Orthodox Jewish Tech Startup Community Takes Root

On a wintry Wednesday evening, a select group of 150 frum Venture Capitalists, founders and business gurus gathered in the trendy W Loft facing the Manhattan skyline for an evening dedicated to the frum community’s bubbling tech startup community. Full Story, Photos, Video

By Zev Gotkin

On a wintry Wednesday evening, a select group of 150 frum Venture Capitalists, founders and business gurus gathered in the trendy W Loft facing the Manhattan skyline for an evening dedicated to the frum community’s bubbling tech startup community.

The evening was Demo day for Crown Ventures Accelerator the first of its kind in the USA. The first 5 startups who were selected to be part of the accelerator’s first class, pitched before a live audience of potential investors, their peers in the frum startup founder community, and members of the press.

Demo Day began with a series of pitches from the startup founders. Founders from each of the 5 startups shared a presentation about their innovative companies on stage before an audience of investors and others in the startup community. After each 10-minute presentation, the floor was opened for questions so potential investors could learn more about these startups. The companies were Belly/Gi Trak, TRUFYX, Musical Universe, Fluid Markets and Prettysmart.

Following the presentations, the founders had a chance to network and mingle with the angel investors over a lavish sushi buffet and drinks. The investors in attendance were VC’s and business leaders who wish to invest in this exciting and lucrative space.

“Until now there was a big lack of support for tech in our community so [Crown Ventures] is a huge help,” said the attendee Jacob EisenbachFounder/CEO of Geeker.co.

Hershy GoldsteinFounder/CEO of FRIDAYsaid he attended the event because he wanted “to be around the local startup ecosystem.”

“It’s very inspiring to see young people from our community pursuing this path, which until now wasn’t as accessible to people from our community,” said Goldstein. “It’s very exciting and I’d definitely be interested in becoming a part of next year’s cohort.”

“I believe that Jewish Orthodox founders are talented, capable, knowledgeable, and innovative, but in the sphere of technology and innovation, they remain underrepresented,” said Crown Ventures founder, Yehoshua Werde. “Crown Ventures was created to change that. Our vision is to enhance opportunities for Yeshiva-educated founders within the technology and innovation sector. We aim to create a comprehensive startup ecosystem to rapidly launch and scale profitable companies that will change the world for the better.”

Jacob Raabi, co-founder of trufyx described his experience being part of Crown Ventures’ inaugural cohort as “Amazing! I don’t even know where to start. Everything from beginning to end was incredible. They gave us so much support and helped us shape the vision of our company, make new connections, build our team, and get us to a point where we can now run on our own. The mentors were all amazing. Each of them brought expertise from their respective fields to the table. I recommend this to any founder or any startup!”

“It was a one-of-a-kind experience with a lot of very personalized, one-on-one mentorship tailored to the needs of each startup,” said Yeshaya David Greenberg, co-founder of Musical Universe, about his experience with Crown Ventures. “There’s no price you can put on good mentorship, guidance, and relationships. It’s so valuable to be part of a great cohort who you can rely on and go through the process with. It is the opportunity of a lifetime! If you’re thinking about applying [to the next Crown Ventures cohort]don’t hesitate and just do it, because it will open up so many doors for you and provide incredible insights that will get you to the next level.”

“I think we definitely need more support for tech startups in the community and [Crown Ventures] is a great initiative to help promote that and get things moving in the right direction,” said one attendee who works at a Venture Capital (VC) firm.

“I think the Demo Day event showed the incredible talent and innovation that is right under our noses in the religious Jewish community,” said Moshe Hecht, Founder/CEO of Hatch.ai. “All it took was someone paying attention and finding those opportunities. Kudos to Crown Ventures for giving the opportunities and access to all these incredibly talented people!”

Yadid and Tova Herskovitz, co-founders of RapidzApp, a prospective Crown Ventures startup applying to join the next cohort echoed the widely held sentiment that we need more investment in tech in the Jewish world. “It’s really hard to break into the outside world’s tech bubble because a lot of us [Orthodox Jews] didn’t go to Stanford or the other universities where most of the future tech leaders go,” said Tova.

“A lot of business is about who you know, so if you don’t have industry connections, it can be harder to break into the ecosystem and raise capital. That’s why it’s so great to finally have a place like Crown Ventures where you can meet other people in the community with whom you may have connections in common, and they can get to know you, trust you, and hear your ideas. This will make it easier for startups in our community to find investment.”

“We’re here because we’re lucky enough to be small investors in this cohort,” he said Zach Firestone of Tiferes Ventures, a VC firm. “We’ve gotten to know these startup companies quite well thanks to Crown Ventures and we are incredibly impressed. Crown Ventures is providing an unbelievable service for the Orthodox Startup community and the startup community at large. All of the companies in this cohort are world-class startups who deserved to be on that stage! I’m looking forward to going even deeper with a number of these companies and to participating in future cohorts as well. Kudos to Crown Ventures and thank you so much for everything you’ve done!”

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