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December 20, 2020 9:58 am

Israeli-American Venture Capital Fund: Israeli Entrepreneurs Are ‘More Direct’ Than Their American Counterparts

avatar by CTech Staff

A stock market ticker screen in the lobby of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, in the center of Tel Aviv, March 15, 2020. Photo: Flash90.

CTech – When it comes to investment, small social cues between Israelis and Americans can be paramount. It might be a meeting or conference, a pitch or a greeting. One thing is for sure: communication is key.

“Israeli entrepreneurs have a unique quality of being more direct in communication with investors, customers, or team members,” explained Surround Ventures’ Managing Partner Jared Kash. “Although it is important to be sensitive to cultural differences between Americans and Israelis, this style of assertiveness differs from their local counterparts.”

The VC has joined CTech for its brand new series, Israeli Tech in NY, where entrepreneurs, startups, and investors discuss some of the business, cultural, and social norms that converge when Americans and Israelis work together.

Name:

Surround Ventures (VC)

Main fields of investment:

Media / Entertainment / Sports / E-commerce

Managing Partners:

Jared Kash / Yaron Kniajer

Partners:

Randi Zuckerberg

Year of founding:

2019

Fund Size:

$18 Million / Fund I

Average Investment:

$500K

Portfolio:

IMGN Media, Xtend, Solvo, Bites

General background:

Surround Ventures is a unique combination of Israeli and American investors built on years of fund experience, trusted relations with Israeli founders, expertise in early-stage investments, and an unparalleled network in the US. Both Jared Kash and Yaron Kniajer, the Managing Partners of Surround Ventures, created the fund after developing a strong connection with one another following a co-investment in IMGN Media.

Company’s vision:

Surround Ventures is the home for Israeli technology startups in the media, entertainment, sports, and e-commerce sectors. Our team is committed to empowering our portfolio companies with strategic insights and access to the most relevant executives, entrepreneurs, and investors.

What types of Israeli startups/entrepreneurs are you interested in?

Focusing on early-stage Israeli technology companies, usually with a working product and promising market traction, within industries we understand well and can add meaningful value.

Why invest in an Israeli company in New York? What advantages do such companies have? How is the New York market different from the Israeli market?

Similar to our fund’s structure, we are investing in Israeli companies with operations across Tel Aviv, New York, and Los Angeles. Companies have the advantage of communicating more successfully when operating in the same geography as their customers.

How do Israeli entrepreneurs/startups differ from their local counterparts?

Israeli entrepreneurs have a unique quality of being more direct in communication with investors, customers, team members, etc. Although it is important to be sensitive to cultural differences between Americans and Israelis, this style of assertiveness differs from their local counterparts.

Two suggestions for Israeli entrepreneurs on what to do in New York:

In New York, Israeli entrepreneurs should aim to learn and to employ the American marketing approach in branding, messaging, sales, and so on; and source the right American talent to leverage existing business development connections.

Two suggestions for Israeli entrepreneurs on what not to do in New York:

In New York, Israeli entrepreneurs should not underestimate the importance of grammar when communicating in email and not be afraid to dream big!

On a scale of 1-10 how much did the Covid pandemic impact your work? Please expand in your own words the positive and negative effects the outbreak had on your company:

We believe it is the right time to invest in early-stage startups, in context to Covid-19’s impact. Global crises such as Covid-19 accelerate innovation and create attractive investment opportunities. For example, following the 2008 Financial Crisis we saw the birth of disruptive companies including Airbnb, Uber, and WhatsApp, among others.

Success Stories:

1) IMGN Media – acquired by Warner Music Group, in August 2020. Surround Ventures invested in the company in October 2019. IMGN Media is an innovative, social publisher across Gen-Z focused platforms, such as Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. IMGN Media owns and operates a portfolio of media channels across different demographic segments.

2) Xtend – whose founders previously sold Replay Technologies to Intel, is a drone “extended reality” startup, combining virtual elements with real-life environments. In September 2020, the US Department of Defense launched a pilot program with Xtend to test the employment of their drone systems by the US military.

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