful company needs to make, in real time, based on their unique needs. We tried a more structured program in the past. It was OK, but based on our experience we think that overloading you with content is not going to maximize the efforts of helping you to really take off.
We are not here to educate you, to tell you what to do, or to bind you to a ‘startup school’ curriculum. We do those kinds of things — but not within this program. The accelerator is all about helping founders make substantial progress from the stage they are at when they first arrive.
The ideal ‘finishing line’ is different for each team and can vary from initial idea validation to raising your first seed round. (Failing fast is also a form of progress and usually part of the process especially when you discover that your product does not have a proven market need).
What we are
We will spend most of the time trying to identify what your current biggest challenges are and the ways you can overcome them. Startups are often vague, especially in those stages when everything is just an ‘unvalidated’ theory. We push you to ship fast, talk to users, get feedback and iterate based on that. We are obviously not inventing the wheel on this one.
We have a “radical honesty” approach where we push you to answer hard questions about every aspect of your idea — whether it’s differentiation from competitors, your business model, or your go-to-market strategy (And no, “We are going to take over 1% of the Chinese market” is not an answer).
Applications and acceptance
The ideal stage to join Siftech is between bootstrapping and your first major seed round. All startups at those stages can benefit from the program.
The selection process includes an application form with initial information about your team and idea. After we do an initial screening, we invite the most promising applicants to meet with us and with a team of advisers from our community. We discuss and evaluate which startups can gain the biggest value from participating in the program and then make the final decisions.
What’s the structure?
The format is straightforward: 2 rounds a year, 7–10 startups each, over a period of 16 weeks where you work intensively on your idea at our co-working space in JVP Media Quarter.
We do hold personal weekly update meetings with each team and we have various sessions that you’ll be required to join. The weekly meetings help us to actively monitor your progress, discuss challenges and provide solutions for your needs.
Most weeks, we also organize an “Off the Record” session where we host a speaker, usually an experienced founder or investor, who shares valuable insights and answers whatever questions you have in an open “Ask me Anything” format.
We have a few more events during the program, like a fundraising panel where we bring three to four founders and investors to share tips and best practices, talk about their experiences and provide you with useful information for your road ahead.
Halfway through the program we hold a ‘Show & Tell’ session where you’ll present your progress to the rest of teams and to selected members of our community, demonstrate your progress and discuss upcoming challenges.
We usually spend one week at Google Campus in Tel Aviv, participating in the Google Launchpad. It’s a great experience that includes a combination of valuable feedback from highly experienced advisers and enriching sessions on product building and UX from top industry experts.
We have developed a network of connections with individuals and companies, and we do our best to match you with the right adviser for your needs and questions. We are surrounded by unbelievable people who are happy to share their experience and provide assistance and advice.
Our mentorship model is based primarily on office hours and introductions we make to relevant advisers from our community — an informal, needs-based approach that works best for both founders and the external advisers.
Most of the startups that get accepted are still at the ‘bootstrapping’ stage. We encourage you not to focus your efforts on fundraising until you’ve built something that can actually draw the attention of investors. Therefore, we recommend you allocate all your time, skills, and resources to building a product that your user base can use and get value from.
That said, when you do reach the fundraising stage, there are several ways in which the accelerator can be very helpful:
We help you prepare for fundraising when you need to and can introduce you to relevant investors once you are ready and prepared. Beyond the necessary documents (deck, executive summary, etc) we also help you hone your message and sharpen your pitch.
At the end of the program we hold a ‘startup showcase’, an exclusive event where you’ll present to investors. We usually organize two to three separate events for different investors each time; we found that this more intimate format worked well because it focused solely on the startups and their presentations.
These types of events are great for kickstarting your fundraising process, but this is actually only the beginning of a process that usually take several months. After the startup showcase, you’ll hopefully get introduced to a few investors who will be interested in a follow-up meeting or conversation with you, and these contacts are a great place to get started.
Location Location Location
We are located at one of the ‘hotspots’ of the Israeli startup ecosystem and at the heart of the Jerusalem startup scene. Beyond its great location, JVP Media Quarter is home to two of Israel’s top VC funders, Jerusalem Venture Partners and OurCrowd; as well as a rocking performing-arts hub and great restaurants and Cafés.
For entrepreneurs eager to grow their networks, this is a meeting place of hi-tech smarts, investors, entrepreneurs, creators and visiting dignitaries.
The Jerusalem Startup Scene
In the past few years Jerusalem’s startup ecosystem has been growing rapidly while the city experiences a creative renaissance. There is something special happening here and we are proud to be among the first organizations who have been working to grow Jerusalem’s unique startup community.
The community here is insanely cooperative and the outer ring of support it gives is extremely valuable. Your success is the community’s success and everyone will do their utmost to assist.
The city’s supportive environment makes it one of the best places in the world in which to grow your startup.
We strive to create an environment of collaboration.
The co-working space gives you the opportunity to work side by side and rub shoulders with other founders, meet amazing people and make great friendships along the way. You’ll probably help each other at least as much as we will help you, whether by providing feedback, solving problems, testing products, brainstorming, or practicing for your next pitch. This has proven to be very valuable (and fun).
What happens when it ends
Although the program officially ends at some point, we don’t just go our separate ways. We continue to stay in touch and provide support, whether by continuing to introduce you to relevant investors and stakeholders, connecting you to resources, helping you with hiring staff, and in general, exposing you to interesting opportunities.
Our alumni community is always growing; we work hard to strengthen relationships among our members and transform our network into a vibrant source of knowledge, connection and value.
Once you’re Siftech, you’re always Siftech.
You’re probably asking yourself “What’s the catch? What do I have to give up for getting all this?”
There is no catch.
Really. It’s not just because we are nice people (or at least we think we are…). Siftech is a non for profit initiative, committed to developing Jerusalem’s startup ecosystem and amplifying its entrepreneurial energies.
We don’t take equity. We want to help more great companies start here, and our accelerator is one of our key strategies for fulfilling this vision. Think of us as an older sister or brother, we will do whatever we possibly can to help you make it happen.
We do require you for full-time commitment: not to us, but to your project. We expect you to fully dedicate yourself and your team to developing your startup.
If you’ve got a great idea, and the passion to make it a reality, we invite you to apply for our program.