Endeavor’s tour began with a trip to The Salt Lick, Austin’s most famous BBQ joint, where execs from TravelShark, Austin Ventures, and Whale Shark Media mingled with entrepreneurs over ribs, cole slaw, brisket, and potato salad.
The tour continued the next morning with a visit to Austin-based HomeAway, the leading vacation rental marketplace. The company was founded in 2005, IPOed in 2011, and today has a $2.5 BN market cap. Endeavor toured HomeAway’s unique office space- including the iconic “bird house,” before sitting down with founders Carl Shepherd and Brian Sharples, the winner of the 2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Services Industry. Endeavor Entrepreneurs spoke with Carl and Brian about their aggressive acquisition strategy, best practices in M&A, effectively pricing products, and HomeAway’s future.
After leaving HomeAway, Endeavor spent the afternoon at Whole Foods’ headquarters in downtown Austin. Betsy Foster, Global VP of Growth & Business Development at Whole Foods, presented the company’s mission and core values. Her colleague David Bigham, Global Technology Director, spoke to entrepreneurs about Whole Foods’ latest efforts in the mobile and gaming space.
Later, Lou Aronson talked about how and why he left his career as a lawyer to found Votifi, a civic engagement platform. He also stressed the importance of agility, as the feedback on Votifi he received at SXSW 2012 led him to shift the business model and create Discourse Analytics, a political insights and analytics provider.
Travis Murdock and Mike Brito, Vice Presidents at leading Public Relations firm Edelman, shared their favorite networking apps, best practices for attracting PR at a large-scale event like SXSW, and several case studies, including case studies on Endeavor Entrepreneur companies The Online Project (Zafer Younis and Ramzi Halaby, Jordan) and Mural.ly (Mariano Suarez Battan, Argentina).
Maher Kaddoura, Endeavor Jordan Board Member and former Managing Partner of Accenture Middle East, closed the afternoon with his Falafel Theory of Innovation, arguing that to effectively scale your company, you must specialize in one specific area- like making falafels at a superhuman rate.
On March 11th, Endeavor Entrepreneurs attended a private breakfast meeting with Scott McNealy, the Co-Founder & Former CEO of Sun Microsystems and the Chairman of Wayin. McNealy spoke to entrepreneurs about why he decided to become Wayin’s Chairman, leadership challenges and opportunities, and succession planning for the entrepreneurs’ companies. The Silicon Valley legend called Endeavor Entrepreneurs “heroes” for their role in creating jobs and opportunities in their countries.
Endeavor’s SXSW tour ended with a cocktail party at Malaga co-hosted by GigaOm and attended by journalists, Venture Capitalists, entrepreneurs, and start-up execs.
In addition to attending Endeavor-arranged events, entrepreneurs received invites to what is arguably the most important aspect of SXSW: social events. Entrepreneurs networked at parties hosted by Austin Ventures, Intel Capital/Mural.ly , Scopely, Wayin, and WeHostels.