4 & 1 - 4 Israeli Cyber Startups To Watch

And 1 kick-ass connection mapping tool.


It’s no secret that Israel is a hotbed of innovation in cyber security. For years now the startup nation has been a breeding ground for the next generation of cyber security companies. It is not surprising that many of these are snapped up by MNCs long before you and I would have ever heard of them. For a long time the end game for most Israeli startups was acquisition but now as the ecosystem is maturing these talent rich startups are realising their potential and are aiming to become household names and unicorns in their own right.

Recently I was lucky enough to spend a week in Tel Aviv meeting with some of the city’s top VCs and Startups. It was the week of CyberTech16, an impressive cyber security conference that had Israel's best and brightest on display for all to see. For those of you that do not know, the cyber startup scene in Israel runs deep. Really deep. Many of the cyber startups are products of the now famous Cyber Branch of the Israeli Defence Forces, 8200, but that is a story for another day. One thing is for sure, these startups are not lacking in talent or confidence. The one thing I noticed from chatting with numerous founders was that they truly believe that in Israel, the solution to any technical problem can be discovered and developed. I have to admit, even after just one week there I am starting to believe it too!

 A map of the Israeli cyber security ecosystem produced by BVP

A map of the Israeli cyber security ecosystem produced by BVP

Before I get to mentioning some of the startups I think are worth watching in 2016, I want to say a big thank you to the team at YL Ventures and in particular to  Ofer Schreiber who invited me to their fireside chat in a cool bar in downtown Tel Aviv. The night was one of the highlights of the week and the room was filled with some really amazing people including the night's main attraction, CTO of RSA Zulfikar Ramzan. I got to see firsthand the connectivity within the Israeli startup scene but also its openness and genuine interest in engaging with outsiders. I’m excited to return in march and pick up where I left off.

  CTO of RSA   Zulfikar Ramzan  applauding a question from the audience.

CTO of RSA Zulfikar Ramzan applauding a question from the audience.

Now, down to business. To be honest, it would be easy to pick 100 companies from CyberTech 16 that were impressive and are on the path to success but I am going to draw attention to the four that stood out the most to me and to one non-cyber company whose product was being used at the event itself. This is not a ranking, companies are listed in no particular order.

Morphisec

When Israeli VC giants JVP invest in you people start to take notice. It is no different with one of the more talked about startups emerging from Israel's cyber cluster. 20 minutes with these guys was enough to see why all eyes are on Morphisec. This exciting startup takes the concept of polymorphism (commonly used by attackers to disguise their attacks) and employs it as part of its security concept: polymorphic defense. The idea is to hide the enterprise's inner architecture making targeted attacks ineffective.

About:

Emerging from Israel’s national cyber security research center and home to some of the sharpest cyber security minds in the country, Morphisec achieved immediate global recognition when it won first place in a prestigious cyber security competition at an RSA Conference in 2014. The company offers unique, instantaneous and deterministic detection and prevention of zero-day and known attacks, combined with rich contextualized forensics. Morphisec’s flagship enterprise product will launch in Q1/2016 following successful testing by banks, telecom, and security companies.

Argus

Argus seemed to attract a lot of attention at both the Our Crowd Summit and at CyberTech 16 and when you look at their interface and see just how vulnerable your car is to being hacked, it is no wonder! I walked away from meeting Argus equally impressed and paranoid. Big things await this company that is rapidly growing its market.

About:

Argus is an automotive cybersecurity pioneer, helping car manufacturers, their Tier 1 suppliers and aftermarket connectivity providers protect connected cars and commercial vehicles from car-hacking. Founded in 2013, Argus solutions combine innovative security methods and proven computer networking know-how with a deep understanding of automotive best practices. Argus’ R&D is based in Tel-Aviv, Israel, with offices in Michigan, the Silicon Valley, Stuttgart and Tokyo.

Recently, Argus raised $26M Series B funding from Magna International, Allianz Digital Corporate Ventures (part of Allianz SE), the SBI Group and existing investors Magma Venture Partners, Vertex Venture Capital and the Co-Founder of the RAD Group, Mr. Zohar Zisapel.

PerimeterX

Inbar Raz, VP of Research was kind enough to host us in the company's brand new office. In fact, it was day 1 in its new home. I am happy to report that both the company and the new office were extremely impressive. While it is early days for the company, all the signs suggest that this group of talented people will do great things in 2016 and beyond.

