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Why venture capitalists invest in pigs, not chickens

Reprinted from OnStartups.com. See the original post here.

By Jeff Bussgang

The following is a guest post from Jeff Bussgang. Jeff is a serial entrepreneur and currently a general partner at Flybridge Capital Partners, a Boston-area early-stage venture capital firm. Jeff is also the author of “Mastering The VC Game”.

There is an old parable about the concept of commitment when it comes to breakfast. The story goes that when looking at a plate of the traditional fare of ham and eggs, it’s obvious that the chicken is an interested party, but the pig is truly committed.

When I tell this story to entrepreneurs, my point is usually to contrast the approach VCs have to start-ups as compared to entrepreneurs. The VC is an interested party, but at the end of the day, if their start-ups live or die, they typically still have their job, their office and their portfolio of other investments. The entrepreneur, on the other hand, is the pig – truly committed to the outcome, with no fallback.ham eggs

But lately I’ve been thinking about the parable of the pig and the chicken in the context of the characteristics that make a great entrepreneur – and the kind of entrepreneur that we VCs in general, and my firm Flybridge Capital in particular, like to back. In short, we like to back pigs – entrepreneurs who are truly and completely committed to the outcome of their venture, have a lot of stake, and no fallback.

How do we discern the difference between the two entrepreneurial archetypes? It’s usually relatively easy, but sometimes subtle. Here are a few of the top characteristics we see in entrepreneurs who appear to be exhibiting behavior that suggests they’re more like “chickens” when it comes to their start-up:

1) Prefer to wait to start their venture only after they receive funding (“We are ready to go, as soon as you give us your money.” …um, does that mean you won’t start the company if I don’t give you my money?).

2) Don’t quit their day jobs before receiving funding. (“This has been a side project for a year, and I can’t wait to focus on it full-time” … um, if you can’t wait – why are you waiting?)

3) Don’t physically move themselves or their teammates to be in the same geography when starting their venture (think Eduardo Severin in the Social Network spending his summer in NYC).

4) Prefer to play a hands-off chairman role or look to quickly hire a COO/president in the early days rather than operate as the hands-on CEO/president. (I’ll leave out the numerous examples to protect the innocent, but as a rule of thumb, companies with fewer than 40 employees don’t typically need a COO).

5) Are unwilling to fully leverage their own personal and professional networks to drive recruiting, fundraising and business development.

On the other hand, the top five characteristics we see in “pig” entrepreneurs include:

1) Commit to the new company everything they have – even if that means moving their families, quitting their jobs, or even dropping our of their schools (as much as I don’t want to condone or encourage this!).

2) Put themselves “out there” publicly and visibly with the industry, their relationships, family and friends. If the company is a failure, it will not be a quiet one.

3) Have not yet achieved a mega-success already and/or yet achieved wealth beyond the point of needing to work again. (I remember my mentor and boss at Open Market, CEO Gary Eichhorn, congratulating me when I became a first-time homeowner in the mid-1990s and observed: “I hope you got a large mortgage so that you are locked in and highly motivated to create wealth!”).

4) Participate in a minimal set of outside interests and hobbies that aren’t directly related to their business. Starting a company is a consuming, obsessive, 7×24 endeavor. Raising a family and remaining healthy is enough of a battle. When we see entrepreneurs with long lists of hobbies and outside interests, it’s a red flag. One of my partners went so far as to look up the number of times an entrepreneur played golf one summer (which apparently is public information somehow, although I’m not a golfer so still don’t know how he figured this out) as a barometer for how hard they were applying themselves to their new venture.

5) There exists a rare breed of entrepreneurs that have already had mega-success are so special and driven that they remain obviously hungry and scrappy. For these entrepreneurs, the key is to watch and see if they’re still as hands on as they ever were (e.g., obsessed with the product, knee-deep in the financial model, out in front of the organization in selling). Again, these entrepreneurs are very special.

So what are you – the chicken or the pig? Investors clearly prefer one model over the other, not just in the founder, but in the entire team. As a result, as you are assembling your start-up team, be careful not to hire chickens. In the eyes of prospective investors, you may find it’s even less kosher than hiring pigs.

