Gilad Babchuk of Groundswell speaks at Shtick Tank on April 27. (photo by Lior Noyman)
The Shtick Tank is a new platform for young Jewish entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas for the community and gain funding, support and mentorship to develop a start-up. At the showcase celebration on April 27 at the Ohel Ya’akov Community Kollel, four finalists – chosen from a variety of pitches – presented their business ideas to the 50-plus community members who attended the event.
Of the finalists – Alice Henry, Oded and Alon Aminov, Jarred Joffe and Tamir Barzilai – the audience selected Barzilai as the winner of the prize funding and mentorship by Gilad Babchuk of Groundswell and its Social Venture Incubator Program.
Henry presented an app called Equip, which helps users obtain the equipment they need for the experiences they want, and the Aminov brothers showcased PinPointRC, which offers worldwide drone tracking from the user’s phone. Joffe presented a smartphone application that can be used for field engineers to enhance recordkeeping, while Barzilai shared the concept of his app called Honeycomb, which identifies nearby restaurants based on dietary preferences.
The crowd seemed enthusiastic about all the ideas, asking questions of each participant after their pitch, often focusing on marketability and revenue-generation. Barzilai’s Honeycomb appeared to receive the most enthusiasm because of its utility and the potential to increase its scale by getting restaurants and food and hotel chains to register to be featured on the app.
In addition to potential market value, Barzilai’s knowledge of the market and of the artificial intelligence used by his app generated interest in the crowd. Honeycomb can be followed on Twitter (@honeycombapp) and is available in the App Store.
Shtick Tank is also a networking opportunity for future business leaders and it is run with the help of a committee of young Jewish professionals. The organizing committee has been spearheaded by Stephanie Mrakovich and includes Brent Davis, Andrea Hirsch, Simon Krakovsky, Zach Sagorin, Alex Shafran and Adelle Tepper, with support from Alana Mizrahi and Rabbi Shmulik Yeshayahu, who serves as the director of the Kollel.
Yeshayahu said the Kollel works “to reach out to non-affiliated and disengaged adults ages 24-50 by creating and promoting exciting and meaningful social, cultural and educational programs that invite people to experience Judaism (sometimes for the first time) in an inclusive, comfortable, joyful and nonjudgmental environment.”
He described the organization’s mandate as one of “connection” and said that the Business Network and Shtick Tank are perfect opportunities “to support individuals to realize their dream, while providing a platform for all applicants, attendees, sponsors and community members to connect with each other and network effectively.”
Shtick Tank, which is sponsored by Barry and Lauri Glotman and Dax Dasilva of Lightspeed, is currently accepting applications for its next event. Interested community members must submit their business ideas within technology, urban agriculture, social justice, social entrepreneurship, education, the arts, etc., by June 30, 7:30 p.m., to thekollel.com/events/shtick-tank-application-deadline. As with the first program, four finalists will be chosen to present their ideas (at the end of the summer) and the idea with the most votes will receive mentoring with Groundswell and some seed money.
Zach Sagorin is a Vancouver freelance writer. He is on the organizing committee of Shtick Tank.