November 27, 2014

Interview with Shai Wininger, Developer of Kotel Notes

Israelnewsletter.com had the opportunity to sit down with serial entrepreneur, Shai Wininger, about his new startup and hear how he enjoys running a family business.

Please tell us about your background.
Shai Wininger, Developer of Kotel Notes: I am a so called “serial entrepreneur” born and raised in Israel, married with two children and living in Haifa.

I have always been drawn to mobile computing and Internet in my work. I started my first business (Ananas Design www.ananasgroup.com) right after high school – around 1991. Ananas Design was among the first few companies to do branding and premium multimedia projects, and later on – websites for companies in Israel at the time (the Internet as we know it was just early days).  Ananas was all self funded, and grew nicely with customers from the Israeli Defense industry, communications and media sectors.
Following that, I founded Trimus Inc. which offered a groundbreaking technology for viewing the internet in 3D (year 1999), raised capital and headed the company until 2002.

I then started to focus on the emerging mobile computing industry and started Handsmart (www.handsmart.com). Handsmart offered the first Adobe Flash generation platform for Pocket PC and Windows Mobile.  From there I joined forces with a leading mobile software company called Mobideo (www.mobideo.com) with which I co-founded a spin off for developing mobile software for the Aerospace Industry – “Mobideo Aerospace” (air.mobideo.com).

During the past 15 years I have been a resident faculty member and a speaker in various academic institutes, specifically in the field of computer graphics.

What is PushTuck and why Kotel Notes?
iphone-with-kotel-notes

SW: Nowadays, along with my wife (who is a talented, highly-creative graphic designer), I’ve started a new venture called PushTuck.  PushTuck (which has a double meaning in Hebrew and English) is a family business aimed at developing innovative software for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch platforms. I think that in our case the words “family business” is literally the case (my kids do the quality assurance :)

The iPhone is an amazing platform, unlike any other I have ever seen in the mobile world. I truly believe that this device, with the right software, can bring life-changing experiences to people, whether in business, lifestyle, health, entertainment and religion.

The idea of Kotel Notes came to me after visiting the Western Wall and seeing the large amount of tourists who come to the Wall to place their prayers and wishes. It occurred to me that providing this service to Jews all over the world could be a great service. I love the fact that our ancient religion could be combined nowadays with cutting-edge technology.

How does Kotel Notes work?
GW:  The way it works is simple: You download the application to your iPhone from Apple App Store. When you launch it – it has a note which lets you write what ever is on your mind. You then click the send button which immediately submits it to our servers in the holy land. From there praye r notes are printed and placed in the kotel within two weeks.

What’s the business model?
SW: I love simple things and I love easy-to-use software. I think that the basis for success in this competitive business is your ability to create compelling, clear, and low cost applications and then sell them to a mass market. That way you can make your revenues without being a financial burden for the home user. Apple’s software ecosystem allows us to do just that.

What’s next on your development schedule?
SW: We have some really amazing things in the pipeline right now. Although I can’t mention all of them forobvious reasons, I can tell you that we will soon release a beautiful application for creating artistic compositions from your own photos called “Photo Skins”, and we are working on a cool social network concept that will help users kill time and meet new people in the process, as well as some business tools that cover some critical missing functionality in the iPhone.
Thanks for your time, Shai.
About Zack Miller

Zack Miller is the Managing Director of Israel Newsletter, Lighthouse Capital and the author of acclaimed, Tradestream your Way to Profits: Building a Killer Portfolio in the Age of Social Media (Wiley, 2010).

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