High-Impact Entrepreneurship

Get RSS Feed

7 subtle but deadly sins of entrepreneurship

>> << Reprinted from Under30CEO. Original article here.

By Francesca StaAna

Often, our biggest mistakes are the ones that we learn most from. Committing pricing errors, picking the wrong vendors, or failing to identify the right markets are examples of blunders that hit us hard but we learn quickly from. These mistakes are obvious, so we know not to do them again in the future.

However, there are certain types of mistakes that are more subtle and aren’t as easy to learn from. These insidious errors may look harmless because they seemingly don’t have any effect on your business, but the truth is, they are just as deadly as the above-mentioned mistakes.

The list below identifies 7 subtle (but deadly) mistakes or sins that entrepreneurs commit.

Letting yourself off the hook just because you’re the boss – When you’re your own boss, it’s all too easy to let go of your own little mistakes. So what if you overslept today? You’ll just work extra hours later. Forgot to follow up on a client? There’s always tomorrow, right? Wrong. Continuously letting yourself off the hook for small errors simply because you can is a recipe for personal and business failure.

You know how people who let themselves off the hook for skipping the gym end up overweight and sick 10 years later? Well, overlooking and tolerating the mistakes that you know you can correct can lead to a sick (not the good kind) business in the future. Be sure to develop the discipline to “catch” yourself while you can.

Staying too long on a plateau – We’ve discussed business plateaus before, but they’re worth mentioning again. You know that you’re on a plateau when your business has “reached a respectable level of success”. Your sales aren’t bad, and maybe you’ve even paid off your investment.

The “plateau stage” can be a comfortable one, mainly because it’s pretty steady. And while you’re allowed to hang around there for a while, be sure to not stay on a plateau for too long. Being comfortable for an extended period of time leads to complacency and incompetence. Avoid this by always striving to learn and be better. Take the leap off that plateau and bring your business to the next level.

Not being grateful for “small” mentions – Think those “Thanks for RT!” or “Thank you for the shout-out!” messages don’t matter? Think again. Spreading messages of gratitude returns a lot of good social media karma, and the best thing is, doing so won’t cost you a thing.

Whenever someone mentions your business on their blog or social media page, take the time to express your gratitude. They’ll be more inclined to mention or even feature you again in the future. And who knows? You could even gain a new friend or possibly even a contact that’ll vouch for you somewhere down the line.

On the other hand, NOT thanking others will make you look like a snob and people might refrain from giving shout-outs or doing business with you. It’s easy to ignore mentions or Re-tweets and just go about your day. But the fact is, disregarding small things like that can cost you big opportunities in the long run.

Not thinking outside the box – Always going by the book is nice, safe, and EASY. It’s also a good way to get left behind. Sure, you’re exerting marketing efforts and performing proven sales tactics that have worked for years, but are you really getting results?

If not, then it’s time consider some reinvention. Think outside the box and do things that other people haven’t done before. Look for new opportunities outside of the safe and proven ones. If you don’t, then some other CEO will, and you could just end up following their footsteps instead.

Not keeping up with technology – There are plenty of apps and tools out there that will allow you to be more productive or reach more people. Avoid falling behind and be sure to keep yourself up to date with the latest developments in tech and in your industry as well.

Exerting no networking efforts – Targeting potential customers or clients is a given when it comes to doing business. On top of this though, be sure to connect with colleagues and collaborate with other businesses so that you can promote each other.

Don’t make the mistake of avoiding connections with other businesses in fear that you’ll lose your customers. Instead, be more open to partnerships and help each other grow. There’s plenty of business to go around.

Not following up – I can’t even tell you the number of times that I’ve sealed the deal with a new client simply because I took the time to send them a follow-up email. A lot of entrepreneurs drop a sale or just give up and move on when a potential client doesn’t respond. Big mistake. For all you know, these “unresponsive” users were simply too preoccupied to reply. But it doesn’t mean that they’re not interested.

