In late 2017, the Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI) formed a strategic partnership with the Tel Aviv based venture capital firm, F2 Capital, and its accelerator program, The Junction. The Junction is the leading platform in Israel for early stage startups to accelerate and advance new technologies into better products and investment opportunities. F2 acts as a specialized seed-stage fund that provides startup financing to support exceptional founders before traditional VCs are ready to invest. We were privileged enough to meet up with Barak Rabinowitz, the Managing Partner of F2 Capital.
Rabinowitz grew up in Youngstown, OH, and graduated from Georgetown University in Washington DC with a bachelor’s degree in finance. He began his career in investment banking at Morgan Stanley doing mergers and acquisitions. After the tech bubble burst, Rabinowitz founded a startup designed to help the families of 9/11 victims manage their finances. Afterwards, he left the U.S. to help open the Morgan Stanley office in Israel and had the opportunity to become part of the “Start Up Nation”.
How was the partnership between F2 Capital, The Junction, and YBI formed?
“Barb Ewing (YBI’s CEO) visited our accelerator in Israel, looking for opportunities in Additive Manufacturing or 3D Printing. The YBI fit very naturally into our program. So, we set up a partnership where we will refer promising Israeli companies to YBI and the YBI will help them with business development and outreach in the Midwest, with the hope that these companies will set up operations in the Mahoning Valley and become a source of economic growth and employment.”
What are your thoughts about investing in the Mahoning Valley?
“It is all about aligning the unique strengths and capabilities with the passion that the Mahoning Valley has to offer. Their strength is manufacturing expertise. People in the Mahoning Valley are very hard working and down to earth and I think that the opportunity is to combine those two things and really focusing on additive manufacturing. There is no reason why we can’t launch out of the Mahoning Valley to serve the entire U.S. - even the world - given all the resources that are available.”
How do you see the YBI playing a role in the Mahoning Valley?
“I had a chance to visit the YBI and there is such fine equipment that you really cannot find anywhere else, a team dedicated to incubating companies, and companies that have already come out of YBI that are starting to manufacture and sell their products. So, hopefully, this can be a real engine for growth of companies and entrepreneurs and be a magnet for multinational expertise to come to the Mahoning Valley and engage with the community.”