Earlier this year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I joined Quantum Hub to lead all programs for startups and corporations.
Little did I know, that only 3 months later, we will be launching the first batch of Quantum SPARK - the first POC (proof-of-concept) runway program for startups in mobility & automotive, logistics, energy and industry 4.0.
We launched this first batch with 5 amazing startups, and I’m happy to say that even though the selection process was extensive and quite challenging (given the overwhelming number of really great applications), now 3 weeks into the program - I’m proud of every single one of them and truly believe in their potential to disrupt their respective industries.
Since many of my friends and followers are working in roles related to innovation and startups, I thought it would be useful to share a bit about the process we went through as we created the concept of Quantum SPARK, how we managed the scouting and selection process and how we adapted to the changing circumstances due to COVID-19.
About the program
Quantum SPARK is a POC runway program focused on 4 main verticals: Mobility & Automotive, Logistics, Energy - and of course, Industry 4.0.
What is a POC runway program?
At first, we called our program an accelerator. It was easy - everyone knows what an accelerator is, and it is more simple to market it this way. But the more we thought about it we realized it is not the right definition for our program.
See, we wanted to create a program for startups that already had a product, that potentially even raised their initial seed round, and the purpose of the program was not to accelerate R&D or to help startups raise money, rather it was to make the right connections with relevant partners, and build POCs to demonstrate value and create actual impact.
So together with our consultant, Hanoch Rabinovich, we came up with the concept of the POC runway program. From that moment, the name defined the entire concept - any part of the program that was not directly linked to the POC or the desired outcome of the POC (which is to create a commercial partnership) was stripped. We were left with nothing but Tachles (a Hebrew word meaning “getting to the point”).
Quantum SPARK is a 12-week program, which runs in annual cycles. During the 12 weeks startups get:
- A designated champion - a senior executive in one of the partners or their subsidiary companies.
- A designated mentor - veteran entrepreneur, leading investor or senior executive in a corporate from the startup’s target industry.
- Support from Quantum Hub’s POC center - to build an impactful and scalable POC.
- Workshops and 1:1 sessions with leading experts from the industry - all focused on the topic of POC, product-market-fit and commercialization.
- $50K investment - to support the POC.
- A graduation day where they present, together with their champion, the results of the POC to the entire executive leadership of the partners and the subsidiary companies.
But the most valuable part, is the commitment from both Quantum Hub and the partners, to build a POC during the course of the weeks.
About our partners
Quantum Hub was founded by Taavura-Livnat Group - one of the biggest privately held groups in Israel, with holdings in more than 100 companies and 16,000 employees, 90%+ of them are in Israel. The majority of their operations are in the mobility and logistics sectors, but they also own the largest data center in Israel and the largest call center, as well as several real-estate, retail and agricultural businesses, among others.
In addition to Taavura-Livnat, we have 3 more partners:
- Hyundai Motors Group - based in South-Korea, Hyundai Motor Group is one of the largest car manufacturers, active in 200 countries with 250,000 employees.
- VDL Groep - an international industrial family-owned group based in Eindhoven, Netherlands, with 104 operating companies, spread over 20 countries, and about 17,000 employees.
- Tadiran Group - a leading air conditioning manufacturer, air treatment solutions provider and energy service company, based in Israel, and active in Europe, the U.S., India, South America and Africa.
Quantum Hub’s model is built in a way that aligns interests between all of our partners and ensures their commitment to the different activities, including our POC runway program.
The selection process
The selection process was key to the success of the program and was quite unique especially with the great involvement of our partners. We started with defining the brief - what is each of our partners looking for? What are some of the common challenges they share? - we took these insights and created a website that articulated them clearly, and started advertising the program across the media, targeting post-seed startups in the relevant sectors.
We collected applications for one month only, during which we received just a little over 100 applications. We then sorted them, selected the ones most relevant to be sent for our partners to rate, and finally held a selection committee where 15 startups presented to our partners, as well as key investors (thank you Eitan Naor, Omri Green, Aaron Appelbaum and Eran Bielski for joining us!).
The whole selection committee was quite a production. Due to COVID-19, we were not able to invite our international partners to join us here in Israel, and so we made a decision to conduct the entire session via Zoom. In order to ensure the quality of pitches, we invited each startup to arrive at our hub in Herzliya to pitch for 20 in front of the committee that was spread between Israel, South Korea and The Netherlands - which was a unique experience for them and for us!
After the selection committee, we went through an intensive process with our champions, each a senior exec in one of our corporate partners, to choose the 5 startups who will join us and start working on a POC with our champions.
We are now 3 weeks into the program, with 9 left. During this time, we are all working hard to push forward the POCs and make an impact. Due to the working from home policy currently led in Israel, we have most of the sessions to take place over Zoom, with ongoing communication with our startups and mentors taking place via Slack and Whatsapp.
I’d like to take this opportunity and thank the amazing team of Quantum Hub for making all this possible - Inbal, Liav, Dror, Dana, Rotem, Dalia, and Amir - you guys rock!
To follow up with the progress of the program and our startups, please follow our Linkedin page, and if you’d like to apply to our next batch - planned for April 2021, feel free to apply through our website.
Shana Tova and stay healthy!