Endeavor’s 2009-2010 annual Impact Report is now available. From our latest impact metrics to country updates, the report highlights the accomplishments of our network and Entrepreneurs in the past year — in which we welcomed our 500th Endeavor Entrepreneur. CLICK HERE to download the report (PDF).
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Brazil’s Bebê Store Announces Acquisition of Competitor Baby.com.br; Receives Investment From Endeavor Catalyst
Bebê Store, a leading online baby goods retailer in Brazil co-founded by Endeavor Entrepreneur Leonardo Simão, recently announced the acquisition of Baby.com.br, one of its main competitors in the region. In addition, the company successfully raised a $12.3 million […]
July 24th, 2014 — by adminRead more
In the news
As Endeavor seeks board members for our first U.S.-based affiliate office in Miami, Endeavor’s profile rose this week with a visit by President Fernando Fabre and a Miami Herald radio interview with co-founder, Peter Kellner. […]
February 15th, 2013 — by adminRead more
Latest Video(video) Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg Featured On Fox Business’ After The Bell
July 15th, 2014
Linda Rottenberg was a featured panelist for the “Strengthening Market-Based Solutions” action area at the fifth annual Clinton Global Initiative on September 22. In a formal group discussion that centered around supporting high-growth firms, Linda elaborated on Endeavor’s high-impact model.
In 2008, Endeavor made and fulfilled a CGI commitment to promote cross-continental mentorship for entrepreneurs by connecting entrepreneurs in Egypt and Jordan with business owners in Latin America. In 2009, Endeavor made and fulfilled a CGI commitment to cultivate and launch the Mentor Capital Program.
Gina Bianchini, cofounder of Ning and current Entrepreneur in Residence at Andreessen Horowitz, has recently joined Endeavor’s Global Advisory Board. We recently interviewed Gina about how she became an entrepreneur, the challenges she’s faced in the process, and her relationship with Endeavor.
Q: Gina, some could say you were bred to be an entrepreneur. You grew up in Cupertino, studied at Stanford, worked within Goldman Sachs’s High Technology Group, and then did advertising for high tech companies. Though you founded your first company right out of business school, when did you first know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
A: There is no doubt that I grew up in an entrepreneurial culture. My grandparents ran a nursery in Cupertino before it became Silicon Valley and the home of Apple Computer. Watching these two definitions of entrepreneurism meet helped me immensely in not only taking on the slightly insane life of a serial entrepreneur but in making it through the high highs and the low lows that go along with it.
I look at my journey as a series of small things that led to me being an entrepreneur. On the other, I have always dreamed of doing something that changed the world. Watching the people around me from my little agricultural town of Cupertino actually do it, has inspired me from the time I can remember.
This is probably another way of saying, there wasn’t one moment where I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but rather I put myself in situations that slowly and incrementally brought me to this place. I’ve just followed each opportunity placed in front of me and worked my ass off to deliver to the very best of my ability in every way.
Q: As an entrepreneur, what would you say has been the greatest challenge that you have ever faced, at Harmonic Communications, Ning, or generally?
A: In the same way there has never been one great success, I don’t think that there is one single great challenge. There have been a lot of little ones. If you can embrace challenges by breaking them down into smaller decisions, this life gets a lot easier.
Q: Ning was based on a pretty revolutionary idea – that communities could come together around passions and interests. Ning now has 46 million users, so the initial vision is clearly working. Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
A: I love Jeff Bezos quote about having scars all over his body from the things he and Amazon have learned. There is a ton I’d do differently if given the chance! But that’s not the way it works. Rather, it’s about making the best decisions you can with the information and experience that you have at that moment and constantly learning from what happens next.
As a founder and the CEO, the key is to always raise your hand and take responsibility for the decisions. I love the John F. Kennedy quote, “victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.” I take responsibility for the good, the bad, and the plain old ugly. I think it is the key to success.
Q: You and serial entrepreneur Marc Andreessen launched Ning in October 2005. You served as CEO until this past year. Tell us about the transition from founder to CEO.
A: After five and a half years, it was time to move on, but I’m incredibly proud of what we built. I’m knee deep in the early stages of something new and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to get Ning to the level it achieved when I left and to work with the best team I could have imagined.
Q: Your first exposure to Endeavor was in Istanbul, as a panelist for one of Endeavor’s International Selection Panels. Our CEO Linda Rottenberg quickly saw the value you would provide to Endeavor as an organization and most importantly to our entrepreneurs. But from your perspective, what made you excited to work with Endeavor?
A. This is one of the most special organizations to which I’ve been exposed. From the mission, to the structure, to the lessons learned, to every person I met, I am proud to be a part of it.
Thanks for your time Gina; we’re thrilled to have you on board!
Endeavor’s work in Argentina was highlighted recently by a FastCompany blogger, Rob Salkowitz, in a post entitled, “Imagining an Entrepreneurial Argentina.” An attendee of the 6th Annual Endeavor Entrepreneurship Conference held in Cordoba, Argentina last week, Rob enthusiastically writes about what Endeavor has brought to Argentina, especially in helping to change people’s perceptions about business and fostering social responsibilities amongst businesses.