The pay-it-forward culture: a tradition of mentorship in Silicon Valley

Reprinted from SteveBlank.com. See the original post here.

By Steve Blank

(Steve Jobs and Robert Noyce in picture on left)

Foreign visitors to Silicon Valley continually mention how willing we are to help, network and connect strangers. We take it so for granted we never even to bother to talk about it. It’s the “Pay-It-Forward” culture.

We’re all in this together – The Chips are Down

In 1962 Walker’s Wagon Wheel Bar/Restaurant in Mountain View became the lunch hangout for employees at Fairchild Semiconductor. When the first spinouts began to leave Fairchild, they discovered that fabricating semiconductors reliably was a black art. At times you’d have the recipe and turn out chips, and the next week something would go wrong, and your fab couldn’t make anything that would work. Engineers in the very small world of silicon and semiconductors would meet at the Wagon Wheel and swap technical problems and solutions with co-workers and competitors.

We’re all in this together – A Computer in every Home

In 1975 a local set of hobbyists with the then crazy idea of a computer in every home formed the Homebrew Computer Club and met in Menlo Park at the Peninsula School then later at the Stanford AI Lab. The goal of the club was: “Give to help others.” Each meeting would begin with people sharing information, getting advice and discussing the latest innovation (one of which was the first computer from Apple.) The club became the center of the emerging personal computer industry.

We’re all in this together – Helping Our Own

Until the 1980’s Chinese and Indian engineers ran into a glass ceiling in large technology companies held back by the belief that “they make great engineers but can’t be the CEO.” Looking for a chance to run their own show, many of them left and founded startups. They also set up ethnic-centric networks like TIE (The Indus Entrepreneur) and the Chinese Software Professionals Association where they shared information about how the valley worked as well as job and investment opportunities. Over the next two decades, other groups — Russian, Israeli, etc. — followed with their own networks. (Anna Lee Saxenian has written extensively about this.)

We’re all in this together – Mentoring The Next Generation

While the idea of groups (chips, computers, ethnics) helping each other grew, something else happened. The first generation of executives who grew up getting help from others began to offer their advice to younger entrepreneurs. These experienced valley CEOs would take time out of their hectic schedule to have coffee or dinner with young entrepreneurs and asking for nothing in return.

They were the beginning of the Pay-It-Forward culture, the unspoken Valley culture that believes “I was helped when I started out and now it’s my turn to help others.”

By the early 1970’s, even the CEOs of the largest valley companies would take phone calls and meetings with interesting and passionate entrepreneurs. In 1975, a young unknown, wannabe entrepreneur called the Founder/CEO of Intel, Bob Noyce and asked for advice. Noyce liked the kid, and for the next few years, Noyce met with him and coached him as he founded his first company and went through the highs and lows of a startup that caught fire.

The entrepreneur was Steve Jobs. “Bob Noyce took me under his wing. I was young, in my twenties. He was in his early fifties. He tried to give me the lay of the land, give me a perspective that I could only partially understand,” Jobs said, “You can’t really understand what is going on now unless you understand what came before.”

What Are You Waiting For?

Last week in Helsinki Finland at a dinner with a roomful of large company CEO’s, one of them asked, ”What can we do to help build an ecosystem that will foster entrepreneurship?” My guess is they were expecting me talk about investing in startups or corporate partnerships. Instead, I told the Noyce/Jobs story and noted that, as a group, they had a body of knowledge that entrepreneurs and business angels would pay anything to learn. The best investment they could make to help a startup culture in Finland would be to share what they know with the next generation. Even more, this culture could be created by a handful of CEO’s and board members who led by example. I suggested they ought to be the ones to do it.

We’ll see if they do.

