Tel Aviv

Roooster Is Shutting Down

It was a long journey for us here at Roooster.

We started working on the idea of a business platform for creative professionals in early 2015. We believed, and still do, that the time has come to present the world with a new method of doing business: where independent professionals are not just Continue reading →

Posted by Samuel Miller in entrepreneurship, 0 comments

So What Is Roooster All About?

We started Roooster out of our own experiences and frustrations: Chasing projects, only to find, once we won the bid, that we have none of our favorite team members available. Continue reading →

Posted by Samuel Miller in entrepreneurship, 0 comments

This is Roooster

As an owner of a creative studio in London, I have very few in-house employees. Like many other design companies, we are heavily depending on freelances to help with the ongoing projects. This is a good thing: our work is not limited by skill, location or staff. Working with freelancers, both on-site and remotely, allow our studio to adapt fast, be very versatile in style and discipline, keep our overheads low and work with exciting artists and clients from around the world. But this flexibility comes at a price: The grueling and constantly recurring task of chasing after available freelance artists or scouting for new ones.

Being a design professional is supposed to be living the dream, to challenge ourselves with new ways of thinking and explore our creative boundaries. Starting our own studios meant we felt responsible enough to take on bigger projects, so we get it: there are managerial tasks, more accounting and there’s also constant hiring of freelancers. Gone are the days of setting up shop and working with an in-house staff of 9 to 5 artists. We are constantly on the lookout for talents who meet the specific requirements of each project. These high quality professionals, are not just waiting for us to call them: they actively search for projects. 

In the domains of high quality design and creative services, there is very little comfort in using freelancer recruitment services. Even if you think you may have found the right person for the task using one of these services, you still have to spend a lot of time going through their portfolio, understanding what was their part in every project, where creative projects are often collaborative, and trying to learn from colleagues what is it like to work with this person, as the match needs to be personal as well as professional. The challenge is even bigger when trying to find a remote artist to work with.

This is why we started Roooster: We had enough browsing through hundreds of online portfolios and fancy websites that claim to understand your creative needs. Or even worse, online services that offer useless ranking systems and focusing mainly on low cost bids rather than quality. You know these sites, those which are avoided by self respecting freelance designers and artists. In Roooster we want to allow creative studio owners to share freelance information with their peers – who else can vouch for their professional contacts?

Posted by Rotem Nahlieli in entrepreneurship, 0 comments

Yoovi’s Lesson In Viral Marketing

About a year ago I met Eytan at the Google Launchpad, a startup bootcamp of sorts, in TelAviv. A year has gone by and out of that bootcamp only a handfull of startups survived.

One has managed to recruit several million dollar from investors, some gave up and moved on to the next venture and some returned to the employee workforce. Eytan Levitt is one of the entrepreneurs who made it through the year and his startup, Yoovi, is now at the final stage of its product launch – a closed beta.

The idea behind Yoovi is a photo management and sharing service for parents. Yoovi is not an ordinary mobile app and its launch requires a considerable investment. The app is at the Apple App Store for several months now, but it is an invite-only service as yet. Eytan’s challenge is double: on the one hand, potential investors require guarantee of public demand. The goal that Eytan set are pretty straight forward: 20,000 pre-enrolls will get Yoovi enough funds to complete the launch. 100,000 will fund additional services. On the other hand, the public doesn’t know Yoovi and users are constantly bombarded with messages from dozens of competing products every hour. Photo sharing is something we do every day. An average mobile user has 3 to 5 different apps they use concurrently to do this: Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Path. Yoovi has a unique niche and it does answer a specific problem for parents who take loads of photos. But in such a big ocean of apps, who will notice a unique little drop?

Eytan’s solution to these two problems was a brilliant videoclip, where he presents the idea and asks the viewers to vote for the app by adding their emails on Yoovis website. The clip was shot at the end of January, cut and edited at the beginning of February. Now all that’s left is to distribute it and hopefully make it viral.

On February 18 Eytan released the clip on his personal Facebook profile and on Yoovis page. He needed to get the required number of users within 31 days.

In startup meetups, when seasoned entrepreneurs speak in front of new entrepreneurs, they talk a lot about “evangelizing” – the  need for an entrepreneur to become a preacher or a prophet for their own venture. This is exactly what Eytan did in the days that followed the release of the clip:

Launching the campaign was a live event broadcast on Yevvo. Within several hours, with the good help of friends, he already collected 700 emails.

The following day, Yoovi’s team opened a “war room” at the Google TLV Campus. It was a viral marketing hackathon, with beer and pizzas. Friends came over to show their support and within a day the number of emails collected surpassed 4,000. Eytan practically moved into the Campus. His presence there was put to good use: on the third day he spoke in front of a group of entrepreneurs from South America. It was February 20 and responses from all over the world were pouring: a guy from New Zealand sent a moving message, someone else sent a video of herself using Eytan’s clip in a lecture about viral marketing and Saul Singer, the author of Startup Nation enlisted to the campaign, posting about it on his highly popular Facebook Page.

