IL Tech in NY
Remember the family values when moving to New York, warns Carbyne
IL Tech in NY, in collaboration with Israeli Mapped in NY, explores the impact that moving across an ocean can have on your business, your network, but most importantly your family
“If you’ve got kids and a family that is relocating with you use the weekends to tighten the relationship with your family and friends,” said the executives at next-gen 911 service Carbyne. “This is all that you’ve got in New York City besides from work.”
It can be difficult to move to a brand new country and culture. But for a company that claims it has “the opportunity to save lives,” it was no question. Of course, no entrepreneur should ever forget about their partner or children when they make that plunge - thankfully New York is the best city in the world to explore some adventures together.
Carbyne joined CTech for its IL Tech in IL series to discuss some of the ways it moved from Israel to the U.S - and how Covid-19 changed the company’s trajectory.
Company name: Carbyne
Field of activity/product: Carbyne provides next-generation 911 technology to emergency call centers worldwide
Founders: Amir Elichai, Alex Dizengoff, Yoni Atsun, and Lital Leshem.
Year of founding/start of New York operations: Established in 2014, U.S. operations officially established in 2018.
Number of employees and whether the company is active in other locations: Carbyne has over 100 employees and is operating in over seven countries around the world with an office presence in Israel, the U.S., Mexico, Ukraine, and Brazil.
How much have you raised and who are the investors so far?
We have raised $40 million to date. Some of our investors are: Founders Fund, FinTLV, Elsted Capital partners, Kraft Group, and more.
General background on the founders/senior managers:
Amir Elichai: Founder, Chairman and CEO
Amir Elichai is a founder and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Carbyne. For more than 12 years, Amir has demonstrated his capabilities as a transformational leader – combining business acumen with strong financial discipline, deep operational insights, and organizational management. He is a growth-focused, results-oriented, and solutions-focused leader with a proven track record of bringing analytical insights and pragmatic solutions to key business challenges. Amir is a former Israeli army officer, who served in different positions in elite special forces and the intelligence corps. He earned his LLB and BA from IDC.
Alex Dizengof: Founder and CTO
Alex is a software architect and algorithm developer with over eight years of development experience. Alex has previously developed machine learning algorithms for robots and mobile platforms, as well as cybersecurity software for the Prime Minister’s office. Alex holds a BSc in Computer Science from Bar Ilan University and is responsible for driving Carbyne’s technological vision.
Erez Tzur: President and COO
Erez Tsur comes to Carbyne with over 26 years of leadership experience in helming a company's strategy and vision, which has led companies under his management to rapid growth in extremely competitive markets. Erez has held senior leadership positions in the high-tech industry, including CEO of EMCii and CEO of Cadence Design Systems (Israel). Tsur is currently the hi-tech chairman of Israeli Advanced Industries Association (IATI), which represents 900 companies from the local ecosystem and is a board member of the Israeli Innovation Authority (IIA), which has an annual budget of $650 million invested in R&D disruptive projects, as well as innovation and international collaborations. Tsur is the former co-chair of the multinational R&D center’s CEO Forum in Israel and has been part of a management team of a cyber start-up that was acquired by a big defense institute.
Rob Clark: GM North America
One of the industry’s leading experts on NG9-1-1 and Public Safety technology ecosystem advancement, Rob Clark brings to Carbyne a C-level executive leadership track record that is second to none, having led go-to-market (GTM) efforts for several industry leading firms. Most recently, Rob served as the Head of Atos Public Safety, where he led Atos’ entry into the NG 9-1-1 market in the US, facilitated their respective growth, and secured the State of California’s ESInet contract (valued at $198 million). His GTM leadership prior to Atos served the likes of Unify, Winbourne Consulting, and Frequentis - firms rooted in technology, service leadership, and innovation.
Abelardo Tous-Mulkay: GM Latin America
Abelardo is a senior executive, entrepreneur, and strategic marketer with over 35 years of experience with full P&L responsibility and leading and expanding businesses, markets, and ventures on a global/regional scale for telecommunication equipment, consumer goods, information technology, and security multinational corporations such as Apple, Xerox, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, Qualcomm, and Genetec.
Ohad Rubinstein: VP Sales APAC/EU
Ohad is a senior executive with over 20 years of experience in global sales and business development. Ohad served as the General Manager of ECI Telecom in Korea, VP Global Services for ECI Telecom APAC, and VP Asia for Ceragon Networks. Ohad also serves as CEO of the Israel-Korea Chamber of Commerce, an NGO. In recent years, Ohad propelled Israeli companies to capture new markets in Asia and Latin America, serving as the VP Sales for RIT Wireless and as the COO of Evolution Networks, a leading AI and big data startup. Ohad brings global sales and business development experience, helping to drive Carbyne's global sales. Ohad holds an MBA from Aspen University.
What brought you here? What did you do beforehand?
Like many good ideas, forming Carbyne was inspired by a life event that exposed gaps in the technology available to emergency call centers globally. While enjoying some time off at the beach in Tel Aviv, I was robbed. As I called 100 (the Israeli emergency number), the call taker asked me questions about what happened and for my location. As I was surrounded by sand with no street signs around, it was clear that location identification became an issue as the call taker wasn’t able to locate me. I thought to myself, "In this day and age when any rideshare app and food delivery app can pinpoint a caller’s location easily, how come the emergency call center can’t?" As the conversation progressed, I realized just how dated was the technology that the ECC was using. The more questions they asked, the more I realized they are missing rich communication tools to better communicate with callers. For instance, live video. Why can’t we share a video with the ECC? Or communicate via instant chat in case I was deaf or in danger and couldn’t talk?
