MizMaa was founded in 2016, by Isaac (“Yitz”) Applbaum (in Silicon Valley) and Catherine Leung (based in Hong Kong), to invest in Israeli innovation. We are a team of ex-entrepreneurs, senior executives and seasoned investors.
"I have been traveling to Israel, one week per month, for over 20 years. During that time, I have seen extraordinary growth, and have been blessed to participate. Looking forward, Israel’s next chapter is full of promise and opportunity…we’re only in the second inning. Just look at the Abraham Accords and the initial impact across the Middle Eastern market. Incredible."
Yitz is a Co-Founder and Partner at MizMaa Ventures. He has 30 years of experience in Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital and Philanthropy; across the Middle East and the United States.
Yitz started his career as an entrepreneur; he founded and was CEO of Concorde Solutions Inc. (CSI). In 1991, Yitz sold his company to Bank of America and became a Senior Vice President responsible for running the bank’s e-Ventures group and an advisor to the strategic investments group. Yitz later joined Lightspeed Venture Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm with >$3B in AUM, as Partner and Managing Director for Israel.
Today, Yitz sits on the board of directors for Anagog Technologies, Ment.io and Lynx MD. He is an advisor to Eight VC Partners (a $5.5B Venture Fund investing in Enterprise Software and Healthcare), to 7Wire Venture (leading Digital Health VC based in the US) and a Senior Advisor to HE Abdullah Alswaha The Minister of Communications, Information Technology and Space for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
An active philanthropist, Yitz is a board member of the following organizations: The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, the Republican Jewish Coalition (and co-chair of the Legislative Affairs Committee), the Asia Society, is a Trustee of Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, a Member of the Young Presidents Organization, and the founding board member of Him for Her for Him (HHH), which assists in the placement of women on corporate boards of directors. Additionally, Yitz is a Co-Founder of Secure Senior Connections, a Social Determinant of Health platform which helps to solve loneliness in the elderly community.
Yitz spends most of his time in Silicon Valley. He is married with three children, and a devoted collector of kosher wine and single malt whisky.
"There are two main mindsets we can navigate life with: growth and fixed. Having a growth mindset is essential for success. It's only after you've stepped outside your comfort zone, and taken calculated risk, that you maximise the chances of accomplishing big things."
Catherine K.C. Leung is Co-Founder and Partner of MizMaa Ventures. She is currently a board member of Orca.ai, Aurora Labs, ClearML, Syte, and HEXIGHT. Previously, Catherine was a board member of Corephotonics which was sold to Samsung and a board member of Vayavision sold to Leddartech.
Prior to MizMaa Ventures, Catherine was an investment banker for twenty years and last served as Vice Chairman of Asia Investment Banking at JP Morgan where she led with a focus on Greater China. Under her leadership, JP Morgan was named Best Investment Bank in Hong Kong for eight consecutive years. She has advised clients in marquee IPO’s, mergers and acquisitions, debt and derivative transactions. She was named Top 20 Women in Finance by Finance Asia in 2011.
Catherine worked as a management consultant at Oliver Wyman & Co in the U.S. and London from 1990 and 1994. She graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, summa cum laude, with majors in Finance and Accounting.
Catherine is currently a member of the Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship Board and member of the Wharton Asia Executive Board. She is also Vice Chair of the Penn Asia Leadership Committee. She is a member of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council Trust Fund. She also serves as Court Member and Business School Advisory Council Member of HK University of Science and Technology where she was recipient of the Honorary Fellowship Award in 2018. Catherine is also Chairman of the Chamber of Hong Kong Listed Companies since Aug 2021.
“I never cease to be amazed by the innovative spirit and willingness to take risk exhibited by Israeli entrepreneurs. I think it is these characteristics that so differentiate the Israeli tech ecosystem and make this an incredible environment for MizMaa and its investors.”
Rick Kaplan is the Operating Partner at MizMaa Ventures. He was the worldwide business development leader for IBM’s Financial Services Unit leading the unit’s acquisition strategy. Prior, Rick was the IBM Israel Country General Manager and Chief Trust and Compliance Officer for IBM globally. After a 30-years career at IBM, Rick served on the Board of Bank Hapoalim, and recently joined the Board of Phoenix Holdings Ltd.
Rick holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Brown University, and a Law Degree from Cornell University. He sits on the boards of Resolution Games, Ananda, Loadmill, QED-IT, NOVOS, Hyperspace and PayKey.
