By Sramana Mitra (Founder, One Million By One Million)
Israel has become a hot bed of technological innovation, earning the Startup Nation nickname. Coming from a tradition of strong, capable women, Racheli Levkovich exemplifies both the Israeli technology entrepreneur and the powerful woman. Racheli is the co-founder and vice-president of sales at Zuznow and one of several promising female entrepreneurs of the 1M/1M program.
Racheli has worked extensively in the fields of Sales and Business Development. She graduated with a degree in political science and international relations and a master’s degree in European studies, political science and economy.
Racheli’s husband and technical co-founder Chen Levkovich started developing the adaptation algorithm for Zuznow in 2010. Chen is a software engineer with experience in network security. His objective was to develop a solution that automatically analyzes the visual structure of the websites and renders it properly in iPhone, Android, Blackberry and other mobile devices. The website owners can offer the best possible browsing experience to the mobile users without setting up a mobile version of their sites.
Racheli helped Chen get Zuznow off the ground, and joined full-time in late 2011 and took over responsibility for business development. Today, the company has some 80 customers, mostly in Israel and Germany, who use Zuznow for their mobile presence. Zuznow is in the process of establishing strategic partnerships in Europe and the US.
When Racheli presented Zuznow to 1M/1M, technology challenges and go-to-market challenges appeared to be the biggest issues, because the market Zuznow is operating in is very competitive. After she joined the 1M/1M program, we identified that a consistent lead generation method through channel partners was required.
Zuznow is currently generating revenue and working with various e-commerce platform vendors as channel partners apart from some small partnerships in Israel and Germany. They are about to close a deal with two big channel partners – one digital media company and one website platform that has 80,000 customers who will be using the paid service offered by Zuznow.
The adaptation algorithm used by Zuznow is easy to build into websites. Website owners do not need to do anything but integrate a few lines of code for redirection. Smartphone users, on the other hand, do not need to install anything on their devices. The adaptation technology recognizes non-desktop surfers and automatically redirects them to Zuznow’s proxy, which provides the surfer the optimized version of the website for his mobile device, be it an iPhone, Android or a Blackberry.
Web surfers can enjoy an optimized surfing experience with a high-end UI and UX. The Zuznow adaptation technology covers 100% of a website and 100% of the mobile traffic from sources like search engines, social networks and native mobile applications. Zuznow does not create a new website optimized for mobile devices; rather it creates a mirror site which contains all the latest information that was published on the desktop-website. Zuznow works especially well for e-commerce websites which is where I have advised Racheli to focus her efforts.
Growth and the right kind of partnerships are the primary challenges for Racheli right now. The problem of automatically converting websites to various form factors is not a trivial one. Many have tried, and by and large, manual intervention has been necessary.
Racheli and Chen are tackling a complex problem. If they succeed, Zuznow will become a very successful company in the foreseeable future. Be sure to watch how they progress.
And before I conclude, I want to bring to your attention a trend that is becoming increasingly more visible: couples starting ventures together. For more on that topic, please read Trend Spotting: Love and Startups.
Women 2.0 readers: What do you think of married startup co-founders? Let us know in the comments!
About the guest blogger: Sramana Mitra is Founder of One Million By One Million, an educational business development and incubation program that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond. She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant. As an entrepreneur CEO, she ran three companies: DAIS, Intarka, and Uuma. Sramana has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT. Follow her on Twitter at @sramana.