On Sept. 13, 2021, the YU Innovation Lab kicked off the new semester with an hour-long event that celebrated the start of its third year of operation while welcoming its 2021 cohort of Israeli startups.
The Zoom event began with Dr. Maria Blekher, founding director of the Lab, introducing her staff: Thom Kennon (whom Dr. Blekher described as an “expert in advertising strategy with deep insights” and “my partner in crime and innovation”), Grant Goldberg (newly appointed assistant director) and S.J. Tannenbaum (operations and marketing intern).
More than 25 people attended, including representatives from this year’s startups, who provided an overview of their companies’ histories, products and goals. Participants included Adbot, Portali, AVAMind, Budget Now, Tune Fork, My Chaperone 365, LiRi, Story Toons, Cynergy and Extreme Simulations.
Daniel Damboritz, partner at the Israel law firm YigalArnon & Co., was the keynote speaker. Among his many areas of expertise is the advice he gives to high-tech and startup companies in various fields, including research and development activities, the sale or purchase of technologies, and licensing transactions.
During his presentation, Damboritz discussed crisis management situations that fledgling startups might face and how they can manage these situations. He emphasized that while “everyone likes to talk about the amazing sides of tech” and how startups are indeed “raising beautiful amounts of money,” people also need to realize that these strong positives are only half the story.
Damboritz touched upon such issues as uncertain ownership of intellectual property, conflicts among a startup’s founders (which often happen because of a lack clearly spelled-out agreements), the status of employees and the pressures investors can apply that can warp a startup’s plans. His presentation concluded with a lively Q&A.
Grant Goldberg, assistant director of the Lab, remarked on the enthusiasm the event generated. “As in past years, our new cohort of startups is especially excited and eager to work with our student talent.” He went on to remark that the kickoff program served as “great introduction to two critical assets that will help shape the next generation of YU’s entrepreneurial tech leaders: innovative thinking and the best in industry-specific resources.”
Among the Lab’s many sources of support, Yeshiva University would like to acknowledge the help of New York State Sen. Todd Kaminsky for his grant in 2019 to help establish the Lab and the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s $1.4 million Economic Adjustment Assistance grant in 2020 that provides technical assistance to Israeli firms seeking to locate in New York City.