Yoovi’s livecast was still going strong on the fourth day, making it effectively the first TV reality event of the Israeli startup scene. Meanwhile, responses continued to flow: Eytan reported about a twit fro Saudi Arabia sharing the clip and about a CEO from one of the largest parents’online communities asking for a beta invite. On the sixth day the count was already on 8,000.

Things changed on the seventh day. It was opened in Barcellona, at the World Mobile Congress. With all due respect to hackathons and friends’support, you still need the big conventions to meet investors and get media exposure. Here is what Eytan shared on his Facebook account:

 Hello friends, first I’d like to say thank you very much to everyone that’s supporting, helping, saying nice things, sending emails.. wow.. just wow..

Yesterday was my first day in the Barcelona conference – I was in the less successful venue but I still got the maximum I could, chinese investors that really liked Yoovi and offered to invest, I also reached 3 journalists – one of them from a really big publisher.

Things I learned yesterday:

1. Always provide value – the way I got to these 3 journalists was through a panel where the crowd was participating, and I really participated and asked question that made sense to the discussion. When the panel was done the journalists came to me(!!) and said thanks for participating. 

2. Everybody is trying to fight over media’s attention, my primary goal isn’t to pitch my story, but to create rapport.

3. The “second most important person in the room technique” – when everybody wants the attention of someone, look for the person that came with him – and talk with him. It’s gets amazing results.

4. Always help – I offered someone to charge his iPhone with my mac’s USB, turns out he’s the BizDev of Rovio(Angry Birds) and really helped.

5. The parties in the night just as important as the conference – my goal for today, get access to the most important party/

6. Someone told me a great sentance – “the most content I create, the luckier I am” – HOW TRUE!! I’m thrilled that our campaign continues going well, I find it a world wonder, I hope our attempts to get converage will be fruitful soon(they will).

Sorry for not live streaming as much, 3g and bettery are a real constraint on that.

That’s for now – HAVE A GREAT DAY!!

Eytan from Barcelona

February is ending and Yoovi achieved half of their target number so far, within just 10 days.

A campaign’s success is measured against its defined goals. As of today, the campaign is a success. Goals can be changed during the campaign. In the case of Yoovi, the Barcellona convention was a great opportunity not to be missed and a game changer. Talking about viral campaigns, it is hard not to refer to global phenomena such as Kony2012 , which received over 100 million views within 6 days on YouTube. But such a comparison would be unfair: Yoovi is a struggling startus, trying to pre-enroll potential users – not raise funds on Kickstarter or fight against child abuse in Africa. Behind Yoovi you won’t find massive donor support or an army of Twitter controlling Hollywood stars. Yoovi’s campaign is an excellent lesson for young entrepreneurs with limited resources.

Posted by Samuel Miller in Blog, entrepreneurship, 0 comments
The Risky and Most Efficient Way to Cycle in Tel Aviv

The Risky and Most Efficient Way to Cycle in Tel Aviv

…is on the road.

Most urban cyclists in Tel Aviv still cycle on the pavement, trying to keep to the narrow bicycle lanes, which are usually stretched alongside the pedestrians’ route.

These lanes are most often well paved, with clear symbols of bicycles, signalling that only cyclists are allowed on them. This means little or nothing to the good people of Tel Aviv: you can see people walking, running, carrying prams and strollers there. You can see motorcyclists and distributors unloading lorries onto these lanes.

This, of course, is possible where the lanes are convenient, accessible and relatively new.  In other places in the city, you can see the cycling lanes sprinkled with fun accessories such as bus stops and lottery booths. There also the places where there are no cycling lanes and where cycling lanes simply stop, without an alternative route for the prudent rider.

It takes me about 30 minutes to ride on the special lanes on the pavements and through the park, from my house to the city towers on the bank of the mighty river Ayalon (of which you probably haven’t heard, and if you have, didn’t realize it was an actual water stream). Using just the road, this ride takes half as much.

While riding on the pavement and cycling lanes has its perils, for all the reasons written above, the road can be a real danger: in Israel’s intercity roads, each year an average of 370 riders are hurt in car-bicycle accidents. The toll increases in July-August, with the heat, the increased trainings for the various international triathlons and of course the summer holiday with teenagers discovering the thrills of DUI.

With all that, I still feel relatively safe riding around town on the road, with the cars and buses, the mopeds and lorries.

There are several precautions that need to be taken, and various practices that can keep you safe on the road. It is good to follow these guidelines also on the pavement:

Stay Alert

You are a cyclist. There are limits to how you can defend yourself when a car suddenly decides to see if you go bump! I always think that the cars beside me and behind me are planning to do exactly that. It is very useful to keep the eyes and ears open. If there is a car behaving erratically, putting you in danger, getting in your path, the best thing would be to slow down and let it pass.


