Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies Conference Welcomes Israeli Companies

Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies conference-philadelphia israel chamber of commerece
Executives from G-Max Security, Fitango Health, Somatix, Swave and Walk in the Park attended the Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies conference. (Joshua Needelman).

XFINITY Live! was brimming with excitement the afternoon of Sept. 26, and not because of a concert, a party or an Eagles game.

The bars inside and outside the facility were not staffed, in fact. But the seats lining them were packed, full of well-dressed men and women (mostly men) exchanging business cards and practiced smiles.

“Nice to meet you,” one man said to another with an outstretched hand, searching his new acquaintance’s chest for a name tag. “And who are you with?”

Hundreds of business owners and investors descended on the dining and entertainment complex for the 25th annual Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies conference and a day full of presentations, mingling and — for the lucky ones — deal-making.

In the back of the facility, past the sign-in table, past the giant sign bearing the conference’s name and past business executive pounding furiously away on laptops and tablets, the 1100 SOCIAL room was ready for a special presentation.

About two dozen investors and executives with Israeli connections gathered for a joint event hosted by the Philadelphia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (PICC) and Israel Economic Mission in NYC. Five companies — G-Max Security, Fitango Health, Somatix, Swave and Walk in the Park — made presentations to introduce themselves publicly to investors, entrepreneurs and senior level executives.

It was a seminal moment for the local business community, PICC Executive Director Vered Nohi said.

“It’s very special, because if Israeli companies will realize the potential of not only [having] stakeholder relationships but also being invested by local investors, they’ll be more likely to come here and open their offices,” Nohi said. “In order for companies to succeed they need stakeholder relationships as well as investments. And then, of course, we help them to help their market entry with introductions for them, etc.”

The PICC was established in 1987 as an independent nonprofit connecting Israel and Philadelphia, southern New Jersey and Delaware-based innovators, companies, governmental agencies and economic development organizations. In Pennsylvania and Delaware, it represents the US-Israel Binational Industrial R&D (BIRD) Foundation, which annually awards 20-30 grants of up to $1 million to American/Israeli game-changing joint ventures.

Nohi, who assumed her role in July 2013 and has more than 20 years of experience in developing and facilitating international trade, was PICC’s face on Sept. 26. She hosted the event, introducing speakers and answering questions.

She said the event went a long way toward building trust in Philadelphia’s business world for Israeli companies.

“This is very vital because they know they can get venture [capital] in New York or Boston,” she said. “Now they know they can also get venture here.”

Executives from the five companies made brief pitches, talking up their respective business’ to possible investors. Most of them wore dress pants and blazers, but Yair Graif, CEO of Swave, took a different approach.

He stepped up to the dais wearing skinny jeans, a purple T-shirt emblazoned with his company’s logo and matching Vans sneakers. And he started his presentation not with statistics or technical terms but with an anecdote.

He recalled how, when out with his girlfriend one day, she took a photo of a clothing boutique and posted it on social media for her followers. Graif used that as the launching point for his company, which uses an algorithm to determine discount rates for customers sharing products on social media.

Facebook sponsored posts are “only 20 percent of what users see online,” Graif said to the room. “Brands spend $30 billion a year on those 20 percent. What about the other untapped 80 percent? That’s a potentially $120 billion market. And we want to tap that market.”  

Once the presentations had concluded, Nohi gathered the five company representatives for a photo. “Wait, wait, the flags!” she said, grabbing some mini Israeli flags from her bag. She handed one to Graif and two to others, and they all posed.

The group dispersed, but not before Nohi announced details for PICC’s next event. On Oct. 10, it will host its annual open house and welcome new Israeli Deputy Consul General to North America Israel Nitzan. l


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here