July 8, 2008, Updated September 13, 2012

Graduates of the Boot Camp include Argo Medical Technologies, an Israeli company that developed ReWalk, a walk restoration device for people with lower limb disabilities.American investors have faith in Israeli innovation: “Israel has a reputation. People in the US are looking, but don’t feel comfortable randomly knocking on the door of an Israeli company,” says Ed Frank, an American-Israeli who has developed Boot Camp Ventures conferences to create a better synergy between Israeli innovation and investors from the West.

There are a dizzying number of new Israeli high-tech companies being created every year, and possibly as many American investors who want access to them. Cultural differences and lack of experience sometimes dampens what could be a perfect match. That’s where Boot Camp Ventures steps in.

Frank, a seasoned business development executive who studied at Columbia University, and his partner Esther Loewy, an American-Israeli investor relations expert from New York, have developed a unique forum that gives Israeli entrepreneurs and CEOs the rigorous training they need in order to “speak” the same language as potential American investors.

The model is a win-win situation for both sides: the Israeli companies get the training they need to take their business development to the next level, and American investors who participate get first dibs at some of Israel’s rising stars.

The Boot Camp at first focused on high-tech companies, but a recent influx of applications prompted Frank and Loewy to open a session on Boot Camp for Israeli biotech companies. The need was there.

Companies meet their “drill sergeants”

The interactive forum consists of a grueling three hour session where Israeli companies present and pitch their product or service to a conference hall and panel of seasoned investors — “drill sergeants” who are angel investors and reps from companies such as Carmel Ventures, 21 Ventures, and Motorola Ventures.

While Israelis are all too familiar with the drills used in the army (men serve a mandatory three years, women two) they are unprepared for what awaits them at Boot Camp Ventures. This type of “drill” and feedback they get, however, is essential to keep the two-way street open between Israeli innovation and US investment dollars.

Says Frank to ISRAEL21c: “The vast majority of venture money comes from American VC and angel investors. Israeli companies don’t have a good handle on their business model or speak the language that investors need to hear. We are putting them though Boot Camp to help them identify American investors who are looking for Israeli companies.”

Companies include early stage to pre-IPO and publicly traded companies. In the beginning, the plan was just to train Israeli companies, but the scope eventually morphed into a platform where US investors who participate get early access to companies signed up for Boot Camp.

Loewy explains the appeal: “The role we play is that we preview the companies, we filter them, and ask them critical questions. We familiarize them with what investors are looking for. If there is a fit, we show them how to better position themselves.”

NASDAQ here we come!

The duo is also working on an IPO readiness forum, where they will help even more Israeli companies go public on foreign exchanges. A record number of Israeli companies are listed on the New York-based NASDAQ, and many more have their sights set on the exchange. Boot Camp Ventures will help them get there.

Dozens of companies have volunteered to be put through the Boot Camp wringer, and from each session a “winner” emerges. One recent graduate was Argo Medical Technologies, an Israeli company that develops and markets ReWalk, a walk restoration device for people with lower limb disabilities, such as paraplegia.

Not only is Boot Camp Ventures putting life-changing companies like Argo into better business shape, it seems that the forum is a model that could easily be franchised around the globe.

Frank says he’s had interest from groups wanting to do the same thing in other countries. But there is no mention of turning it into a reality series quite yet — something Donald Trump, now looking to invest in Israeli real estate, might consider playing a role in.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director