See, Hear, Smell…

So that you don’t find yourself tasting (asphalt) and touching (earth, wind, fire, metal and flesh).

Do not wear headphones; keep all your input channels opens so you know to detect a rapidly approaching heavy vehicle, a crazy scooter or any danger coming your way. Smell? Yes, smell. After some time as an urban cyclist, you get familiar with the scents of cars, buses, Diesel and Benzene. If you can smell it, you can avoid it.

Take your place

On the road, the last thing you want to do is minimize yourself, to allow the motor vehicles their rightful place in the lane. Cyclists tend to stick to the right, often at the danger of scraping the side of the pavement and riding on all the drain hole grills. This is a mistake that can be hazardous: Car drivers will take the full lane without bothering to overtake you. Being too close to the pavement, with the possibility of slightly losing equilibrium on the drain holes, this can get you thrown off your bike.

Stay on the right hand lane, giving yourself half a meter from the pavement and keep straight at it. Cars will have to overtake you through the left hand lane and possibly blow their horns and shout at you. Just smile at them: you will meet them again soon, at the traffic lights.

Be Visible

Mostly during the evening and late night, but also during the day, there are so many ways for you to be invisible. I usually try to ride with white clothes, but this is not always possible, especially going from one meeting to another. So it is always important to attach reflectors to the bikes, a led headlight, to avoid frontal collisions with other cyclists in the badly lit park after dark. Also taping a reflector to your messenger bag and your body will be helpful. I am not saying you should look like a mobile Christmas tree, but if you do, it will definitely slow down car drivers next to you, giving you safe passage.

Lights and reflectors are not all there is for the issue of visibility: it is important to take a visible place on the road and know that the drivers have blind spots in their cars. Make sure that when a car is by your side, you can either see the driver or that the driver sees you. This usually means to either be behind their rear-view mirror or ahead of their front wheels.

It is also important to use hand signals. The drivers may be puzzled about the weird gestures you make, but at least they will pay attention.


Take Advantage of the Famously Bad TLV Traffic

Israeli drivers all need to get to wherever they need to get to before anybody else, including every other driver. They will be breaking the law by stealing lanes, driving beyond the separator lines and trying to squeeze into narrow openings to prevent other drivers from getting there first. This happy driving often brings traffic to a halt. Taking advantage of this is tricky: sometimes the drivers drive too close to the pavement intentionally so that you will not be able to continue on the road. It leaves you two options: either go on the pavement until the next traffic light, or you can overtake the car from the left. It’s not like it is going anywhere for the next few minutes.


Watch for the Tricky Parts

There are wider city roads, with three lanes and the occasional turn to a ramp leading to an interchange. Worst: there are ramps leading from an interchange, merging into the road you are now riding on. This can lead to an extremely unpleasant situation where there are cars to your left and to your right.

Rear-view mirror and good instincts do come in handy at this point and if you have a clear shot of taking the right, use it, but carefully. Whatever you do, do not be tempted to ride faster than usual. The last thing you want is to lose your balance while in competition with a car.

Stick to your lane. Specifically, stay to the left of the separator line. It is important to keep your place on the road so that drivers will be aware that you are there.

Above all: stay safe


Posted by Samuel Miller in Blog, 0 comments

accelerated in TLV

Accelerator or incubator? I seriously don’t know, but right now I classify all known open spaces hosting budding startups in Tel Aviv as accelerators. They simply host startup entrepreneurs wanting to accelerate the process of launching and funding.

Getting on investors’ radars, being helped by peers and exploiting networking and hidden marketing channels is exactly what this means. Participation in one of the accelerators’ cycles (or waves) can reduce the time lost fro a year or a year and a half, to 3 and four months.

This is why it is so funny for me to hear from accelerator coordinators that “we don’t like to see ourselves as an accelerator”. Nope, this is a cozy gathering of the techie-tribes for the next several moons where we can all share the mead and listen to the storytelling of the great wizards and masters of the lore of venture capitalism.

For development purposes, accelerators are generally a good thing, as they allow you to accomplish a lot that you cannot do on your own. But if you have a team and the clarity of the road you take, a local coffee shop will do. There are several known cafes scattered around the streets of Tel Aviv, which are known spots for founding team on the verge of seed funding.The main benefit of these accelerators is as an access portal into the network of investors and entrepreneurs. This access is very hard to gain from a local cafe.

The best accelerators are the cheapest ones to enter. At least this is my impression after almost a year wondering around the city, at first with my previous co-founder and currently on my own, They provide space, focus, support and facilities that beat the price and distraction experienced at cafes. But the more expensive offer you nothing that will promote you anywhere. They will provide lectures by other entrepreneurs and possibly some sessions about anything from the spirituality of entrepreneurship to the merits of analyzing yourself to understand how you and your startup idea fit together.

There is a comprehensive list of known accelerators in Israel (page is in Hebrew) that is a must read for any Israeli entrepreneur who wishes to step into this world.

Posted by Samuel Miller in entrepreneurship