Demo Day: Techstars Barclays Tel Aviv (Tel Aviv)








Announcing the Barclays Tel Aviv Class of 2017

It’s time for Barclays Techstars Tel Aviv 2017!

Today is the first day of the 2017 Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars program that will run for the next thirteen weeks.

We’ve expected that we’ll see the quality of companies applying to our accelerator increase from last year, but nothing could have prepared us for the absolutely stellar applications we received for Tel Aviv 2017. The companies joining us this year represent three different continents and a variety of business models and verticals.

With programs in London, Tel Aviv, New York and Cape Town, this has arguably become the most selective global Fintech Accelerator in the world with a growing list of alumni that are literally changing the face of financial services.

So here we are, excited to announce for the first time, the incoming class of Barclays Techstars Tel Aviv 2017:

Algosave provides Financial Institutions with innovative algorithm driven solutions to their Accounting – IFRS 9 & Regulatory Basel 3 requirements.

Exeq innovates the way people interact with their money, in pursuit of smarter, more personal banking.

FeezBack is an Automated Personal Finance assistant – we help users navigate the financial world by transforming complicated financial information into easy to use advice and personal recommendations.

Jenny is a conversational AI that brings a smart layer to a company’s existing Customer Service Infrastructure, aiming to make customer care more effective with smart automation.

Kard unlocks hidden credit card rewards with a free tool that can save you hundreds of dollars a year in points, miles and cash back.

Leo is a personal insurance assistant. Using AI technology and data, Leo provides a new, automatic insurance that meets the user’s needs in an easy and personalized way.

Ownerhood opens the real estate market by bringing crowdfunding to house-ownership.

Salaryo is a AI based flexible credit platform, offering financial stability for Millennials.

Robinhood replaces financial vendors by using its’ robot and smart BI engines to aggregate, compare and recommend upgrades for all existing portfolio.

 








5 Things to Think About Before Creating a Marketing Plan

Moran is a marketing advisor with the Techstars accelerator in Tel Aviv and the founder of Marketing Ramen, marketing strategies for startups on a budget. She’s building marketing strategies and helping startups grow. For full bio – moranbarnea.com, connect with her @moran_barnea.

Setting a marketing budget before defining a marketing plan is like putting the cart before the horse. Although there are plenty of online resources that can help you get a general idea of how much your marketing budget should be (depending on the number of years your startup exists, the industry in which it operates, etc.), preparing a marketing road map should come first.

Your marketing budget may change during the budget year, but to make it feasible, it should be built together with a plan that fits the goals of the company and one you could work with on a daily / weekly / monthly basis.

Before creating a detailed marketing plan including budget allocation to the various channels, deadlines, owner and more, there are 5 things to consider:

1. Audience

Startups are agile, and the answer to the question “who is your target audience” may change over the lifetime of the start-up. However, when you initiate your marketing efforts and build a plan and budget, there must be a clear answer to this question. For example, is your product an innovative a/b testing widget aimed at marketing executives in Fortune 500 companies? Is it an app targeted at teenagers ages 12-17 who live in English-speaking countries? Generic marketing targeting e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e (or “anyone who would want to buy the product”) is bad marketing. Even if you want to target multiple audiences, you must define them and often will need to narrow the list of audiences down, depending on your available capital and human resources.

Some would choose to build a persona (or persons) of the potential audience, to better understand who the potential client is and which pain they have that your product can solve. There are several excellent guides online to help build persona and a free Persona builder by Xtensio.

2. Objectives

Once you defined who your target audience is, set your goals for the period of the marketing plan. One goal, for example, can be positioning yourself as an expert in the industry (thought leadership). This can be done by guest columns written by the founder/CEO in relevant blogs (for example, Bessemer Partners mapped Israeli cyber security startups for TechCrunch to position themselves as experienced investors in this industry). Another goal can be increasing sales. This may lead to focusing your budget on paid advertising.

A goal can also be recruiting new employees, and for that you may want to reach out to tech blogs who cover cool office spaces like this article in Fortune. There are additional goals you can have, and the answer to the question what are your goals could be “all of the above.” But, in order to prepare an effective and executable marketing plan, I recommend prioritizing these goals.

3. Marketing Channels

After you set your audience and goals, the next question is where can you find the audience. Going back to the example of targeting marketing execs in Fortune 500 companies, the chance of them reading an article mentioning your company at AdAge or AdWeek is higher than them reading such an article on Mashable. If you target the 12-17 age group, are they on Facebook, or like all of us, moved to Snapchat? Try to understand where your target audience spends most of its time online. Often, the chances of finding good and targeted leads will be higher in niche industry blogs. I worked with a company that targeted c-level executives in the hospitality business. The best leads we got was from an article on a small blog, but one that all c-levels in this industry are subscribed to. Sometimes, being featured in a large publication is a matter of ego more than ROI.

4. Team

While building the marketing plan, ask yourself if there is currently someone on the team that will be able to carry the plan out. If not, is there a need (and budget) to hire a full-time marketing person? If you have an existing team, do you need to hire more people or would outsourcing services like Fiverr and UpWork make do? There are opinions supporting and opposing hiring freelancers, but from my experience, it depends on the person. You can hire an employee with zero dedication and a contractor who gives 120 percent into the project.

