Coca-Cola Co. is partnering with the newly rebranded America Israel Business Connector (conexx) to help bridge the gap between Israeli entrepreneurs and global markets.
Introduced July 13 at a meeting held in the Midtown offices of King & Spalding LLP, The Bridge will connect the 10 participating startups with customized expertise from one or more business sponsors.
Far beyond generic business training, the program will provide targeted guidance with eventual goal of reaching real-world licensing deals and potentially introducing the products or services into the Coke system. If a company enters into a licensing agreement with Coca-Cola, for instance, the global company will not demand equity, only a negotiable non-compete clause.
Company representatives said they see Coke’s backing as the entree into a whole new world of global business.
“We have enabling technology for enterprises, and I wanted to know how something like this could help me, Raanan Cohen, CEO and co-founder of Bringg, a supply chain company that helps businesses track deliveries in real time, said at the event. “We’re a young company, and to have a customer like Coca-Cola or their partners is a big deal. It’s a shortcut to success.”
Alan Boehme, chief of architecture and global head of emerging technology and IT innovation at Coke, said the program is meant to be more than just an incubator, instead providing tangible opportunities to integrate with its global network.
“We are here to help them hone skills and be a bridge to our partners. We wanted to leverage what we have and decided that, although there were many incubator programs, what really was needed was a bridge — a bridge to the U.S. for these entrepreneurs. There will be lessons learned and changes made along the way, I’m sure.”
Shai Robkin, president and CEO of conexx, said the program was “agnostic” in its approach and selection of the companies.
Initially, 102 companies applied to the program, with three women-led firms in the mix. The Bridge wanted companies in five areas: consumer engagement, supply chain, marketing innovation, health and wellness and consumer retail.
Hod Fleishman wants to use sensors and technology to connect the pet world and establish the world’s first social network for pets, in which pets are active participants in creating a social circle for themselves and their pet parents.
The Bridge and Coca-Cola executives are “already helping us define the direction of what we’re after,” said Mr. Fleishman, Hachiko CEO and co-founder. “We’ve been under the radar, and they are helping us define the value points and engage with potential customers. There are 80 million dogs in the U.S. and more than $30 billion is spent in this country on dogs. That’s a lot of money, and our challenge is how do we connect with that community.”
The lone woman in the program, Stephie Knopel, co-founder and CEO of Personal Heroes, intends to learn how to market an app that empowers a new way of thanking and rewarding heroes by giving real rewards — everything from flowers to money.
“Coca-Cola truly understands what the consumers want and how to capture that. I want to learn how to combine sales and understand customers in different parts of the world,” she said.
Other companies in the program:
• Dov-E, which developed a software IP technology supporting data transmission over any kind of voice network, thus enabling mobile payment using any mobile.
• Neura, allows users’ devices to talk to one another and to understand the users’ patterns, contexts and activities, which empowers the devices with the ability to respond and adapt to users’ needs and situations.
• Screemo enables brands to engage with their audience in a timely and personalized way by using the mobile to screen interactive experiences that turn customers into online users.
• Ubimo is a mobile marketing and insights platform that caters to brands and advertisers, helping them to engage users at the right moment by leveraging geo-location data, weather data, time of day, demographic data and first party data to establish a context in real time and then present relevant ads where and when it matters.
• WeFind provides accurate location, reliable communication and location-based promotional activities, based on crowdsourcing of smartphones, WeFind wristbands and any existing Wi-Fi infrastructure.
• WeissBeerger is the first beverage consumption behavior analytics dashboard for companies.
• W.S.C.’s technology enables automatic tagging of every event that happens in a sports competition with a unique analysis system that powers the creation of personalized and customized videos that are generated on the fly for different implementations such as fan-facing, editorial and production.