“I quite possibly have the best job in the world. Everyday, I get shown a little bit more of what the future holds by people who I am lucky enough to eventually call friends. The entrepreneurs I am privileged to work with, from pre-revenue to Unicorn, from stranger to groomsman inspire me and enrich my life deeply. And, sometimes, I am even fortunate enough to contribute something back to them.”
Aaron Applbaum is a Partner at MizMaa Ventures and runs the firm’s practice in Israel. He currently sits on the boards of MizMaa portfolio companies: Ottopia, Autofleet, Anima, Cheq, Mobb, Tensile Security and has an observer seat with Aurora Labs, Brew and LynxMD. He previously held Board Director roles at Protego Labs and Spectral which both exited to Checkpoint.
Aaron was a Principal and Director at Strategic Cyber Ventures, a cybersecurity focused Venture Capital fund which had spun out of Hudson Bay Capital, a multi-billion-dollar, multi-strategy, New York based asset management firm. Prior to Hudson, Aaron spent time in both government and non-profit sectors in defense related fields, including at the Department of Defense, the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Aaron graduated from Princeton University’s School of Public Policy and International Affairs, where his independent research focused on the intelligence community, Mideast politics and cybersecurity. At Princeton, he was a senior columnist with the Daily Princetonian.
Aaron currently sits as a Board of Trustees member at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, is a Kauffman Fellow and member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO).
"Working as a VC is first and foremost about the people. It is a privilege to work with the entrepreneurs that take risks, dream big and push the Israeli ecosystem forward. I learn from each and everyone and try to give back wherever I can. "
Yoav Knoll is the Principal at MizMaa Ventures and is currently a Board Observer of Autofleet, Loadmill and Hyperspace. Yoav joined the fund in the early days of MizMaa’s presence in Israel, and helped build the office and the operation locally.
Prior to MizMaa, Yoav was an officer at the Israeli Air Force.
Yoav holds a Bsc. in Computer Science and Mathematics from the Ben-Gurion University.
"There is no doubt that Israel’s commitment to innovation is unparalleled to any other country in the world. Being able to interact with founders, oftentimes at the very beginning of their journey, in a country where you have more excuses to fail than reasons to succeed, has been one of the most-eye opening and inspiring experiences of my life."
Aviv Kerbel is a Vice President at MizMaa Ventures. He leads R&D, Cloud and Cyber investments.
Aviv joined MizMaa in 2023 from a DevTool start-up where he was an early commercial hire and responsible for solution architect and sales. Prior to this, Aviv was a developer in an elite military unit of the IDF, 8200, and in a few startups.
Outside of work, Aviv enjoys flying small aircrafts out of the Herzliya airbase.
“Everyday I meet with founders who are experts in their domain. I get to listen, learn and respond to the best ideas in Israel. Working with our portfolio founders is the most rewarding part of my job.”
Jessica Freedman is an Associate at MizMaa Ventures. She leads Digital Health and ClimateTech investments.
Jess joined MizMaa in 2022 from Hertility Health, a health-tech start-up, where she was an early commercial hire and responsible for corporate strategy & business development. Prior to this, Jess was an Engagement Manager at Strategy& (part of the PwC network) providing strategy-through-delivery support to corporates, private equity, and government departments, across Europe and the US; she specialized in Healthcare and Sustainability.
Jess graduated from the University of Oxford with a BA Hons and MA in Mathematics & Statistics. Jess is currently based in Boston, she is completing a Master of Public Health (MPH) at Harvard University.
Outside of work, Jess enjoys traveling, hiking, biking, and maintaining her list of favourite restaurants.
Sarit Konikov is the Head of Operations at MizMaa Ventures. Prior to MizMaa, Sarit worked at ELAL Israel Airlines for eight years. She was an Operations Center Manager at ELAL Israel Airlines for four years.
"Spending years as an early employee at a high-growth startup has given me a profound sense of empathy for founders, as I've experienced firsthand the rollercoaster of challenges they face and the relentless pursuit of their vision."
Danny is an Associate at MizMaa Ventures.
Prior to arriving at MizMaa, Danny joined Y-combinator backed Israeli startup, Avo, as its first US employee. Danny spearheaded Avo's US launch in early 2019, and over the next four years led operations, sales, procurement, merchandising at the company.
