Targeting “Silicon Wadi” — Israel’s own version of Silicon Valley — Wadi Ventures has launched as a new micro-seed VC fund focusing on disruptive Internet and new media startups in the region. So new, in fact, that its website is currently under construction. More interestingly, however, the fund thinks it’s seen a gap in the accelerator model, where industry partners, such as telcos, banks and corporates, get in on the action early and actually help shape those early-stage ideas — and with it, offer a quicker route to market.
It’s not yet saying who those partners are. Or more importantly, who is backing the fund, aside from that they are European and consist of a mixture of important financial institutions and entrepreneurs, some of them “very well known”. It hopes to be able to disclose more information on its mysterious backers sometime in the future. We wait with bated breath.
Wadi Ventures says its first cohort will involve ten teams — applications are being screened right now — and that each startup will receive an investment of around $30k in return for 7-10% equity. “As always, it is not an exact science”, says Jonathan Pacifici, General Partner, Wadi Ventures.
Back to the fund’s model: It says that it believes that startups need to engage as soon as possible with the market, and for Israeli companies that market is abroad. Hence its focus on industry partners and European backers. But more specifically, it wants to avoid the potential misfit between a startup’s innovative idea and existing industry dynamics and practicalities, citing the theoretical example of a new mobile payment solution being tailored to a top European bank rather than discovering too late that “the technology is nice, but doesn’t match the market’s needs”.
In this regard, Pacifici says that when talking to industry partners, there has been a lot of interest for the idea of ‘tailor made’ startups.
To that end, Wadi Ventures says that the startups in its programme will be introduced to those telco, bank and corporate partners and run “betas” with them “way before demo day”. In addition to this, it will provide teams with “outstanding mentors, board members and consultants”. The latter, of course, is a widely made claim and standard accelerator affair.
Wadi Ventures is founded by Jonathan Pacifici, General Partner. Before founding Wadi, he served as Managing Partner of management consulting firm JP & Partners — which appears to be linked to the fund — where he is said to have consulted for major high tech companies as well as leading startups in telecommunication, Internet, security, enterprise software, media and BPO, along with representing “major European corporations and investors”.
The fund’s other Partner, Reuven Ulmansky, is a veteran of the elite 8200 technology intelligence unit of the Israeli Defense Force, and has held a “variety of senior managerial posts” in large international and Israeli organizations such as Intel Corporation, Koor Industries Pharmaceutical group, and Israel Aircraft Industries. He’s also served as a mentor and strategist for a number of Israeli startups.