A leading B2B technology public relations firm helps launch Israeli start-ups in the U.S.
The 2009 bestseller, Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, introduced the world to the story of a fascinating transformation in the midst of the global economic crisis: the Land of Milk and Honey was now flowing with technological innovation.
These days, Israeli start-ups have taken root in major cities other than Tel Aviv — IsraeliMappedinNY.com counts 251 such companies in New York City alone.
And one Westport-based company is taking the lead in introducing them to the American public.
“Israel has more active startups per capita than any foreign country,” says Deb Montner, co-founder and principal of Montner Tech PR. “Israeli entrepreneurs need a foothold in the U.S. to sell their solutions, and U.S. investors to fund them.”
Big brand service… with a boutique touch
That is the specialty of Westport-based Montner Tech PR, founded in 1998 by partners and spouses Deb Montner, who brought a public relations background to the table, and Mike Smith, who was experienced in the IT technology business. The two wanted to establish their own business-to-business — aka B2B — consultancy, doing what they knew best – smart card technology. Montner PR played a role in creating the market for chips in bank cards, e-passports, mobile phones, and identity credentials. From there, the practice broadened into related technologies, including financial and payment transactions systems, IT, network, mobile and cloud security, and big data analytics.
Three months away from its 18th anniversary, the B2B technology PR firm now boasts a 10-member team and serves clients from Silicon Valley to Tel Aviv. The company helps firms grow sustainable businesses, build visibility to get acquired, go for another round of venture funding, or the lead-up to an initial public offering (IPO). Montner has assisted innovative providers of mobile, cloud app, IT network, payment, and authentication security solutions to achieve capital returns surpassing $2 billion through IPOs, funding rounds and acquisition proceeds.
Montner launches these companies in the U.S. market and creates buzz for their technology with the media and market- research analysts. The firm’s comprehensive services entail strategic counsel, message development, news release writing, white papers, case studies, and website copy.
“All of which gets the attention of potential customers and builds credibility,” Montner says, “because peers and third-party experts are validating the claims that the company is making.”
In many cases, the firm helps companies get to the next stage in their development, moving from angel investors to Series A (first significant round of venture-capital financing), Series B, and pre-initial public offering.
Spreading the word
Montner took on her first Israeli tech client in 2011, when her firm was hired by ForeScout, a Silicon Valley network access-control company founded by three Israeli entrepreneurs. ForeScout monitors smartphones, tablets, and laptops that connect to computer networks and ensures that they are free of malware. Montner PR worked with ForeScout during a crucial period in the company’s development and helped it achieve several consecutive years of 60-percent growth. Now, ForeScout is poised to be the next big security IPO, according to Bloomberg News.
Networking – and a stellar track record — led Montner to other Israeli clients. For example, Avivah Litan, VP and Distinguished Analyst with Gartner information-technology research and advisory company, introduced her to Liz Safran, a PR consultant with ties to Silicon Valley and Israeli tech companies, resulting in a strategic partnership that is helping Montner Tech PR scale to meet the needs of a growing client base.
“Three thousand years ago, networking worked for merchants; it still applies today in the world of cybersecurity PR,” Montner says. “People ask around – who’s good to work with, who can you trust? Our name comes up.”
Currently, Montner Tech PR is working with several Israeli tech companies: YL Ventures is a San Francisco-based venture capital firm (led by Yoav Leitersdorf) that specializes in Israeli cybersecurity software companies. Hexadite automates and reduces the time between cyberattack identification and remediation. Cytegic informs boards and senior executives of their cyber-risk status. Avanan protects a company’s data in the cloud. Anodot gives business intelligence insights into big data.
Among Montner’s most rewarding experiences was the launch of Hexadite, for which the firm secured coverage by the Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, and targeted IT industry trade publications like Network World.
“Our Israeli clients are bringing innovative cyber and tech solutions to the market and we’re an on-ramp,” she says. “They do set the performance bar high. I liken it to a football team owner asking the coach at the start of the season, ‘How many points are you going to win the Super Bowl by?’ It’s stressful, but once you accomplish the end result – I think the Hebrew term for it is po’al yotse – you are rewarded with appreciation, loyalty, and business referrals.”
Contact: (203) 226-9290