The halls and conference rooms were packed. In a country that tends to shut down at the sight of rain, it was hard to believe that all these people had fought their way through rain — and even snow in some areas — to take part in the OurCrowd Global Investor Summit at Israel’s National Convention Center in Jerusalem on Monday.
The event, the second annual summit held by Israeli equity crowdfunding platform company OurCrowd, attracted investors, entrepreneurs, corporate partners and venture capitalists from more than 50 countries and included speakers from Honda, Coca-Cola, Philips, Intuit, GE Digital and Samsung, as well as from dozens of Israeli startup companies.
“I’m encouraged and gratified that thousands of people showed up today from all over the world,” Jon Medved, founder and CEO of OurCrowd, told ISRAEL21c. “This is not a normal business; this is almost a movement.
“When I brought this idea up years ago because I wanted to do something different, people told me it wouldn’t work from both a business and legal standpoint.”
OurCrowd, which employs 100 people, was founded in 2013 and is today probably one of the world’s leading equity crowdfunding platforms. In 2014, the company raised $80 million in 55 portfolio companies. In 2015, the figure rose to $200m for 93 portfolio companies, including mPrest (which just raised $20m with OurCrowd), enVerid, Zebra, ReWalk, Consumer Physics and BioCatch. “Next year we hope to double these numbers,” said Medved.
In his opening remarks, Medved told attendees that crowdfunding worldwide grew to $10 billion in 2014, and that in October last year, the World Bank estimated that it will grow to $95 billion by 2025.
“Public offerings used to offer investors a chance to get in on the ground floor of young companies,” said Medved. “Not anymore. The real growth is investing in private companies.”
In a bear market, invest
The event was held amidst global concern that the world’s economy is entering a bear market, as stocks plunge and economic growth begins to slow.
Medved admitted that this would impact both public and private investment, but said: “Bear markets are not game over. We are not investing for three to six months, but for three to six years, and we invest in technologies that are really revolutionary like ReWalk, VocalZoom and SCiO, that don’t happen overnight.
“We might be entering a downturn now, but look at the long term and you can see what’s going to happen. Technological change will accelerate. Israel is booming, and crowdfunding is becoming bigger all the time.”
In addition, he added: “Great companies are often founded in a down time. They are lean and focused, and they can usually pick up key staff. Now is a great time to be investing in the market.”
The two-day event in Jerusalem included workshops and presentations from about 100 companies. It also included a live hackathon and a startup competition.
At the event, Honda announced its formal entrance into the Israeli market.