High-Impact Entrepreneurship

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Endeavor Jordan Hosts Second Annual “Catalyzing Conversations” Event with Top Members of the Global Network

Endeavor Jordan hosted the second annual ‘Catalyzing Conversations’ event in collaboration with the 59th Endeavor International Selection Panel in Amman. ‘Catalyzing Conversations’ is a multi-tiered event featuring a series of interactive and motivational discussions with business leaders, entrepreneurs […]

June 30th, 2015 — by admin

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Endeavor Insight Report on What Entrepreneurs Want in a City Featured in Inc. Magazine and The Atlantic

A report by Endeavor Insight released in February examines the top qualities that American entrepreneurs look for when choosing a city to live and work. With research based on surveys and interviews with 150 founders of some […]

March 20th, 2014 — by admin

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Financial Times looks at Argentinean investment culture, spotlighting Endeavor Entrepreneurs

The Financial Times, in a recent article, “Argentina has talent but a lack of investment cash,” discussed Argentina’s investment environment, the opportunities available to enterprising entrepreneurs, and the challenges in starting a new company.

According to the article, while Argentina has impressive talent, innovative thinkers, and an educated, relatively inexpensive workforce, access to start-up capital is difficult to come by. A lack of faith in the banking system and a historically unstable currency has resulted in a small stock market and limited trust in banks.

Endeavor Entrepreneur Jessica Trosman and other business owners note that while it’s not impossible to come by cash in Argentina, it’s more difficult to find investors who add value to the company. As a result, they often turn to international funding sources, which in turn creates other challenges.

“‘What hit me worst here was the crisis of 2009. Mine is a very international brand,’ [Trosman] says, sitting in the flagship store in an upmarket Buenos Aires shopping centre where once 60 per cent of her customers were tourists. Now it is 20 per cent. ‘I got to the stage when I couldn’t stand it any longer. I could keep things going, but I wanted to be able to focus on what I want to do,’ she says. That includes growing her brand abroad (she still oversees international strategy).”

Another Endeavor company, Globant, also looked internationally to grow its business.

Endeavor Entrepreneur and Globant co-founder Néstor Nocetti notes that the software developer and information technology company “saw a niche: running a business for US and UK clients, but from Argentina. That means competing with Indian outsourcers, but Argentina has time-zone advantages and comparable labour costs.” The article notes that Globant has been profitable from the start, mostly because their first client, EMC knew some of the founders, but still “took a leap of faith.”

Argentina has a talented, well-educated workforce. Referring to the fact that many Argentines are descendants of European business owners, Alejandro Mashad, Managing Director of Endeavor Argentina notes, “We have entrepreneurship in our veins.” He emphasizes that “accessing a network of contacts and finding mentors are crucial,” especially since there are so many barriers that entrepreneurs must overcome in Argentina.

While there are considerable challenges to starting a business in Argentina, there are new resources available. The article notes that the city of Buenos Aires has created a program to provide financial assistance to entrepreneurs. Additionally Staples, which bought OfficeNet from Endeavor Entrepreneurs Andy Freire and Santiago Bilinkis, has begun a support network and offers deals on office supplies for new ventures.

The article sums up by quoting an Argentinean entrepreneur who found he “could open a business in under a week in the US, but it took six months in Argentina. However, he says, ‘there are advantages too…There are great opportunities for those who [take the] risk.'”

Endeavor June 2011 newsletter

To view Endeavor’s June newsletter, a recap of all the top news stories from the previous month, please CLICK HERE.

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Silicon Valley Trek (Emerging Market Venture Day); June 28th, San Francisco

Open to members of the Endeavor Investor Network and Endeavor Entrepreneurs, Emerging Market Venture Day (June 28 – 9am – 3pm) will bring together US investors and Emerging Market investors with over a dozen of the fastest-growing emerging market companies from around the globe.

Organized as a pre-conference to Endeavor’s larger Summit event, this day will include market snapshots of Latin America and the Middle East, “speed-dating” with Endeavor Entrepreneurs, and unparalleled networking opportunities.

For more information, please contact investornetwork@endeavor.org.

Endeavor Entrepreneurs Martin Migoya and Guibert Englebienne on Globant (World Economic Forum report)

In collaboration with Endeavor Global and Stanford University, the World Economic Forum recently released a new report, “Global Entrepreneurship and Successful Growth Strategies of Early-Stage Companies.” Click here to learn more.

The report, which demonstrates the importance of High-Impact Entrepreneurship in driving economies forward, includes interviews and insights from eight Endeavor Entrepreneur companies: DocSolutions, Globant, MercadoLibre, Petfor, Pharmacy 1, Refinancia, Technisys, and Yola.

In this special series on Endeavor’s blog, we are reprinting the published interviews with each Endeavor firm. Below is the section on Globant.

Globant was formed in 2003 by four founders (Martin Migoya, Martin Umaran, Nestor Nocetti and Guibert Englebienne) to combine the technology skills of LatinAmericans (initially Argentineans) with the IT needs of global companies. The aspiration was to be the leading Latin America outsourcing company. The Latin America advantages Globant promotes include real-time communication, geographic proximity and integrated teams. The ‘Day 0’ focus on software development includes design and innovation to meet scaling as well as engineering and infrastructure needs. Products are built using a combination of open source technologies and proprietary software. In July 2005, Globant was selected as an Endeavor company by meeting criteria of being an emerging entrepreneur-driven market leader with high potential and a passion to excel.

Martin Migoya, co-founder and CEO, has an engineering degree from National University of La Plata and an MBA from the University of CEMA, both in Buenos Aires. Prior to Globant, he was Director of Business Development and Regional Business Manager for Latin America at a large consulting and technology company. He has worked in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

Guibert Englebienne, co-founder and CTO, has a computer science/software engineering education from UNICEN University in Buenos Aires. He previously worked as a scientific researcher at IBM and later headed technology for CallNow.com. He has worked in Argentina, Venezuela, the United Kingdom and the US.

What was the source of the initial idea and how did that idea evolve into a viable high-growth business venture? How did it change over time?

