When the British government set up the Tech City cluster in London in 2010, it was only a matter of time until Israeli high-tech companies started arriving. Compared to New York, Boston and especially Silicon Valley, London is a quick hop from Tel Aviv and only two time zones away.
According to Viacom, about 400 Israeli startups or tech companies now operate in the UK, primarily in greater London. More than a dozen Israeli firms, mostly in high-tech, are listed on the London Stock Exchange.
“We see more and more Israelis are choosing London for the proximity, and also for the specific sectors of forex, creative content services, retail and ecommerce, and of course fintech, since London is the financial capital of Europe,” says Ayelet Mavor, director of the UK Israel Tech Hub headquartered at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv.
“Our UK office liaises with partners in the government to facilitate matchmaking and engage with the Israeli community in London,” says Mavor.
Three years ago, Mavor partnered with David Fogel (see below) and Amir Mizroch to form the Israeli Tech Parliament in London, a meetup group that now boasts more than 600 investors, entrepreneurs and tech workers.
London-based attorney Miriam Lampert, partner and head of the Israel Desk at international law firm Squire Patton Boggs, who now co-leads the Israeli Tech Parliament along with Fogel and Eze Vidra (see below), tells ISRAEL21c that when she came aboard 18 months ago there were fewer than 200 members. That illustrates just how fast the Israeli-London high-tech scene is growing.
Listed below, in random order, are 14 of the Israeli movers and shakers on the London high-tech scene.
- EZE VIDRA, angel investor and entrepreneur
An alumnus of IDC Herzliya and its Zell Entrepreneurship Program and then the London Business School, Eze Vidra has been called the godfather of London’s tech scene. In 2016, he was named one of “The 100 Coolest People in UK Tech” by Business Insider.
Vidra had a pivotal career with Google, playing a leading role in the launch of Campus London in 2012; Google Shopping in Spain; Google for Entrepreneurs Europe; and Google Ventures Europe.
The angel investor and philanthropist founded VC Cafe (www.vccafe.com), a blog about technology and venture capital with a special focus on Israel; worked for digital health company Antidote; founded the not-for-profit organization Techbikers; and currently works with Chargifi, described as a “foundational technology that transforms the way the world manages, monitors and monetizes power,” specifically wireless electric power.
- ELLA GOLDNER, cofounder and general manager of Zinc; cofounder of NewCo UK
Goldner, a Tel Aviv native who started her career as an engineer in Tel Aviv’s high-tech aerospace industry, cofounded venture capital firm Zinc in March 2017 with the goal of building a social-innovation ecosystem. Its Zinc Transformer incubator is a six-month program for innovators trying to solve the developed world’s biggest social problems.
She also cofounded NewCo UK in 2013 to forge connections between successful large corporates and innovative startups in the UK. NewCo ran a junior version aimed at inspiring schoolchildren to choose STEM subjects to open their minds to different career paths.
- TZACHI DAVIDOVICH, cofounder and CEO of Cardlife
A native of the Israeli seaside city of Acre (Akko), Davidovich cofounded fintech startup Cardlife in 2016 as a B2B solution for simplifying spending and enabling users to pay and manage all their software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscriptions from one place. The company has been cited as a favorite startup by TechCrunch and was a Mastercard Tech Awards finalist.
Davidovich also created Founders Nation in 2012, a free community to help entrepreneurs in Israel, New York and London work together. “Founders Nation is my creation of love. Currently it is Europe’s biggest community of cofounders,” he says.
Before Cardlife, Davidovich was COO of Citysocializer and also helped organize Startup Weekend in 2015, described as “a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities.”
- DAVID FOGEL, cofounder and investor at Accelerated Digital Ventures
A native of Petah Tikva, David Fogel started out in Israel building B2B software products for telco and fintech. He then attended IE Business School in Madrid, where he analyzed and evaluated projects for the IE Venture Lab and organized a weeklong trip to Israel to connect IE students to the Israeli startup ecosystem.
Fogel became deputy director and head of acceleration at Wayra, Telefónica’s international startup accelerator and early-stage VC in London, and spent three years doing M&A and strategy innovation across Europe, Asia and the US.
Accelerated Digital Ventures, founded in December 2016, is a new venture platform for innovative, complex digital tech startups in the UK and Ireland. Fogel, who describes himself as “a proud feminist and a geek,” cofounded Israeli Tech Parliament in London.
- DONA HAJ, head of UK Office at the UK Israel Tech Hub at British Embassy Tel-Aviv
Haj, who grew up in the northern Arab-Israeli town of Kafr Yasif, acts as head of UK operation for the UK Israel tech Hub, a British Embassy initiative to drive economic growth in both countries through international collaboration. Over the past five years, the hub has facilitated 100 tech partnerships that generated a value of £60 million to the UK economy in areas such as digital health, cyber, energy, fintech and retail.
