Register for SmartUp3.
The SmartUp3 competition has gotten underway. “Globes”, in collaboration with Poalim Hi-Tech and Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI), are launching the third SmartUp competition for Israeli companies. To mark the start of the third competition, “Globes” spoke with the three winners of last year’s competition, and examined how they have changed since their win. The three companies received a start-up package from Bank Hapoalim, including a bank account at preferential terms and a NIS 20,000 grant, as well as advice from executives of the technology incubators which participated in the competition.
HopOn: ready for a breakthrough in foreign markets
People who frequently use public transport are familiar with the problem: the bus arrives, and the waiting people jam the entry door. The driver does not have change for a NIS 100 bill, a passenger can’t find his wallet, another is looking for small change, and the bus stands still while all of this gets sorted out. The bus crawls, if it moves at all, while the driver is busy answer a question about the fare and giving change for the NIS 100 bill.
HopOn’s application, which allows paying fares via a smartphone, seeks to solve this problem. Every bus company that cooperates with the start-up puts next to the bus driver an ultrasonic transmitter that includes the bus’s code. The passenger activates the app, which within a second, identifies the bus stop and route number. There is no need to contact the driver. The app also identifies the Rav-Kav card (a multiuse smart plastic e-card imprinted with the passenger’s photograph), monthly passes, and other cards. The company will soon make it possible to recharge a Rav-Kav card through the app.
“This is an app created out of necessity,” says HopOn co-founder Ofer Sinai. “It is necessary to shorten the time devoted for paying fares. During rush hour, a bus wastes an average of four minutes at each stop, and there is no reason for this to happen. Saving travel time equals saving fuel, which can be worth a lot of money to bus operators.” He says that the waiting time at a stop can be halved from four to two minutes. “Mobile paying is a win-win situation for the consumer and the business,” he adds.
HopOn began running its app in the Israeli market, and is currently operating on Dan Bus Company routes and the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality’s Tel-o-Fun service. “We are the first and only company in Israel with a fully mobile card, but it’s not easy to work in the Israeli market because of regulations. There is no Ministry of Transport standard for mobile, unlike in other Western countries. Israel is an outlier in this regard,” says Sinai.
This is one reason why, this year, HopOn has sought to gain a foothold in foreign markets. “We have invested a lot of time to enter the US,” says Sinai. HopOn recently won a Powerful Answers award in the transportation category offered by Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). Under the program, Verizon Innovations hosts, collaborates, and assists promising start-ups in various industries. “Success in the Israeli market resulted in many inquiries by municipalities and technology companies, which are our customers, to export the solution outside of Tel Aviv,” says Sinai. In addition to the US, HopOn is running its solution in Germany, “which has the largest number of public transportation passengers, and is a key market for us,” he says. The company is also running its solution in the Czech Republic.
HopOn’s app is already generating revenue about NIS 500,000 since the start of the year. The company is now in the advanced stage of raising capital with a number of strategic investors. “The SmartUp competition and Bank Hapoalim’s help greatly helped us, says Sinai, emphasizing that, as part of the collaboration with the bank, the company’s app was installed in the bank’s e-wallet app, which its customers can use for public transportation. “In addition to the bank, the people from 8200 EISP greatly helped us, introducing us to leading companies in our market.”
GreenIQ Ltd.: first sales in the US and Europe
It’s no secret that Israel is not blessed with water. It is a quite rare natural resource here, which may be one of the reasons why GreenIQ emerged in Israel. The company has developed a smart garden irrigation system, receiving weather updates through the home wireless Internet network to build and execute water-saving irrigation plans for public and private gardens. The system can halve water consumption and also controls the garden lighting system on the basis of sunrise and sunset.
GreenIQ founder and CEO Odi Dahan says that the main development in the past year has been the system’s commercial launch outside Israel, partly thanks to winning the best product award at the prestigious CES 2015 exhibition in Las Vegas. “We began selling here in the US through Home Depot, and in some Western European countries through our website,” says Dahan, adding that, in the household market, the product does not specifically target the wealthy. “In the US, a house with a garden is the ultimate middle class,”
Dahan adds, “The company has established new partnerships, and is about to announce collaboration with a major US communications company and gardening supplies vendors.” In Israel, the system manages irrigation systems at Rabin Medical Center Beilinson Hospital, several clinics of Clalit Health Services, and at Yoo Towers in Tel Aviv. “Our customers have saved 28 million liters of water to date,” says Dahan.
The system costs NIS 1,200 for everyone, and returns the investment within a year.
“There is no competing system to ours in Israel. In the US, there are a number of competing system, but I aver that our system is the best, because it is simultaneously linked to a great many sensors, including a thermometer and water flow sensor,” says Dahan.
In the past year, GreenIQ has closed $1.3 million in financing from Entrée Capital and Gigi Levy, the former CEO of 888 Holding plc (LSE:888). Dahan says that, this year, the company projects that revenue will exceed the $1 million threshold for the first time. “In the coming year, we plan to launch the next generation system and expand our presence in the US and Europe. The financial prize and expert advice we received from Bank Hapoalim greatly helped us,” says Dahan.
Zeekit Online Shopping Ltd. launches the first B2C versions
Zeekit, according to Yael Vizel, one of its three co-founders, “is primarily a B2C app that allows everyone to be photographed and see himself wearing a wide range of clothes that our fashion team creates from various online catalogues. In addition, every online store can install the code line, which connects the Zikit icon to every item of clothing sold at the store, so anyone with the app and photographed, can, with a click on the icon, see himself wearing all the items in the store on which our code line has been embedded.”
The app will be officially launched at year end and will soon include recommendations on the size of each item measured by the app.
Zeekit’s most important development in the past year has been the release of the first B2C version, which will be launched in the US market toward the end of the year. Over the past year, the company has raised a few million dollars, and in the coming year, it will focus on expanding the app’s user base and embedding it at popular online stores.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 23, 2015
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2015