To make sure that you never miss a chance to successfully reel customers in, create a list of people that you’ve reached out to, and be sure to call or send them a follow-up email after about a week or so. A simple “friendly reminder” should do the trick. If you still don’t get an answer, take them off your list and move on.

Op-ed by Endeavor network member Juan Pablo Cappello: “Did ‘Silicon Beach’ get beached in Miami? Let’s restart our engines and accelerate South Florida’s tech potential”

Juan Pablo Cappello, a member of the Global Board of Directors, wrote the following piece for the Miami Herald. The original story may be found here.

Few places on Earth invoke the kind of economic envy that Northern California’s Silicon Valley does. So much so, that hopes of being the “next Silicon Valley” have spawned scores of wannabes worldwide such as Silicon Oasis (Dubai), Silicon Cape (Cape Town) and Silicon Sloboda (Moscow). In the U.S., “Silicon Beach” is coveted by five cities, among them Miami.

Obviously, all these places share the same ambition: to attain the lucrative concentration of fresh talent, disruptive ideas and venture capital that has driven Silicon Valley’s technological innovation and financial success over the past 50 years. The problem is that there’s only one, and will always will be only one, Silicon Valley.

Should places like South Florida, with the means to foster technological innovation locally, abandon their ambitions? In a word, no. Some, like Israel’s Silicon Wadi, have gone beyond pretension: The Economist ranked it second in the world to Silicon Valley in the concentration of home-grown, high-tech companies, with U.S.-based global firms such as IBM, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Google, Cisco and others having research facilities there.

Did Silicon Wadi happen overnight? No, it took about 40 years, with roots established even earlier than that. Did the Israeli government help? Yes, with low-interest loans and substantial grants, many notably from Israel’s military. Was academia involved? Indeed, Israel’s Technion – Israel Institute of Technology – and its Weizmann Institute of Science are ranked among the world’s top 20 academic institutions in computer science. Venture capital? Yes, that helped accelerate the region’s success, too.

In the late ‘90s, Latin American entrepreneurs flocked to Miami, considered the Americas’ crossroads. The Lincoln Road promenade teemed with Latin notables, such as StarMedia Network, Yupi.com, Patagon.com, DeRemate, Viajo.com, eritmo.com and El Sitio, while others, like Zona Financiera and Telefonica de Espana’s Terra Networks were nearby. Although South Florida wasn’t a tech hotbed then any more than now, IBM’s Boca Raton campus was where the PC was born and still employed more than 10,000 people. Fort Lauderdale’s Citrix Systems went public in 1995 and ended the decade with more than 1,000 employees. In 2001, the Terremark NAP (Network Access Point), which carries nearly all of Latin America’s Internet traffic to and from 148 countries, opened in downtown Miami.

So what happened to Miami’s Silicon Beach community when it seemed to be percolating so nicely as we entered the 21st century?

We became complacent. We took the sprouts of innovation for granted rather than cultivating them. Then came the great dot.com bust of 2000, which tightened the reins on venture capital for years. The Great Recession of 2008-2011 was the near knock-out blow.

In my conversations with Latin-based startups over the past several years, I’ve found that, sadly, almost none have expressed interest in a regional headquarters in Miami. Today’s successful Latin American technology companies look to Sao Paulo, Brazil, as the launching point for a regional expansion strategy. And they’re much more likely to open an office in Palo Alto than in Miami as a next step.

Let’s restart our engines.

We have to accept that getting Miami’s technology community back on track will be a long-term project, but we can accelerate it. Five key requisites are needed that can help spur the realization of Silicon Beach’s potential more quickly:

1. Leadership. Regional leaders need to agree on a vision of Miami as a thriving, world-class technology hub, and then establish specific goals, objectives and milestones to get us there.

Leaders must include: representatives of the city of Miami as well as municipal governments across South Florida; members of academia from the area’s universities and colleges, especially those involved in The Launch Pad at the University of Miami and the Americas Venture Capital Conference at Florida International University; C-level executives from existing regional technology firms and other companies that would benefit from a technology metropolis; representatives from private sector technology accelerators, such as Incubate Miami and the Enterprise Development Corporation in Boca Raton; local foundations that have innovation as part of their mandate such as Endeavor and the Knight Foundation; and members of the South Florida financial community, including venture capitalists focused on funding Latin American innovations, such as members of the Latin American Venture Capital Association.

