Not long ago you needed an office and a staff to build a commercial software application. But today, when programming is often a matter of fitting into an app ready-made modules stored in the cloud, it’s enough to have a laptop, a wi-fi connection, a desk, and a coffee machine.
In a new trend, established companies with a big enough coffee machine are turning their spare office space into an accelerator or incubator, inviting in young entrepreneurs who have a good idea and are looking for a place to work. “It’s especially true for developers of phone apps,” according to Shai Goldberg, Creative Director of Herzliya’s iApps. “For app development you need skills, not money.”
As a result, incubators are popping up like mushrooms after a rain. In a standard incubator deal, entrepreneurs get space to work, support services (wi-fi, coffee, etc.) and, depending on the arrangement, mentoring and assistance from the seasoned professionals who run the incubator. Most incubators charge their clients a reasonable fee — perhaps a thousand shekels a month — and are happy to host a young, hip and intelligent crowd that may come up with the next big thing, which they may end developing and marketing with their incubator host.
That’s the deal iApps offers entrepreneurs who decide to join its new Herzliya incubator. iApps Booster, as the program is known, is different from most other accelerators in that it’s the only one in Israel dedicated to mobile apps, Goldberg told the Times of Israel. “We are the biggest developer of iOS and Android apps in Israel, and we want to share our knowledge with app developers, to help guide them to success.”
Thus was born iApps Booster, only about six weeks old but full of great ideas by the entrepreneurs who have signed up for the incubator. The iApps office is in Herzliya, the headquarters of Israel’s high-tech braintrust. There is already one incubator in Herzliya — run by Microsoft — but few are the start-ups that can get into that program (more than 300 companies applied to Microsoft’s Azure accelerator this year, of which 13 were chosen for membership). At iApps Booster, a serious attitude and a good idea are enough to get you in.
For mobile app developers, there are benefits galore, said Goldberg. “Ori Segal, our CEO, has been working with start-ups for a long time, having run in the past the Ernst &Young Start-up of the Year program.” Segal is on a first-name basis with many of the top names in Israeli high-tech, like Gil Shwed (Checkpoint) and Shai Agassi (formerly of Better Place), and they, as well as others, could well drop by and speak to incubator members, said Goldberg. iApps also has a strong relationship with Bank Leumi and Luzatto, Israel’s largest patent firm.
iApps is the right company to host a mobile app accelerator. The company is by far Israel’s biggest for the production of mobile apps, both for itself and for government, corporations, and business. Just this week, for example, iApps released on behalf of the Prime Minister’s Office a new app, just in time for US President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel. The app will feature real-time updates, video, photographs and behind-the-scenes glimpses at the visit, and contains links for contacting the Prime Minister’s Office and for the various PMO’s new media channels including YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
In addition, said Goldberg, there are monthly events which are attended by industry VIPs which accelerator members can attend. The latest event included investors and industry leaders, who had gathered to meet some of the stars of “Silicon Wadi,” a mockumentary on Israel’s YES satellite TV service that portrays the ups and downs of an Israeli start-up seeking funding for its next big thing.
“The fact that we are located in Herzliya is very helpful to the start-ups,” said Goldberg. “It gives them an opportunity to rub elbows with more experienced and successful people. The location, together with the help we provide, is a nice mix for start-ups — one that we believe will ensure their success.”