Abigail Klein Leichman
May 11, 2014
From left, Daniel Gold, LA Jewish Federation; Yael Vizel of Zeekit; Roei Deutsch of Yesh Atid; Shiri Ladelsky of Vibits; and Guy Katsovich of Veribo.
From left, Daniel Gold, LA Jewish Federation; Yael Vizel of Zeekit; Roei Deutsch of Yesh Atid; Shiri Ladelsky of Vibits; and Guy Katsovich of Veribo.

Four Israeli “high-tech heroes” told their startup success stories at a recent TLV Talks event in Santa Monica co-sponsored by ISRAEL21c. The speakers, all former soldiers who served in elite Israel Defense Forces cyber, tech and combat units, were in the country to raise the profile of their businesses.

TLV Talks was a natural stop on the tour, as the goal of this collaboration between the Los Angeles Jewish Federation and the Israeli American Council’s BINA program for young professionals is “to create a web of connections that promotes Israel to our community and strengthens our personal connections to Israel.”

The presenters were all from Gammado, one of Israel’s top startup incubators:

• Guy Katsovich, who served in the prestigious 8200 cyber-unit and now is head of business development for Veribo for corporations and individuals to manage their online reputations.

• Yael Vizel, founder and CEO of Zeekit, which gives consumers an enhanced online clothes shopping experience.

• Roei Deutsch, a veteran of 8200 and former CEO of Veribo, and currently director of new media for the Israeli political party Yesh Atid.

• Shiri Ladelsky, another 8200 vet, musician and head of software startup Vibits, which focuses on personality features for human resource departments via visualized CV.

ISRAEL21c provided source material for this event as well as all TLV Talks, said Nathan Miller, ISRAEL21c’s director of social media.

“The LA Federation puts on TLV Talks once a quarter, where they bring over interesting Israelis like women entrepreneurs and members of IsraAID [the Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid], and they approached us to provide content for these events because a lot of the speakers are people we’ve featured in our stories,” he explains.

“We print out relevant articles from our website and create social media graphics to give the attendees a little more context if they want to learn more about that particular sector.”

The foursome was making the rounds of “Silicon Beach,” as the LA high-tech scene is known, and had meetings at companies including Microsoft. The TLV Talk was held at Cross Campus, an Israeli-owned shared workspace for startups.

The audience included members of ISRAEL21c’s Digital Ambassadors program, a framework for college students to share our content online through social networks.

Miller reports that the speakers were extraordinarily impressive and articulate.

“Roei Deutsch sold his first high-tech startup at 16. Yael Vizel was the first female commander of the Air Force’s field and aerial telecommunication crews and now heads a big startup. All of them have compelling personal stories, and talked about how their rigorous training from the army gives them incredible skills and also a network so that when they get out, they get plugged right into the high-tech scene.”

At the Microsoft presentation, about 300 local high-tech people were there, “trying to mine the secrets of what Israel is doing and wanting to know how to get Israeli programmers to work for them,” says Miller.

“A lot of young professionals are really excited about what Israel has to offer,” he concludes.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director