—-

Over the last half a century in Silicon Valley, the short life cycle of startups reinforced the idea that – the long term relationships that lasted was with a network of people – much larger than those in your current company. Today, in spite of the fact that the valley is crawling with IP lawyers, the tradition of helping and sharing continues. The restaurants and locations may have changed, moving from Rickey’s Garden Cafe, Chez Yvonne, Lion and Compass and Hsi-Nan to Bucks, Coupa Café and Café Borrone, but the notion of competitors getting together and helping each other and experienced business execs offering contacts and advice has continued for the last 50 years.

It’s the “Pay-It-Forward” culture.

Lessons Learned

• Entrepreneurs in successful clusters build support networks outside of existing companies
• These networks can be around any area of interest (technology, ethnic groups, etc.)
• These were mutually beneficial – you learned and contributed to help others
• Over time experienced executives “pay-back” the help they got by mentoring others
• The Pay-It-Forward culture makes the ecosystem smarter

Steve Blank is a retired serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur who developed the Customer Development process and teaches it at Stanford, Berkeley and Columbia, among others. He blogs about entrepreneurship frequenly at SteveBlank.com.

An entrepreneurial mindset: things to think about

Reprinted from www.under30ceo.com. See the original post here.

By Amy Abrams

Early in my career, I worked in what is now referred to as the first dotcom bubble. When I think back to those days, I remember it being incredibly fun, hectic, creative and exciting. I also remember working around the clock and feeling like I had no life. In many ways, it was the modern-day equivalent of the Wild West with industry people hoping to strike gold. People were starting new companies daily. Some of the companies became brief success stories, many went out of business and a few are still around today. What characterized the majority of these companies was that they were looking to grow fast and then exit with a big payout in the form of an acquisition or an IPO. The entrepreneurs running these companies were willing to work 24/7 to achieve this goal and expected their employees to make the same sacrifice. What I witnessed over time was a lot of over-worked and unhappy entrepreneurs whose dream did not come true.

While I was in it, living the frenetic life in the dotcom universe, I barely had time to think. But one question kept coming to mind: Is this the only way to be an entrepreneur? The answer became clearer over the years. It most certainly is not. After working with entrepreneurs for over ten years, I’ve found the most valuable opportunity of entrepreneurship is to be able to create meaningful work on your own terms, on a daily basis. Instead of sacrificing a lot in hopes of scoring it big payoff someday, your payday can be everyday.

Being able to get there requires a bit of a re-think, however. Perhaps one of the most drastic elements is to think beyond the financial rewards of running your own business. It goes without saying that it is important to feel compensated for the work that you do and that level of compensation varies from business owner to business owner. However, instead of exclusively working non stop and making significant sacrifices in your life so that you have a big pot of gold at the end, it’s worth considering ways that you can feel like you are receiving golden nuggets daily.

Consider your personal motivations for becoming an entrepreneur. For some it is a desire for autonomy or creative control. For others, it’s about finding meaning, freedom, or unlimited earning potential or a combination of many of these. Now ask yourself, would you sacrifice this aspect of your business for the next 5 years so that you could receive a big payout? No way! This motivator was a driving force for starting your business in the first place. Its value is worth its weight in gold, so to speak. So there is your first golden nugget. A word of caution here: once you realize the value of these benefits, you need to make sure that your business allows for/honors/accommodates them. Perhaps you need to do a little tweaking to make sure that your business meets your needs.

Next, consider what you do for your business. It is not that common in the professional world to have the opportunity to write your own job description. The beauty of being an entrepreneur is that you can and you do. And part of the thrill of entrepreneurship is that that job description changes. You can create a role for yourself in the business that utilizes your strengths and that allows you to feel energized because you get to do what you do best. Of course, there are some aspects of entrepreneurship that are not glamorous (for example, taking out the trash) or that you are not skilled at or enjoy but you still need to accomplish. There are lots of ways to outsource areas of weakness or areas you dislike over time. So ask yourself, would you be willing to compromise doing what you know you do best? What you most love? Would you take a job that does not utilize your skills and talents in exchange for a big paycheck? Of course not. Many entrepreneurs are motivated to start their own business so that they can enjoy their work on a daily basis. That is the operative word — that everyday your work is meaningful. And there is your second golden nugget.

