If you’re an entrepreneur, technologist or developer searching for a place where start-ups thrive, you might want to avert your gaze from Silicon Valley and look towards the Middle East. Consider Israel, for example, a country of nearly 7.9 million people that’s only bested by the United States in total number of start-up companies, venture capital funds, and the number of companies listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
“People call it start-up nation and it really is,” said Alon Alroy, co-founder and vice president of business development at Bizzabo. “Every third person you run into on the street is an entrepreneur. And we're really proud of it because it’s a very small and complicated country."
A consumer-focused renaissance of sorts has taken hold over the past few years, which has lent more of Israel’s talent to innovation on the consumer front, Alroy continued. "In the past 10 years we do see in Israel a transition from hardcore technology and patents for sophisticated technology… to more consumer-focused technology like mobile and the web."
While Israel has tremendous legacy and achievements in core technologies, new start-ups are gaining significant incubator support for their efforts around cloud computing, user interface, and user experience.
“It’s a thriving community,” Alroy said. “The only difficulty is that as a developer we are far away from our markets.”
While Bizzabo can’t do much about the physical distance that separates all of us, its most recent mobile application is designed to give us real-time networking capabilities at events like tradeshows or meetups. As the company sees it: missing an unexpected encounter is one thing, but missing the opportunity to meet a colleague, potential customer or client at an industry event or meet-up is almost inexcusable.
After years of frustration following meet-ups and conferences where opportunities slipped right through their fingers, Alroy and his colleagues formed Bizzabo to enable more efficient, effective networking on-the-fly.
“We help people connect. Our goal is to maximize networking from events and increase the return on investment from attending events,” Alroy said. “In an intimate way you can chat with people you don't already know, but you should know."
Bizzabo is an opt-in service wherein event organizers encourage attendees to sign up and find details about other attendees and their companies, but more importantly generate meetings and business opportunities on the spot. Because Bizzabo is a real-time platform, the majority of the usage occurs during the event and there are two key features unique to Bizzabo’s Android app that differentiate it from the event apps that typically focus on scheduling meetings in advance.
Qualcomm’s AllJoyn is a "proximity based peer-to-peer technology that enabled us to really quickly develop two features that added tremendous value that we couldn't offer without it." By incorporating AllJoyn, Bizzabo’s app tells users if another event attendee is “steps away” in real-time—opening up the doors for networking. And because AllJoyn is an open source P2P technology that does not require connection to a server, it can determine device proximity and enable ad hoc discovery and connectivity across different platforms and device types. The technology enables users to set-up multiple notifications on Bizzabo to alert them when an attendee from particular company is just steps away, for example.
Alroy would like a similar level of flexibility to play throughout the mobile development landscape. He continues to work toward a solution around HTML5 and is excited about Windows Phone, but that does not change the fact that there are challenges in mobile today that are particularly acute for developers.
"The most challenging part when developing for mobile is that you need to develop for different platforms,” he said. “So whoever will manage to really offer a solution that you can write one piece of code and then be able to develop for all platforms at once, it will save people a lot of money and time.”