Migoya: “After the Argentine financial crisis in 2001-2002 and the destruction of the currency, my salary plummeted. I had US$ 20,000 in savings and I thought I could make more money trading. The only stock I made money on was an Indian-based outsourcing company. That started me thinking about starting a business from Argentina by packaging up Latin American talent for software development and selling these services to first world global customers. The financial crisis devastated many Argentine businesses but the devaluation of the currency allowed us to compete on price and talent with other outsourcing companies in other countries. I called Guibert, (Englebienne), Martín (Umaran) and Néstor (Nocetti) – all engineers working for multinationals – and said, ‘Look, we have a big opportunity here and we need to take it.’ We started the company with US$ 5,000. We had a very clear idea from the start to build better and more software products for global audiences. We wanted to make a change in the IT services industry and build a service organization oriented to develop premium software for global markets with a fresh approach from Latin America. While I didn’t expect the success we have had to date, we started the company with a long- term view and every decision was about building for the long term.”

What was the initial growth vision or aspiration of the founding team? Was there a sizeable change in this growth vision or aspiration over time? If a change, please describe.

Migoya: “From day one we were clear about two things. We wanted to change the status quo of the software industry in terms of how to design and build software, and we wanted to build a company for the long term. We always wanted to be the leader in what we did outside of Latin America. From the beginning, we operated differently than most Argentine IT companies that tend to hire contractors and extract dividends immediately. We hired everyone as direct employees and re-invested 100% of everything we earned. We were also prepared for our ownership to become diluted as we sought outside investors to help us grow. In 2004, when we had reached 100 employees, we realized we had something bigger than we had imagined and that’s when we sat down with our first group of investors. It took us nine months to raise our first venture capital round, which was US$ 2 million. We held onto the right to sell the company or take it public when we – as founders– wanted to. That is still very important to us today. After that, Google selected us as their first outsourcing partner, and with Google as a customer it became easier to introduce ourselves to other companies, so our growth exploded. We raised another US$ 8 million in 2007 and another US$ 14 million in 2008, which was amazing because it was in November, just after the global financial crisis, when we asked for this money. We used the cash to make a couple of small acquisitions in Argentina that gave us important relationships and customers.”

Describe the strategy or business model that enabled your company to achieve its high rate of growth.

Migoya: “We create innovative software products that appeal to global audiences. That’s what we do. But the key concept was to change how this was done to create more intellectual property for our customers. Software creation has been driven by an engineering approach. We brought more innovation in design to the industry because this is something we (Argentineans) have a unique sensibility for. We also leveraged our expertise in both Open Source software and commercial, proprietary software and blended them in a very smart way to get the lowest cost of ownership for our customers. To service big global customers, we created the concept of a software service company where robust engineering, innovation and design meets scale, and that’s how we sell ourselves. Our development methodology is also unique. We use a methodology called ‘Agile’ which breaks down large design, development and implementation projects into smaller pieces that we call ‘sprints’. It is very efficient, allows for more flexibility and the customer gets to see results at every step.”

What were the major growth accelerators for your company in its high-growth years?

Migoya: “Part of our growth has been due to geopolitical or cultural differentiators in that we have exploited a huge talent pool for software creation in Argentina and Latin America. We are also working on the same time zone as our US and European customers for the bulk of the day, unlike in India or China. But there are other Globant-specific reasons for our growth:

1. Engineering: We base a lot of what we do on open source technologies whereas most companies are not doing that because they are restricted in their partnerships with big commercial companies. We have partnerships with big commercial software companies, too, but from the outset we blended both open source and proprietary technologies to create better software at a lower cost. This is key.

2. Design: The Argentinean creativity and taste, when applied to software design, has resulted in better interfaces. We have excellent art and design teams at Globant.

3. Innovation: We are constantly innovating and challenging and have structured the company to foster those traits. Therefore, instead of having a centralized team of innovators to solve specific customer challenges, we send the challenges out company-wide. We choose the best handful of solutions and then work through them. This approach to problem solving has won us big projects like Nike and many others and is very important to our growth.

4. Infrastructure: We know that our applications must be up and running 24/7, so we have a team of experts working to enable high availability and security of our products.

5. Signature customers: We grew with the likes of EMC, Google, Sabre and Electronic Arts. After we got Google, we didn’t have to explain ourselves anymore.”

Englebienne: “We learn fast. Like any organization, we make mistakes but at Globant we put a huge premium on learning from them. Growth factors include:

1. The complementary nature of the founding team. We each have different skills that we respect. We also found extra strengths of
each other over time.

2. Organization structure. Each of our areas of expertise (such as
gaming, mobile and consumer experience) is now run as a studio with its own founding team. Each team is now managing a studio organization larger than Globant was for several years after 2003.

3. Communication within the company. We share our plans with everyone within the company. Our telephone operators can tell you our revenue budget numbers. We also run an ‘Accounting for Non-Accountants’ programme every month to improve our employee knowledge base.”

Briefly describe the financing of your company and how this financing impacted the growth of your company.

Migoya: “We started the company in 2003 with US$ 5,000 and we self-funded through revenues and by reinvesting everything back into the company until the end of 2004 when we needed additional investment to grow in scale and infrastructure. In 2005, we raised US$ 2 million initial capital from Argentine investors managed by FS Partners. By then, we already had 150 employees. We raised an additional US$ 8 million in October 2007 from Riverwood Capital, a US venture fund. We raised a second US$ 14 million round with Riverwood Capital and FTV Capital a year later, right after the global financial crisis exploded. We used the money for headcount growth, to bring in experienced executives and professionals, and for a few small, strategic acquisitions. In 2008, we acquired Accendra, which is headquartered in Buenos Aires and had cultivated a strong relationship with Microsoft that we wanted to leverage. We also bought Openware, based in the city of Rosario in Santa Fe, Argentina. Openware had expertise in infrastructure and security software, and that acquisition resulted in consulting firm Deloitte & Touche becoming a Globant customer. So, our acquisition strategy at the time was for technology or customers.”

What were the major challenges your company had to handle in its high-growth years, and how were they managed?

