Worldwide Investor Network Pairs Foreign Startups, NY Money
There are some 300 incubators outside the U.S. nurturing hundreds of innovative startup companies, according to Eyal Bino, founder of Worldwide Investor Network. But few of these enterprises attract the interest of U.S. investors, particularly in New York, where the money is.
That’s where Bino comes in. “I want to turn New York into the Ellis island of innovation,” Bino, pictured right, told me on Wednesday, during a break in a conference sponsored by Worldwide Investor Network . It featured presentations by 10 startups from Israel, Europe, and Asia to a room full of potential investors.
Worldwide Investor Network, or WIN for short, was started by Bino in New York last year to provide global technology startups with the support, training, tools, and connections needed to find the funding needed to enter the U.S. market. “New York investors don’t have any way to evaluate international startups,” says Bino, a 37-year-old Israeli, “but many of these startups are pioneering some of the most innovative technology in the world.”
The problem, he says, is that most of these enterprises don’t know how to break into the U.S. market, or approach U.S. investors for the necessary capital. “They come here on a trade mission or to the wrong event. They’ve been sold a dream about coming to the U.S. and coming home with a check, but it doesn’t happen.” As for raising money in their home countries, foreign investors tend to be conservative, and shy away from startups, says Bino.
Bino first came to the U.S. to attend Kean University in NJ on a basketball scholarship, and went on to earn a masters degree in international business at New York University. He spent several years at BrainPOP, which provides Internet-based learning tools for classrooms, before starting Worldwide Network.
The network identifies companies which have moved past the seed stage of funding and are already generating revenues overseas. They typically seek $1 million to $5 million in funding to expand into the U.S. and have clear milestones for growth, says Bino. They are also all in the information technology space, because IT companies usually require less infrastructure and startup costs than many other businesses, and engineers overseas are highly trained and usually cheaper to hire than their U.S. counterparts. Worldwide Network then organizes events like this week’s conference, charging the startups $975 each to make their presentations. If they receive funding Worldwide network receives a 5 percent cash fee, but no equity. Bino says his organization now plans to raise its own $10 million venture fund, starting in January, to invest in startups directly.
WIN has helped 50 companies present to investors since it started, and is working with several New York partners, including Centripetal Capital Partners and the venture law firm SNR Denton, which hosted the conference. This week’s meeting showcased a broad array of companies, among them Singapore-based Fetch Plus, which creates Facebook pages that allow independent business owners to easily market and sell their products and services over the Internet; Queue-it of Denmark, with a technology for managing website overload during extreme peak user periods; and Blooie, in the UK, a platform that allows websites to pair their visitors together based on shared interests.
“Fetch Plus is one of the hottest startups in Asia but no one knows them here,” says Bino. “We are unveiling some of the world’s biggest secrets today.”