Bukit: The Disruptive Tel Aviv Startup With Seedcamp Investment
Guest post by Sarah Nadav, Founder of Bukit, a system to revolutionize the way people pay off their debts.
Less than a year ago, I was sitting in the Tel Aviv Port with Jeff Pulver pitching him on an idea for a fintech start up which I called “The Great American Bailout.” We later named our platform Bukit, in honor of our original tag line.
I explained to Jeff that I thought we could revolutionize the consumer credit debt market by making it more efficient, transparent and consumer friendly. What we needed was to create a central marketplace (like Amazon or Ebay) where creditors and debtors could connect and use our simple and secure system for making online settlements. By doing this we could cut out the costly (and abusive) collection agencies, legal teams and all the associated expenses of collecting debt- thereby giving the consumer a lower price for their settlement. This would also be great for businesses that need to recover assets, as one of their biggest challenges is tracking down people that need to pay. It is a total win/win. The social and financial potential was enormous with a jaw dropping $3 trillion of consumer credit debt uncollected and floating between collection agencies on excel spreadsheets.
One of the amazing things about Jeff is that he is a visionary, he believes in the outliers. After looking at me thoughtfully, Jeff said “there is nothing but greatness ahead for you and I'd love to be a part of this.”
At that moment, he became my first investor and advisor, and the first thing he did was advise me to focus on pulling together a great team.
After the meeting with Jeff, I walked around the Jaffa Port and went to check out the Amazon cloud computing conference down the street. That is where I met Miles Ward, an Amazon Solutions Architect who was speaking at the conference, I pitched him on the idea and he became my second adviser. Miles put me in touch with Tel Aviv Uber developer and founder of Geekcon Nimrod Lehavi who is now doing the backend development. Go team Bukit!
With that, I became a part of Israel’s vibrant start up scene. There is no better place on earth to build a start up than in Israel right now.
Being in Tel Aviv means that there are literally an endless amount of events, resources, and people to meet.
With the Mediterranean shining in the distance, I have spent more than a few evenings working late at the Junction (a coworking space in Tel Aviv) and taking a break to stand out on their balcony watching the sunset. Leaving my home office and moving into a coworking space meant that I got to learn from all the other entrepreneurs as well as the amazing mentors and speakers that come through.
Through Miles I was introduced to another adviser Shahar Pitaru who founded Plantly, a financial sector start up and he is also a mentor at Europe’s top start up incubator, Seedcamp. Shahar encouraged me to apply to the Seedcamp event in Tel Aviv. Being new to the scene, it was a great chance to meet people from Israel and all over Europe. It was also the chance for me to test our concept of this start up on an international audience.
When I finished with the presentation, Saul Klein jumped off the stage, pumped his fist and said “Yes, this is what we do - we disrupt - we do more than just ‘me too’ Facebook apps and games.”
His excitement turned into a genuine commitment a few days later when I got a call that Bukit had been chosen for investment and to be part of the Seedcamp accelerator. Taking a vision and creating a company is a huge challenge, but being part of Seedcamp means that I have a lot of help, resources, and experienced people as mentors.
What is hard to realize from the outside, is that a “start up” is as much about the company that you are building as it is about the technology. It is like being a recording artist in the music industry- there is the music that you make, but then you have to take it out to market. Making great technology is cool but if you are trying to disrupt an industry, especially in finance, you need to run a really tight ship. Running a company necessitates doing a turbo charged MBA and Seedcamp gives that.
One of the biggest, probably the biggest challenge when trying to create BUKIT has been building a good reputation. The debt industry is full of scam artists and it is probably the most hated industry out there. Setting about to change the way things are run means that we need to show people that it can be done and we need to work with really great people to get it done. Seedcamp’s extensive network is helping Bukit to jump into this field, meet the right people, introduce our idea and have the clout of Europe’s best incubator and investors behind us.
Helping to alleviate the pain of being in debt is probably one of the biggest challenges of our generation. The last few years have seen massive technology innovations which have changed the way we listen to music, shop and bank. It is time that the way debt is handled changes also.
It is time to disrupt debt and that is what we are setting out to do. I feel so lucky to have such a strong network behind me so that we can take BUKIT to market and really shake things up.
This is the third in our hugely popular series of first-hand Seedcamp stories. View the previous articles here: From Eastern Europe to the Big Apple: How Winning Seedcamp New York Helped My Business and From Rural Eastern Europe to London: The Story of Seedcamp's First Hungarian Investment
Sarah Nadav is the Founder of Bukit, a system to revolutionize the way people pay off their debts by making it simple, easy, transparent and affordable. In previous roles, she has been a social media network manager, a journalist and a university lecturer.
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