Before entering the Israeli Startup ecosystem, Danny spent 3 years as a buy-side equity-research analyst at JPMorgan, covering Mid-Cap Industrials.
Danny graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins in 2015 with a degree in Economics.
Outside of work, Danny enjoys studying American History, Guitar, Scuba Diving, and Ornithology.
David was CEO of McGraw-Hill Education (2014-17), previously, he was CEO of the global events and exhibitions business UBM plc (2005-14). He launched the company in India and across ASEAN, as well as expanding its presence in mainland China. David oversaw the development of the first smartphone operating system as CEO of Symbian Ltd (2002-05) — supporting the first 100 million handsets.
Gilad is Managing Partner at ION Crossover Partners (ICP), Israel’s first technology crossover fund. ICP invests in leading Israel and Israel-related companies in the Information Communication Technologies (ICT) segment. ICP and its Partners bring financing and operating expertise to assist technology disruptors with their effort to scale operations globally as independent companies.
Gilad brings a decade of long-term principle investing experience in disruptive growth companies. Prior to ICP he was a General Partner at Magma Venture Partners, a leading Israeli Venture Fund. At Magma, Gilad helped raise the first Growth Equity fund and led the search for non-Magma growth investment opportunities. In addition, Gilad sourced and led investments in Magma’s early stage fund.
Prior to Magma, Gilad spent almost eight years at Baron Capital. During his tenure at Baron ($26bn AUM Investment Manager based in NYC) Gilad’s investments areas included Information Technology Infrastructure, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, Advanced Automobile and Transportation Technologies, Data Centers, Renewable Energy and Cyber Security.
Since 2010, Gilad sourced and led investments in 40+ companies that totaled over $1.5bn. Examples include Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA), Mobileye NV (NYSE: MBLY, recently acquired by Intel), Equinix Inc. (NASDAQ: EQIX), Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: IRDM), Varonis Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: VRNS) and more.
Prior to his investing career, Gilad spent 14 years with the Israeli Air Force as an F-16 pilot (Major) and a commander.
Gilad graduated Magna Cum Laude from Tel Aviv University with a B.S. in Physics, Astronomy and Philosophy in 2007 and with Honors from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with an M.B.A. in 2010.
Sammy Hsieh possesses more than 20 years of experience in building and investing in successful ventures, and a proven track record of scaling Internet start-ups.
Sammy is a director and co-founder of iClick Interactive Asia Group Ltd, (Nasdaq: ICLK), an enterprise and marketing cloud platform in China providing a full suite of data-driven solutions that address clients’ full spectrum of sales and marketing needs. Over the years, Sammy has led and advised iClick in various successful acquisitions, bringing synergies and values to iClick, including OptAim, a leading mobile marketing and analytics company in China, and Changyi, a leading enterprise solution platform in China. As a seasoned venture builder, Sammy has also spearheaded multiple strategic partnerships and investments to accelerate the business expansion of iClick, such as with VGI Global Media, Thailand’s largest digital out-of-home advertising and data platform; InfoRich Inc, which operates one of the largest mobile battery sharing platforms in Asia; and Zeek, a quick commerce delivery platform in Southeast Asia.
Sammy currently also sits on the board of various listed companies, advising them on various corporate and investment matters, including Magnum Opus Acquisition Limited (NYSE: OPA) and Black Spade Acquisition Limited (NYSE: BSAQ), both of which are U.S. listed special purpose acquisition companies, and Yoho Group Holdings Limited (HKSE: 2347), a leading e-commerce platform in Hong Kong.
Leveraging his own experiences in both investments and operations and as a way to contribute to the ever growing start-up ecosystem, Sammy is an active angel investor and advisor to early stage start-ups in Asia, advising founders on the growth journey and providing them with access to financial and business resources.
Prior to founding iClick, Sammy had held senior positions in a number of prominent technology companies including Yahoo and Efficient Frontier (subsequently acquired by Adobe). Sammy holds a Bachelor Degree in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Yoram has over 20 years experience in serving major clients, providing professional services to hundreds of startups and publicly traded high tech companies. He has helped Entrepreneurs and Start-Ups strategize, raise money and grow their businesses. He has also participated in many M&A’s and IPO’s on NASDAQ and the European and Tel Aviv Public Capital Markets.
Before becoming the managing Partner, Yoram was the head of the High Tech practice, the largest of its kind in Israel.
Yoram has degrees in accounting and economics from Tel Aviv University.