Microsoft gives boost to Israeli start-ups


As reported in Jerusalem Post:

Microsoft ’s increasing involvement in Israeli hi-tech has given a boost to many local start-ups, including Petach Tikva firm RotaryView – which revealed its plans for a 3D photography platform for e-commerce to The Jerusalem Post Wednesday.

RotaryView has been shortlisted to participate in Microsoft’s first-ever incubator program for early-stage start-ups, which will take place at the US multinational’s Israel Research & Development Center in Herzliya Pituach. This follows its acceptance last week into Microsoft’s BizSpark Plus program, which gives it two years’ access to open cloud computing platform Windows Azure in a package worth roughly $60,000.

Founders and serial entrepreneurs Gev Rotem , Gal Rotem and Ofir Shefer are developing products which they believe will strengthen e-commerce – an industry JP Morgan estimates will be worth $963 billion a year by 2013 – for both online vendors and buyers.

They released their first product in March: a platform which allows even the smallest businesses to present a 360-degree view of their product, by simply photographing the subject from all angles and uploading. Large companies have been employing 360° vision of their products for quite some time, but until now the product has been expensive and time-consuming as it requires knowledge of code.

Next on RotaryView’s agenda is three-dimensional photography, which it has been working on since securing a US patent in 2011. The company believes the time is ripe for this innovation, with more 3D-capable computers, tablets and smartphones being launched onto the market all the time.

“We believe every company that shows its products in 2D will move to 360° or 3D very soon, in order to let the customer view their product from all angles,” CEO Gev Rotem told the Post.

Citing a 2010 Adobe survey which found that 91 percent of online shoppers prefer seeing a product in 360°, Rotem said it was no longer sufficient for companies to prevent their customers from being able to fully see and learn about a product. He added that providing 360° or 3D views would help reduce return rates significantly, particularly in the United States where customers take advantage of relaxed refund policies.

RotaryView’s founders are in many ways typical of young Israeli entrepreneurs. Gev Rotem made a successful exit from his diamond-purchasing company in November, while Gal Rotem and Shefer are owners of animation studio Visual3D. Their latest project was entirely self-funded, until Microsoft stepped in.

Gev and Gal Rotem’s fathers – who are brothers – instilled the spirit of entrepreneurship in their children from a young age. In 1985, a decade before the introduction of the Palm Pilot, they invented a device combining a calendar and a phone book.

“They were a little bit ahead of their time,” Gev Rotem admits, but he said their experience taught him and his cousin to seize a good opportunity when it presents itself.

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