2. Coordination. Organizing these leaders and distilling their combined know-how, creativity and discipline requires a dynamic, well-qualified individual or group of individuals in the pilothouse. A management office must be established, and an actionable agenda executed with appropriate follow-up.

3. Funding. The effort needs a capital foundation from both the public and private sectors to provide seed capital for startups and operational funds for coordinating and executing the plan.

4. Positioning. Funding will also support development of the proper positioning of Miami and South Florida as a place where new ventures are welcome — to succeed and, occasionally, to fail — along with venture capital to support them. Miami’s role as the Americas’ crossroads should be re-emphasized.

5. Marketing. With 70 percent of its population Hispanic, Miami should encourage startups to redouble marketing efforts aimed at the 53 million Hispanics in the U.S., a demographic estimated to have $1 trillion in buying power in 2010.

Worrying about being the “next Silicon Valley” — much less yet another “Silicon Beach” — is pointless and will not help Miami realize its potential as a bastion of technological innovation. Rather, a regional economic development plan is needed, one that recognizes innovation and collaboration as core engines of growth and job creation. The benefits will be many, not least the diversification of our economy, with technology supplementing the often cyclical service and construction sectors to create a more balanced, dependable economy.

Juan Pablo Cappello, partner in Patagon.com, co-founder of Idea.me and Sauber Energy, and practicing attorney, was named a 2012 “Top 50 Entrepreneur” by Business Leader.

9 secrets for replicating Silicon Valley’s success

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

By Kia Davis

July’s Global Innovation Summit (GIS) in Silicon Valley brought together 400 people to share ideas and on what makes a good startup ecosystem. After much debate, shareholders determined that there’s no single solution. However, there are several tactics that may work to replicate Silicon Valley’s success anywhere:

Persevere. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s first venture went from a student startup to a $100billon IPO in 8 years. But a typical profile for a successful entrepreneur is more likely to include a number of ventures that didn’t quite work out. Ultimately, what makes them succeed is their endurance and the willingness to try and try again.

Collaboration is king.Successful innovators know that sharing ideas makes their company stronger, not weaker. Sharing ideas and best practices makes things better for everyone, and ecosystems that are built on a culture of collaborating produce more successful startups.

Choose venture capitalists that can be more than an ATM. In Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs talk about “dumb money” and “smart money.” “Dumb money” is cash from someone who can’t help in any other way. “Smart money” is cash from someone who can also provide valuable advice, connections, assistance, press, or introductions. Good VCs do this for their portfolio companies, and great VCs do this for the entire ecosystem.

Connections, connections, connections. Successful ecosystems are filled with people endlessly networking and sharing their networks with each another; some people even compete in their ability to help others. Competition might not be necessary, but it’s important to cultivate a sense of generosity.

It’s not about the tax breaks. Some governments around the world focus on tax breaks to stimulate innovation. But Silicon Valley has some of the highest living costs and worst tax regimes in the world. And yet, startups live and thrive there. Tax breaks alone won’t do much to build an ecosystem.

Government should invest in demand, not ventures. Investing in companies that don’t have a market is setting them up for failure. By investing in market development and driving demand, governments can play a key role in supporting entrepreneurs without backing ventures that don’t have the right fit.

Foster mentorship. Good mentors and good role models make good ecosystems. Mentors guide and advise startups, but also get startups their customers and partners.

Involve your customers and stakeholders in early stages. Whether you are designing a prosthetic leg for the wounded, a new tech incubator, or a location-based app, the best designs are ones that go to the customer to understand their needs, processes, and daily lives very early on.

