Glilot Capital Partners delegation in New York.

Navigating crisis with presence: The impactful journey of an Israeli VC's Roadshow

“The Roadshow not only underscored the irreplaceable value of physical presence in target markets but also illuminated a vital truth: in times of crisis, the power of personal connection is unparalleled,” write Moran Zilbershtein and Alon Cinamon of Glilot Capital Partners following their recent journey in the US

In a time marked by the unprecedented complexities of the war's impact on Israeli startups, we embarked on a U.S. Roadshow, a key component of our ongoing Value Creation strategy, featuring a delegation of 12 of our cybersecurity portfolio companies. Our objective was to conduct in-person meetings in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, connecting our founders with CISOs, CIOs, Investors, and senior executives from major enterprises and fostering opportunities for potential future collaborations.
Initially, the prospect of organizing a roadshow in the immediate aftermath of October 7th presented a profound emotional challenge. That day left a lasting mark on all of us. Many of us experienced personal losses - friends or family members were tragically murdered, abducted, or suffered severe physical and psychological injuries. We had a dilemma about if and how we should move forward. The dilemma was not just about addressing the logistical challenges of military reserve duties or active service commitments, but more about the appropriateness of pursuing a business initiative amidst such profound sorrow and loss. Our deliberations were rooted in a sincere consideration of whether a roadshow was the right step in the wake of a crisis that had touched each of us so personally and deeply.
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Glilot Capital Partners roadshow
Glilot Capital Partners roadshow
Glilot Capital Partners delegation in New York.
(Glilot Capital Partners)
Under the seasoned guidance of our Founding Partners, Kobi Samboursky and Arik Kleinstein, who navigated monumental crises like 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis before establishing Glilot, we resolved to press ahead. Their years of experience bolstered our conviction to act according to the attitude of delivering #nomatterwhat. We aimed to demonstrate that our Israeli tech ecosystem was resilient and capable of thriving in the face of conflict. Thus, the roadshow was meticulously planned for us and the founders to travel together as a united group to the U.S., exemplifying solidarity and a cohesive front.
The impact of our Roadshow crystallized when we started engaging with senior executives from leading enterprises. Their feedback was telling; seeing Israeli entrepreneurs actively pursuing business opportunities in the U.S., in spite of the ongoing war, reassured them of the resilience and operational continuity of the companies. This sentiment of perseverance and commitment was a recurring theme throughout the Roadshow.
The personal engagements during the Roadshow proved invaluable for the entrepreneurs. They reassured customers of their unwavering commitment to business continuity, dispelling doubts about their ability to operate under unprecedented challenging circumstances. These interactions also played a significant role in supporting ongoing POCs and bolstering customer confidence.
The Roadshow culminated in the creation of opportunities valued at millions of dollars for our portfolio companies. These included requests for follow-up meetings with product demos, advancing POCs, securing POs, and more. Also, companies in our portfolio that are raising capital met with potential investors face-to-face and created a sense of trust with the US-based VC firms. Additionally, founders used this time to bond with their U.S. based teams, particularly new employees, to provide updates on the situation in Israel, and nurture a culture of inclusion and shared understanding within their companies.
The Roadshow also involved an emotional aspect. Despite being thousands of miles away in America, we remained deeply affected by the conflict at home, and we instinctively adopted a more cautious approach. This caution manifested in small but significant ways, such as when entrepreneurs in our delegation chose not to wear their kippahs, or when a taxi driver warned one of our founders, “Keep both eyes open - everyone knows you’re Jewish.” Moreover, the continuous buzzing of our phones with siren alerts from Israel was a constant reminder of the war's reality, bringing the safety of our families into sharp focus with every update about casualties.
Throughout the Roadshow, our dialogues with American counterparts often centered on a common ground of shared values, focusing on the crucial need for factual accuracy in today’s world, where misinformation is common. Compelling instances of this challenge were the widespread dissemination of Bin Laden’s 'Letter to America' on platforms like TikTok or the rising anti-Semitism in the U.S., highlighting the ease with which false narratives can sway American youth. Such dialogues demonstrated the solidarity and mutual support within the global tech industry.
The Roadshow not only underscored the irreplaceable value of physical presence in target markets but also illuminated a vital truth: in times of crisis, the power of personal connection is unparalleled. Our presence in the U.S. during this unprecedented time was a bold declaration of the resilience and readiness of our ecosystem and a demonstration of the relentless spirit of entrepreneurship. To entrepreneurs facing travel dilemmas, our message is simple: Embrace the challenge and go. Your courage to step into the arena, amidst adversity, is a powerful affirmation of your dedication. It not only reinforces the foundational values of our industry but also reshapes challenges into opportunities for innovation, growth, and lasting collaborations.
Moran Zilbershtein is VP Value Creation and Alon Cinamon is an Investor at Glilot Capital Partners