Israeli Microsoft Accelerator start-up gets $3.5m graduation gift

OwnBackup is the first Israeli participant in the latest round of Microsoft Ventures Accelerator’s local branch to get funding

OwnBackup CEO Sam Gutmann (L) and Vice President Ori Yankelev on stage at the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator Israel Demo Day, Februeary 5, 2016 (Courtesy)
OwnBackup CEO Sam Gutmann (L) and Vice President Ori Yankelev on stage at the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator Israel Demo Day, Februeary 5, 2016 (Courtesy)

OwnBackup, an Israeli start-up that helps ensure that companies can back up data they generate using online applications, celebrated a double win Thursday.

The company said it had raised $3.5 million in a Series A financing round led by Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors with participation from Oryzn Capital. The company will use the investment to accelerate its global growth, drive continued product innovation and significantly expand its engineering, development, sales and marketing teams, it said.

And, in a second triumph, the company, along with 12 “classmates,” graduated from the Microsoft Ventures Israel’s Accelerator, a program invented in Israel that has now spread to the rest of the world, most recently to Seattle, Microsoft’s stomping grounds. The 13 start-ups showed off what they have been doing for the past four months in the Microsoft program at a Demo Day event in Tel Aviv, where each presented its technology – and more important, its pitch – to the dozens of investors in the audience of some 500.

“Since we started the program in Israel in 2012, Microsoft has opened six additional Ventures Accelerators around the world,” said Zack Weisfeld, who was one of the originators of the Israel operation and is now worldwide director of Microsoft Ventures, the company’s start-up support wing.

“Worldwide we have had 454 graduates, who have raised $1.78 billion,” he said at a gala event Thursday, celebrating the seventh graduating class of the local Ventures Accelerator program. “We’ve had 29 exits and 3 IPOs, and on average companies that graduated from the program received $4.9 million in funding in the first year after they graduate from the accelerator. That’s enough to make us the number one corporate accelerator in the world.”

Some 350 companies from Israel and 27 other countries applied for the seventh round of the four-month program, which has taken in companies from the US, the UK, Singapore, Spain, India, Pakistan, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Mexico, France, Turkey and China. The 13 companies chosen are developing solutions in various fields such as the Internet of things (IoT), e-commerce, UAVs, tourism, media, advertising and marketing, medicine, agritech and IT.

First to get part of that $4.9 million average funding from among the 13 start-ups that participated in this year’s program is OwnBackup, which specializes in “cloud to cloud” backups. It takes data that companies enter and store on cloud-based application services, like Salesforce, and backs it up separately so that it can easily be restored if a worker accidentally erases records on the cloud service’s server.

While the service will have a backup of those records, said Sam Gutmann, the question is how quickly those backups can be put back online – and whether they will be complete when they are.

“Software as a Service (SaaS) data is vulnerable to user error, account hijacking, rogue integrations, malicious intent and other common causes of data loss,” he said at the Microsoft event. “Databases are complex and difficult to restore without the right tools, and companies cannot afford to be offline for the hours it may take the service provider to respond. For that reason, many SaaS providers recommend that users have their own backup.”

According to industry experts, he said, “79% of SaaS providers do not guarantee application continuity to their subscribers.”

OwnBackup already helps hundreds of customers across a variety of verticals protect critical cloud data, with a focus on Salesforce and the platform, said Gutmann. “We have, in barely a year in business, acquired dozens of top enterprise customers and partners, and we’ve backed up over 500 terabytes of data on the Salesforce platform – and we get more requests from new customers every day. From large Fortune 500s to nonprofits, customers rely on our innovative technology to secure billions of SaaS records every day, prevent data corruption and meet compliance mandates.”

“The increasing reliance on SaaS and PaaS environments will create new security and compliance challenges in the years ahead, but innovators like OwnBackup are helping organizations protect and recover that data when needed,” noted Yuval Shachar, investment partner at Innovation Endeavors, one of the participants in the funding round. “Led by data recovery visionaries, OwnBackup will quickly become the go-to solution for organizations that want to ensure they have the same level of data protection in their cloud environments as their on-premise applications.”

OwnBackup, said Navot Volk, managing director, Microsoft Ventures Israel, is a good example of the innovation Microsoft hopes to foster with its accelerator program. “We were excited to work with the OwnBackup team over the past four months to help them achieve their vision and connect them with enterprises around the globe,” he said. “Israel has wonderful accelerator programs and new ones are popping up every day. Unlike the rest of these programs, Microsoft Ventures positions itself in a slightly different place in the value chain of startups – and is for ones that are ready for more significant growth stages. As a former startup CEO, I know how critical this stage is and I would have been happy to have had a company like Microsoft at my side, committed to helping me succeed and recruit clients.”

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