A new way to build a business
A new way to build a business.

Jerusalem hosted Israel’s first-ever Lean Startup Machine (LSM) event in late October, giving dozens of budding entrepreneurs a chance to pitch their business ideas to mentors, investors and seasoned entrepreneurs.

The 15 presenters whose proposals were voted most likely to succeed plunged into three days of nearly nonstop refining and testing to determine their concepts’ marketing potential, with the help of mentors.

The “lean” strategy, pioneered by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Eric Ries, has become a global movement of entrepreneurs and innovators changing the way new products and businesses are built. Entrepreneur Nadav Lankin, of DevOpsJLM, organized this inaugural Israeli version with Yoni Colb and Yaffa Berenstein.

“The LSM methodology really stands apart in that it gives potential businesses an opportunity to test, fail and learn quickly, bringing success a whole lot closer, while limiting unnecessary expenditures.” said Yuval Wirtzburger, whose team won first place for Hold No More, a yet-to-be-built app that would save users from long hold times.

Not only Israelis took part. Ukrainian high-tech entrepreneurs Alex Postnikov and Alexander Slipchenko came to Jerusalem when the LSM event in their home country was cancelled due to war.

They teamed with others including Kyle Blank, a student at IDC-Herzliya and a junior business analyst from the United States.

“First I thought they were new immigrants,” said Nathan Slonim, the Australian team leader. “Then I asked them how long they had been here and they said ‘three days.’ I didn’t even have a chance to take them out for dinner.” They did however, win second place for their safe-driving app concept.

“It was an electrifying, intense experience where 54 entrepreneurs holed up for three days, starting at 8:00 and ending at 23:00 — except for Friday, when we ended two hours before sunset,” reports Joe van Zwaren, founder of the Jerusalem Business Networking Forum (JBNF).

“Several teams kept on working till 4:00 in the morning and one of the 15 teams actually got inquiries from an investor,” van Zwaren adds. “Others got letters of intent from prospective clients they met on the street in the Malcha Technology Park or the Malcha shopping mall. It was amazing to see the transformation of skeptics into diehard enthusiasts.”

Yisroel Jacobson and Ilan Hassan tested out their app idea – a concierge business-matchmaking service – at a JBNF “mega-networking event” later that week.