The realization that not only do I have the opportunity to save lives, but also start a company around it, energized me and we have been on a mission ever since.
As an entrepreneur who helped companies propel their growth whether it was by developing investor relations or providing business consultancy, I realized that there is a major opportunity here that cannot be missed.
Background on the product/service/platform/solution:
At its core, Carbyne’s platform is designed to redefine emergency collaboration between the residents, first responders, emergency call centers, and even municipalities. Our platform enables any caller to connect with 911 directly, provide advanced mobile location, video, images to 9-1-1 (patented), and communicate via verified instant chat, all without an app requirement. In addition, we provide ECCs a full cloud communication center that enables them to receive phone calls and manage all the essential life-saving functions from a single platform.
Ultimately, our goal is to unify the flow of data and audio into a single platform that, for the first time, will enable state officials, first responders, emergency call centers, and more to receive the right information at the right time in order to make the right decisions. By unifying the flow of data, we enable the decision-makers to enjoy unprecedented visual insights that allow them to automate roles and responsibilities in real-time.
Why New York? What advantages does it offer? How does the market differ from Israel? How does the competition differ?
New York and the U.S market are on a natural growth path for any company in our industry. Not only is it the largest public safety market in the world, but trends and solutions that are solidified in this mega-market are also then implemented more easily globally. In addition, the pool of mega investors and thought leaders in this field are based in the U.S. For instance, two of our advisory board members are former secretaries of homeland security, one is a former FBI Assistant Director and another was Boston’s Police Commissioner during the 2013 marathon bombing. It is easier to bring on such figures when the company has a U.S presence and can communicate and meet with them in real-time, at any time.
I am not saying it can’t happen when your company is fully based in Israel, it’s just easier in terms of operations and scalability.
Two things you learned about the U.S market from operating in New York:
Competition is evolving extremely quickly in the U.S. The market is so dynamic and vibrant when a true need and potential is realized you can clearly see very quickly the emergence of competitors. The availability of funding and resources in the U.S market enables the rapid growth of alternatives. That is why it is really important to carefully value your value proposition and the solution that your company develops. Companies with strong patents and intellectual property like Carbyne are likely to succeed more as our solutions are anchored.
Despite the fact that the market is very big, it is very well connected. Networking and partners are key to the growth of your company. The importance of a professional and personal network can really become a major factor in a company’s growth.
Two things you learned about American investors as a result of starting operations there:
To American investors, location is key. They really appreciate the fact that you are based physically in their territory while going after their market. It gives them a greater sense of confidence in your personal commitment and in your company’s commitment to growing as they can see the sacrifices being made by the company in order to scale.
As the rounds progress, as a CEO it is important to clarify in detail and in real fashion the company’s numbers and growth path. What starts with a vision in the early rounds turn into very intense data-driven presentations. The American investors in the later rounds will leave no room for doubt that investment is worthy and as a CEO you must be very well versed in every single data point in your company to make it through with American investors.
Two suggestions for Israeli entrepreneurs on what to do in New York:
You never know when and from where the next opportunity will come. New York City is the most visited place in the world and during the last few years, the tech scene grew a lot. Interact, socialize, and get to know new people.
If you’ve got kids and a family that is relocating with you use the weekends to tighten the relationship with your family and friends. This is all that you’ve got in New York City besides work.
Two suggestions for Israeli entrepreneurs on what not to do in New York:
As Israeli entrepreneurs, we have so many added values when starting a business. Our innovative thinking really sets us apart as we enter meetings. The startup nation's reputation really builds up the entrance for you. But, some key, basic principles must be followed.
Don’t be late for a meeting. Americans really don’t respond well to that, especially in introductory meetings. Don’t interrupt others while they speak. Let them finish their sentences. I see it all the time when Israelis communicate. They tend to jump into the sentence of the person in the room, even the highest-ranked decision-maker. That is considered very rude in New York. You’ll be as smart, if not smarter, with your answer in five seconds after the person in front of you has already delivered all their talking points.
On a scale of 1-10 how much did the Covid pandemic impact your work?
I am saying this sentence with full sensitivity and awareness of how Covid-19 hit many businesses around the world and the negative impact on their livelihood. But for Carbyne, the pandemic actually increased the capacity of our work and the demand for our services. For instance, the city of New Orleans, which at one point experienced the highest growth rate of Covid-19 in the U.S, reached out to Carbyne in order to use our platform to remotely assess people with symptoms via our video capabilities. The ability to do so not only decreased the amount of unnecessary travel to hospitals since medics were able to give remote instructions and evaluations, but it also reduced unnecessary exposure of people to potentially Covid-19 carriers, should they have gone to a clinic. Amazon Web Services did a powerful case study on how Carbyne helped the city flatten the Covid-19 curve. In addition, we had an additional 31 deployments as agencies around the world saw unprecedented growth in call volume and needed better and more interactive ways to communicate with callers.
What are the differences when it comes to recruiting employees?
I think that a major difference is that, for the most part, Israelis are not afraid to step out of their shell immediately and show their true colors and passion, which is great for an Israeli native company like ours. The rounds of interviews in the U.S are a bit more structured and it takes a bit longer to truly see the person in front of you. The need to be perceived as the perfect candidate in recruiting locally in the U.S takes away from the genuine drive that we look for in candidates.
What are some of the workplace culture differences between Israel and New York?
It’s hard to say because at Carbyne we really focus on creating a nurturing, intimate, working environment where communication is very open. It seems that both Americans and Israelis alike prefer to have casual, honest communications that are transparent in nature. It has its pros and cons, but I think that, for the most part, it works well.
The IL Tech in NY project is a collaboration between CTech and Israeli Mapped in NY.
For more information: Franklin@israeliMappedinNY.com