Frontline Initiative Supports Israeli Startups with Emergency Capital in Wartime Economy
By Roy Glasberg
The terror attack on October 7, 2023, in Israel has sparked a strong sense of unity among its citizens, bringing them together to defend their country. During these tough times, startup founders and key team members, even when called up for duty, continue to work hard to handle the everyday challenges of their businesses.
After the horrific attack, Israel has commenced a state of war with the terrorist organization Hamas. This sudden escalation in the conflict has introduced a unique challenge to Israeli startup founders and senior executives: continue to build their companies or rejoin the IDF. 300,000 men and women have joined the fight to protect The Start-up Nation.
The terror attack in Israel provides a stark reminder of Israeli founders’ dual existence: they are both tech leaders pioneering some of the world's most advanced technologies and also reserve fighters and commanders in the Israeli Defense Force. The current reality highlights the strength of Israeli society, with a remarkable 130% re-enrollment of individuals back into service, including many brave founders. Start-up Nation Central estimates that 10% of tech employees have re-enlisted or been called up; this number is as high as 30% in some companies.
Early-stage Israeli companies face unique challenges and a seemingly insurmountable mission. They must achieve significant traction and product-market fit with limited resources, including funding. The current security situation in Israel introduces another significant risk: founders being called into military service for an undefined period, disrupting funding, growth, and development efforts.
In response to this extraordinary situation we have created the Frontline Initiative with four co-organizers based in the US: Jarrad Berman, principal of private equity firm, TZP Group (New York); Grant Silow, managing director of 25madison (New York); Julie Samuels, president and executive director of trade group Tech:NYC (New York); and Paul Ahlstrom, managing director of Alta Global Ventures and co-founder of TechBuzz News in Lehi, Utah.
Frontline supports founders in three key ways: Capital, Revenue, and Talent. We connect startups with a network of 50+ investors committed to Israeli ventures, make high-impact prospective customer introductions, and help source great talent in the US to support companies’ expansion in this market.
Founded by a group of venture capital professionals, the Frontline Initiative aims to connect investors and founders to inject a total of $50 million directly into Israeli startups on an individual basis, and not into a fund or financial vehicle, according to Glasberg. It hopes to provide 80% of applicants with capital or business opportunities.
Since October 7, Frontline has provided several Israeli startups with $500,000 each in emergency capital. To shed light on this situation, we have gathered a collection of stories showcasing how startups that we have supported are managing under difficult conditions, and how the Frontline Initiative is aiding them in overcoming these obstacles.
A pioneer in behavioral voice biometric authentication headquartered in Haifa, Multikol is forging new frontiers in security solutions. Specializing in competency evaluation and robust fraud detection, Multikol's technology serves as a fortress for people, assets, and data. With a vision to lead globally in multifactor biometric authentication, Multikol has earned recognition for its cutting-edge advancements. Even though Multikol's CEO, Eddie Nevoani, is currently serving in reserves, he actively participates in meetings via phone calls or Zoom while in the field, demonstrating his unwavering dedication. With limited availability from their CEO, Multikol still places a strategic focus on the business aspect, particularly in securing more Letters of Intent (LOIs). Nevoani, recognizing the current landscape, has steered the company towards an increased emphasis on the Fintech sector—a tactical move that aligns with his vision.
Amidst the challenges brought by the war, the spotlight on Multikol's work has sharpened. Both of Nevoani's Co-Founders play crucial roles in supporting IDF security efforts by leveraging Multikol technology to verify the authenticity of news and materials in the public domain. In addition to this critical collaboration, the Frontline Initiative stands out as a key partnership offering support to Multikol. The dedicated network offered by Frontline becomes a source of strength, enabling Multikol to navigate complexities with resilience. In the face of adversity, Multikol, with the backing of Frontline, remains resolute in its mission to deliver cutting-edge biometric authentication solutions and contribute to building a safer digital future.
Novacy offers an unparalleled solution for B2B revenue teams looking to gain insight into their prospects' perceptions. By leveraging cutting-edge technology that analyzes text, audio, and video within virtual interactions, the Tel Aviv-based startup equips revenue teams with the tools to close more deals and succeed in an increasingly competitive market. Coach, predict, and streamline sales with in-meeting behavioral data. Novacy, founded by a trio of leaders—Or Biderman, the CEO currently a tank commander battling on the Israeli-Lebanon border; Uria Franko, the CTO; and Yair Giwnewer, the CPO, both currently on the front lines in Gaza—stands at the intersection of innovation and duty. Despite their dual responsibilities serving in the reserves, these founders steer Novacy with unwavering commitment, leveraging state-of-the-art technology to provide revenue teams with unprecedented insights into prospect perceptions during virtual interactions.
