Minute to Pitch It participants present to the crowd. Photo: Yaniv Yur
Minute to Pitch It participants present to the crowd. Photo: Yaniv Yur

When one young startup exec froze at 20 seconds into his 60-second product pitch before approximately 200 investors, corporate executives, government officials, journalists and entrepreneurs, the audience broke into applause and encouraged him to try again.

The next time, he delivered the well-rehearsed pitch flawlessly, to another round of applause from the mayor and everyone else gathered in Jerusalem’s City Council chambers for the MassChallenge Israel 2015 Launch Event on February 11.

The pressure was palpable: 13 seed- or early-stage startups chosen from 100 applicants each got a “Minute to Pitch It” — in English, no less — in hopes of getting noticed by investors. Some have already raised capital, while others are still bootstrapping.

The nerve-racking experience was good practice for those planning to apply to the third cohort of MassChallenge Israel, though that was not a prerequisite for Minute to Pitch It eligibility.

MassChallenge  is a free four-month accelerator in Boston and London for promising startups from all over the world.

During the meet-and-greet portion of the evening, ISRAEL21c touched base with some MassChallenge Israel alumni we’ve featured: AutoAgronom, VoiceITT, Myndlift, Vecoy Nanomatrics, MedAware and JoyTunes.

They and the other six alumni (MadBio, Holodent, Lig, OralSave, TrendiGuru and Vigor Medical Technologies) have won prizes and/or funding since finishing MassChallenge, and those not already in the market are moving ahead with commercialization.

But the real buzz centered around the 13 newbies vying for attention:

UpRight, a wearable that attaches to the lower back and vibrates gently when you slouch, reminding you to correct your posture as per instructions from the UpRight app.

ReThink Pharmaceuticals, devoted to matching existing drugs to new therapeutic needs.

3RD ROCK  eco-activewear.

Routier no-install business platform for increasing customer engagement and revenues over Wi-Fi networks.

Basically, a user-friendly five-minute summary of daily financial news.

Hinoman Agro, developing a sustainable production module for home-harvesting a tiny leaf vegetable with an impressive nutrition profile.

FreshBiz  board game and book for entrepreneurship education.

Intelligo Group, a global due-diligence firm of former Israeli intelligence officers.

StorEX, an online marketplace connecting people needing storage space with people willing to rent them unused space. It’s launching this month in Boston.

Jewel-e portable espresso maker.

ExceeMatrix, a coral implant technology to repair torn knee ligaments.

GreenIQ, an IoT device for smart gardening. GreenIQ won a “Best of CES” award at the recent international Consumer Electronics Show.

City Transformer,  developing a two-seat folding car that parks like a motorcycle. It won first place in a competition to get into the new Smart Transportation Accelerator launched by Israel’s EcoMotion  community and the Fuel Choices Initiative of the Prime Minister’s Office.

MassChallenge Israel program director Moran Nir speaking at the event at Jerusalem City Hall, with Mayor Nir Barkat and EMC VP Orna Berry in the foreground. Photo: Yaniv Yur
MassChallenge Israel program director Moran Nir speaking at the event at Jerusalem City Hall, with Mayor Nir Barkat and EMC VP Orna Berry in the foreground. Photo: Yaniv Yur

 Hosting the MassChallenge Israel launch in Jerusalem was a feather in the cap for Mayor Nir Barkat and organizations such as Made in Jerusalem, BioJerusalem  and JNext, which are actively promoting Jerusalem’s fast-growing startup ecosystem. MassChallenge may even open an accelerator in the city.

MassChallenge Israel program director Moran Nir, herself a young entrepreneur, ended the program by opening the call for applications for the next June-to-October accelerator in Boston.

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