Finally, it is worth considering how your business can make an impact. Many entrepreneurs start their business with the hope that their business will make a difference. This comes in a lot of forms, most frequently tied to the idea of innovating, changing an industry, blazing a new trail or solving a problem. Making a difference is often something that people refuse to put a price tag on as it fulfills a deeper sense of meaning for the individual. The impact your business can make in this world is a golden nugget unto itself. It is pointless to even question if this is something one would trade for a big payout. Working on daily basis towards making a difference is your daily gold.

The course of entrepreneurship varies greatly. There is no one road to get there. But along the way, there are some fundamental building blocks, some critical milestones that go beyond the tactical measures of business growth and success — the personal elements of satisfaction that help motivate and validate your decision of entrepreneurship, those things that cannot take away.

Amy Abrams is an entrepreneur, speaker and co-author of The Big Enough Company: Creating a Business that Works for You (September 2011, Portfolio/Penguin). She is the co-founder of In Good Company Workplaces, a business community center and co-working space in New York City. Amy is also the co-founder of Artists & Fleas, a weekly marketplace for artists, designers and vintage collectors in Brooklyn. For more information, please visit http://bigenoughcompany.com, and follow the authors on Facebook and Twitter.

Tips for managing a multigenerational workplace

Reprinted from Under30CEO.com. See the original post here.

By Dianne Durkin

With competition for talent on the rise, developing a corporate culture of employee engagement and commitment has become a foundational imperative for most organizations. Creating and maintaining a high-performing workforce is at the core of nearly every business strategy, and the rewards for doing it right include increasing employee satisfaction, reducing turnover, optimizing productivity and positioning the organization for growth.

The stakes are even higher for organizations that face immediate challenges such as a merger or acquisition, volatile market conditions, new competitive threats or any serious need to influence internal change in response to external forces.

There’s another element compounding the pressure and raising the stakes on employee commitment: Never before has there been such a diversity of generations in the workforce. Four distinct, age-based cohorts coexist in the workplace. Each has different values, attitudes, expectations, needs, and motivations, all of which can make it more challenging to manage and integrate into a corporate culture.

Currently, Generation X and Nexters make up about 45 percent of the workforce. Together, these 18-to-41-yearold individuals equal the same percentage of the workforce the Baby Boomers compose. The Veteran generation makes up the final 10 percent. To ensure long-term employee loyalty, enterprises need to learn about each of these generational groups, their needs and motivations. Although there is danger in generalizing, a quick review of each group’s typical traits reveals a glimpse of what individuals in each group might be looking for from an organization.

Veterans (1922–1944): Born before World War II, their values were shaped by the Great Depression, the New Deal, WWII and the Korean War and emphasize civic pride, loyalty, respect for authority, dedication, sacrifice, conformity, honor and discipline. This generation is driven by duty before pleasure.

In the workforce, they are stable, loyal, hard-working and employed with their company for 30 years or more. To them, work is a privilege: They respect the institutions they work for and its leaders, believing that work and sacrifice pay off in the long term. As a result Veterans seek a directive leadership style, with clearly defined goals, directions and measurements designated by the leader.

(more…)

Linda Rottenberg interviewed for Hürriyet

During a recent trip to Turkey, Endeavor Co-Founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg participated in a video interview for Bloomberg Turkey, and was interviewed by Hurriyet, a top Turkish newspaper. Below is a translated summary of Linda’s remarks:

“You have entrepreneurship in your DNA.”

Linda Rottenberg says that Endeavor is a community where innovative, creative people gather together — where entrepreneurs who think big can get the help and support they need to reach their goals.

According to Rottenberg there is a fast growing entrepreneurship ecosystem in Turkey. “When I was studying at Harvard during the 80’s many of my friends were looking for jobs in big firms, but my Turkish friends were more into creating ideas and starting their own companies. During the financial crisis in the United States everyone is talking about what should be done but nothing is actually being done. They’ve lost the spark. However in emerging markets like Turkey people are talking less and actually going after their visions and dreams. I think that’s the biggest difference. The global crisis also created many opportunities for small to medium enterprises in emerging markets in terms of both human resources and the opportunity to buy or merge with bigger brands.”

