HomeInterviews97212 Ventures, Interview With Founder Eyal Bino

97212 Ventures, Interview With Founder Eyal Bino

Eyal Bino
Eyal Bino

97212 Ventures, a NYC-based venture capital firm focused on Israeli founders, has just announced the closing of a $20m fund. In conjunction with the announcement, founder Eyal Bino joined us to reply to our questions about the fund, its overall strategy, the portfolio, and much more.

VCWire: Can you please tell us a bit more about you? What’s your background? 

I am the founding partner of 97212 Ventures, a NY-based seed fund exclusively focused on investing in top early stage Israeli startups committed to building category defining companies in NYC. 

Previously, Eyal was the co-founder of ICONYC labs, a value-add investor for early-stage Israeli tech startups looking to become successful global companies via NYC, and a venture partner at B Capital. To date, Eyal invested and advised over 200 companies who went to raise hundreds of millions in venture capital.

Eyal was a regular contributor for Forbes, focusing on Startup Nation, and is considered one of the top thought leaders on NYC-TLV tech. 

VCWire: Can you introduce your firm? 

Based in New-York, 97212 Ventures is a seed fund exclusively focused on investing in top early stage Israeli startups committed to building category defining companies in NYC. 

Backed by an established LP base of experienced investors and successful founders, the fund is fast becoming the “go-to VC” for Israeli founders looking to expand their companies to NYC and cut time to the US market. We provide Israeli founders with capital and insider access to the NY tech scene, so they can truly cut time to market and build a global company. 

VCWire: Which is your overall strategy?

We invest in pre-seed and see startups, between $200K-$500K as a first check, with similar amounts saved for follow-on investments in our companies as they grow. We aim to invest about $1M in each of our companies, with our LPs joining as well.

We focus completely on investing in Israeli startups (based in Israel) and Israel-related startups (where founders are based in the US already), with the idea of helping them cut time to market and expand to NYC within 18 months post funding. 

Sectors we invest in are: 

  • Enterprise Software: dev ops, retail technology, cyber, marketing tech, cloud infrastructure, etc, with a heavy focus on AI and Gen AI. 
  • Digital Health – areas in patient management and patient engagement, mental health, biopharma, value-based care enablement. 
  • Digital Transformation – industries that need to be transformed into the 

VCWire: Beyond capital, how do you support startups?  

97212 Ventures is a founder-driven fund. We are all about doing whatever it takes to help Israeli founders be successful, with a heavy emphasis on GTM. We invest early and work hard with founders on building their businesses in the US market, providing real access to help enable startups’ first major wins, and paving the way to product-market fit, and early growth.

This includes the following: 

  • Working with our team on defining GTM and product strategy
  • Access to first US customers 
  • Access to the NY venture scene 
  • Help with hiring 
  • Access to a pool of senior executives ready to join our newly operated GTM Board, where 3-4 senior execs meet with our founders on a regular basis to get market feedback, get access to pilot customers and advice on marketing and sales strategies. 

VCWire: What can you tell us about your LP base? Are they helpful? How? 

97212 LP base is one of our biggest differentiators and is key to our success. We are backed by an established LP base of experienced investors and successful founders and operators, all of whom are involved in most areas of the fund, including sourcing, vetting opportunities, meeting with founders post investments. Moreover our LP base provides access to key customers, advisors, partners and other investors. 

In addition, many of our LPs invest directly into our portfolio companies side by side with the fund, and it’s an inherent element in our model. 

Some of our LPs include  Modi Rosen, Co-founder / Managing Partner, Magma Ventures and first investor in Waze, Appsflyer, Guesty amongst other Israeli unicorns;  Owen Davis, Managing Partner, Contour Ventures and first investor in successful NYC startups Datadog and SeatGeek; Paul Martino, Managing Partner, Bullpen Capital, and first investor in FanDuel, and Ran Reske, Founder and CEO, Resident which recently sold for $1B, among many others

VCWire: What do you like to see in founders?….And what don’t you like to see in them? I mean, is there something which impresses you at a first glance?  

There are definitely some common denominators for our founders — they are techy, scrappy, bold, gritty, big-time risk takers, and visionaries. I’m very interested in the way they tell the story of their company, and the way they think about building the business and moving to NYC to build it (R&D typically stays in Israel). 

Most Israeli founders are very technical, and typically lack the storytelling skills. I’m looking for founders who have the balance between the two, and are committed to building a big business. 

VCWire: Please, tell us a bit more about the portfolio. You can list five startups whose paths have made you particularly proud of.            

As a generalist fund, we invest in founders who truly look to disrupt industries and make a real change. Half of our companies have already raised follow-on rounds, and are on track to build meaningful companies. Here are some investments I’m particularly proud of: 

  • Pioneering hybrid drug company Remepy, co-founded by Michal Tsur, (former President of Kaltura) and Or Shoval. Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who made his name as a hugely successful tech founder, is a key advisor to the company. The company just announced raising a $10M seed round led by NFX
  • Beti, an advanced, cloud-based platform designed to allow construction companies to efficiently supervise and coordinate workflows and worker safety on site. We are first investors in the company which now has millions in revenue and a very strategic market position. 
  • Ritual, providing digital tools to guide users through their personalized relationship journeys with on-demand therapists. We are first investors in the company which now serves hundreds of couples around the world. 
  • Tymely, an AI-based platform that provides automatic customer support and handles all email aspects end-to-end with a 100% human-level accuracy. We are first investors in the company, which aims to disrupt customer support as we know it. 
  • Cyngular, a cloud autonomous hunting, investigation and response platform, streamlining labor, speeding incident response readiness.

VCWire: Which sector/s would you bet 2 cents on in the next five years?  

Business intelligence, content creation and management, fintech. ù

VCWire

09/05/2024