Yahoo! has chosen Israel as the location of its first-ever startup accelerator. Yahoo!, which already has a development presence in Israel in Tel Aviv and Haifa, has now decided to open up the SigmaLabs accelerator in collaboration with UK-Israeli venture capital fund Entree Capital. The first program for 4-5 startups will begin in September for early stage companies in the big data, video, fintech and native advertising sectors.
The accelerator is the brainchild of Aviad Eyal and Martin Moshal of Entrée Capital, who wanted to create a pre-seed accelerator 'for Founders by Founders'. Eran Bielski of Entrée Capital has been appointed to manage the accelerator, supported by Linat Wager, head of innovation and start-up relations at Yahoo Israel; Yoelle Maarek, VP of research in EMEA and head of Yahoo Labs in Haifa; and Ido Yablonka, head of Yahoo in Tel-Aviv and former CEO of ClarityRay, which was acquired by Yahoo!.
Wager said that the collaboration with Entree Capital brings the added value of the fund and its partners in the world of venture capital and finance. She said, "Yahoo! does not invest in startups and we do not have an investment fund like Google Ventures or Microsoft Ventures. Therefore, we wanted a major partnership that will bring knowhow and experience." She said that Entree Capital has invested in a long list of startups worldwide including Snapchat and Stripe as well as Israeli startups such as Meerkat, GreenIQ, Dragonplay, Kitlocate and more.
The SigmaLabs accelerator will be located in the Ramat Gan Diamond Exchange district. Wager told "Globes" that this is only the start of cooperation between Yahoo and Entree Capital, "We are beginning in Tel Aviv but in the future we will reach Haifa and the south." She added that Microsoft will also be a partner of Yahoo! and Entree Capital in the accelerator. "It's not strange to see Microsoft here. The aim is to create a situation in which the entrepreneur wins. Microsoft will provide programs and tools for use in the cloud worth up to $150,000 to assist entrepreneurs." Other interested partners who will give mentoring services include EMC, Aleph VC fund, and lool Ventures.
SigmaLabs accelerator will work on a ‘pay it forwards’ model whereby graduate startups are expected to contribute to subsequent classes of startups and can decide, at their sole choice, to contribute equity back to the accelerator. Additionally, there are a number of financial incentives that startups can choose from, such as a $250,000 convertible note from a leading VC for the outstanding graduate from the program that has met key metrics and $25,000 convertible notes made available to startups that complete the program with high scores the emphasis being that the startups decides if they want to take advantage of any of these voluntary incentives earned on merit.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 26, 2015
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