Rottenberg says that investors have taken more interest in Turkey than China or India recently and Turkish entrepreneurs are taking this opportunity and using it to their advantage. She is soon expecting “garage companies” like Google and Apple to come out from Turkey. “There are already some Turkish technology companies that are known very well worldwide in their sector but not known widely because their models are business to business, not of business to customer.” “The new trend is emerging to emerging (E2E) where emerging markets are taking an interest in one another. It is not just developed countries like the U.S.A taking an interest in Turkey but China, India and others are too!”

==

The article also mentions Investor Trek, where many members of Endeavor’s Investor Network will be gathering in Turkey in December 2011 to meet with Turkish Endeavor Entrepreneurs.

The difference between entrepreneurship and scalable entrepreneurship

According to a recent article in Slate, “Why Small Businesses Aren’t Innovative,” as world governments have reacted to the recession, significant focus has been placed on job creation and how to best support the so-called small business owner. Indeed, the small business owner has long been considered a central force behind the world’s free economies. At Endeavor, we too have long championed SMEs, but with a caveat. Our focus has been on scalable or “high impact” SMEs — businesses that have significant growth potential and can therefore play a disproportionate role in emerging market development.

The article goes on to discuss how in their scramble to find ways to motivate entrepreneurs to invest, expand, and hire, academics and policy makers have uncovered some interesting outcomes. In particular, in their paper “What Do Small Businesses Do?,” University of Chicago economists Erik Hurst and Benjamin Pugsley have shed light on the importance of identifying businesses truly capable of significant expansion. According to Hurst and Pugsley, the growth-seeking and innovative entrepreneur is truly a rare thing; and most small business owners lack both the desire and the innovative idea necessary to foster significant growth.

Inasmuch as this is the case, there are significant implications in terms of public policy. Rather than create programs designed to stimulate small businesses en masse, perhaps it would be more efficient to focus on those rare entrepreneurs capable of creating the kind of growth that we so desperately need. In other words, when seeking scale, stimulate the scalable.

A new Ernst and Young sponsored report released by Endeavor and the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) provides a similar perspective, validating that a powerful answer to job creation lies in high-impact entrepreneurship. Endeavor has long held this view — and the increased focus on business solutions to employment in light to today’s economic climate seems to have lent it further credence.

Three quick entrepreneurial sales lessons

Reprinted from OnStartups.com. See the original post here.

By Daniel Tenner

Daniel is the founder of several companies including GrantTree. He blogs about startups and founders at Swombat.com. You can also find him on Twitter.

1. “Every no gets you closer to a yes.”

Permeating the human science (or art) of sales is this fundamental idea: sales fail all the time.

One of the hardest things for me to get used to, as a geek/artist/writer in business, is the constant disappointment of sales. The harsh reality, however, is that many leads will not turn into clients, no matter how exciting they might seem at first. And yet each lead must be given attention, enthusiasm, dedication, and so on, if it is to have any chance at all of turning into a sale.

Some people are very good at working on 50 new deals a week knowing that 45 will fall through. They deeply, personally understand that every no gets you closer to a yes, and yet don’t let it distract them from pursuing every answer with tenacity, ferocity even. We call them salespeople, and many people look down on them, but those people often make the difference between a business and yet another failed startup.

Competent salespeople, particularly those with an entrepreneurial attitude and the ability to work things out as they go along, are rare and precious. Treasure them.

2. “It’s not over until the fat lady sings.”

However, even if you’re not a salesperson, you will have to pursue and close deals. Deals, like sales, fail all the time. Never ever make critical decisions that depend on a deal happening (be it a grant application, an investment, a merger, or even just a new customer), until the money is in the bank. Even happily signed contracts are no guarantee that the money will actually change hands some day. The only thing you know for sure when you hold a signed contract in your hands is that the other person knows how to use a pen.