Migoya: There were two major challenges:

1. “Finance: Financing was a nightmare in the early stages. Although we were earning revenue from day one (doubling revenue each year until 2008), we were trying to build the company for the long term and that meant we had to re-invest everything we earned for working capital and to hire people not as contractors, but as full- time employees. This consumed everything we had. We worked hard to get outside financing, but this was a learning experience because we also wanted a lot of control. We had to learn how to hand over certain rights without losing control of the company. This is a huge psychological challenge.

2. Scale: In the early years we did not have enough power and influence to convince big customers that we could scale as fast as they wanted from a software services company. Each new customer helped give us more infrastructure in a sense. Many VCs were also concerned about scale challenges. Being a services company tends to have a lower return than a pure product company. But we are a services company and we do it very well because we are doing it from Latin America and can compete on talent and price.”

Give examples of dark moments or negative periods that your company or you faced as part of your journey as an executive with this company.

Migoya: “The global financial crisis (October 2008) was a painful hit. We had been growing at 100% per year since 2003. Then, in 2008, it was 15% in terms of revenue. We had grown to more than 500 employees. This changed the dynamics of the company and we worked very hard to get through it. We turned it around by exploiting customers’ need for value-added services at a lower cost, which is what we can deliver using Latin American talent for software services. This was the idea from the start of the business, but after the crisis, we ran even harder and had renewed focus. Money crunch. “Other dark moments have more to do with the entrepreneurial side of things like financing and not having enough money to pay salaries or enough power to convince customers they could scale as fast as they want. There are particular problems of every entrepreneur that once you’ve lived through, you don’t want to face again. Another dark moment was a failed attempt at a spin-off. We started a small spin-off company for VOIP. We thought we could be successful in everything we started, but the people we placed to operate it were not very good and it failed. We suffered because of that. We found we were not as good as we thought.”

Englebienne: “There have been many dark moments, but our ability to learn fast has meant we have been able to leave those moments behind without regretting so much. We learned a lot from the 2008 global financial crisis, including the need to remain close to our customers. We also learned to run a tighter ship and trim our sails to survive the rocky seas.”

What are the key lessons about entrepreneurship and successful growth strategies you’ve taken from your company experience?

Migoya: “We are trying to continually teach and inspire new rounds of entrepreneurs in Latin America. There are several key lessons we try to convey:

1. Think Big. I think if you want to be a successful entrepreneur you can’t afford not to. You need to really believe that you can alter your environment with what you are doing.

2. Money will follow. Don’t pursue entrepreneurship for money alone. You need to pursue your convictions and your passion instead of just the money. It took us a long time to learn that. This is very important.

3. Serve others: if you are starting a company and you think that you are doing this just for you and your partners, then you are wrong. You are doing it for a lot more people. What you are doing will affect many, many families and people. You have to teach, learn and influence all the way.

4. Enjoy it. Because if you are not, then you will be suffering a very long time.”

Englebienne: “Beyond Martin’s points I would add: 1. It’s essential to build a strong team 2. Create a culture that is extremely appealing to those who work there 3. Develop an ability to learn fast”

Endeavor Entrepreneur Amjad Aryan on Pharmacy 1 (World Economic Forum report)

In collaboration with Endeavor Global and Stanford University, the World Economic Forum recently released a new report, “Global Entrepreneurship and Successful Growth Strategies of Early-Stage Companies.” Click here to learn more.

The report, which demonstrates the importance of High-Impact Entrepreneurship in driving economies forward, includes interviews and insights from eight Endeavor Entrepreneur companies: DocSolutions, Globant, MercadoLibre, Petfor, Pharmacy 1, Refinancia, Technisys, and Yola.

In this special series on Endeavor’s blog, we are reprinting the published interviews with each Endeavor firm. Below is the section on Pharmacy 1.

Pharmacy 1 is the largest chain of pharmacies in Jordan. The founder, Amjad Aryan, emigrated from the Palestinian Territories to the US at age 18. In 1995, the Aryan family founded Pharmacy 1 in the US. Two years later, they acquired Miami’s oldest pharmacy, Robert’s Drug Store. In 1999, they changed the company name to Pharmacy 1 and added other stores in Miami. Amjad Aryan opened the first Pharmacy 1 in Amman, Jordan, in 2001. After fully relocating to Jordan in 2004, he led a rapid expansion of the company. There are now 47 stores in Jordan and four stores in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with further aggressive expansion planned. Having equipped each pharmacy with a modern logistics network, Pharmacy 1 applies state-of-the-art pharmaceutical store management in a sector of the Jordan economy where this standard did not exist prior to 2001. The AllWorld Arabia 500 selected Pharmacy 1 as the number one fastest-growing company in the Jordan 25.

The son of a pharmacist, Amjad Aryan has spent his entire life in the pharmacy industry. He graduated in 1995 from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences with a specialty in Retail Pharmacy Management. While attending college in Boston, Aryan worked at CVS, a large US pharmacy chain, where he continued until 1997. In 1999, he and his family acquired and then further expanded a small pharmacy chain in Miami. They renamed the chain from Robert’s Drug Store to Pharmacy 1. Returning to the Middle East in 2001, Aryan set up the first Pharmacy 1 store in Jordan. He is a board member at Jordan University of Science and Technology’s College of Pharmacy and is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization Jordan chapter. He is board-certified from both Massachusetts and Florida.

What was the source of the initial idea, and how did that idea evolve into a viable high-growth business venture? How did it change over time?

Aryan: “Born to a pharmacist father in Palestine, I spent my entire life in the pharmacy business. At 18, I emigrated from Palestine to Boston, USA. I was admitted to the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, where I earned a degree in Pharmacy with a specialty in Retail Pharmacy Management in 1995. During my education and following graduation, I worked my way up from an intern to a manager at CVS in Boston. After leaving CVS in 1997, my siblings and I acquired a small chain of pharmacies in Miami. However, after observing the successful business model of CVS and other chains in the US, I easily recognized a market gap in my home region. “At that time, the retail pharmacy sector in Jordan was characterized by poor quality of service, low-level technology and inconsistent management among pharmacies. Seeing opportunity despite these challenges, I opened the first Pharmacy 1 in 2001 in Amman. I went back and forth to the US until fully relocating to Jordan with my family in 2004. With emphases on customer service and easily accessible products, Pharmacy 1 was an immediate success, and the business began to expand rapidly.”

