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Tel Aviv meets California, as prime students immerse in entrepreneurship

The participants—from Israel, Turkey, Sweden, South Africa, Georgia and the United States—had the chance to pitch their startups to angel investors and the community at a public event held in Santa Monica.

Ron Biton and Shiran Schmerling, participants in the IDEAS Immersion program, present their startup platforms to L.A.-based companies and the community. Credit: Harmony Wedding Photography.
Ron Biton and Shiran Schmerling, participants in the IDEAS Immersion program, present their startup platforms to L.A.-based companies and the community. Credit: Harmony Wedding Photography.

IDEAS Immersion hosted a group of budding international student entrepreneurs in California’s tech capitals for a two-week intensive startup acceleration program.

IDEAS (Israel, Digital, Entrepreneurs, Arts and Science) Immersion partners with Los Angeles- and San Francisco-based tech/entertainment/science business leaders, angel investors and venture capitalists to serve as mentors to the participants, providing them with the tools and networks to succeed, as well as  serving as a launch pad for their startups.

The third-year program is a project of Tel Aviv University (TAU) and American Friends of Tel Aviv University.

The entrepreneurial platform began on June 18 in Santa Monica and culminated on July 3 with “Demo Day,” when the 10 participants had the chance to present their early-stage ventures to top L.A.-based entrepreneurs and investors. The panel included Eran Gilad of Scopus Ventures, Ben McMaster of Philosophie, and Dr. Daniel Nazarian and Behzad Kianmahd of TAU Ventures.

The students—from Israel, Turkey, Sweden, South Africa, Georgia and the United States—pitched their startups to angel investors and the community for feedback, insights and advice at the public event held in Santa Monica and co-hosted by Philosophie.

Five companies were selected to participate from the MBA program at TAU’s Coller School of Management: BrightPaths, a platform to help prevent undesired employee turnover; GoldBuzz, a workplace social celebration platform; PlantOptics, an integrated greenhouse control system; Viibe, a concept dating app that brings dates back to dating; and WeStream, an online platform uses as a marketplace for content production.

“IDEAS Immersion is a one-of-a-kind experience for student innovators poised to become leaders in the evolving digital-technology sphere,” said David Dorfman, founder of IDEAS Immersion and vice president of American Friends of TAU Western Region. “As Tel Aviv University continues to grow as a hotbed for tech entrepreneurs, this program is a special opportunity to bring together seasoned and budding talent from around the globe to collaborate and accelerate their ideas.”

IDEAS Immersion is part of a larger ecosystem established by TAU to help incubate startups, as the university continues to play a key role in Israel’s rise as a world leader in research and technology.

Developed in partnership with Cross Campus, Google, Luma Launch and Scopus Ventures, the program included in-depth workshops, educational panels, community events and on-site visits to major California corporations, including Google, Airbnb, Bullpen Capital and more.

It’s currently running in Chicago until July 24, in partnership with the nonprofit digital startup incubator 1871.

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