OurCrowd has launched as the Funders Club / Angel List crowdfunding platform for accredited investors who want to invest in Israeli startups. It’s just closed $5.5 million in Series A funding and successfully closed 12 company funding rounds from accredited investors in its first quarter of operation with an average deal size of $500,000. The total capital raised for companies and the platform now totals over $12 million.
One of the interesting things about OurCrowd, besides being Israel-only focused, would be the hybrid model of the company. The Partners invest their own money into the fund – making it a mix of angel and VC. As such, the deal-flow is highly vetted and curated as the incentives are aligned. If the fund loses money, so do the partners. They receive over 100 deals a month – although I suspect that amount will be even higher now that it’s officially launched and the PR push has started.
The first deals completed on the site so far include:
- AbesMarket.com – Abes is an awesome online organic ecommerce site that makes my inner-hippy really happy. It’s been around for a few years now. Recently, Richard Demb, one of the co-founders has relocated back to Chicago and is building the sales and marketing team there. The other co-founder, Jon Polin, and R&D are staying in Israel, as is typical for most Israeli companies. The Leading Organic E-Commerce Site, co-investment with Accel Partners, Index, and Carmel Ventures.
- Sherpa – (Doesn’t have a landing page yet. The marketer in me is dying at the lost emails that could have been collected from a landing page. Every time a company loses out on the opportunity to market itself properly a unicorn dies). The new Internet information venture from Bob Rosenschein, founder and CEO of Answers.com (sold to Summit Partner’s AFCV Holdings for $127 million), co-investment with Cedar.
- TradeOS – An operating system for automating international business-to-business (B2B) trade founded by Zvi Schreiber, the founder and CEO of Tradeum.com. (sold to Vertical Net for $450 million). Much of the development team of TradeOS is located in Ramallah, West Bank.
- Parko – Solving the pain of finding public street parking. These guys are great, I mentored them at Seedcamp and loved what they are doing the moment I heard it. I used to live in Tel Aviv, and finding a parking spot could easily take 40 minutes to an hour (my current commute home when there’s no traffic). Imagine it taking no time at all, assuming you’re willing to pay for a spot (and really – who isn’t by the time you’ve been searching for 30 minutes? I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago and would have given my left kidney for parking in Pacific Heights.) Parko recently won the Israel Mobile Challenge Competition sponsored by Google.
- Fireblade – (Website not up yet. Oh the pain – see Sherpa above – Fireblade could have gotten started on its email list.) When it launches, Fireblade will protect websites from malicious bots and scraping, co-investment with Jeffrey Citron’s (founder of Vonage) KEC Holdings.
- Consumer Physics – (Website also not up yet, and no sign up for emails. Again.) When it launches it will be a pocket spectrometer for smart phones, enabling a variety of consumer apps, co-investment with Khosla Ventures. I have absolutely no idea why one would need a spectrometer in a smart phone – but I’m sure I’m missing something here because the team at OurCrowd rocks – so in this case I’m just going to assume it’s me that’s confused.
I chatted with Zack Miller, the Head of Investor Community/Partnerships at OurCrowd, this morning. The first question I had was regarding the fact that there’s only one woman on the team and that’s the head of HR – no female Partners or Principals. Zack assured me that they are looking, and Jon Medved, the founder of OurCrowd, even requested referrals at the latest Tech Aviv. (I’ll be sending him a list of qualified women later today – so that should help.) He also emphasized that OurCrowd will be looking for qualifying investments from both genders, and all races, in all of Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
The investment team at OurCrowd rocks. Jon Medved is known in Israel as one of the top investors in the country and has been through all of the country’s ups and downs when it comes to startup companies and investing. Israel has recently been a controversial place to invest, as statistics show that exits are smaller than in those in Silicon Valley.
According to Jon, “Despite the recent doom and gloom about the Israeli investment scene, the pace of startup formation is unprecedented and OurCrowd plans to feed these early stage companies with much-needed investment fuel via a whole new crowdfunding model.”
He added, “OurCrowd represents the first real global crowdfunding investment platform for startups given the wide interest outside of Israel in the Start-up Nation phenomena, we think it’s natural for the Web to be used to hook our community of investors up.”
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