Samurais Living with COVID-19
As a venture capital – and an early-stage focused one at that, meeting breakthrough technologies and different life-altering solutions is one of our day-to-day activities. It’s only natural that when a world-wide pandemic sets loose, it will have immediate effect on the things we see – which made us go out and look for some of the more dramatic changes out there, or, at least, as we experience them.
Here’s a brief summary of how the world is changing – from Samurai’s point of view.
Catch us on Zoom!
COVID-19 dedicated programs
Before anything else, we’re still an active VC, operating in the Israeli ecosystem. As such, our number one priority is looking to our ecosystem for solutions.
In light of the massive changes happening all over the world, it’s only natural that startup companies are forced to re-think their actions; while some might experience growth, other experience failure. One way the local ecosystem decided to deal with such phenomena is by 365x scale up, that – together with multiple international corporates – is offering a dedicated post-COVID-19 program.
The program is looking for mature Israeli Startup companies and plans to accelerate them to international markets and further funding rounds, supported by their corporate partners – such as Microsoft and SOMPO. The plan aims to assist companies in these crucial times and help them grow from the situation.
Another program launched in light of the COVID-19 crisis is an accelerator supported by The Israeli Association of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), a non-profit organization that promotes the use of technology to streamline transportation systems, raise safety levels, and reduce environmental pollution caused by transportation.
The goal behind this accelerator is to find Startup Companies with solutions that will help Israel combat its public transportation and infrastructure problems during the coronavirus crisis. 5 Startup Companies were already selected and will join the program, planned to run until November. The program is supported by several related Israeli bodies, such as Tel Aviv’s municipality, Bank Hapoalim, Ayalon highways and others.
An additional initiative is a call to action, launched by Startup Nation Central, Ctech, Next and AFP News Agency, in search of Israeli startups that are developing unique, innovative technologies that provide solutions to the various aspects of coping with the pandemic and which have already been implemented by national or local governments, health organizations, or businesses anywhere in the world.
Keep away – but Close
Other aspects of life that were obviously affected are working spaces and environments; as a company located in a co-working space we feel the need for safety and regulation-keeping in the office on a daily basis. In a world of social distancing, how can we work together?
The COVID-19 outbreak made the need for Urban tech rise; the importance of air control, movement tracking and crowd monitoring is now clearer than ever, and indeed – the Israeli Ecosystem is rising up to the occasion. Startup Companies are taking the challenge in order to find solutions for a world where we can’t be close physically, but want to be close mentally. Digital access to content, events and business processes is key, and can enable connections to be made that were otherwise impossible (or less possible).
The pandemic affected not only our video conference subscriptions, but also the space around us. If we do end up back in the office, different solutions are there to help us create sitting arrangments that abide to social distancing rules;  bots will alert if we’re standing too close to one another and different co-working spaces are adopting social distancing schedules that include rotation and ‘capsule’ systems.
Amazon, for example, started using AR to keep safe distance by using AI and some hardware: their physical locations are now mapped, and ‘problematic areas’ – defined so by AI image analysis – are now being heavily monitored and compartmentalized in order to avoid big crowds. Another company that took up to the challenge is Google, launching an AR mobile app that scans your surrounding floor and instantly provides an on-screen distance measurement of 2 meters away.
Humans: now in digital
As a Japanese-Israeli company we were already used to conducting most of our business, well – online. However it took us by surprise to see the fast adaptation of physical life to their virtual version.
The COVID-19 has brought to our lives the digitization of not only businesses and companies, but of experiences. Our lives are slowly (or rapidly) moving to digital environments – online calls and work meetings, online dates or dinners and even online parties. Even experiences that we initially viewed as being far from digitisation, such us mourning a loved one, dinner parties, tourism or work conferences, are now taking place in digital environments.
Are re-imagined human experiences here to stay, even if the pandemic eventually dies down? The fast digitalization of businesses, education and even leisure activities was sure to come in a few years to decades, however the current pandemic has caused an amazing acceleration in growth; we’re all getting used for online activities – some we were reluctant to use in the past – and different technologies are obviously emerging by the day in order to assist with the digital transition of the physical to the online.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a life-changing revolution, with technologies in everything from telemedicine and e-learning, to 5G roll-outs and transportation developments.
What we know for sure is that many of the changes we’re experiencing are here to stay; all that remains is making the best out of it.
Samurai are still looking for early-stage Startup Companies for investment (as always!), in different fields and verticals.
Apply for an investment here: www.samurai-incubate-israel.asia/investments