About:

PerimeterX was founded by cloud and security veterans and backed by great investors, with a mission to revolutionize web security and build the first true cloud security solution. PerimeterX shields websites against modern attacks by leveraging client side behavioral analysis, providing highly accurate detection and low friction integration.

FireLayers

FireLayers initially caught my eye because of its initial focus on the European market as opposed to the US market. This unusual approach appears to be paying off and  the company is quickly gaining traction in the market often overlooked by many Israeli cyber startups.

About:

FireLayers enables IT to proactively protect the usage of cloud applications via rule-based policies while ensuring that they maintain the required security and compliance levels. They protect cloud application usage from initial user identification to the safe retrieval of data and request fulfillment. They add a layer of proactive protection and monitoring to any cloud application identifying all users, applications, and actions.

Weave

Weave are the odd one out in this list. It is not a cyber startup. Weave has developed a deep mapping tool to graphically display links and connections within your organisation’s network. In its own words, the technology puts workflow and social capital into measurable terms, then integrate insights proactively into employees' daily routine. I had the chance to play around with the tool at CyberTech 16 and was instantly in love with it. I cannot tell you how useful this would be for me on a daily basis! I also want to thank Or Rigler, CEO of Weave for his time, thoughts and his great restaurant suggestion!

What cyber companies are on your radar? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Number 26 - Disrupting The Banks

FREE MONEY!! - Well not quite, but Number 26 is about to disrupt the masses by bringing free banking to us all!

In recent years we have watched the bright, the curious, the courageous and even the maddest amongst us challenge some of the most embedded parts of our daily lives. These ‘disruptors’ have taken even the most traditional industries and have made them seem obsolete overnight.  We have seen it with Airbnb, Uber,  heck even with Tinder! In a world where entrepreneurs want to challenge thinking no industry is safe.

The FinTech revolution has set its eyes on the banking sector.  However, to date, most of the successful FinTech startup have targeted services provided by the banks, not the banks themselves.  Enter Number 26.

Number 26, a startup out of Berlin has placed crosshairs on one of the most traditional institutions on this earth, the banks, and it is ready to pull the trigger. Promising to cut the frills associated with the banking sector, Number26 aims to deliver borderless banking across Europe. This no-frills approach along with a clever partnership with MasterCard allows Number 26 to offer a full suite of current account services without any fees. Yes, there are NO FEES! Number 26 account holders can make transactions and withdraw cash anywhere around the world without ever being charged for the service. Instead, this disruptive startup charges MasterCard a small fee for each transaction. Banking 2.0 has arrived.

On top of this, Number 26 have finally made banking mobile, and I mean really mobile. A beautifully designed app is your new local bank branch. Your entire banking needs are catered for through the app, even setting up of your account, something which is a painful process in any regular bank around the world. Your account is setup via a video call from your phone during which you will be asked to present identification for scanning.  Start to finish the whole process takes less than 8 minutes. You will have your new (beautiful) Number 26 MasterCard within a few days. It really is that simple.

The app also allows full monitoring of your account. One of my favourite features is the real time balance display (no pending charges) and the instant pop up notifications anytime the card is used. From the app you can even turn card functions on and off such as atm withdrawals and online shopping. This has all sorts of benefits from the obvious fraud prevention to being able to lend your card to someone and control what it can be used for temporarily. There is a host of other features that I will let you discover for yourself including fast money transfers to anyone in your phonebook.

For those of you worried about all  that hard earned cash sitting in the hands of a startup, don’t! Number 26 holds a full German banking licence through its partner Wirecard Bank and your account is covered up to €200,000.

I have been using Number 26 as my day to day account for about 2 months now. I can safely say that my old bank is essentially dead to me. The reason I know number 26 will be a success is that it is a pleasure to use. When was the last time you enjoyed going to the bank? To date over 90,00 people have signed up.

Number 26 will soon be adding new features outside of Germany such as an overdraft account of up to €2000. There is also talk around savings accounts and other services for the near future. I think what might be most exciting however is that Number 26 could well place themselves in the centre of the FinTech revolution leaving the door open for all kinds of partnership. I myself would love to see an integration with transferwise or similar, but really the possibilities are endless.

Banking 2.0 is truly here, be a part of it. Curious? Check it out here