What was the initial growth vision or aspiration of the founding team? Was there a sizeable change in this growth vision or aspiration over time? If a change, please describe.

Aryan: “Jordan as well as the entire region is changing very rapidly. Jordan of 2001 was totally different from Jordan of 2010. Consumer behaviour, spending habits, quality of service and size all changed and influenced our initial growth and vision. “The original plan was to open 10 pharmacies in Jordan. Today, we have 47 outlets and plan to open 13 new branches by the end of 2011. In Saudi Arabia, we were initially aiming for a gradual growth: open one outlet, then add one more, and so on. Our plans now are to roll out five new outlets by the end of this year and 50 outlets in 2011.”

Describe the strategy or business model that enabled your company to achieve its high rate of growth.

Aryan: “I started with a single pharmacy in 2001. Since then, the business has grown to become Jordan’s first retail pharmacy chain, with 47 branches employing more than 400 people. With a modern logistical network, customer-friendly stores and a wide range of products dealing in all manners of customer health, Pharmacy 1 strives to become the largest pharmacy chain of the Middle East and North Africa. All of Pharmacy 1 branches are designed in keeping with modern pharmacy standards. Each store is divided into a prescription area and a retail area. Pharmacy 1 outlets are located in both residential and commercial areas, and they range from 80 to 650 square metres in size. The smallest branch employs only two pharmacists, while the largest branch employs approximately 15.

To ensure quality of service and ease of shopping, Pharmacy 1 offers valet service at branches located in areas with limited parking. It operates several of its facilities as 24/7 pharmacies as well as offering 24/7 free delivery anywhere in Jordan.

Pharmacy 1 is raising the bar for pharmaceutical healthcare in the region through the following practices:

1. Being experts in the field of pharmaceutical care. Once pharmacists join Pharmacy 1, they go through extensive induction training. This training includes several important topics needed to execute their jobs with the highest degrees of professionalism and excellence, such as:
• Pharmacology
• Customer care
• Effective counselling
• Communication skills
Our pharmacists are continuously updated with the latest scientific knowledge through the continuous education programme. Pharmacists are required to pass a specific number of credit hours of training each year.

2. State-of-the-art prescription processing using PH1 system. Pharmacy 1 is equipped with software that stores patient pharmaceutical history and permits easy and fast retrieval of patient information in any branch of Pharmacy 1. This software runs 14 checks and performs the following actions:
• Lists important precautions, such as duplication of therapy, food
warning and patient drug allergies
• Identifies potential drug-drug and drug-disease interactions
• Prints a patient leaflet explaining how to use the medication, proper storage conditions, most common side effects and contraindications; this leaflet can be printed in both English and Arabic
• Provides separate yellow warning stickers advising the patient
to take the medication with food, on an empty stomach or any other compliance recommendations
• Bills the patient’s insurance company directly, saving the patient
both time and money
• Reminds patients to refill their monthly prescription

3. Patient counselling service. All of our pharmacists possess scientific knowledge and are professionally trained on patient counselling, a private service that is provided to our customers at no cost. Patients may take advantage of our private counselling
services by:
• Meeting with any of our well-trained pharmacists in the pharmacy
• Calling our toll-free phone number at 080022922
• E-mailing info@pharmacy-1.com
• Making an appointment with our drug experts

4. Educational updates. At Pharmacy 1, we offer special educational materials that provide both advice and consultations on several topics, such as proper use of medication, the importance of vitamins, first-aid tips, etc.

5. Pharmacy 1 training and drug information centre. Guided by our profound belief in corporate social responsibility and in accordance with our strong sense of purpose and ethical standards, Pharmacy 1 works to respond to the rising needs of society through its different healthcare initiatives. Pharmacy 1 operates a training and drug information centre, the first of its kind in the Middle East. The drug information centre (DIC) provides free, unbiased medical and pharmaceutical information to consumers and healthcare providers. The DIC offers consultation services to answer any query on disease state, medications used to treat these disease states and any necessary lifestyle modifications. Customers can benefit from our services either by visiting, calling (toll-free in Jordan), faxing or e-mailing the centre.

6. Accessibility. 47 branches covering Jordan that are open 24/7, and provide free delivery to anywhere in Jordan.”

What were the major growth accelerators for your company in its high-growth years?


1. “Having the right team members who shared with me the same vision – the solid unwavering belief in what we can achieve. There was never a moment of doubt or a ‘whether we can do it’ mindset. It was ‘when can we do it’ and trying to prioritize what to do first. Our growth rate exceeded even our own very ambitious expectations. The culture of determination to succeed and entrepreneurial leadership that cascaded to each team member – making all of them feel like owners of the business and true stakeholders – played an essential role in growth. Simply put, it was their own baby, and solid growth was the only focus and obsession.

2. Market gap: retail pharmacy business in Jordan was an underserved area. Professionalism, availability of products, customer service and convenience were previously unheard of and became much sought-after.

3. Returning talents: whether individuals who have studied abroad and returned to their country or who are simply frequent travellers, they are all accustomed to the established concept of chain pharmacies. Jordan was terribly lacking in this domain, and, with Pharmacy 1, their needs were finally met as we created big business opportunities, a large customer base and loyal clients.”

Briefly describe the financing of your company and how this financing impacted the growth of your company.

Aryan: “I started Pharmacy 1 with self-financing. In 2001, banks and investment companies did not view pharmacies as viable business opportunities. Pharmacies were viewed as mom-and-pop shops with very limited growth potential, which made it impossible to obtain financing. The lack of external financing was not a hindrance to the business growth. Other factors such as regulatory restrictions held us back and postponed the planned growth, resulting in pharmacies financing themselves. This situation continued until Pharmacy 1 became a known brand that financial institutions acknowledged and extended their services to. These facilities boosted the growth through year 2006 and beyond.”

What were the major challenges your company had to handle in its high-growth years, and how were they managed?