Previously, Haj was regional manager for Israel’s Ministry of Economy, where she helped develop entrepreneurship in the Arab sector and in the general periphery of the country. She has a degree in industrial and management engineering from the Technion and was awarded a UK Exceptional Talent Visa, available to individuals who show promise in technology, science, art and creative industries.
- SHACHAR RADIN-SHOMRAT, chief commercial officer/chief growth officer at Voxbone
The Tel Aviv native served in the prestigious IDF intelligence Unit 8200 and started her career in 2008 in the then-new field of advertising technology, first at AdYouNet and later at myThings, both in Tel Aviv.
After being granted a UK Exceptional Talent Visa, she arrived in London nearly three years ago and now handles global commercial strategy for Voxbone, a disruptive telecommunications company that provides businesses with phone and instant SMS services in over 60 countries via a web platform or API. Voxbone’s CEO, Itay Rosenfeld, is an Israeli based in Belgium.
- NITZAN YUDAN, founder & CEO of Benivo
Nitzan Yudan, a native of Ra’anana, is the founder of Benivo, a 70-employee business that helps multi-location employers provide cost-effective and user-friendly relocation services to employees. Clients include Google, Vodafone, Bloomberg and Hertz.
Yudan has won the TechCrunch 1 Sentence Pitching Challenge and Most Promising Entrepreneur Award by the JC, and was selected to Silicon 60 by the Evening Standard. He has an MBA from London Business School.
- IDO SUM, partner in TLcom Capital
Tel Aviv native Ido Sum started his first nonprofit venture at age 17, setting his sights on settlement in Israel’s Negev Desert. He’s continued taking an active interest in applying business principles to social ventures. He cofounded and co-chairs the NOVA Project, a non-profit business consultation and strategic development services for Israeli NGOs and is co-president of the Environmentally Sustainable Business Club.
Sum, an alumnus of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, has been with TLcom (founded in 1999) since August 2011. With offices in London, Nairobi and Lagos, the venture fund focuses on early and growth-equity investments in Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and Israel.
- ASAF PELED, founder and CEO of Minute Media
A Wharton Business School graduate, Asaf Peled founded the precursor of global digital sports-media company Minute Media in 2011 in Tel Aviv.
Minute Media (dubbed the BuzzFeed of sports journalism) and its 90min football (soccer) platform in Europe, South America and Asia, 12up pop-culture-sports platform in the US, and e-sports platform DBLTAP enable sports fans to create, publish, share and distribute content worldwide.
Peled, who started his career in 1998 with Evergreen Venture Partners in Tel Aviv, moved over to Minute Media’s London headquarters five years ago. The company also has studios in New York, Sao Paulo and Manila.
- AMI BEN-DAVID, cofounder and managing partner, SPiCE VC
By cofounding liquid tokenized fund SPiCE VC in December 2016, Ami Ben-David is helping to revolutionize the way venture capital is raised and managed, moving it to a blockchain economy. SPiCE VC recently launched Securtize.io, a plug-and-play platform for companies to raise funds through an ICO (initial coin offering).
Ben-David has a long history in London. From 1996 to 1999, he was senior consultant for Magic Software Enterprises. In 2014, he founded Workgroup App in London, a platform for business group communication and task management. In Israel, he cofounded Everything.me in 2010 after five years as senior vice president of international operations for Oberon Media. He also has a background in venture capital, having served as a vice president of Israel’s Magma Venture Partners in 2001.
- GILAD SIMHONY, CEO of mySupermarket
With an MBA from the University of Haifa, Gilad Simhony founded mySupermarket in Israel in August 2011 to help online grocery shoppers compare prices and order from the main online retailers. In 2014, he took the company global and it has become the world’s biggest online grocery shopper panel, facilitating some 3-4 million grocery shopping sessions every month in the UK. For retailers and manufacturers, mySupermarket provides business-intelligence solutions and online-shopper insights.
- ASAF ANOLIK, head of Innovation at Amazon Web Services
An alumnus of Mamram, the IDF’s Center of Computing and Information Systems, Asaf Anolik currently heads innovation at Amazon Web Services, a subsidiary of Amazon providing on-demand cloud computing platforms. He is also a mentor at the London branch of Techstars, a worldwide network of startup accelerators.
- YOAV ARNSTEIN, director of product marketing, Facebook
After graduating from Tel Aviv University in 1998 and working as a software engineer for a year, Rehovot native Yoav Arnstein began a global odyssey that started with a degree at the Technical University of Denmark.
An executive career at ad-tech pioneer Eyeblaster (later MediaMind and now Sizmek) took him to London and New York, and in 2013 he was back in London as general manager of LiveRail before joining Facebook Publisher Solutions in August 2014.
- ASHER BENNETT, Tevva Motors
An alumnus of the Israel Naval Academy, Asher Bennett followed up a successful high-tech career in Israel with the founding of UK-based Tevva Motors in June 2012. The company is developing the next generation of range-extended, zero-emissions electric trucks aimed to take pollution-causing diesel trucks off the road.