As Rob writes, Endeavor conferences “provide the social glue and esprit-de-corps that unites a community of potential business leaders still struggling to find their voice. They also provide a great way for those who have succeeded to reinvest their knowledge and resources to make the ecosystem stronger, perpetuating a cycle that they hope will continue to lift all of them higher in the global economy.”
This week, Fadi Ghandour, a board member of Endeavor Jordan, was featured on TechCrunch’s Entrepreneur on Entrepreneur program. Hailed as the “Ron Conway of the Middle East,” Fadi has been a part of numerous extremely successful startups in the Middle East, including founding Aramex, a global transportation and logistics company and as an early investor with Maktoob, the leading internet services company in the Middle East.
Topics covered include:
● Difficulties when first starting out with Aramex and its eventual success
● The angel investments he’s made (e.g.. Maktoob), as well as his investment philosophy
● A tour of Fadi’s office
In a new article published on entrepreneurship.org, Jonathan Ortmans, a senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation, addresses the role of Argentine entrepreneurs in the decade since the startup boom–and major financial collapse.
Citing Endeavor, which “had its first success in the developing world in Argentina just before the country’s last major financial collapse,” he goes on to stress the importance of a “bottom-up culture” to spur innovation and encourage government to enact reforms.
The good news is that interest in entrepreneurship typically creates a bottom-up pressure for change in a country’s old ways of doing business. As Alejandro Mashad and Norberto Loizeau of Endeavor Argentina have said in articles and interviews, young entrepreneurs are helping lead the way toward change. They explain that this budding movement of entrepreneurial interest began to change at the turn of the century. “Like their counterparts elsewhere, inventive young Argentines saw the potential for Internet technology to change the way information was transmitted and were quick to translate their ideas into commercial enterprises. Many of the initial start-ups failed, but they taught us an important lesson: business could be both creative and socially beneficial. Just as important, you could play by the rules and still make money.” The power of the sum of the energy of these young entrepreneurs will be celebrated once again during 2010 Global Entrepreneurship Week in Argentina (Nov.15-21). We should applaud these entrepreneurs for their work in writing the recent history for Argentina as a decade that brought to the country a new environment for entrepreneurship.
TechCrunch: Linda Rottenberg interviewed about Endeavor and fostering entrepreneurship in the Middle East
This week, Endeavor co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg appeared on TechCrunch in a video interview, “Can Foosball Tables Save the Middle East?”
Topics covered include:
● Endeavor’s presence and role in the Middle East (Turkey, Egypt, Jordan), beginning with Linda’s participation as co-chair of the World Economic Forum regional meeting in the Middle East (May 2004)
● Pre-announcement of our upcoming launch in Lebanon (by early 2011)
● Recent entrepreneurial success stories in the region (e.g., Maktoob)
● The importance of entrepreneurial activity in a region that needs to create 100 million jobs over the next decade
● Rising level of VC interest and activity in the region
On September 7, Endeavor Uruguay celebrated its 10th anniversary with a gala dinner attended by over 700 people. Endeavor Uruguay board chairman Gabriel Rozman and Managing Director Laura Raffo hosted luminaries including former Uruguayan President Luis Alberto Lacalle and current Montevideo Mayor Ana Oliveir.
The dinner, attended by hundreds of local business leaders and most of Uruguay’s 30 Endeavor Entrepreneurs, celebrated Endeavor’s accomplishments and the growth of entrepreneurship in the country.
For more information on the gala, please visit the Endeavor Uruguay site, here.
Endeavor Global Board member Matt Bannick (Omidyar Network) has just published an insightful post on the Harvard Business Review blog about the most effective ways that philanthropists can support innovative entrepreneurs. Click here to read and comment on the post.
Investments in for-profit ventures benefit society by leveraging the power of markets. When the primary motive is to generate profits, businesses will strive to deliver value in excess of costs and scale up. And, as Pierre Omidyar experienced first-hand, successful for-profit ventures can create substantial customer value, jobs, and economic activity.
The following is an article reprint that appeared earlier this year in the Globalization Issue of ‘Interactive Age’, a peer journal for executives in the video game industry. Ahmed Metwally, who authored the piece, is an Endeavor Entrepreneur and CEO of Timeline Interactive – Egypt’s first video game company, based out of Nasr City.
When I tell people that I work with Timeline Interactive, a gaming company in Egypt, people usually stare. The brave ones would comment politely that they did not know of a gaming industry in Egypt or the Middle East for that matter. What I tell them is that they are both right and wrong.
The challenges are quite real for those interested in developing games in the Middle East, a region with few hardcore gamers, zero publishers, reluctant investors and no industry specific education program. However, we have certainly done it and we are seeing a strong trend that leads us to believe that we are part of a rising industry in the region.
Very few investors and entrepreneurs in the Middle East are eager to rake the initiative and become part of such a new ecosystem. Nevertheless, as Gene William Mauch once said, “You can’t lead anyone else further than you have gone yourself.” And we are pleased to be on the forefront of this new regional market.
