In the June issue of Inc. magazine, Max Chafkin writes about Argentina’s enterprising, courageous entrepreneurs. His article, “A Constant Feeling of Crisis,” details how a number of successful entrepreneurs overcame or took advantage of the country’s financial collapse in 2001 through perseverance, intelligence or luck, and how they have persisted despite Argentina’s unpredictability. All of the companies profiled in the piece are Endeavor firms and have benefited from the Endeavor network and expertise as they face a wide range of business hurdles.
As a supplement to the article, below is additional information on the Endeavor Entrepreneurs profiled in the piece and how they have benefited from the network.
When OfficeNet was selected as Endeavor first company in 1998, founders Santiago Bilinkis and Andy Freire had 0% equity in their business. Endeavor’s network of US venture capitalists helped them to negotiate a 35% share. Through this network they were introduced to the then-CEO of Staples, who was a valuable mentor as they grew their business. The sale of OfficeNet to Staples in 2005, referenced in Chafkin’s article, was the result of strong relationships and carefully cultivation. In addition to extensive mentorship on financing, growth, and leadership development, they also benefited from a Global eMBA, Immersion Tour, and Entrepreneur Summit. Freire has gone on to start Axialent, a management consultancy focused on leadership and corporate culture. Andy and Santi serve as chairman and co-chairman of Endeavor Argentina’s country board.
Endeavor Entrepreneur Patricio Fuks, the co-founder of Fën Hotels, is also profiled in the article. Along with Alejandro Frenkel, he brilliantly saw the opportunity that could arise out of the collapse by buying hotels while prices and wages were low, however his company expanded rapidly and Endeavor mentoring helped him create a sound strategy for scaling his business internationally. In addition to local mentorship, namely on HR issues, the Entrepreneurs have benefited from the eMBA program, Summit, and Immersion Tour.
Endeavor Entrepreneur Susana Balbo is an exceptional business woman and has become “the most successful wine entrepreneur in a booming industry.” She has benefited from the Global eMBA and G-Lab programs, Entrepreneur Summit, and introductions to Global Board contacts. Among other local services, she has benefited from high-profile mentors, a European consultant who helped with a Europe strategy, a BID-financed project (with a consultant from DiTella) who developed a financial model, a BCG project on marketing strategy, and introductions to commercial contacts abroad.
Chafkin rightly articulates that “A lack of financing is often seen as a cause of economic stagnation, but in Argentina it’s more a symptom of something graver: persistent uncertainty and instability.” He mentions that nonprofits like Endeavor Argentina help by providing support to entrepreneurs and linking them with more established companies. Congratulations to all Endeavor Entrepreneurs profiled in the feature.