Impact Fund Iron Nation Launches To Support Early-Stage Israeli Startups 

Illustration of Israel's flag.

Iron Nation, a new volunteer emergency impact fund designed to help early-stage Israeli startups continue operating amid the nation’s war with Hamas, launched today. The fund aims to raise $20 million to support post-seed venture-backed startups in Israel, where an estimated 15-20% of the tech workforce has been called up to serve as military reservists in the country’s counteroffensive against the terrorist group.

Gil Friedlander and Chen Linchevski, co-founders of Tel Aviv-based Calyx Venture Studio, and Jason Wolf co-founder of Genie established the fund with the intention to support seed and early-stage startups that are impacted by the war.

“As the risk factor in Israel increased since the war erupted, it’s much harder to get funding,” Friedlander said in an interview with Crunchbase News. “Companies that had term sheets in place suddenly were put on standby.”

A report from Startup Nation Central said 40% of Israeli startups that were actively fundraising reported their funding or term sheets were halted due to the war.

“The idea of is to have an industrywide effort” with support from talent across the community, “from VCs to entrepreneurs to service providers in Israel and abroad,” Friedlander said.

So far, the fund has raised a few million dollars toward its $20 million fund goal. The partners do not collect a management fee or carried interest.

The investors in the fund will get equity in the startups, and all funds are matched with nondilutive capital from the Israel Innovation Authority, a government program.

Members of the investment committee span the Israeli and global venture community. They include Chemi Peres of Pitango Ventures, Charlie Federman of Silvertech Ventures, Daniel Cohen of Viola Ventures, Moshe Lichtman of Israel Growth Partners, Aaron Applbaum of MizMaa Ventures, and Calanit Valfer of the Elah Fund.

Seed and early-stage companies are also more likely to be impacted by reservists being called up to support the war, Shmuel Chafets, a reservist and co-founder of investment firm Target Global, told Crunchbase News.

That’s because many seed and early-stage companies in Israel have small, predominantly younger, team members who are part of the country’s volunteer military force. Chafets estimates around 20% of Israel’s tech workforce has been called up to serve, in some instances with higher proportions impacting early-stage startups.

People are collaborating altruistically, with established companies supporting startups, said  Friedlander. “A lot of these boundaries … they’re kind of dissolving,” he said. “Now everyone is working together.”

The fund is investing in companies that have at least 10 employees, have already raised at least $1 million in funding, and are directly impacted by the war. They are looking to invest between $500,000 and $1 million in around 30 companies in the next three to six months.

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