In a new market, as with all startups, getting funding is no easy task. However, we did it by taking advantage of our strong team’s history. Mostafa Hafez, our co-founder and technical director, originally co-founded Artificial Studios, a US-Egyptian video game development studio. Mostafa brought in Mohamed Samir, our co-founder and technical lead, to help him build Reality, a gaming engine that Epic games acquired in zoos. After the acquisition, Artificial Studios Egypt split and became Timeline Interactive. The team then caught the attention of the Technology Development Fund and EFG-Hermes, a leading investment firm, which invested in the company to help take it to the next stage.
Early on, we had to make a decision on whether to target the Middle East market specifically or to target the global market as a whole. So, we had to ask the obvious question: how many garners are there in Egypt or the Middle East and what are they like? The exact numbers have never been officially measured, but research shows that there are just as many gamers in Egypt as anywhere else in the world. The only difference, however, is that the majority of Egyptians and Middle Easterners tend to be casual gamers with a focus on PC games, and an unyielding preference for multiplayer soccer games. Once they’ve played a good soccer match, they may shift to their second preference, strategy games. The story is a bit different for consoles like PlayStation3 and Xbox360. Even with three hundred million people and thousands of PS3s being sold every year, the Middle East is still considered a virgin market, albeit with huge potential. And in today’s global village, the Middle Eastern consumers, like any others, are always looking for well known AAA titles. Everyone wants to play the big blockbusters that everyone else is playing.
Since our early strategy was to develop action games for consoles such as PS3 and Xbox360, it was becoming obvious that building a game that solely targets the Middle East as a region would be a very risky endeavor. Therefore, we opted to target the global market as a whole. This lead to the release of CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars in June 2009, a downloadable multi-player First-Person Shooter (FPS), on the PS3 and Xbox360 to a worldwide audience. This experience has cemented our vision to develop games that would release worldwide. This does not preclude us of course from looking for concepts that draw from our culture. We are quite confident that a video game which leverages some aspects of the Arabian culture while maintaining a worldwide appeal would have a stronger chance of success regionally and globally. The success of Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia series would certainly reinforce this.
Apart from the business challenges, we have also faced organizational ones. There are many talented resources in a country of 80 million people and tuition free universities that graduate 5,000 computer science and computer engineering students every year. Yet, hiring the right resources for Timeline has not been an easy task. One of the first issues that we encounter is the lack of professional experience. With this industry being almost non-existent in the Middle East, finding people with the required experience and skills to participate in the development of a video game title can be rather difficult. At Timeline, we have built a six month mentorship program that walks new qualified resources through the different aspects of video game development and immerses them in the experience. Three months into the program, new Timeliners begin assisting their mentors with their deliverables. Six months in, they are fully productive and are tasked as full junior resources on projects. Once the Egyptian talent is fostered, the outcome is a diversity of unique and impressive creativity and artistic talent. Working against the well established stereotype, our aim at Timeline is not to simply compete on cost, which tends to be the main competitive advantage of any overseas outfit. Instead, our goal is to continuously compete on creativity and innovation. Being very cost effective never hurts though! So we are constantly working on building the right diverse team that can grow to compete on a global scale.
Another challenge is our geographical location. It is difficult to meet in person on a regular basis with publishers. Therefore, we always make it a priority to focus on our communication and coordination with the publisher’s team to overcome that psychological barrier associated with working with remote teams. However, being located in Egypt does have 115 advantages. Egypt is centrally positioned when dealing with teams from around the world. For example, while working on CellFactor with Immersion and Ubisoft, we managed 12 teams working on the title around the world. Being located in Egypt was optimal as we could easily communicate with Ubisoft’s testing teams in India & Europe early in the day and have our regular status meetings with the producers in San Francisco by the end of the day.
In our experience we find that development of video games in Egypt has been an interesting, yet challenging endeavor. With the numerous challenges we face along the way developing a video game title in Egypt success becomes quite an exemplary achievement.
The Middle East is still considered a virgin market.
As we continue to strive for more we look forward to introduce diversity into the video game arena. Due to Egypt’s unique geographic location and varying topology, various cultures exist today: in the North, you have a Mediterranean marine centered culture, in the South, an African Nubian one, in the dessert, an Arabian Nomadic one, while a farming one exists on the banks of the Nile. This offers us a very rich palette to draw from.
Apart from the abundance of mythological tales, historic events and modem stories from Nobel Prize winning authors that we can weave into future titles, we are leveraging unique art forms inspired by Pharaonic, ancient and modern Islamic into new art concepts. Egypt has always been known for its innovation in the movie and the music industries in the Middle East. At Timeline we plan to build on that, and remain the regional pioneers in the video game industry. We will always focus on using our local resources to penetrate the international market. We believe that the Middle East market will follow suit on its own.
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In the news
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- (video) Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg Featured On Fox Business’ After The Bell
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- (video) Linda Rottenberg Discusses Lessons in Entrepreneurship for Stanford’s eCorner Series
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