Capital is overrated.The real drivers of success are strong teams and good market fit- not how much money a company is able to raise. The focus should always be on getting the basics right, on making sure your team has the right skills to deliver, and on getting your product out there.

eMBA field report: enjoying spontaneity and discovering new marketing frontiers in sunny Silicon Valley

Dhiraj Sehgal is an MBA candidate at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is interning with Endeavor Entrepreneur Vinny Lingham’s new venture, Gyft, through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

It is a third of the way through my internship at Gyft now and it has been an incredible experience. Working with an entrepreneurial team on their new gig has provided me with insights into how companies are started and what unique financial, organizational, strategic and execution challenges they face. I was hired into a marketing role to help the team launch Gyft’s mobile app but it has morphed into an all-encompassing marketing role, which has required me to use my previous marketing experience extensively, apply my academic Wharton learnings and discover new marketing frontiers. The internship is a mix of product management and marketing. I have been working with legal, engineering, and sales and business development personnel to define the product, create value proposition collateral, conduct usability testing and simulate customer experience.

The team is exceptionally talented from the founders to the engineers who are working in the background. I am learning a lot about how to manage design and engineering teams’ expectation in regards to providing defined marketing feature requirements and how to do periodic evaluations about which features to include. The best part is that we don’t have to set up meetings and send agendas. The engineers are sitting next to me and we have impromptu discussions and real-time feedback loops. This is amazingly brilliant. There’s a lot more to come as I continue my internship journey at Gyft!

Endeavor Entrepreneur Jorge Soto, on using technology to fight illicit networks

The following post is reprinted from Opinno. The original post may be found here.

By Jorge Soto, Endeavor Entrepreneur

Last week I attended and participated in a Google Ideas Summit panel on Illicit Networks in Los Angeles. It touched on the limits to freedom of expression due to the fear of being trapped in an illicit network and how technology could, or couldn’t, help with the situation.

It’s interesting that a business like Google organizes these types of events where people who have suffered within an illicit network (human trafficking, narcotics, violence and slavery), institutions such as Interpol, the US Department of State, government representative (the Mexican Secretary of Government attended), technology businesses and geeks share experiences, ideas, critiques and solutions.

The first talks centered on the positive and negative impacts has on our lives and security. It was recalled that in the Mumbai attacks (2011), the terrorists were able to track police movements via the Internet and social networks and base their activities on that information. Something similar occurred in the 1972 Munich attacks and their live broadcast outside the Olympic village.

Whether or not technology has caused more damage than wellbeing or if it is more effective than a gun, I believe a story is in order:

“If you ask a priest whether you can smoke while you pray, he will surely say no. If you ask him if you can pray while you smoke, he will probably say yes.” At the end of the day, it’s all about perceptions.

What disappoints me is that there are still tech companies and geeks that believe the only solution to this sort of problem is a technology-based one. Fortunately, I believe that Google doesn’t share this vision and this is the reason they organize these events.

In my opinion, it’s naive to think that technology is more than a tool to resolve or understand problems, but at the same time we can’t continue to overestimate the power of maps, visualizations and secure hotlines. Many times, this vision has been seen to be influenced by Silicon Valley., when thanks to mobiles or computers, people report, communicate or avoid better. For that, I believe we should rethink the model.

Society shapes technology but, equally, its use is determined by the conditions in which a society lives. In Mexico, Twitter is a tool for alerting citizens of risks and in LA to share events.

Another question is that while maps and reports bring into focus the symptoms of a problem, how can we use technology to attack a problem at the root—this being a lack of confidence in ourselves and our governments? We neither share experiences nor make our cities feel alive. To that end, we have not been able to create strong networks in our society.

In Mexico, criminal organizations have created strong links in communities. Many local media outlets don’t cover the violence and conditions that exist there out of fear. Our president signs into law censorship laws such as ACTA and vetoes victim laws while some states propose even more backward laws.

It’s as if citizens are trapped in a spiral of fear, all with access to social networks and technology.

A first glance, while listening to heartbreaking stories of some of the attendees of the Google Ideas Summit, they seemed different but really share two common problems behind the lens of technology:

1. How can we ensure that people understand, participate in, share and protect messages?

2. How can this shared trust be translated into accountability and problem resolution?

Really, it’s not a technological problem but rather an anthropological one.

