Startups

It’s a new era for female Israeli entrepreneurs

Comment

Image Credits: Spaces Images (opens in a new window)

Sivan Baram

Contributor

Sivan Baram is now VP of marketing and dealflow for hiCenter Ventures.

The Israeli startup scene has dramatically changed within a couple of years because of the significant increase in investment prospects (i.e. incubators, accelerators, angels), events, meet-ups, competitions, lectures, academic programs and more.

Especially interesting are the slowly, yet surely recent alterations in the diversity of the entrepreneurs, with more and more women entering the previously male-dominated startup habitat, turning it into an even more interesting scene. It is a crucial change that should have occurred earlier — but fortunately it is here, and it is here to stay.

There have been many debates, with many viable reasons provided, regarding why Israeli women entrepreneurs haven’t been active in the startup scene till now, why they are only now getting recognition and whether they are actually the ones taking more action. Here are a few arguments as to why Israeli women entrepreneurs are starting to blossom.

New opportunities

It appears that the male-dominated Israeli startup nation has taken a turn in the right direction. Not to seem too optimistic, though — men still lead the investment front, and they fulfill most key roles in the Israeli startup scene. However, diversity seems to be encroaching upon previous conventions, and there are now several new opportunities that have made it possible, easier and more appealing for women to join the rollercoaster and become startup founders and co-founders, as well as to join startups in key positions.

One of these new opportunities is WMN, which at first seemed to be another beautifully designed hub targeting women entrepreneurs, strategically located at the port of Tel Aviv complex. It soon became a ground-breaking success story, however, pushing forward numerous women-led startups that are now fully funded working companies on the rise. (i.e. TRENCH, Sidekix and more).

According to Merav Oren, CEO and founder of WMN, “WMN is a game-changer for women entrepreneurs. Our mission is to have more women-led ventures. We do this by providing our community members with a co-working space, professional events and workshops, along with mentors and networking opportunities with profound and leading men and women in the industry who want to pay it all forward.”

Oren agrees that “the Israeli startup scene (as the rest of the startup world) is still male-dominated. However, a clear shift has become prominent in recent years, and we are seeing Israeli women entrepreneurs just about everywhere: Women are founding startups, winning competitions, leading ventures and venture deal-flows, and leading successful innovative companies.”

Oren takes pride in her contribution, but not without admitting the long road ahead: “WMN has an important role in this local shift, and we are extremely excited to see that our hard work is paying off, not only business-wise but socially, as well. Having said that, as someone who is highly familiar with the Israeli startup scene, it is apparent that we still have a lot to do, but the challenge makes it interesting. We will continue with our vision for the betterment of everyone who cares about the startup scene, that will all benefit from this change.”

The rise of the momtrepreneurs

Another program intended for women entrepreneurs or future entrepreneurs is being led by Hilla Ovil-Brenner, a serial entrepreneur in the Israeli high-tech industry. Ovil-Brenner, who started her first startup (which she later sold to a huge corporation) when she was nine months pregnant, is now CEO and founder of a startup called GlingMedia, the first on-demand platform for inbound calls.

Ovil-Brenner specializes in reaching out to entrepreneurs and helping them fulfill their passion. She also founded Campus TLV for Moms at the Google Tel Aviv campus. Ovil-Brenner describes Campus TLV for Moms as the world’s first baby-friendly startup school for women entrepreneurs. Initially launched at Campus Tel Aviv by Yazamiyot, a social network for women entrepreneurs, it was co-founded by Ovil-Brenner and Google. Campus TLV for Moms provides a productive and educational bootcamp for moms to meet like-minded entrepreneurs and make progress.

According to Ovil-Brenner, “with the success of Campus for Moms in Tel Aviv, the program has grown to other campuses around the world, including London, Madrid and Seoul. We have helped hundreds of moms acquire the basic skills required for launching a successful startup — from product, development, branding, pitching investors and more.”

Ovil-Brenner explains: “Campus TLV for Moms is primarily aimed at women on maternity leave who are interested in learning more about entrepreneurship. The program is aimed at different audiences — either current or aspiring entrepreneurs or corporate employees with a track record of internal entrepreneurship who would like to know more about leading a successful business. We offer an 8-session cycle with special guests who are top-notch leaders in their fields. We take pride in helping women push forward a startup at what we discovered to be a critical turning point in their lives.”