As an extreme example, one potential GrantTree customer we were talking to, at one point, asked us, “so, if you’re going to write this application for us, can I take on some loans right now on the basis of this grant?” That is almost exactly the wrong attitude when dealing with any kind of deal that’s not certain, and as we’ve already established, no deal is ever certain until the money is in your bank account.

Never base future expenses or commitments on money that’s not in the bank yet, even if it’s owed to you, even if you have an apparently ironclad contract. Any number of things can happen between now and then that can change that certitude into a painful (hopefully not fatal) disappointment.

3. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

Another truism of sales, which emerges from the high failure rate of any deliberate sales endeavour, is that customers that you already have on your books are worth much more than potential leads.

This is actually something many (though not all) salespeople fail at, because of the natural focus of sales around getting more leads and converting them. However, as a business owner, you can’t afford to make that mistake. It’s very tempting, when chasing a $100k deal, to look down on the 4 or 5 $10k deals you already have as a comparative waste of your time. And maybe, when you regularly close $100k+ deals, you should start turning away customers that are just too small for you. But until then, treat every customer as well as if there were no more leads coming for the next year.

If you treat customers well and they like you and are happy with your services and products, they will provide the best kind of leads: “hot”, word-of-mouth leads. They will also provide you with testimonials, client success stories, and other sales materials that you can use to get more leads and more sales. Your customers can be your best salespeople, but only if you treat them right.

Conversely, if you treat your customers badly, word will spread about that too, and leads will mysteriously become ever harder to close. So, treat them well.

Remembering entrepreneur Felipe Cubillos

Update: to learn more about Felipe and his incredible accomplishments, check out this new article in the New York Times, “On a Mission to Help Chile Until the Very End.”

The Endeavor community deeply regrets the passing of entrepreneur Felipe Cubillos, whose life was cut short in a tragic plane crash near the Juan Fernández Islands earlier this month. Felipe was traveling to a ceremony celebrating reconstruction efforts in response to the February 2010 earthquake off the coast of Chile when his plane went down with 21 passengers on board. Felipe was an accomplished sailor, author, entrepreneur, and tireless promoter of his organization Desafio Levantemos Chile (Lift Up/Rise Up Chile Challenge). Endeavor selected Felipe in March 2002 for his company Senegocia. The 48-year-old father of four will certainly be missed, and Endeavor sends warm thoughts to his family and friends in this difficult time.


You never should give up. You shouldn’t believe that things aren’t going to happen only because they get very difficult. You have to keep moving forward. You shouldn’t be afraid to lose everything, because if you have earned everything in a good way, for sure you will recover it, multiplied.
- Felipe Cubillos

Experience is everything: a field report from Experiencia Argentina (Part 3 of 3)

By Mark Horoszowski (reprinted from his blog, Aspen to Nepal)

Two weeks ago at the Endeavor event in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Endeavor network member David Frazee, a Partner at K&L Gates LLP., gave a riveting talk with incredible lessons for social entrepreneurs, start-ups, and high impact enterprises. Inspired by his talk, here are 16 lessons for anybody making a positive social and/or environmental impact with their business:

1. Preserve the magic of the company | Your culture is everything. Don’t ever let is pass, fade, or get put on the backburner.

2. Do not change the flashy models | Your model that makes you successful is your model. Don’t change it to try and get funding or publicity.

3. Hire people who love start-ups | Big business is not a start-up, and people coming from big business, regardless of their CV’s, do not necessarily know how to make start-ups work.

4. Be creative with your negotiations | Don’t take no for an answer if no is the wrong answer. Be persistent and innovative to get around hurdles.

5. Tame gorillas with equity tranquilizer guns | A little equity changes you from a commodity to a partner. If you need to create a long-lasting, healthy relationship, consider adding equity in addition to monetary incentives.

6. Remember your family and life | If it were easy, everybody would be rich. Start-ups require a ton of work. But start-ups come and go, families are forever. Don’t ever forget that.

7. Give correct incentives | Align incentives with company objectives, which must increase the overall value of the company, not only reward specific positions or departments.

