Zeevi Michel

Turbo Acceleration – from TechStars to UpWest Labs

Around this time last year we were informed that we had been accepted to the 2011 class of TechStars Boston. We were very excited by the fact that we were the first Israeli company ever to get accepted! Back then, Senexx was known as SircleIT, and we were just a concept, with two young unknown entrepreneurs from Israel.

We were super excited but didn’t really know what it meant, and how it would affect the rest of our lives. So, almost a year on, with a much better perspective, I will share for the first time what TechStars meant to us, and why after graduating TechStars we decided to apply to the Silicon-Valley accelerator – UpWest Labs.

From a sunny Israel, we arrived to a freezing Boston morning in March 2011. There we met eleven wonderful companies from around the globe, from places like Nashvill, the UK and even from Estonia. We were all welcomed with open arms by the managing director of TechStars Boston, Katie Rae, who all along the program has been like a mother to us; teaching, promoting, being angry and laughing with us – everything you need as a young entrepreneur.

We had a rich experience during the program. Here are few highlights:

  • Built our beta product.
  • Found our first customers.
  • Raised our Seed round.
  • Met wonderful people who we hope will be our advisors for life, like Chris Heidelberger, Richard Dale and Reed Sturtevant.
  • Created a wonderful loving community of entrepreneurs who are there to help us.

After finishing TechStars I always carried around with me one thought – “what if we had been accepted into TechStars today at more mature stage we are at right now?”

In August 2011, I was introduced to Gil Ben Artzi by a former TechStars mentor and angle investor, Mr. Ty Danco. Gil and his co-founder Shuly Galili, were establishing a Silicon-Valley based startups accelerator named UpWest Labs. The program brings the best Israeli entrepreneurs and technological talent to the Bay Area and connects them with the Silicon Valley’s ecosystem.

When I was offered by Gil to join UpWest I felt that my wish could actually come true. I was excited about the opportunity to execute lessons we’ve learned and to develop our business using the connections and platform the UpWest program offers.

We are now a part of the first UpWest Labs class and rocking it as we speak. The entire Senexx team is getting so much done, all because of the wonderful support of the UpWest Labs team. More on our experience in UpWest to follow in one of the next blog posts.

In conclusion, startup accelerators are a wonderful tool for entrepreneurs to help catapult their business to the next stage, no matter the stage of the company or the experience of the entrepreneur.

My advice? Try and choose the right stage to apply for the program. Lightning doesn’t strike twice for everyone.

In fact, I highly recommend applying now for the April – June session at UpWest Labs. The Application is now open here:  http://www.upwestlabs.com/application-form

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About Zeevi Michel

Zeevi has completed a B.Sc at the Technion in IE&M, Economics and Finance, finishing Summa Cum Laude - first in his class. Currently he's the Co-founder and CEO of Senexx a smart Q&A engine for Enterprises that uses NLP and AI algorithms. Zeevi was the Co-founder and CEO of SircleIT, an online Q&A forum for social and enterprise networks. During college he co-founded and was the first president of the Technion Investment Finance Club. Throw his leadership the IFC became the largest student interest organization at Technion with bi-weekly meeting that consistently attract over 200 people and the participation of top Israeli finance houses. Zeevi is a Grinblat Scholar in performance research and has a diverse background in operations issues from an internship at Applied Materials in Silicon Valley and from his leadership in the Call Center of the IEC and the Israeli Defense Force. Zeevi was the lead TA for 7 different undergraduate finance courses and 2 MBA courses, therefore he was invited to help create the first Technion Financial Laboratory.