Students and Israeli entrepreneurs came together at American University Thursday evening for the annual Start-Up Nation Tech Fair.
Against a backdrop of blooming cherry blossoms, more than 50 students walked along the campus quad to learn about five different Israeli tech companies. Sponsors for the event included American University Hillel, TAMID at American University, American University Center for Israel Studies and the AU Center for Innovation, among others.
Haley Silverstein, the program manager at Start-Up Nation Tech Fair, said that the event showcases the Israeli start-up ecosystem to American college students.
“Often times, people think of New York, San Francisco or Silicon Valley as a hub for start-ups, and they don’t realize that Tel Aviv is actually a hotbed for start-ups as well,” Silverstein said. "We’re looking to bring a piece of that to the states and to campus.”
City Transformer, a collapsible car that makes urban driving and parking easier and faster, was the headliner of the fair. The tiny car can shrink its width to about that of a motorcycle.
Many students said that the City Transformer could help with parking in Washington, D.C.
“City Transformer is solving real world issues,” Silverstein said. “And that’s really what all of these companies are doing: solving real problems for real people.”
This was the third year that AU hosted Start-Up Nation Tech Fair. In the past, the campus structured the event to include panels and discussions with entrepreneurs, but this year, students were able to directly interact with technologies and companies that most interested them.
Anthony Baron, a sophomore majoring in computer science, said his experience at the fair last year encouraged him to attend it this year.
“When I was here last year, they had a lot of interesting technologies that were made in Israel and that they were displaying to everyone,” Baron said. “It was really fascinating to look through all of them last year, and so I wanted to come see what they had to show this year.”
Baron said the start-up Tunity stood out to him.
Tunity, described by the company's representatives as the “Shazam of TV and movies,” is an app that allows users to capture brief clips of shows that are played in noisy places, such as bars or restaurants, or in locations without audio, like waiting rooms or reception areas. The app provides users with transcripts of the episode as well as information about the show or movie.
Bar Galin, a Jewish Agency for Israel Fellow at AU Hillel, said that the fair helped bring “students the start-ups and connections from one of the most innovative countries in the world.”
Other companies at the fair included Soapy, a smart hand-washing station that tracks user data and behaviors to helps build better hygiene habits; 6Degrees, a wearable device for individuals with disabilities that would allow them to more easily utilize technology; vrWiz, a set of virtual-reality goggles that utilizes smart phones and special audio and video to transport users to the streets of Jerusalem, the beaches of Tel Aviv and places all around the world; and Post Reality, an app that scans 2D-images from a poster and then allows users to interact with them via tablet or phone.
-- Lily Coltoff