A Startup Academy

We have taken to calling our program at TechAviv — an academy.  As a result, several potential backers have asked us to elaborate on our program.  Of course, this implies that we have a set program which we were trying to avoid.  Our process was to examine the current models at Ycombinator, SeedCamp, Betaworks and others and riff on those for the Israeli market.  Frankly, we just wanted to replicate what was working for those programs, see how it went in Israel, and iterate our academy.

But thoughtful investors have a way of getting entrepreneurs with frothy self-confidence to work harder for an investment.  It’s never easy (unless you’re name is Andressen) and raising capital for a concept stage education venture in the past month was not as easy as going public was for the companies with “Linux” in their corporate name circa 1999.

Good questions have been raised. They generally boil down to this:  What would your academy do if we gave you $5mm to give birth to 100 Israeli-lead companies?

At TechAviv, we are focused on taking the dream in somebody’s brain and turning that into an entity  worthy of additional funding.  We agree with yesterday’s post by Charlie O’Donnell, that these services are often not even worthy of being called companies.  However, we also think that the digital revolution is still in its infancy.  Huge value will be created in the decade to come as the ubiquitous high-speed Internet becomes more deeply woven into the fabric of global society.

The volatility in the marketplace today, this month and for the next year may not abate.   At TechAviv we want to create an institution that focuses less on the macroeconomic conditions and invests its resources in building useful services that actually improve people’s lives.  We believe as our chief intellectual influence Paul Graham does that:

If we’ve learned one thing from funding so many startups, it’s that they succeed or fail based on the qualities of the founders. The economy has some effect, certainly, but as a predictor of success it’s rounding error compared to the founders.

In good times and bad, we believe founders will prevail.  This month’s conventional wisdom is that seed stage investing will suffer from the current and protracted recession.  Clearly, the recessionary environment creates less collective psychological excitement for investors and that the consequences of this group depression can create fundraising challenges.  But talented, frugal innovators with simply-articulated concepts can  get funded and succeed in any enviroment.

The trick is identifying the talented innovators.  More on that tomorrow.

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