Citi’s Jerusalem Challenge Offers ‘Gateway’ to Startups
August 28, 2015
Israel is a small country bursting with startups in search of wider markets. That's why Israeli entrepreneurs appreciate opportunities like Citi Mobile Challenge, which came to Jerusalem -- among a number of other cities, including London, Nairobi, Warsaw, and New York -- to offer mobile innovators a chance to present to an audience of investors and technology enthusiasts. The video below highlights mobile payment startup Sling, based in Ramat Gan, a Tel Aviv suburb. Sling allows merchants that don't accept card payments to still sell to customers with mobile phones. The merchant displays a Sling code, which the customer scans with his camera, then authorizes a payment to the merchant's account using the Sling app. Sling CEO Erez Yerushalmi said in the video, "Israel is very unique about innovation. We have the brightest minds over here, people working very hard, but it's a small place. It's a small market, and that's why you need gateways. You need opportunities." Events in Israel provide such opportunities for early-stage companies, and for larger institutions to see the innovation up close. Sling was founded in 2013 and has $1.1 million in funding, according to Crunchbase. Citigroup has made strong investments in Israeli innovation, with an accelerator venture group, and R&D center all located in the small Mediterranean country. The global bank is sending two speakers to Bank Innovation Israel in November in Tel Aviv -- Andres Wolberg-Stok, global head of emerging platforms and services; and Ruth Polachek, head of Citi Accelerator and external innovation.