Aryan: “Starting out, my biggest challenges were:

1. Laws and regulations: the law allowing for the existence of chain pharmacies was there. However, it lacked implementation. It was up to Pharmacy 1 to bring it to action and implementation. That, as we all know, is always a big challenge.

2. The human element: in a country swamped by huge talents, the lack of appreciation and understanding of the role of a retail pharmacist makes it very challenging to attract these talents. That, coupled with the relatively high employee turnover, represents a big challenge. Because Pharmacy 1 invests in a lengthy training for all employees, finding employee replacements is a time-consuming affair. To overcome that, we built several simulation pharmacies in the local schools of pharmacies, including: Jordan University of
Science and Technology, Isra University, and Zitouna University. This has helped with reaching developing talents and has acted as a recruitment centre for these talents.

3. Besides the above, maintaining our success and keeping up with people’s expectations are ongoing challenges that need to be addressed continuously. Our business is dynamic, and we need to stay abreast of what happens around us and always look for ways to better serve our customers.”

Give examples of dark moments or negative periods that your company or you faced as part of your journey as an executive with this company.

Aryan: “The first three years were very hard. Naysayers were all over the place, and negative remarks were an everyday occurrence. “The law of chain retail pharmacy was there but not activated nor implemented. That burden fell on Pharmacy 1 to activate that law and set the precedent. Going against the flow and facing set-in-stone mindsets caused probably some of the darkest times. There were times when people around me did not only doubt the success of the business but fought it, wholeheartedly driven by the fear of change. Some of these people were influential in our business, such as suppliers. We had to purchase products from them and conduct business, and we needed them to extend customary credit terms. Today,
these same people now shop in our outlets regularly and swear by our business model.”

What are the key lessons about entrepreneurship and successful growth strategies you’ve taken from your company experience?

Aryan: “I do not believe there is a custom-tailored formula for each industry out there. My belief is that whatever line of business you are in, what it takes is to just do it. Don’t sit around waiting for somebody to give something. Take charge of your life and take full accountability of your future. Believe in yourself and always listen to your inner voice pushing you forward. The talents we have in Jordan are incredible and can achieve so much in a very professional way. Believe you can, and you will.”

Endeavor Entrepreneur Vinny Lingham on Yola (World Economic Forum report)

In collaboration with Endeavor Global and Stanford University, the World Economic Forum recently released a new report, “Global Entrepreneurship and Successful Growth Strategies of Early-Stage Companies.” Click here to learn more.

The report, which demonstrates the importance of High-Impact Entrepreneurship in driving economies forward, includes interviews and insights from eight Endeavor Entrepreneur companies: DocSolutions, Globant, MercadoLibre, Petfor, Pharmacy 1, Refinancia, Technisys, and Yola.

In this special series on Endeavor’s blog, we are reprinting the published interviews with each Endeavor firm. Below is the section on Yola.

Yola (initially SynthaSite) was formed in Cape Town, South Africa, in March 2007 to provide website creation tools. A key early market was the many small-to-medium-sized companies that all needed to have company websites. Since its launch, Yola has grown to over five million users by 2010. Its goal is to be the pre-eminent place on the web where anyone can go to create their own websites.

Vinny Lingham is a serial entrepreneur who grew up in a small town in South Africa. In 2003, he founded and was chief executive officer of incuBeta, an investment house that focused on the ownership and management of online marketing companies, and Clicks2Customers, a subsidiary of incuBeta, which provides performance-based search marketing solutions. In 2007, he founded Yola Inc., a South Africa- and San Francisco- based company. He is a co-founder of the Silicon Cape Initiative, which is a NGO that promotes the development of Cape Town as a technology hub. He studied information systems at the University of Cape Town, received an Endeavor High Impact Entrepreneur award in 2006, and became a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader in 2009.

What was the source of the initial idea, and how did that idea evolve into a viable high growth business venture? How did it change over time?

Lingham: “The initial source of the idea to build Yola was that it was clear that applications were moving to the web and that the transition from desktop applications to web applications represented a paradigm shift and an opportunity to disrupt. We looked at where we thought the big growth opportunities were as well as the existing products in those areas. The traditional Office suite of products – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, FrontPage – represented the largest chunk of small business software sales. Within this space, Google had just acquired Writely and were building out Google Spreadsheets. There were other players getting into the online presentation space. We felt the biggest opportunity was in the website creation space. A leading product (FrontPage) was not very functional. There was a true disconnect between the function FrontPage performed – creating websites and connecting to online services – and the reality of it being a desktop-based, isolated and siloed product. We believed that there was a better way to help people get a presence online. We also believed that many small- to medium-sized businesses often lacked the capital to pay an external company to create their own website. A company that provided them with a kit of tools to create their own website had a potentially large market opportunity. The increasing shift of software products to being on the web, as opposed to a CD, created a stimulus to us building our own product. In 2006, we started the development within incuBator, which I had co-founded earlier. I then bought the technology and intellectual capital from that company, and in March 2007 created a new company – initially called SynthaSite, and later, in April 2009, it became Yola. I decided that incuBator was stable and it was time for me to pursue my dream of building a company that had both a South African and a Silicon Valley aspect. We would do the back-end operations and services in Cape Town and do the front-end user facing applications in Silicon Valley.”

What was the initial growth vision or aspiration of the founding team? Was there a sizeable change in this growth vision or aspiration over time? If a change, please describe.

Lingham: “The initial vision for the founding team was to create a website building platform that would allow users to consume third-party web services without the constant need for hand coded integration. It should all be visual, drag and drop and in the browser. We believed that we could reach tens of millions of users and make their web creation experience seamless and powerful.

“The vision has not changed. We have however, focused on shorter-term metrics, such as making the core product more usable and functional before tackling the broader, big vision product requirements. While it’s great building amazing technology, it doesn’t help if your core product is very hard to use. We wanted to be mainstream rather than appeal to just the 5% to 10% of users that are technically savvy and smart. We wanted to solve the usability problem first and later add complexity, if that made sense from a market perspective.

“In short, we have had a very linear path, vis-à-vis our original business plan. The one thing that we shifted in our priorities was the greater emphasis on usability. We are also a little less grandiose in our aspirations. At one stage, we said we wanted to be the Home Depot of the web – a one- stop shop for website development. We are more modest than that now.”

