The traditional retail and marketing world is on the lookout for technological innovation to help it stay competitive in today’s market. On one side there are Israeli companies developing unique technologies and products in the fields of Food-Tech and Retail-Tech that address both corporate and consumer needs. On the other side, corporations with tens of thousands of employees in the US, Europe and Australia, who are searching for innovative technologies and products.
This has created business opportunities for both sides, and at the same time considerable difficulty in actualizing the potential. Most Israeli companies have a hard time reaching these corporations, not all of which are known in Israel. And most of these corporations have no direct access to the core of Israeli innovation.
The Israeli Sellonet offers a solution, creating a bridge between Israeli innovation and these corporations, fostering collaboration between them in a variety of ways.
In 2006, Bezalel Gleiser founded Sellonet, to connect Israeli technology and food-tech companies with the world’s largest corporations. Gleiser, who holds an MBA from the Hebrew University’s Executive MBA program, brings extensive experience in global trade, e-commerce and the start-up world to the company. Gleiser has intimate knowledge of overseas business culture, hailing from a family that has been in the retail industry for several generations and owns a large retail corporation.
This exposure to the retail world and the needs of retail mega-corporations and the challenges they face. With an international network of connections, Gleiser harnesses his broad experience and extensive contacts with mega-corporations, including a number of years operating in Australia, to the task of helping Israeli companies break into the US, Australian and European markets.
“We work with mega-corporations who are one level below Walmart and Costco,” says Gleiser. “These corporations are less widely-known in Israel, although they have tens of thousands of employees and tens of billions in turnover. These are retail, pharmaceutical, and gas station franchises, including a joint conglomerate of fifty American retailers which operates across the United States, and together constitute the second largest retail group after Walmart in the food sector.
"For example, this group produces approximately 20,000 product lines a year for its private brands, and we are bringing them Israeli innovations, unique products in the food and pharmaceutical categories, and more, products which the American market is waiting for and will eagerly welcome.”
“It is difficult to near-impossible for young Israeli companies, as well as veteran exporters, to reach the decision makers at these companies, while we have ties that we have cultivated over years with their senior managers, owners, and no less importantly, their professional ranks. It usually takes months to start a dialogue with companies of this size, but Sellonet’s service shortens this process significantly."
For the most part these aren't corporations which are actively seeking innovations in Israel – Sellonet does it for them. "Because these companies tend to be regional," says Gleiser, "they themselves don’t have innovation divisions, and certainly not in Israel. We are providing them with direct access.”
Sellonet’s scope has grown in recent years. Two years ago, Asaph Nebenzahl was brought on board to accompany the company’s strategy building. More recently attorney Moshe Bazer joined Sellonet as VP of Business Development.
As part of its services to Israeli companies, Sellonet is a participant throughout the planning stages – from strategic planning to developing presentations for corporate managers – and its staff becomes part of the company's think tank during the period. Sellonet is able to provide for the varying needs of these companies, including connecting them with recognized local distributors, and in some cases, it joins as an investor in the company or brings in additional investors to help bring the deal to fruition.
The company maintains close contact with various Food-Tech and Retail-Tech institutions in Israel, including incubators, investment funds and leading business figures, in order to assist the development of the individual companies, as well as the industry in general. "We track companies that are in the concept stage, working primarily with companies ready to break into the market,” explains Gleiser.
In addition, he says, the company works with Israeli food manufacturers seeking to export their products to the United States: “We scout both companies looking to sell products under their own brand, as well as companies willing to sell products under the private label of these overseas chains."
“Israel is overflowing with a wide variety of innovative, healthy, and groundbreaking products and developments,” concludes Gleiser, “and there are many outlets waiting for them. We are a bridge, overcoming geographical boundaries and corporate obstacles to connect Israeli technology and innovation with corporations, chains and consumers in the United States and around the world.”