High-Impact Entrepreneurship

Linda Rottenberg’s opening remarks at Endeavor Entrepreneur Summit [Video, Transcript]

Endeavor is pleased to make public the following transcript and video from a presentation at the 2011 Endeavor Entrepreneur Summit in San Francisco. The event, which assembled over 450 entrepreneurs and global business leaders, featured dozens of entrepreneurship-related presentations by top CEOs and industry experts.


This is so exciting – this is like a family reunion of sorts. For me nothing is more exciting than seeing the growth of the Endeavor network and to have not only 170 Endeavor entrepreneurs here from South Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. I’m also here to announce that we are on the verge of launching Endeavor in Indonesia, so at our next Summit you will see entrepreneurs from Southeast Asia and possibly from Eastern Europe as well. So we are growing, and what to me is very exciting is when I look around the room there are some of our earliest entrepreneurs. I was just with Rodrigo Jordan, who 20 years ago became the first Latin American to scale Mount Everest. He is here with us today along with some of our very first entrepreneurs as well as the most recently selected Endeavor entrepreneurs who were just selected at Endeavor ISP in London, including our first entrepreneurs from Lebanon.

Ok, I’ve always told you, and we’re gonna talk a little more when I talk to Marc Benioff later today, but my dream has always been that Endeavor will be of, by and for entrepreneurs, and I know many of you are participating in giving back in so many ways. We also have a number of sponsors that we will recognize throughout the week. But I really wanted here to just focus on the Endeavor Entrepreneurs who’ve participated in helping sponsor this event: Vinny Lingham of Yola, the Globant boys – the Globant boys will be sponsoring the after party of course – and in the speaker bag we have two of our Mexican entrepreneurs: Ezequiel Farca is one of the most creative designers in Mexico and he’s created the Endeavor keychain that you have in your Summit packets. And for speakers this will need no explanation, you’ll be getting a gift from Tequila Milagro – it’s good.

This is our fourth Endeavor Summit. This is the first time we’ve held it in Silicon Valley. This is really exciting. We used to hold it in Miami – and I promise there will still be Salsa dancing – but we felt that it was really important to come to Silicon Valley for a few reasons. First, to show that we are moving beyond Latin America. Endeavor really truly has become global. Also, for those of you who don’t know, two years ago we launched an Endeavor office here in San Francisco to be able to connect Silicon Valley with the Endeavor Entrepreneurs. And I want to thank our team in San Francisco who put together this Summit: Dave Geary, Karen Martell, Alan Taylor, and of course, Becca Plofker, who traveled back and forth between New York and San Francisco. Please join me in giving them a real round of applause.

But for me, beyond that, being here in San Francisco has added significance because when Peter Kelner and I launched Endeavor 14 years ago, everyone said we were out of our minds. Why were we helping these entrepreneurs in emerging markets? By the way, did we know there were no entrepreneurs in emerging markets to help? And what we used to say – when no one would understand what Endeavor was – was that we believe there were talent, there were good ideas all over the world — there were actually money and networks, but that the pieces were in isolation. If we could bottle up the magic of Silicon Valley, and sprinkle it, and let homegrown solutions be found, we really felt the entrepreneurial spirit was there to be found in each of these countries.

Well, scroll 14 years and now Endeavor and myself have become references on global entrepreneurship. Just last week I was on a panel with the journalist Thomas Freidman, the Nobel Prize winner in Economics Ned Phelps, and two Fortune 500 CEOs debating the following question: Has America become ordinary? There’s this sense that somehow America has lost its way and that the entrepreneurial spirit is dissipating. In fact, when I go on college campuses, I get asked a question that would be interesting to all of you. I get asked the following: Linda, you’re going around the world seeing the entrepreneurial energy and creativity and new ideas springing up all around the world. Can you bottle up some of that magic and bring it back here? Now, what I say and what I believe is I still believe America is the most entrepreneurial economy on the face of the planet. I think that some of the speakers you will see over the course of the next few days are a testament to that. But to me what’s most exciting about this year’s Summit is that it has always been a two-way learning and sharing opportunity. It’s not just about emerging market entrepreneurs coming and hearing the lessons and hearing the experience of U.S. entrepreneurs. The learning has really gone both ways. And in this increasingly global world, I really feel that people are so interested in your stories. We have investors who used to tell me 14 years ago, “Why would we leave Silicon Valley? This is Florence in the Age of the Renaissance, Linda! Why would you go anywhere else?” Well, a lot of those people were at the Investor Network program that many of you just attended, and a lot of them are calling us saying, we’re interested in Brazil, in Turkey, in Latin America, Egypt and beyond. We know there are good ideas out there, and we can’t wait to collaborate!


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