On Friday, March 9, 2013, I attended the US launch of Tel Aviv based start-upGetTaxi. GetTaxi was joined by seven other Tel Aviv based startups presenting their technologies to New York, and the US. The gathering demonstrated that cities around the world have the capabilities, desires and capacities to produce useful and profitable ideas.
GetTaxi was founded in 2010 and now has operations in Tel Aviv, Moscow, London, St Petersburg and now New York. It has 1,500 corporate customers and is providing 10,000 rides per day. The
service allows riders to order a taxi from a directly from a smartphone. The smartphone will show where and how long your taxi will take to arrive. GetTaxi will also act to bill the passenger and compensate the driver. The service is similar to the popular Uber service found in many cities in the US. GetTaxi does distinguish itself with a frequent riders’ program that can be redeemed for free rides and other savings.
Wix has been in business since 2006, with almost 30 million sites established. The service is based on a freemium model. Unique to the service is the ability to create websites without any knowledge of web programming. The website editing tool is extensive and highly configurable. But what really interested me was the fact that Wix is partnering to enable advanced functions such as ecommerce to be performed. Each feature costs less than $20 per month, making it very affordable.
Pango is a parking by smartphone application. In New York City, Pango has already partnered with 110 parking garages. Pango handles billing and with its smartphone app, you can also request your car without needing to call ahead. Pango already operates internationally, and in select cities and towns in the US. It has also begun to provide metering services that would replace parking meters, and charge a credit card based on the amount of time a particular car parked at an on-street parking spot located via GPS.
BillGuard is the web version of checking through your credit card bill. It takes machine language to a new level. Much like individuals mark spam in their Inbox, BillGuard takes the knowledge it learns to “read” a credit card statement in search of fraud.
ADagoo serves the advertising industry by providing demographic information to advertisers. It uses machine learning and social media and is very sensitive to privacy concerns often associated with mining data about individuals.
Mobli presents a new way of sharing photos. Unlike most photo sharing sites that are based on specific people, Mobli offers a way of sharing photos based on hashtags. This way, like minded individuals can connect together on a common topic.
LoyalBlocks is a loyalty marketing platform. Unlike punch cards or smartphone apps that require deliberate actions on the part of the consumer, LoyalBlocks has created technology that allows it to automatically detect the presence of a customer, even if the app is not running. With operations in the US, UK, Australia and South Africa, I think this is one technology that will really take off.
Eyeview is a personalized video advertising platform. For those of us (like myself) that watch a lot of TV shows after the first airing, the advertisements that are presented during the show can often feel irrelevant. Eyeview has recognized this, and now delivers advertisements that are catered or presented in a way that is more relevant to the consumer. For example, Eyeview demonstrated how it is able to deliver an advertisement for a Mazda vehicle would either focus on the safety aspects of the vehicle (for families) or the low interest rate (for those economically minded). It presented over 20 variations of the same advertisements with slight variations based on the demographics of the consumer watching it.
The wrap up …
I found the technologies presented by all these companies fascinating. Some were not as innovative as others. But all of them were focused on delivering the ability to individualize media or product consumption for consumers.
The get together was also a reminder that Silicon Valley may have a lot of attention in the US – and arguably have produced some of the most impressive, high profile technology companies in the world – but the rest of the world is challenging the US.
With over 700 startups in the Tel Aviv area, Israel should not be forgotten as a center of technology excellence. Large multinational technology vendors have had research and development there for many years, and some of the most well-known technologies that are in use today were either developed in Israel or by Israelis.
Finally, the geographic proximity to Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia gives Tel Aviv and Israel a leg up over Silicon Valley and New York.
My company, Neuralytix will be performing an in-depth look at how Tel Aviv will compete against the rest of the world when it comes to Big Data.