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What App Are You? A Report from the Israel Conference in L.A.

If I were an Israeli-developed app, which one would I be?

Would I be Waze, the app that incorporates live traffic information to send you the most turn-filled directions – and gets you there faster than anyone else; or FaceTune, the PhotoShop like App from Lightricks (A New York-based company started by 5 PhDs in Computer Science at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem); Artbit, the Shazzam for artworks; Tekoia – a smart universal remote app that can control any item in your home that has a remote, from your TV to your air conditioner  (SureMote is the Android version); or Nutrino, an app that provides you with the best nutrition information currently available?

This came to mind last week while attending The Israel Conference, the annual LA-based gathering that showcases global companies and their investment in Israeli companies (and sometimes the reverse). Attended by representatives from all the companies mentioned above. the conference is organized by Sharona Justman of STEP Strategy Advisors and Yossi Vardi, Chairman of International Technologies (better known as the Godfather of Israeli Angel investing).

Noam Bardin, the CEO of Waze spoke, sharing the insights that a great app needs to serve a “hardcore functionality” as well as provide a “great experience” saying that “it is not enough to provide just one.” “Product,” Bardin advised, “Has to be run by a fanatical person.” To which one of his panelists replied, “I prefer saying passionate.”

Speaking of bringing passionate attention to detail, FEEX is an online service that analyzes your IRA investments, finds the hidden fees you are paying , and then suggests similar funds with lower fees. Currently they don’t charge for the service (although in the future they may charge a percentage of what they save you). Another company at the event, “Our Crowd,” is a crowd-funding platform that is passionate about allowing qualified investors to be VC-like early stage investors in companies – at lesser amounts than traditionally required.

Coca-Cola’s Alan Boehme discussed an incubator they’ve launched in Israel where they share their marketing, branding, and strategic expertise with start-ups. So, for example, an Israeli startup which had been conceived to help a parent when they lose their child became repositioned as a way for families to stay connected and its use expanded a a much wider range of family members and applications.

There were panels on cybersecurity which posed the dilemma of whether attending would make you more afraid or feel more secure (the answer: both).  And there were several Israeli companies using novel approaches to measuring and treating brain issues, including Neuronix’s neuroAD product which offers brain testing, training and electric stimulation to specific brain sectors to slow cognitive degeneration and slow the effects of Alzheimers; as well as a company that intends to open concussion treatment centers.

There were several panels on Israel and Hollwood – not only all the shows with Israeli creators or based on Israeli formats such as In Treatment, Homeland, Tyrant, and the upcoming NBC show “Allegiance” but also game shows such “Rising Star” as well as Israeli executives in Hollywood, such as Assef Blecher of Dick Clark Productions and Warner Brothers’ Nir Harkili. 

Creating community is at the core of all of these consumer focused entities and most now have Social baked in to their DNA. Regardless of whether it’s tech or Hollywood, what Israeli companies bring to the table is their creativity.

As to which app I would be, we must look to PlayBuzz, the “playful content” platform and site, that creates quizzes so entertaining that 80 Million people visit their site a month, while individuals check their site 43 times a day, and media corporations such as Martha Stewart Living turn to them to create quizzes that will enhance their own social media standing.              

The lesson at The Israel Conference can be summed up as follows: it’s not what app you are, it’s having the creativity to think of it in the first place.

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