Tag: Management

Startups On the Right Track

These teams wowed the judges with their innovative ideas at this year’s Coller Startup Competition.

The sixth annual Coller Startup Competition final took place recently on TAU campus, as the final teams of TAU students and alumni pitched their startups for an investment of $100 000 on each track.

Encouraging Entrepreneurial Venturing

The goal of the competition is to encourage TAU students and alumni to engage in entrepreneurial venturing and launch successful startups, and previous winners have gained recognition, support, and millions of dollars in follow-on investments. Diverse team are welcome to join, hailing from different faculties and disciplines.

Dr. Eyal Benjamin, Head of Entrepreneurial Projects, Coller Institute of Venture, and Director of the Coller Startup Competition, opened the event stating that “Being a unicorn should not be perceived as the ‘holy grail’. Being successful and achieving what you set out to achieve with your venture – that is the ‘holy grail’. First, it is important to articulate what you wish to achieve and your desired reach. That’s what we’re doing here. We help [TAU students and alumni] move forward and grow their ventures. This is the reason why the competition was established in the first place.” 

The Coller $100,000 Startup Competition was established five years ago, by Mr. Jeremy Coller, Chief Investment Officer at Coller Capita and Co-Founder of the Competition and Chief Entrepreneurship and Innovation Officer at the Coller School of ManagementProf. Moshe Zviran. It is a multi-staged process, offering mentoring and enhancement process for participating startups, as investors and innovation experts give valuable feedback on the ventures, serving the startups for the long run. At the final event, the teams gain exposure to additional investors who come to watch the ventures’ presentation.  

Multiple Tracks

We did not envy the 52 judges (among them were VCs, angel investors, academics and entrepreneurs), as we listened to 13 hopeful teams (out of the 110 startups that applied) who took turns pitching their ideas. Each team got five minutes to wow the judges.

The ideas presented were diverse – covering tools to help children with special needs, personalized real time makeup assistance, production of egg proteins, solutions for the freight forwarding industry, and more.

Whereas last year’s competition featured only two tracks, Prof. Zviran explains, “We started with the Technology track. We then proceeded to add the food tech track – and this year, we’ve chosen to distinguish between Deep Tech and Online, which means that this year we offer three separate competition tracks.” The plan is to expand to include additional tracks, covering additional fields with new partners.   

 

The judges of the Coller Startup Competition 2022 had to make some tough decisions (photo: Nimrod Glickman)

Taking the Chicken out of the Equation

This year’s winner of the FoodTech track (the only track that is not preconditioned by TAU affiliation) was PoLoPo, a biotech startup developing a plant platform for high-scale, economical custom-made production of proteins. PoLoPo exploits the full potential of plants as diverse metabolite and green protein factories, and have successfully engineered egg proteins (= animal proteins), without chickens. Eliminating the need for chickens is good news for those of us who do not eat regular eggs, as well as for the climate and the environment, and in particular given the context of recent bird flu viruses. The founders of the startup are Dr. Raya Liberman- Aloni and Dr. Maya Sapir-Mir.

 

PoLoPo share celebrate their victory on their LinkedIn page

In a Heartbeat

Symbiosis won the DeepTech Track. The Symbiosis team are developing a novel personalized platform for anchoring and sealing of irregular anatomical structures in real time, with emphasis on the mitral valve apparatus for moderate to severe MR patients. Or, in simpler terms, the project is developing a solution to the problem of heart failure.

The project’s Co-Founder, Shira Burg, got the idea after witnessing many dogs suffer from the problem as a veterinarian. Today, she is a doctoral student in the field of electrophysiology of the heart at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, and symbiosis C.M. offers a solution to the problem for humans (and in the future also in dogs). Burg and second Co-Founder, Varda Badet, also a TAU alumni, were awarded a $100,000 investment from Coller Capital.