Describe the strategy or business model that enabled your company to achieve its high rate of growth.

Lingham: “In less than three years since launching our beta version, we’ve grown to five million users worldwide. The marketing strategy has been to focus on search engine marketing. There are millions of people searching each month for our product category (web site creation tools). So far, this has been the low hanging fruit for us. By ensuring high visibility in the search engines through a process of both paid search marketing and natural search engine optimization, we have captured a large part of a fast-growing market.

“We have used the so-called ‘freemium’ business model – we offer a basic free product, but charge for upgrades and extras. A challenge with this model is the mix between free and charged products and services. Initially, I think we erred too much on the side of free. When you give your core functionality away free, the number of people who are willing to pay to upgrade is relatively small. You have to limit the core features you provide for free. The aim should be to introduce the product to the user for free, have them get comfortable using it for free, and then to start charging for it as they become active users. Giving away unlimited functionality means you do not get to capture the value you create for your users. Going forward, we will aim to charge for some core features. One help here is that there is a switching cost for users after they have gone down the learning curve with your product. We have some customers who have been using our products for three years and are only just upgrading to our premium products now. That is one reason our five million user base is such an asset, as they are all potential customers at some stage, who are down the learning curve with Yola. One benefit of our large user base is that we are minimally-affected by a small number of our users going out of business, which inevitably some do. Another benefit of the huge user base is that even those who don’t purchase can become great advocates of the product and help increase the word-of-mouth marketing around our product.”

What were the major growth accelerators for your company in its high-growth years?

Lingham: “Gaining important distribution deals via partnerships with one or more of the PC manufacturers certainly would be major growth accelerator and one we are committed to achieving. We believe Yola has much to offer in such a partnership over and above a very well received product. Yola can offer a large PC manufacturer or other large partners agility – we can customize our products for our larger partners in the shortest possible time. Yola can turn its whole organization around to make sure we deliver what the partner needs. The partner is core to our revenue stream. You have to walk a fine line here. You do not want to turn your business model upside down to satisfy a large potential customer.

“My past experience with start-ups and their early growth challenges meant I had a road map of some key likely challenges. That was very useful. Putting people in the right places is a key growth accelerator in start-ups. In my prior companies, I erred too much on the side of not giving people enough room to use their own judgment. In the early years of Yola, however, I probably over-compensated and gave people too much discretion. Now I am trying to strike the right balance between stepping back and still monitoring what is going on. The CEO has to be a key guardian of the vision, but you cannot be the only one working on its execution.”

Briefly describe the financing of your company and how this financing impacted the growth of your company.

Lingham: “We had an initial challenge. The few South African venture capitalists did not buy into our business concept. The US venture capitalists were not interested in investing in a South Africa-based company. We initially had Angel funding of only US$ 500,000 – this resulted in a low burn, low staff count, and very focused product development. I planned on it taking three to four months to raise significant financing. It took closer to nine months. Luckily, I had money and I also sold some shares in other companies to keep Yola afloat. Our main investor has been the Swiss-based Richemont Group run by Johann Rupert, a leading South African industrialist.

“We used Series A and Series B money to build growth. With the Series A (2007) funding of US$ 5 million – proof of concept delivered, scaling up customer acquisition and adoption and building a large core team. With the Series B (2009) funding of US$ 20 million – rapidly scaling up the platform to deal with increased customer acquisition forecasts. Focus on internationalization and creating core functional units within the company to deal with product, marketing, customer support and engineering.

“In 1996, I was privileged to become an Endeavor company and Endeavor entrepreneur. Endeavor helps early stage companies in multiple ways, one of which was linking us up with a Harvard Business School student (Brian Elliot) who helped write our business plan and helped with the post-funding business plan.”

What were the major challenges your company had to handle in its high-growth years, and how were they managed?

Lingham: “Major challenges faced were largely linked to building out offices in two countries – Cape Town, South Africa and San Francisco, US. Two issues dealt with time zone issues, and cross-functional reporting.

“We deal with the time zone issues by using online collaboration tools such as Jira, Skype and Google Docs. We also created application ownership areas, which were geographically located to ensure that there were minimal interdependencies between the two offices.

“Hiring the right people as we ramped up from 20 people to 70 people was a big issue for the company. We are hiring in both South Africa and Silicon Valley. We have a lot of our back office in Cape Town. Both our call centre and customer support are run there. One challenge there is the lack of depth in the South African labour market. In Silicon Valley, a high flyer can grow by hundreds of people every three months and still keep hiring quality people. In Cape Town, it is not yet possible to scale that quickly. A challenge in recent years in Silicon Valley is the tremendous number of quality companies hiring. We have been recruiting in a Twitter/Zynga/Facebook hiring festival. Notwithstanding that, we have kept to high standards. It’s better not to hire than to hire the wrong person. We have also become far less tolerant with non-performers – opting to remove them sooner rather than later from the organization. This is essential in a start-up. Feeling sorry for people and giving them multiple chances does not cut it in this business.”

Give examples of dark moments or negative periods that your company or you faced as part of your journey as an executive with this company.

Lingham: “From 2007 to 2008, we had just a free offering. Then in 2008, we switched to the ‘freemium’ model. My darkest moment was associated with this switch from a free product to a freemium product. We always knew that we had to start charging for upgrades. However, in our initial budgets we expected a much higher conversion and monetization rate. When we first started charging, our conversion rates were dismal and very disappointing for what we believed was a great product. However, we had to believe in our business model, and through that process we continued to iterate and evolve our product offering. Since that first day of launching, our conversion rates have increased over 500% and are much more in line with our expectations. Our beliefs in the business were not unfounded, but our expectations of the effort required to get it there were simply unrealistic, given the timeframes.”

What are the key lessons about entrepreneurship and successful growth strategies you take from your company experience?

Lingham: “Key lessons:
1. Trust your gut, as an entrepreneur-although sometimes you will be wrong.
2. Don’t be afraid of taking risks-that’s why you’re not working in a corporation.
3. Follow the money-find where customers are looking for you and go to them.
4. Always raise more money than you think you need-you will need it.
5. Hire the right person fast-but fire them faster if they’re not what you expected.