Inspiration

There is quite a small group of Israeli women entrepreneurs who lead successful companies and give inspiration to other female founders, those who want to become entrepreneurs or those  taking the first steps to establishing a new startup.

One of them is Orit Hashay, who founded Brayola, a crowd-recommendation site for choosing and buying brassieres.

Hashay started as a software developer who independently launched several successful sites, such as mit4mit, an Israeli consumer wedding services reviews site, and Ramkol, Israel’s leading local reviews. She later joined Israeli VC Carmel Ventures as an investment manager, pushing forward its portfolio companies and seeking new investment opportunities for the company.

Hashay also takes an active part in encouraging Israeli women to aim at the non-existing glass ceiling: “I have lived the scene as an investor as well as a striving entrepreneur. I know how hard it can be, especially in a male-dominated world. However, I consistently ignored the fact that it is hard and didn’t take no for an answer. Any difficulty that I had, I found a way to resolve it.”

It’s definitely a new era for Israeli women entrepreneurs. Orit Hashay

As to why women entrepreneurs are less represented in startups, locally and abroad, Hashay says she knows exactly why this is the case. “I think the problem lies in early education. I volunteered at an NGO aimed at helping kids (tzeva.org.il) and kept seeing boys freely expressing themselves, even if they were clearly wrong about something, while girls were always less confident, even when they have the right answer. Women should be encouraged to speak up, be competitive from an early age, in the same way that boys are. From a personal perspective, my 4-year-old boy is extremely enthusiastic about working in my company, even though my husband is independent as well. Even though it is very heart-warming and flattering, I constantly tell him that he could create his own company if he would like. Every little boy or girl should be encouraged in exactly the same ways.”

As for today, Hashay concludes, “it’s definitely a new era for Israeli women entrepreneurs. The different programs available, the idea that it is not unusual for a woman to want to be independent or to want to start a venture from scratch… whatever the reason is, it’s happening and it’s a revolution that’s super fun to take an active part in.”

Breaking conventions

Shelly Eisen-Livneh is a relatively new entrepreneur who is part of WMN. Eisen-Livneh is the CEO and co-founder of aida, aiming to help people find compatible matches through playful and meaningful interactions.

Aida (Japanese for space between, time between, relation between) is a unique app that captures the space and time between two people — where the magic happens. It’s an app where people can discover each other playfully, bond and gradually form a “togetherness” — as in real life. This way they can stop focusing on searching and start focusing on creating the relationship they want.

According to Eisen-Livneh, her app disrupts dating conventions. “aida encourages a new dating culture that invites daters to develop and maintain an “aida” between them, bringing fun, emotion and meaning back into dating — both online and offline.”

Eisen-Livneh explains how her app is a convention breaker and introduces a fresh outlook on Israeli women entrepreneurs finally moving into the spotlight: “With aida I set out to create a product that many women felt is missing for years and fix many problems men had but could not articulate. The more I met with investors and accelerators, the more I realized that the crowd I am pitching to is usually comprised of men. Every now and then I meet a women who is a decision maker (about 5 percent of the investors I meet). I wish I could be meeting with more diverse teams.”

Eisen-Livneh further explained: “When I talked with my angel investor I asked him at one point ‘How do I convey the pain and explain the solution to someone who has never been in the online dating scene, let alone experienced it from a woman’s perspective? Do you know that 96.6 percent of the VC investors are men?’ His answer actually served as my guiding light ever since. He said, ‘Shelly, it’s all statistics. According to the echo-system statistics — you don’t even exist. But you’re alive kicking and screaming — aren’t you? So go out there, make your own reality and beat the statistics, every bit of it, in every step of the ladder.’ ”

And that’s what I think is most important for diversity to happen — simply go out there, be a woman entrepreneur, a business woman, a leader, a founder, a force to be reckoned with. Serve as an example to other women and always help others — of all genders. As in Gandhi’s words, “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

More TechCrunch

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

20 hours ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

22 hours ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer…

With the end of Workplace, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the enterprise

X, formerly Twitter, turned TweetDeck into X Pro and pushed it behind a paywall. But there is a new column-based social media tool in town, and it’s from Instagram Threads.…

Meta Threads is testing pinned columns on the web, similar to the old TweetDeck

As part of 2024’s Accessibility Awareness Day, Google is showing off some updates to Android that should be useful to folks with mobility or vision impairments. Project Gameface allows gamers…

Google expands hands-free and eyes-free interfaces on Android