However, I believe that technology can help solve the root problem when people share information about what makes our communities feel alive and what’s positive about where they live. If we propose a model where people say and share positive aspects instead of complaining about the negatives, it will create a true community of shared experiences.

Jorge Soto is the founder of Citivox, an Internet platform dedicated to linking citizens with their governments to solve common problems. A graduate of Columbia’s University’s Columbia Business School, Jorge is passionate about eliminating the divide between people and their governments. He is also a winner of 2012’s TR35 Mexico competition. Twitter: @smjorge22

eMBA field report: explosive IT growth, exuberant dancing and a steak that will make you cry in Bogotá

Manuel Alvarez Ortega is an MBA candidate at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.  He is interning with Endeavor Entrepreneur company Aranda Software through Endeavor’s eMBA Program

I’m already halfway through my internship in Bogotá and time is flying.  I came to Colombia from Hong Kong to work with Aranda, a local software company, on their expansion strategy in Mexico and Brazil.  I must say that the experience has been quite rewarding so far both personally and professionally.

Colombian people have shown themselves to be very warm and welcoming.  I arrived from Hong Kong at 10 p.m. and three of my co-workers were waiting for me at the airport.  They took me to a very nice apartment they had rented for me and filled with food for the next few days. After taking the next morning to recover from my trip and jetlag, I was taken to Aranda’s offices to meet the rest of my colleagues.

I’m lucky to have arrived just a few months after the company moved to their new offices, which are really nice.  They have wide open and well-lit spaces: an entertainment room with sofas, a TV and videogames where you can calmly have a cup of coffee and chat with co-workers during breaks, and a meeting room where they gather the last Friday of every month to celebrate all of the month’s birthdays with a cake and to introduce the recently hired personnel and talk about general issues.

Outside of the workplace, I’ve been able to enjoy visiting various tourist attractions, such as Monserrate mountain, the historical quarter of La Candelaria and even La Calera at the city outskirts for horseback riding. I’ve had the opportunity to rumbear (the local way to say “party”) at night to and try the wide variety of dances (which, I have to admit, I still can’t tell apart that well). The food has also been great. After one year in Hong Kong eating all sort of Asian food, which I love, I’ve enjoyed trying the different South American flavors. I almost cried when I ate my first good beef steak here.  It is not easy to find them in China.

Working with Aranda has been awesome. It is very rewarding to work with a relatively new company that is fighting against the market leaders in the region in such a competitive environment as the IT industry. I have also been amazed by the entrepreneurial spirit I have sensed in the region, not only within Aranda, but everywhere. It grabbed my attention that several people asked me about businesses I have seen in China but not in Colombia and the other way around when I said I came from Hong Kong. That has not often happened to me in other places.

To summarize, the experience of working with Endeavor and Aranda has been great and I would recommend it to anybody wiling to explore other regions and markets and who are passionate about entrepreneurship.

How to be a VC: Being open

Reprinted from This is Going to be Big. Original article here.

By Charlie O’Donnell.

I always get asked how to get into VC and so I think a lot about what it takes to do the job well.  I’m way early in my career, so I won’t say I’ve perfected anything yet, but after 8 years on the investing side and 3 in startups, I’ve come up at least one thing:

Be open.

In venture capital, you say “no” a lot.  When you say no a lot, you get good at it.  It comes off the tongue fast and in lots of different ways.  It is your default response.

Practicing the word no as many times as a VC does means you have to fight not to have your mind close on you.  I fight it…and fight it hard.  I want your pitch to be the one I say yes to–and I want you to solve the inherent problems in your business model.  I want to figure out if I can help you get there.

I don’t think that every VC takes the approach that anyone can be successful–or that every problem is fixable, which is weird to me because their job is to make people successful and fund things that solve problems.  Yet, time and time again, I see well practiced dismissiveness.


eMBA field report: research and teamwork in Egypt

Nate Wong at the Pyramids

Nate Wong is an MBA student at Yale University’s School of Management. He is interning with Endeavor Entrepreneur company Hindawi in Egypt through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

This is a follow-up to Nate’s previous blog post.