Insert a Good Shipping Quote Here

Due to the significant changes Covid-19 brought to the freight forwarding industry, companies are looking for solutions to stay competitive. According to Pierate.io, winner of this year’s Online track, the global shipping industry is “inefficient, outdated, and manual,” and the company argues that “one quote should not take so long to generate.” Pierate.io offers a SaaS platform which collects data from all sources to allow the freight forwarders’ sales teams to generate highly accurate price quotes in just a few clicks.”  

Pierate.io won the online track at a $100,000 investment by PALSAR Ventures (specializing in early-stage investments in the online field)), which was surprisingly joined by Jeremy Coller, who pitched in with an additional $100,000 investment while the team was still on stage.

 

A happy post on Pierate’s LinkedIn page

The company’s founders, Eyal Daniel, TAU alumnus Sidney Feiner and Maayan Weinheber, also a TAU alumnus, went home (or perhaps to the nearest bar to celebrate?) with a check totaling $200,000.

 

The Pierate team left the competition $200,000 richer. From left: Prof. Moshe Zviran, Chief Entrepreneurship and Innovation Officer at the Coller School of Management; Adv. Eyal Bar-Zvi, Partner in PALSAR Ventures Fund; Pierate CEO Eyal Daniel; CTO Sidney Feiner; CEO Maayan Weinheber and Dr. Eyal Benjamin, Director of the Coller Startup Competition (photo: Shlomi Mizrahi)

Congratulations to the winning teams and good luck with your new ventures!

Featured image: Dr. Eyal Benjamin (far left) and Prof. Moshe Zviran (far right) with the competition’s winning teams

Want Respect in the Workplace? Drop the Smileys

Employees who communicate with images and emojis are perceived as less powerful.

If you wish to signal power to your colleagues, your boss, or your subordinates, you should consider reducing your use of pictures and emojis in favor of words – these are the conclusions of a new study at Tel Aviv University’s Coller School of Management.

According to the researchers, “Today we are all accustomed to communicating with pictures, and the social networks make it both easy and fun. Our findings, however, raise a red flag: in some situations, especially in a work or business environment, this practice may be costly, because it signals low power. Our advice: think twice before sending a picture or emoji to people in your organization, or in any other context in which you wish to be perceived as powerful.”

Words are Powerful

The study examined the response of American participants to verbal vs. pictorial messages in different contexts. The results were clear-cut: In all experiments, the respondents attributed more power to the person who chose a verbal vs. a visual representation of the message.

To test their hypothesis, the researchers conducted a series of experiments in which various everyday scenarios were presented to hundreds of American respondents. In one experiment, participants were asked to imagine shopping at a grocery store and seeing another shopper wearing a Red Sox t-shirt. Half of the participants were shown a t-shirt with the verbal logo RED SOX, while the other half saw the pictorial logo. Those who saw the t-shirt with the pictorial logo rated the wearer as less powerful than those who saw the verbal logo.

Pictures Reveal a Desire

Similar results recurred in a range of other contexts. Because of Covid-19, online meetings using platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have become an essential organizational fixture. The researchers examined the effects of picture versus word use in this important organizational context.

Participants were asked to choose one of two co-participants to represent them in a competitive game that suited people with high social power. Critically, one co-participant had purportedly chosen to represent themselves with a pictorial profile, while the other had purportedly chosen to represent themselves with a verbal profile. Sixty-two percent of the participants selected the co-participant who chose to represent themselves with a verbal profile. Thus, employees who signal power by using words are more likely to be selected to powerful positions, compared to those who signal weakness by using pictures.

Dr. Elinor Amit from TAU’s Coller School of Management summarizes: “Why do pictures signal that a sender has little power? Research shows that visual messages are often interpreted as a signal for desire for social proximity. A separate body of research shows that less powerful people desire social proximity more than powerful people do. Consequently, signaling that you’d like social proximity by using pictures is essentially signaling you’re less powerful.”