Due to the war, Novacy has been facing increasingly intensified challenges, disrupting their plans for fundraising and customer onboarding. In the midst of uncertainty, the Frontline Initiative steps in as an ally, embodying its commitment to supporting Israeli startups. Frontline's multifaceted approach—Capital, Revenue, and Talent—proves instrumental in Novacy's journey. The 250+ investor network facilitated by Frontline is not only helping Novacy complete its funding round but also fostering global connections to propel its business forward. Frontline's dedication to making high-impact customer introductions and sourcing top-tier talent in the US aligns seamlessly with Novacy's expansion goals, offering a lifeline amid the standstill caused by external factors.
OviO is a mobile app that offers rewards to users for in-game actions and provides game developers with access to highly engaged users. The Tel Aviv-based company has secured contracts with more than 25 prominent gaming companies, including Scopely, Playtika, and Plarium.
The business model operates on a cost-per-event (CPE) basis, where OviO acquires users for the app and incentivizes them to complete specific in-game events, such as tutorials or reaching certain levels. The fees associated with these events increase based on the time it takes users to complete them, reflecting the level of game progression.
Nir Hauer, CEO and Co-Founder of OviO is serving as a Captain-ranked combat commander in the IDF special forces, currently stationed in the demanding landscape of the south near Gaza. Despite the dual demands of leading OviO and serving in the reserves, Hauer's commitment remains unwavering. The Frontline Initiative steps into this narrative as a pivotal support system for OviO and Nir. By connecting OviO with a network of investors, Frontline facilitates not only financial support but also the crucial connections needed for OviO's sustained growth.
In Hauer' absence, Frontline's comprehensive assistance becomes even more critical. The support provided by Frontline extends beyond capital, addressing the nuances of revenue and talent. Through this partnership, OviO and Nir find themselves supported by a network that not only understands the challenges they face but actively works to empower their journey, reflecting the spirit of innovation and determination at the heart of the Frontline Initiative.
With offices in Tel Aviv and Santa Monica, Dataspan offers a unique solution, enabling the instant creation of computer vision applications, even with limited image or video data. The automatic enrichment of training datasets enhances model performance, addressing gaps in the training data. While Ofer Lavi is the CEO and Co-Founder of Dataspan, simultaneously he is serving as an operations officer in one of the IDF's largest combat divisions stationed on the Gaza border. Remarkably, three out of five Dataspan employees are currently fulfilling their duties in the IDF reserve forces.
As challenges emerged with deliverables facing delays due to Lavi’s call to duty, a strategic plan unfolded. Lavi displayed proactive leadership by onboarding an intern through Masa to shift the workload from employees on reserve duty. Additionally, he initiated contact with new leads, recognizing the gradual yet fruitful nature of this process. Lastly, Lavi secured a champion in one of their US partners to serve as a liaison with US customers, a crucial element in Dataspan's business continuity plan. The Frontline Initiative steps in as a key player, offering crucial support to Dataspan in navigating these challenges.
Frontline's assistance becomes particularly vital in ensuring business continuity amid Lavi's service commitment. Their support not only aids in addressing immediate operational needs but also reinforces the relationships Lavi has built, highlighting the importance of long-standing connections. As Dataspan faces the complexities of the current situation, Frontline Initiative serves as a reliable ally, embodying its commitment to support Israeli startups through a comprehensive approach encompassing Capital, Revenue, and Talent.
Roy Geva Glasberg, Founder and Managing Partner of AnD Ventures. Glasberg has created and managed hundreds of startup initiatives for tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, and Deloitte, showcasing his ability to nurture innovative and grow startups. Glasberg has worked with over 600 startups on five continents throughout their entire lifecycle, leveraging his extensive global network of investors and industry experts to provide professional guidance.
Glasberg holds four university degrees in Law, Business Management, Software IP and Financial Engineering from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) and Hebrew University. Glasberg’s team includes his wife Zohar, their four daughters and Rey, their golden retriever.