Potential Falafel

Hi! Just got back from my business trip to Israel. My team and I went to see how Israel’s food business is functioning, as it is, after all, one of the most delicious countries in the world. Israel has a very active start up environment, a lot of interesting food start ups and a true falafel boom, but the problem is it’s tiny market, catering to only 7 million citizens, compared to China’s 1.3 Billion. No question as to which market is more attractive there, notwithstanding that the ideas for new food startups are great. With the help of investors, you can grow truly global products from local brands – and that’s exactly what Mabius, our accelerator, is doing.

My professor from Skolkovo, Moty Cristal has kindly helped us with organizing some interesting business meetings.

I asked my professor from Skolkovo Moty Cristal for help to organise meetings and networking. He agreed, for which I’m extremely grateful. We met with the Volcani Agricultural Institute, with investment funds Claridge and Copi Agro, which finance startups, visited food incubators, discussed how our Israeli friends work with startups. We met with Ilonit Cohen, Head of Innovations of Nestle in Israel and discussed how safe it is for a company to search for ideas outside corporate walls, using open innovation. This is what we in Mabius offer to large corporations – to join forces and get ideas for startups in order grow them. This win win is for all. Companies get market tested projects that are easily scaleable and startups get the benefits and resources of a large partner.

King Claw Crab project soon to be launched in the UK.

We brought an interesting insight. As in the case of other countries, startup teams dont think globally, but locally, and only see local markets. They do what they want instead of what the market demands. I think we can change things. Unlike many food incubators that we visited, Mabius works quite differently – at first, the idea is checked among its audience online, since we have our own unique technology that engages an active consumer. For example, our King Claw Crab project, which is essentially cooled, ready made Kamchatka crab, used this to enter the British market. There’s an idea, its description, along with price per package. Along with the target audience profile this is handed over to our SMM teams that work with the chosen target audience, who then run the surveys. Do consumers like the package? Do they like the idea? What do they think of the spices? The focus group enters its feedback and the startup team starts working on any drawbacks long before spending money on its test market. Essentially, they limit themselves to doing what’s necessary, saving time and money. Therefore, the chances of this becoming a unicorn, or at the very least, a very profitable competitor increase drastically. Remembering that only about 4% of startups succeed and take off, we see it as our mission to increase this figure using pre-focus groups. Again, we save time and money. We discussed this technology with colleages from a Tel Aviv accelerator and incubator, and colleagues from the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture – I think our methodology proved interesting. It’s possible we will be partnering on projects soon.

Culinary spies must eat well.

Culinary spies must eat well. We tried street falafel, artisan shawarma in the new Shawarmax in downtown Tel Aviv, had an awesome time at Sarona, a food corner market housing lots of street food concepts, fresh varieties of international dishes. Regardless of the fact that there had been a terror attack, there were no traces of it – Israel is used to this, and wounds heal fast. We also went to a farmer’s market in the centre of Tel Aviv, where we feasted on unbelievable fruits and vegetables. I was especially impressed by a green, albeit ripe orange. I thought it was an assassination attempt, but then I decided to poison myself with a few more. Absolutely delicious.

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