From 2016 Conference:
Optimism abounded at the beginning of this year’s 2nd annual OurCrowd Conference in Jerusalem. Investors and startups from Russia, Japan, China, South Africa, Silicon Valley and all around the world gathered at the conference to network with companies and listen to the speakers. Innovators came to share their excitement about crowdfunding at the bustling conference.
In 2012 the United States lifted restrictions on crowdfunding, providing a new method of funding ideas and projects with the intent of providing easier funding to star-ups and allowing a broader group of investors to participate in new company funding. As a result crowdfunding is booming worldwide. In 2015, an estimated US$34 billion was raised through this practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people. Companies which have historically used traditional venture funding now have a path to raise money much more quickly from many smaller investors. At the same time, smaller investors can invest in companies that were previously unavailable to them.
OurCrowd is a leading equity based crowdfunding platform, designed for accredited investors to provide venture capital funding for start-ups. Accredited-investor status is offered only to people who meet the accreditation requirements. However, investors can participate in OurCrowd funding for as little as $10,000 per deal. Only companies that have passed a rigorous due diligence process are permitted to join the OurCrowd platform.
In the hotbed of startup companies today, also known as the “Startup Nation”, OurCrowd has planted its roots in Jerusalem. OurCrowd has become the first Israel focused, equity-based investment platform and one of the leading investor-only accredited platforms. To date the company, with investors from over 100 countries has invested over $300 million in more than 100 start-ups. As the annual Jerusalem OurCrowd conference in February 2017 approaches, we reflect back on the success and excitement that was brought to last year’s conference.
At the conference we heard from Jon Medved, the co-founder and CEO of OurCrowd, as well as companies OurCrowd has chosen to invest in. Honda, Vocal Zoom, Engie, and Zoomcar are just a few of many featured companies at last year’s conference. The OurCrowd conference provided us with insight on the burgeoning success and popularity of crowdfunding today, but also served as a medium to meet and engage with investors who had come from around the world for the conference. In his opening plenary speech, Medved shared that “great companies are built in downturns” since they are more focused on getting back on their feet and as a result, pick up on better staff.
We met with several investors and company CEOs at the conference who each were asked to share how they first became involved with OurCrowd and their opinions on crowdfunding today and for the future. From Moscow Russia, Vladimir Vadim, founder of a venture capital business in Russia and 3 year investor in OurCrowd, shared with us that he was very impressed when he first became acquainted with OurCrowd. “Business in Russia is difficult” and having invested in Russian businesses in the past, Vadim says he was in search for another outlet. When asked what particularly drew Vadim to OurCrowd, Vadim responded that he loves OurCrowds approach to start-ups and his interest in the social impact of OurCrowd’s portfolio companies was especially appealing to him. Vadim believes that connections between Russia and Israel are strengthening and investing in an Israeli company from Russia “will be extremely beneficial, since OurCrowd’s portfolio companies have great points in how they localize their technologies.” We also asked Vadim what he believed to be the top 5 countries for investing in innovation. He in turn explained that Israel, the US, Singapore, Britain, and India were among the top five, although India is very difficult to understand.
We also talked to Michael Nehmad, representing Honda at the conference. We asked how long Honda had been involved with OurCrowd and what his take was on crowdfunding as well as which countries he believes to be the most worthwhile for investing in today. “I’ve been working at Honda for the past 18 months and this is Honda’s first time being featured at the OurCrowd conference. There are so many great people with so many great ideas! I believe that the top regions for investing today include Silicon Valley, Israel, Japan because of their strong engineering presence, and Germany. I really think that the most innovative minds and creations are spin outs from universities.”
OurCrowd demonstrates the power that is being unleashed by permitting crowdfunding. The excitement among investors and entrepreneurs clearly demonstrated the benefits of connecting people globally in order to match funders with new innovative opportunities. We look forward to seeing the progress of some of last year’s featured investments at this year’s conference.
Submitted by Olivia Levkowitz