5. Budget

This point is derived from the four points above. Only when you set your target audience, objectives, optimal marketing channels and structure of the team will you be able to better understand what budget is needed. The marketing budget should be consistent with the growth to which you aspire. If you decide on a fixed monthly marketing budget throughout the year, it will be difficult to expect that it will support a growth. Start with a realistic budget – both in terms of available resources and also you in terms of your goals (it’s difficult to demand a 10 percent MoM growth with a fixed monthly marketing budget of $1,000). Consider long-term and short-term factors. For example, investing in content and SEO is a long term investment (Google will kill any tricks you try ;-)). In contrast, a PR campaign can and should be limited in time, so you can allocate only a few months out of the budget to it. If you decide to work with a PR agency, you can limit the work to 3-4 months. In addition, as the company’s general budget may vary due to external factors (drop in revenues, declining recruitment, etc.), the marketing budget will vary too, and that should be taken into account as well.








4 Startup Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Moran is a marketing advisor with the Techstars accelerator in Tel Aviv and the co-founder of No CMO, online marketing strategies for founders and companies without a CMO. She is a full-stack marketer, building marketing and business strategies for successful startups. For full bio – moranbarnea.com, connect with her @moran_barnea.

There are many things on your plate while growing your company. You have a team to manage, a product to develop and deals to close. You may or may not have already hired a marketing manager, but you know marketing is crucial for your company’s growth.

You also want to make sure you don’t throw away valuable marketing money.

Making mistakes is normal and as Joseph Conrad said, “it’s only those who do nothing that make no mistakes.” Working with entrepreneurs and startups, I’ve learned you can’t avoid all mistakes. But you can avoid some.

Here are the top 4 growth-stage startup marketing mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. You don’t have a fixed marketing budget – Just like your general budget planning, you should work with a detailed marketing plan. Creating such a plan makes it easier to understand where your marketing money is going and when. For example, if you’re looking to launch your blog mid-year, your marketing plan should take into consideration the time and budget needed to build the blog and create the initial content. Growing your company and showing growth in your forecasts is nice and all but it has to be backed with a growing marketing budget. SEO work is another example for a marketing initiative that spans through a period of time and needs allocation of funds throughout the budget timeframe (there’s no such a thing as an “SEO campaign”). Setting a fixed marketing budget can be ok for the first couple of months, but if you want to grow, you need to take into consideration a growing budget.   

2. You don’t keep track of the competition – Some startups mistakenly operate thinking that they don’t have competitors. Even if you don’t have direct ones, it’s crucial to look at the nearest ones. Being an entrepreneur, it’s impossible to operate in a bubble (on a side note – telling potential investors you don’t have competitors is probably in their top 3 things they hate to hear). Knowing who your competitors are and following their work can help your business and marketing strategies as well. By signing up to your competitors’ newsletters, and using alert tools such as Mention or IFTTT, you can stay on top of what’s going on in your field.

3. Your tracking tools are not in place – Having tracking tools, such as Google Analytics in place is crucial, as otherwise you’ll be operating like a blind person. Google Analytics is the most popular tracking tool, 100% free, well-known, and reliable. If you don’t like using Google for tracking, there are other tools such as Piwik or Clicky that are just as good (and free) as well, or for both a web and mobile presence, Mixpanel. If you haven’t done so already, set your tracking and make sure that you know how to create goals, funnels and read reports. Having the majority of your traffic marked as “unknown” in Analytics is terrible as you’re spending money on marketing but cannot calculate the ROI. If you are unsure of how to set analytics and connect them correctly yourself, hire a freelancer to do this small project for you.

4. You’re not where your audience is – If your product is an innovative baby sensor that is sold directly to customers on your site, a LinkedIn campaign may not be the best use of your marketing money. Plan your marketing according to where your audience is. If you are a B2B cyber startup and your target audience are CIOs and CISOs of large enterprises, meet them in industry events, publish in blogs and newspapers they read, and re-target them on LinkedIn. If your product on the other hand targets millennials, you have to be very active on social media and mostly these days, Snapchat.








6 Signs You Shouldn’t Have Your Own Startup

Who hasn’t told themselves at least once (or twice) – “I’ve got a great idea and it’ll be worth millions…It’s time to launch my startup.”
That’s good and all, but launching a startup takes far more than a solid idea and a lofty goal. The hard truth is that some people probably shouldn’t become founders.

With every dream comes a reality. It’s not for the faint of heart, and while a healthy dose of delusion will get you through the excruciating pain of your first years as an entrepreneur, you do owe it to yourself to really understand what you’re about to get into. We hear the great success stories and watch the whirlwind humor of Silicon Valley on TV, but rarely talk about the failures.