8. Have and understand the financial model | If you can’t monetize, you won’t have money. If you don’t understand your business model, it probably means you don’t have a business.

9. Do not work for someone stupider than you | Self-explanatory. Work where you are appreciated, understood, and have the capacity to add value. The corollary is also true – work with people better than you. By extension, don’t always work people that agree with you.

10. Avoid death from rapid growth | Don’t grow too fast without systems and processes to manage it

11. Build good systems, but deliver product | Point #10 is important, but remember, the best processes are nothing if you can’t ship product. You must prepare for success.

12. Never, ever, mention a corporate jet | Big spending is a leading indicator of stupidity. Lean and mean is the only sustainable approach for any social enterprise.

13. Be promiscuous on innovation | Make it sexy to innovate, and never stop.

14. Hire the best: Overpay. Fire the worst: Now. | The best people are worth every dollar and stock. The worst kill morale and hinder progress. It might be tough to stomach, but pay the right people more than what they are worth, and kill the cancer right away.

15. Cherish great advisers and strategy | Strategy is not a free commodity. But whether you pay for it or get it for free, make sure to adopt it.

16. Remember friends and invest in the community | Always give more than you take. To teach is to learn twice. A lot of people with blood on their feet wore the path smooth for you. Make sure to do same for others.

“There is no limit to intellectual capital – we can always create. Whether you win or fail, you will do something extraordinary that will change your life.” – David Frazee

eMBA Field Report: ‘Me Encanta Uruguay’

Abdullah Alshalabi is an MBA student at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and was an eMBA at Todomedia in Uruguay.

I was lucky enough to do an internship with Endeavor and even luckier to do it with Todomedia in Uruguay. You may say that I’m exaggerating, but I swear I’m not. First, I’m from Kuwait and I don’t think any Kuwaiti has ever been in Uruguay. Secondly, Uruguay won Copa America while I was there, now this is a GREAT coincidence.

I did this internship along with one of my best friends, Rufino de La Rosa from Spain, and without him I would definitely have gotten lost in this Spanish world. The project was to assist the company with developing a new product and to build a business plan for this new product. We started our project with understanding the industry and understanding our clients through conducting many face-to-face interviews, phone interviews and surveys. After understanding our client’s needs, we developed our product and currently working in developing our marketing strategy and the financial model.

The work in Todomedia was interesting and fun at the same time. Uruguay was a big part of making this internship so exciting. One of Endeavor employees asked me to “Describe Uruguay in four words?” and I answered:

- Friendly people
- Football
- Meat
- Mate (A local drink)

Uruguayan people are SUPER friendly. People in Todomedia and Endeavor were extremely nice, and to me this makes all the difference. They made me feel like being at home when I was so far away from Kuwait. We exchanged a lot of culture experiences (as you can see below).

I have to say — football is a big thing over here. It was always fun watching the Uruguay national team playing in Copa America with our Uruguayan friends. The fact that they won the cup is just amazing. We had lots of fun celebrating the winning and had lots of good memories. Additionally, we were playing football almost every week, either with Todomedia or with Endeavor.

Furthermore, the best meat (beef) I ever tasted in my life was cooked by Todomedia CEO, Sebastian Lateulade. He cooked it for an event called Asado. What is Asado? A monthly barbecue social event in Uruguay. Seriously, the meat was so good that we were discussing opening a restaurant back in Kuwait.

Finally, let me tell you about something special about being Uruguayan. It’s called Mate. Mate is a local drink, non-alcoholic, that you can’t find any place to buy, but you will find everyone drinking it. You should prepare Mate yourself or if you are lucky enough someone will offer it to you. Uruguayan people enjoy spending their weekend afternoons drinking Mate in front of the sea, and I enjoyed doing that as well. I got addicted to Mata and hopefully I will be able to drink it in other parts of the World.

The eMBA internship in Uruguay was one of the best experiences I’ll ever come along and it showed me how a small country can have such ambition. Hopefully one day I’ll get to go back!

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