Start-ups tap into Tel Aviv

Sail Funding CEO and founder Yanir Yakutiel with NSW Industry Minister Anthony Roberts at Parliament House on September 9. Sail Funding is one of eight NSW start-ups heading to Tel Aviv. Photo: Shane Desiatnik.

THE founders of eight NSW-based start-ups selected to be the first users of Austrade’s Landing Pad facility in Tel Aviv were farewelled at a reception at Parliament House on September 8.

Set to depart on September 17 for an intensive two-week immersion program in Israel’s high-tech heartland, the noticeably enthusiastic delegation members were offered a personal message of encouragement by NSW Industry Minister Anthony Roberts.

“This initiative is built on the Premier’s recent visit to Israel [hosted by the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce – AICC], where NSW and Israel committed to invest $2 million into cooperative start-up and innovation projects,” Roberts said.

“Israel is one of the most exciting and innovative business environments in the world, so I urge you to make the best of this great opportunity … We want you all to succeed.”

Israeli-born CEO and founder of Sail Funding, Yanir Yakutiel, told The AJN he is proud his fin-tech start-up, established only in January, made the program’s cut and hopes it “can become a successful case study for Australian-Israeli cooperation”.

Sail Funding, which leverages big data and analytics to optimise online small business lending, aims to employ 10 people in its Sydney office by the end of the year and already operates a small development centre in Israel.

The start-up is backed by funding of more than

$4 million from an Australian Jewish family.

Yakutiel said he looked to Israel first because “we found it really hard to recruit here”.

“There is the talent and entrepreneurial zeal here in Australia, but there isn’t the infrastructure yet – but that is evolving.

“Israel already has that – its people are always thinking outside of the box – so this program is a great match.

“Another good thing about it is the bolt-on opportunities for cultural and people-to-people connections.”

Yakutiel will take a small team of his Sydney-based staff, including marketing manager Casey Elmer.

“I’ve heard a lot about the innovative culture in Tel Aviv and I’m just looking forward to seeing how things work in that environment and to collaborate,” Elmer said.

Joining Sail Funding are successful NSW start-up program applicants CapitalPitch, FlashFX, Meeco, Manner by Riisk, Phriendly Phishing by Shearwater Solutions, Simply Wall St and Valiant Finance.

AICC’s new CEO Michelle Blum said the Tel Aviv Landing Pad will provide “access to mentors, expertise and insights into the innovation and entrepreneurial Israeli ecosystem that has underpinned the success of the ‘start-up’ nation”.

Austrade CEO Grame Barty wished representatives from the eight start-ups well and urged them to bring back and utilise what they learn in Israel.

“The jobs of the future are going to be in the space you are in,” Barty said.