New York Times features Endeavor firm Lumni

In a new opinion article on the New York Times blog, “Instead of Student Loans, Investing in Futures,” journalist David Bornstein questions “whether there may be a better way to pay for college than with scholarships, grants, and loans. Is it possible to finance higher education the way we finance startup companies?”

As an example of this approach, he profiles Lumni, a Colombia-based social enterprise run by Endeavor Entrepreneur Felipe Vergara, who was recently named the 2011 Latin American Social Entrepreneur by the World Economic Forum.

Bornstein points out that the organization has raised $17 million to fund the education of students across Latin America (Chile, Colombia, and Mexico) and the United States by offering “human capital contracts.” He uses the example of a Colombian student who, in exchange for his tuition fee of $8,500, agreed to repay Lumni 14 percent of his salary for 118 months after graduation.

Lumni has provided its unique form of financing to 1,900 students. As Bornstein points out, “fifty five percent of them are women and 90 percent are the first in their families to attend college…So far, the default rate is under 3 percent.”

Bornstein argues that Lumni offers a compelling model that, like insurance, spreads the risk among multiple parties while accomplishing steady returns. He concludes: “Economists are skeptical about human capital contracts — which were first proposed by Milton Friedman in the 1950s — because they have many potential problems and little track record. But Lumni seems to be making them work — at least on a small scale.”

“The most important asset in the world is people,” Felipe Vergara is quoted as saying. “But modern society hasn’t organized itself in a way to invest in most people. I like to think of Lumni as a springboard that allows people to pursue their dreams — it offers a way out of a situation where the ceiling is very close to your head.”

Also, check out Bornstein’s follow-up opinion piece which sheds further light on Lumni and human capital contracts, and responds to reader comments.

Inc. profiles Endeavor’s Argentinean Entrepreneurs

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.

Endeavor Entrepreneur Miguel Santos on Technisys (World Economic Forum report)

In collaboration with Endeavor Global and Stanford University, the World Economic Forum recently released a new report, “Global Entrepreneurship and Successful Growth Strategies of Early-Stage Companies.” Click here to learn more.

The report, which demonstrates the importance of High-Impact Entrepreneurship in driving economies forward, includes interviews and insights from eight Endeavor Entrepreneur companies: DocSolutions, Globant, MercadoLibre, Petfor, Pharmacy 1, Refinancia, Technisys, and Yola.

In this special series on Endeavor’s blog, we are reprinting the published interviews with each Endeavor firm. Below is the section on Technisys.

Technisys was started in 1996 by three co-founders: Miguel Santos (CEO), Adrian Iglesias (COO) and German Pugliese Bassi (EVP). Its focus was Internet banking products for the financial service industry. After initial traction with major signature clients, the Argentinean crisis in 2002 to 2003 left the founders with a company struggling to survive. Since its resurgence in the same industry and product area in 2004, Technisys has continued on a consistently strong and profitable growth path. In 2001, the founders were selected as Endeavor entrepreneurs.

Miguel Santos is the chief executive officer and co-founder of Technisys. Prior to founding the company, Santos worked for the financial services division of IBM. Santos obtained a BS degree and an MS degree in computer science from the University of Buenos Aires. He has also completed post-graduate work in symmetrical process systems, distributed databases and network computing. In March 2001, Santos was selected as an Endeavor entrepreneur. He has chaired seminars on entrepreneurship at New York University and Stanford University and has made presentations at many banking conferences, including BAI, CLAB, Felaban, Febraban and AMBA.

What was the source of the initial idea, and how did that idea evolve into a viable high-growth business venture? How did it change over time?

Santos: “One of the co-founders, who worked for IBM Argentina, was inspired to think of working in his own company rather than for a large company like IBM. I met him while working on a job for the financial division of IBM. Although we observed IBM suppliers making more money than those working directly for IBM, we did not want to set up a supplier company to IBM. Having decided to set up our own company, we next searched for the target market and chose the financial service sector. This was a big stable market in Argentina, and it had a very good track record of paying bills to its vendors on time. In Argentina, this is a big issue in general and is especially important for start-ups. Many vertical companies in Argentina do not have a good reputation for paying on time.

“Finally we decided on the product. We selected e-banking from two other alternatives we considered because we believed that the Internet would radically transform the way consumers access financial services. And it did. This idea evolved over time. Around 2002, the company started to explore new banking applications for web-based technologies such as branch automation, self-service kiosks, ATMs and web call centres. In 2006, with the introduction of new related architectures such as service-oriented architecture (SOA), the company transformed its product offering into an integrated multi-channel banking suite, which solved quite nicely the channel integration problem. In 2008, while mastering SOA, Technisys entered the core banking arena, starting to develop Cyberbank Core, a new generation, process oriented, multi-channel, multicurrency, multi-bank, fully SOA-based, core banking system.”

What was the initial growth vision or aspiration of the founding team? Was there a sizeable change in this growth vision or aspiration over time? If a change, please describe.

Santos: “We had big aspirations from the start. We didn’t set any limits. We wanted to be Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. At the same time, however, we had little experience in building a company from the start. Our confidence and aspirations were reinforced when Deutsche Bank became our first customer in 1996. We launched a pilot Internet banking project for Deutsche Bank in Argentina, which was one of the earliest e-banking initiatives in Latin America.”

Describe the strategy or business model that enabled your company to achieve its high rate of growth.

Santos: “The company combines the sale of software licenses with related recurrent services to generate a robust income model. Each contract sale produces up to five revenue components, including a one-time license and customization services, a recurrent license maintenance fee, and technical support services. It is also important to note that we’ve decided to grow through geographical expansion versus the option of expanding into other industries, helping us to scale the business better. The next step in a high rate of growth is yet to be seen because the product is reaching critical mass in the market, thus attracting interest from integrators and resellers such as Accenture, Bull, Sonda and TCS. We think this indirect sales model will allow us to scale up revenues dramatically in the coming years.”

What were the major growth accelerators for your company in its high-growth years?

