By Daniel Sablosky*
Last Sunday I had the opportunity to attend the TechCrunch info session held by Tech7 and JVP labs. This event opened a dialog between the multinational tech-reporting multimedia publisher and startups in the BeerSheva region.
I had to come to Israel from America in order to meet with a technology reporting company stationed in my backyard, but the experience was surreal. The overall intelligence at the event blew me away.
A diverse group of editors and writers from both the European and American divisions of TechCrunch attended. The energy in the room was electric. CEOs of the various startups each got their shot to make a quick pitch to the TechCrunch reporters, who followed up with pointed questions concerning the nature of the technology espoused by the startups. These conversations served to demonstrate the unique technology being constructed in the Negev and the intelligence of the writers who were able to instantly identify key concepts.
Sometimes startups can fall so in love with their technology that they lose sight of the bigger picture. In this case the writers from TechCrunch provided the global perspective to the problems these companies seek to solve. I was shocked by the ability of the CEO’s to field these questions with grace and aplomb; never did they seem surprised by a question for out of their depth dealing with the top minds from an international organization.
XTRMX, developing an immediate media-management platform, got special attention from Tito Hamze, host of TechCrunch’s daily video news report. XTRMX has been pushing hard to get their name out into the field, recently listed in the top 20 of SilicoNegev competition (held by Tech7 in conjunction with Mata Association) and giving a very enthusiastic pitch at this session, they make a good example of smartly enjoying the advantages offered to the Tech7 members. Their use of events and persistence in breaching new ground showed me the hunger necessary to make a name for yourself in the Tech world. The TechCrunch representatives echoed that sentiment, encouraging startups to email them three times even with no response before considering it a lost cause.
Tips and tricks
Aside from the specific conversations with startups, the TechCrunch group gave an informal talk on tips and tricks to getting the press’ attention. Writers at a massive company such as TechCrunch are constantly bombarded with requests to cover businesses and new tech, so being able to properly pitch an idea through email is crucial to cutting through the noise and being noticed.
The idea they mentioned which resonated with me was how much it helps to establish a relationship with the writers over time. Sending them and tips or scoops that one might come across over the course of doing business helps to build up a repartee with a writer and opens a line of communication for self-promotion at a later point. Ingrid Lunden specifically mentioned that she loves a good scoop, and will cherish relationships that yield good storylines.
Following the writers, Samantha Stein focused on the TechCrunch Startup Battlefield. Much like the local SilicoNegev, the global Battlefield competition pits startups against each other four times a year, in locations including San Francisco, Las Vegas, Berlin, and New York. This competition has helped participating early stage startups raise almost $7 billion dollars and the alumni network includes Dropbox, Mint, and Yammer. Registration is free!
Having faith in Beer-Sheva
TechCrunch came to Israel for the express purpose of hosting a pitch-off in Tel Aviv on June 28th, where ten Israeli startups had the chance to woo TechCrunch editors, and judges from Ebay, Golan Ventures, and LeumiTech. The winner earned a booth at TechCrunch Dublin in Startup Alley. The event’s prize demonstrated a faith in the quality of the startups in the community, and the editors left a promise for more of such events to come to the region as it continues to grow.
The event served as validation to the efforts of Tech7 and the startup community as international businesses have started to take note. The idea of the #1 Tech website coming to Beer-Sheva was far-fetched in the recent past, now the vibrant ecosystem in the area is producing tech at a rate that is impossible to ignore. When these companies gather together to build a community which works together to lift its members to new heights powerful players take notice.
* Daniel Sablosky is a student at Virginia Tech University studying Industrial and Systems Engineering. He is in Israel for the summer through Onward Israel and is currently working with Tech7 & CDI Negev.