Amit notes that such signaling is usually irrelevant in close relationships, as in communications between family members. However, in many arenas of our lives, especially at work or in business, power relations prevail, and we should be aware of the impression our messages make on their recipients. “Our findings raise a red flag: When you want to signal power – think twice before sending an emoji or a picture,” she concludes.

The study was conducted by Dr. Elinor Amit and Prof. Shai Danziger from Coller School of Management at Tel Aviv University, in collaboration with Prof. Pamela K. Smith from the Rady School of Management at UCSD. The paper was published in the prestigious journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

Investment in Social Funds Leads to a Reduction in Charitable Donations

Researchers warn that this substitution effect may impact charities negatively.

A new TAU study, the first of its kind, examined whether there is a connection between the rapid growth of investment in social investment funds and the decrease in donations to charitable organizations. The researchers studied the actual investment behavior of approximately 10,000 clients of an investment app, and found that investors switching to invest in a recently introduced social fund reduced their donations, mainly in charities supporting causes similar to those of the social fund.

However, the researchers also found that most of the investors in the social fund had not previously donated to charities, so, looking at the big picture, social funds entice more people to fund social causes.

The study was conducted by Dr. Shai Levi and Prof. Shai Danziger of Tel Aviv University’s Coller School of Management, in collaboration with Dr. Jake An of the Australian firm Raiz Investing and Prof. Donnel Briley of the University of Sydney. The study was published in the prestigious journal Management Science.

Charities Take a Hit

In recent years, investment firms have been marketing social investments (Environment, Society and Government, or ESG) as a way for investors to achieve financial returns while making a social impact. Such funds will for instance avoid investments in certain industries, like oil, and rather invest in others, like renewable energy.

In 2018, global social investment assets exceeded $30 trillion, an increase of 34% since 2016. During this same period, in the U.S., total donations to nonprofits – the traditional avenue for advancing social goals – dropped 1.1 percent to about $300 billion. Until now, the causal link between the popularity of social investments and the decline in charitable giving had not been examined.

Dr. Levi explains that the study was conducted using the unique database of the Australian digital investment platform Raiz Investment – a phone app aimed primarily at millennials, young investors with relatively small investment portfolios.

According to Dr. Levi, in 2017 Raiz added the option of investing in an ESG social fund, which invests only in companies that meet certain standards of sustainability, social values ​​and governance. Because the app is connected to users’ bank accounts, it was possible to monitor investors’ charitable donations both before and after they joined the fund. The researchers tracked the investments and donations of about 3,300 investors who invested in ESG, about 4,000 investors who invested in another, non-social fund, and another 3,300 investors in a control group, that were matched on investor characteristics to those that had switched to the ESG fund. They found that, on average, investors who contributed to charitable organizations before investing in a social fund tended to donate less afterwards – that is, some investors saw their ESG investment as a kind of donation.

Overall Effect Uncertain

Prof. Danziger points to the complexity of the findings. “On the one hand, investment firms could use social funds as a marketing ploy to attract investors. For example, say you’re told the ESG fund invests only in companies with a low carbon footprint – that doesn’t mean that you’re investing in companies in the field of renewable energy. It can mean that you’re investing in technology giants like Apple, that is, companies that are not necessarily causing damage. Our findings show that after investing in a social fund, investors reduce their traditional contributions to environmental and social nonprofits.”

“On the other hand, since 79% of investors in the ESG fund did not make any charitable contributions before investing, the overall effect must be assessed. Ultimately, the question is whether ESG contributions to society outweigh the decrease in investor donations that result from substitution. In our study, we estimate that overall, funds will have a positive impact on society only if their annual contribution to social causes exceeds 3.2% of the balance invested. In practice, this is difficult to measure, and we don’t know whether the contribution of the social funds crosses this threshold, so it is not clear whether their impact on society is positive.”

In conclusion, the researchers say, “The trend that emerged from the study indicates that investors may replace charities with social funds. This could have a major impact on charities, who will lose a significant source of income and find it difficult to continue to function.”

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