Santos: “Some key growth accelerators in the early days:
1. Our ability to sell things that did not yet exist. We used prototypes to show potential customers what the product might look like.
2. Innovative products. This was a big factor from the very beginning. As industry specialists, we work hard to anticipate demand and fulfill our customers’ needs on time.
3. Early signature customer wins. Our first customer was no less than Deutsche Bank Argentina, which had many benefits because it was a major lighthouse customer. We also benefited greatly from the rigorous due diligence that Deutsche Bank of New York required us to go through as part of the bidding process. We had never done this before, and it gave us much more industrial strength. It was our first encounter with an excellent and demanding client.
4. Exploitation of the company’s successful track record. We did this first with Deutsche Bank and then with major brands like Citibank and HSBC.
5. Our ability to hire really good technical people. We were technical people ourselves, so we had a good sense of who was AAA and who was not. In contrast, we were not as good at hiring business people, and this hurt the company.
6. Becoming an Endeavor entrepreneur. This had a deep impact because it opened our mind to a broader set of opportunities to manage the business and grow. One key area was financing, where we became much more aware of and open to outside investment funding. It was not just reading the Endeavor entrepreneur stories, but also the ability to meet other entrepreneurs and exchange ideas. It was very inspiring for us.”

Briefly describe the financing of your company and how this financing impacted the growth of your company.

Santos: “We were a bootstrapped company until 2007. There was effectively no venture capital market in Argentina, and even if there had been, we likely would not have known about it. We were totally focused on developing products and linking up with customers. We had to grow organically from the living room of one of the founders, with a couple of old PCs, cooking our own lunch each day. During the early years of progress (1999 to 2001), we had some accounts with very good margins, and we built up a cash reserve. This cash proved a great buffer when the crisis hit us in 2002. But then in 2003, we needed to fund the company from our own savings. Not only were we not drawing salaries, but we were putting more of our own money into the company. You can do that for two to three months, but then you wonder whether this is a hole that will keep getting bigger. Luckily, the company had resurgence in 2004 and returned to profitability.”

What were the major challenges your company had to handle in its high-growth years, and how were they managed?

Santos: “These include:
1. Scalability challenges. The major growth challenge for us still is to implement business processes that guarantee that every single person in the company shares the company’s values, vision, objectives and culture. Scalability is the key.
2. Attracting and retaining talented people. We are better at this for technical people than for business people. For technical people, we work on selling their projects and also on constantly motivating them with new challenges and better working conditions. We failed big time on one of our first senior management hires. In 2002, we hired our first commercial manager, who came from a major global tech- nology company. Great resume. He did not understand and did not want to understand our start-up culture. He expected a lot of people to be working for him. In our company, this just does not happen. We expected him to add value, and he did not. We learned that a hiring with a bad outcome cannot only freeze you but set you back.
3. International expansion. Building out the international dimension of Technisys is still in its early days.”

Give examples of dark moments or negative periods that your company or you faced as part of your journey as an executive with this company.

Santos: “Definitely the 2001 to 2003 period associated with the Argentinean crisis, where we almost gave up, was a dark moment. NASDAQ’s blow-up and the Argentinean crisis, one after the other, lost us contracts, gave us an empty pipeline and produced sad faces all over. We quickly realized that with a very unstable economy, a non-existent VC industry, and a small local market, we were probably born in the wrong country.

“Being forced to lay off good, committed people was without a doubt the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced at Technisys. I had never done layoffs before, except for an isolated person with a bad attitude or a non-performer. Here I was laying off 20% or more of our people, even though they had good attitudes and good performance records. That was really tough. At first some of those who remained felt some guilt about being kept or felt insecure, worrying ‘am I next?’ But luckily we had some good events that helped rebuild the morale, including being able to hire back some of those we had previously let go. “At some points in 2002 and 2003, we nearly ended the game. But then we saw that we had a good product, some good customers and some good employees, so we decided to continue on.”

What are the key lessons about entrepreneurship and successful growth strategies you’ve taken from your company experience?

1. “Think big. You will use all of your time, so it had better be worth the effort.
2. Go for a big market. That way, there are no natural limits to your company’s growth.
3. People are so important. Take your time to select your partners, investors and employees.
4. Build a scalable business model from the very beginning. Processes, processes and more processes.
5. Commit to your clients. Commit to their businesses, and establish
long-term relationships. If you can help them once, they will buy again.”

Experts offer tips on sales and building a company culture, at London selection panel

In conjunction with the 39th International Selection Panel (ISP) held in London last week, Endeavor hosted a Candidate Day Program at Canning House. Almost all of the ISP entrepreneur candidates were in attendance, along with several Endeavor Entrepreneurs. In reflecting on the “super-interactive” sessions, one of the Latin American candidates noted, “Regardless of what happens on the panel, these two workshops alone made my trip to London totally worth it!”

The day was split into two sessions. The first was led by serial entrepreneur Kenneth P. Morse, who is the Founding Managing Director of the MIT Entrepreneurship Center. His presentation, “Sales and Sales Management: Outline of a Discussion with the Endeavor Teams,” focused on the importance of sales and delivered these main points:

– The CEO must buy into the critical role of sales and be the top salesperson. Believing you have an amazing product that will sell itself will not work, you need to be customer-oriented and appeal to what they think they need, their growth strategy, and financial circumstances
– Sales is a science, not an art, and can be taught
– Calculate and quantify the economic benefits, returns on investment, and value proposition
– Relationships are important — shared meals, common backgrounds
– Craft a divine elevator speech (55 minutes is best)

The afternoon session was led by Niko Canner, a Senior Partner in Booz & Company’s organization and change leadership practice, and a member of the North America Management Team. Niko’s presentation “Building a Culture to Achieve and Sustain Leading Performance” articulated the benefits of targeting your area of focus to where you can win — choosing the “right fights.” He also discussed the importance developing the right culture for your organization to operate at the optimal level. His takeaway points were:

– Build strategy around where your company significantly and sustainably excel
– Know the behaviors that make a difference, and shape your DNA to support them
– Focus deeply on how you and the other people who matter most can get better at the things that matter as rapidly as possible

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