The statistics alone are revealing. The most recent reveals that  about 9 out of 10 startups fail, and that’s a generous calculation (“not fail” has a broad meaning and can be interpreted in many ways. It doesn’t mean that the 1 out of 10 startups had successful exits or IPOs).Sure, there may be incredible moments of success and accomplishment, but for most, the reality of success is slim to none. Becoming an entrepreneur and launching your own startup takes nerve.

I’d go so far as to say it also requires a certain character and attitude, something that goes as deep as your DNA. If you don’t have it, the dream will quickly be shattered.

Here are 6 things to be cautious of when you first go all-in:

1. You’re perpetually stressed out –  Some people are calm by nature and some are stressed out all the time. Yes, being a successful entrepreneur means you have to be alert and sharp, but it doesn’t mean a constant sense of tension. Planning and launching your startup entails many stressful situations but to be an accomplished entrepreneur, you need to know how to control it. Making decisions and functioning under constant pressure will cause you to make mistakes and eventually fail. The stakes only get higher when you’re tasked with easing a team. Your first 10 employees will develop and carry your company culture to your next 100, and if that culture is riddled with anxiety and worry about the unknown, you simply won’t make it. That kind of mentality creates a toxic work environment, and the only time your team will feel relief is when you take a sick day.

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2. You’re indecisive – Making decisions and taking risks on an hourly basis are what startups are all about. You need to be strong with your decisions or risk going into a tailspin.. Successful entrepreneurs know to make decisions quickly, and also stand behind those decisions. We’re not talking about being stubborn and not or refusing to be flexible in changing conditions. Rather, when you’re are unable to make a decision, whether it’s about who to hire or what your product roadmap should look like, you’re letting your self-doubt take over.

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3. You have awful budget and forecast planning skills 
You don’t plan your budget right and it seems like you’re always down to your last three months. This could be an extra stressful situation when you have to pay suppliers or employees. A good entrepreneur thinks long-term and also knows to strike the iron while it’s hot. Investors are looking first and foremost at growth and growth opportunities. If you had a period of terrific growth in your startup that’s recently slowed down, it may be too late to get new funding.

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4. You spend too much money on useless advisors – You don’t have time to hire staff for all the positions you wish you could fill, so you retain advisors for one-time projects. The devotion and dedication of an advisor is not like the devotion of an employee, and that sometimes makes all the difference. You may also be under the false impression that it saves you money (but it actually doesn’t). A good advisor is costly, and usually not less than what a good hiree would take. A bad advisor will help you with nothing, and happily cash your check all the same.

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5. Your interpersonal skills suck – overall, you are not the nicest person. You also like to gossip and talk behind people’s back. Unfortunately, that didn’t change when you launched your own company and hired employees. It’s also extremely difficult for you to say something nice, let alone compliment someone on a job well done and overall, be appreciative of others.

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6. You’re not a role model – Your employees and peers don’t look up to you and you expect of them to perform a certain way and do certain things that you are not doing yourself. As an entrepreneur, any person that first meets you will label you a leader and you will immediately sense their respect. But, this leader reputation can fade fast when you are not acting on it. It can start by coming to the office at noon and leaving at 4 to just not caring at staff meetings. Remember that you are at the top of the pyramid, and everyone is noticing you. If you don’t deliver leadership, you will not be perceived as one.

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Originally published on Tech In Asia








Announcing The First Class of The Barclays Accelerator Powered by Techstars in Tel Aviv

We are incredibly excited to announce and welcome the first ever class of the Barclays Accelerator Powered by Techstars in Tel Aviv!

After success in London and NYC, we could not be more excited to be a part of the Israeli FinTech and Cyber communities. The number of fantastic companies we spoke to during our application process is symptomatic of extremely strong ecosystems.

This diverse, talented group of entrepreneurs has joined us from Israel and beyond – we have companies from London, Berlin & NYC coming to Tel Aviv for the 13 week program. They encompass a wide array of verticals within FinTech and Cyber – including international payments, remittance and malware detection. By combining Barclays 300+ years of financial services experience with the mentorship-driven model and entrepreneurial network of Techstars, we offer a game-changing advantage to our startups. We are in for a serious ride.

We also want to take this opportunity to thank our mentors. Their time and support is essential for this accelerator. We couldn’t do it without you!

Without further ado, here are our companies:

B2B Pay: Free IBAN for international exporters to Europe. Collect payments in 34 European countries and get 80% cheaper fees.

Bstow: Round up your spare change on debit/credit card transactions to charity.

Civilize: Communication and Consumer Advocacy Platform for people in debt.

Corr.bi: is a sophisticated Business Intelligence platform, mining data from multiple online and offline sources.

Cyber DriveWare: We’ve made a new layer of traffic visible – the I/O layer. There we detect and block new malware in real-time.

FinancialJuice: A real-time breaking financial news and content discovery platform helping traders and investors find the very best financial content.

Samurai: Data driven decision support platform for market professionals.

Slidepiper: SlidePiper gives businesses total control over their important documents after they are shared externally.

Vala: offers online money transfer and remittance services by building a marketplace for remitters and local affiliates using sophisticated risk technology.  

Wisor: Build your own diversified, optimized portfolio for your mortgage.