The feedback session with the uFollow team was a great way for me to meet my colleagues and has resulted in some great friendships and bonds. The team was eager to try Chinese food, so I treated them to a Chinese feast the day before Ramadan started for everyone to try. For many, it was their first foray into Chinese food and eating with chopsticks – yes, we had lessons prior to eating! I am excited for an aftar, or break fast, feast that my co-workers invited me to during Ramadan, which will be a great way to experience Egyptian culture and more Egyptian food firsthand.

While I only have a couple more weeks left in my internship, I am excited to see the fruits of my labor come to fruition already.

Of course, the eMBA experience would not be complete without stories of excursions outside of the office as well. I ventured outside of Cairo and explored Luxor, the place of the famed Valley of the Kings; Aswan along the Nile; and all the way down to Abu Simbel in the “Nubian” region close to the border of Sudan. Some of my highlights have included a hot air balloon ride in Luxor, a sunset Nile cruise, and negotiating at a spice market in Aswan. With only two more weeks left, I still have a couple more sights on my to-do list, and am excited to see what traction we can gain with on the acquirer front now that we have documentation and a defined strategy and list of potential buyers to contact!

eMBA field report: improving Latin American tourism options online in Argentina

Mohamed Thoraia is an MBA candidate at IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. He is interning with Endeavor Entrepreneur company Evolution Group through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

Flying for more than 25 hours — all the way from Cairo to Buenos Aires — was not enough to keep me from going to the office on the day I arrived.  My excitement about being in Argentina and my curiosity about doing business in Latin America gave me enough energy to get through the day.

Founded by Diego Noriega, one of the most accomplished internet entrepreneurs in Argentina, Visiting.net is about changing the way that tourism businesses reach consumers. It is a Vacation Rentals Portal that aims to consolidate the fragmented online and offline rental offerings in Latin America and provide the travelers with a truly local experience.

Working on the market entry strategy and brand development for Visiting.net has offered me a golden opportunity to learn about the travel and tourism market in Latin America and understand the dynamics and the drivers of this vital industry.  It was also rewarding to be a part of the entrepreneurial community through various interactions with Endeavor local office staff or by spending time with fellow MBA alumni who are persistently working on their start-ups in a truly inspirational environment.

Ultimately, being surrounded by the passionate and motivated team at Visiting.net, indulging in the unique taste of Argentine food, and hopping between the barrios of the stunning Palermo Soho district have certainly been some of the key highlights of the past few weeks.



eMBA field report: taking charge and finding adventure in Santiago

Anthony Campbell and friends in Chile

Anthony Campbell is an MBA candidate at IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. He is interning at EMAN through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

When I first spoke to Endeavor Chile staff and Iván Báez, the Endeavor Entrepreneur who founded EMAN, from Barcelona, I was immediately sold on the idea of working in a new country and new language to directly shape and implement a growing company’s strategy. Four weeks in, I can honestly say that the role has offered much more than I was expecting. It has evolved from “simply” developing a marketing strategy for a new product line to a fundamental review of the company’s strategy and prioritizing investment opportunities between the portfolio companies. Having worked in consulting before my MBA, this is a golden opportunity to apply all that I have learned and actually see things through to implementation rather than just leaving behind a nicely formatted PowerPoint. Knowing that what you recommend will actually become a reality obviously means you feel a greater sense of responsibility, but is also an opportunity. I think it is unique to an Endeavor internship and is the one thing from which I am learning the most.

Aside from the day job, Chile offers pretty good weekend opportunities. With the other eMBAs in Santiago, I managed to make it to the ski slopes and the beach in just one weekend. On another I took a trip to the Elqui Valley. Writing this on the plane to San Pedro, I have little doubt that, for me, this internship is the best combination of professional development and personal adventure.

Contact us

Press center


Newsletter Sign Up