High-Impact Entrepreneurship

Join the global conversation

Entrepreneurs

Endeavor and Linda Rottenberg Profiled in The Christian Science Monitor

The Christian Science Monitor, a U.S.-based international news publication, recently profiled Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg and the story of Endeavor, spotlighting the organization’s journey and its rapidly growing global impact. In particular, the article calls […]

April 16th, 2014 — by admin

Read more

In the news

Saudi Arabian Entrepreneurs Featured on Forbes List of Inspirational Leaders

Forbes Middle East, the regional outlet for Forbes business and finance news, recently released a ranking of Saudi Arabia’s top movers and shakers. Four Endeavor Entrepreneurs made the the list of sixty for their work as […]

January 21st, 2014 — by admin

Read more
Get RSS Feed

Effective culture is simply clarity amplified

Reprinted from Escape from Cubicle Nation. Original here.

Guest post by John Jantsch.

I wish there were a crisp definition of the word culture as applied to business. It’s a tricky word that finds its way into most discussions regarding the workplace these days.

Like so many things, it’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it.

Lately what it looks a lot like to me is clarity. Or perhaps more specifically clarity of purpose amplified and shared.

People try so hard to make it about things like espresso machines, ping pong tables and bean bag chairs in the break room when it’s really about is a clear sense of shared purpose. Everyone simply believes in the “why” of the business.

In order for this to occur you must remove all doubt about what your organization believes and you must be crystal clear on that in the simplest way possible. Once you do that everything else just follows form – it’s clarity amplified.

The thing is, every business has a culture. It may be strong or weak, positive or negative, or just plain hard to spot, but it’s like a form of internal brand in a way. It’s the collective impression, habits, language, style, communication and practices of the organization.

Some elements of culture are intentional, some are accidental, some are rooted deeply in the ethos of the original employee group, and some are created out of a lack of any real direction or clarity of purpose.

My belief is that a healthy culture is a simple one and it’s shared culture, one created through shared stories, beliefs, plans, language, outcomes and ownership and a shared clear and simple purpose.

These aren’t little things; these aren’t things that you get right during an annual retreat. These are things molded over time with trust and passion and caring. These are things that evolve.

The following elements make up the foundation of a system of shared clarity.
(more…)

Want to know how to better partner with, raise money from, or be acquired by a big media company?

Reprinted from Both Sides of the Table.  See original article here.

By Mark Suster, host of This Week in Venture Capital.

This is one of the best episodes of This Week in VC for a long time. I had the chance to speak with Andrew Siegel who runs corp dev & strategy for Condé Nast (aka Advance Publications).

In case you don’t know, they are one of the biggest media companies in the world. They are best known for their magazine titles such as The New Yorker, Wired, Vanity Fair and Vogue.

But did you also know that they are a large cable operator? That they own a large piece of The Discovery Network? That they own Reddit? Who knew?

They are also very active as an early-stage tech investor, partner and acquirer. And they invest n select VC funds.

I asked Andrew how companies can best work with Condé Nast and he gave the answers in the episode.

He also covered how “traditional media companies” think about the future and how they view disruption.

You have the luxury of either watching the whole episode with Andrew Siegel (or listing on podcast at the gym! download from iTunes for free) or just skipping to the bits you like. Here’s the summary and on YouTube the links to skip right to these moments is below the actual video.

Key moments:

Whole Outline:
00:30 Welcome everyone, I’m here today with Andrew Siegel of Advance Publications.
1:15 Tell us a little about Advance Publications and your role there.
2:15 You’re one of the largest publication owners in the world, aren’t you?
3:00 You were running corporate development for Yahoo before this?
4:45 How do young entrepreneurs begin to work with a company like yours?
6:30 Do you disclose which funds you’ve invested in?
7:00 Thank you to Walker Corporate Law for sponsoring the show. Everyone follow @ScottEdWalker for some great insight into the legal process.
8:15 How do you feel about your properties? Do you feel protected from new media?
10:00 Is news being disaggregated?
11:00 Andrew on the importance of high-quality content.
14:30 Andrew tells about a time he heard a German tourist ID the Conde Nast building in NYC.
15:30 How do you view the transition of your magazines to the iPad, to e-readers?
17:15 Which other publishers “get it” the most?
21:00 How do you balance the people with more money than time–and with more time than money?
21:30 Why did Advance Publications buy Reddit?
24:15 Are there similarities between Twitter and Reddit?
25:00 How should entrepreneurs approach you for funding?
27:45 Thank you to Detroit Venture Partners for their support of the show! Check out detroitventurepartners.com.
30:30 Are you investing in email?
33:00 Discussion of Ian Roger’s Topspin Media.
36:00 Andrew: Display advertising has a real problem.
37:30 What are your thoughts on product placements?
30:00 Have you been following the Dalton Caldwell vs. Twitter story?
44:15 Consumers want to have an authentic dialogue with a brand.
45:15 What’s your process for investing in startups?
48:15 Is it fair to say that every company is different in terms of their M&A strategy?
50:30 Is Pinterest real? Are you seeing much real conversion from it?
52:00 Andrew, thank you so much for joining us today. And thank you to Detroit Venture Partners and to Walker Corporate Law.

Connecting the dots: mergers of early-stage startups

Reprinted from OnStartups. Original article here.

By Ken Smith

The explosion of co-working space has created an parallel explosion of would-be entrepreneurs. This is good for both the nation and innovation economy. But as any seasoned entrepreneur or investor will tell you, if you have a good idea for a business, it’s very likely that 100 other people have the same or very similar idea. And if you have a great idea perhaps 1,000 people are working on the same idea too. Lower cost office space (coworking, innovation center, etc.), cloud hosted everything, WYSIWYG tools and rapid prototyping applications, easy access to global networks of potential users and customers – well, let’s just say it’s a lot easier and cheaper to get a product concept to market today than it has ever been.

Those same seasoned entrepreneurs and investors will also agree that the key to entrepreneurship is not having the best idea, it’s execution. I have been involved in more than a dozen startups and reviewed plans or advised dozens more. Often times when I see two teams going after a very similar market opportunity I look at the founders and can easily envision a great combined team. One start up has been founded by a marketing professional with ten years experience in a major consumer technology company, another by a tech whiz with a newly minted Masters from MIT, and a third by a born saleswoman who already built a small network of beta testers for her nascent product. But each continue to struggle to reach the critical mass or momentum required to break away from the pack because they are often working alone. Once the CEO hat goes on, it’s hard to take it off, especially willingly. Yet many an entrepreneur would do their fledgling company and their wallet good if they pooled resources with another entrepreneur – money, talent, and especially time – rather than seeing another startup operating in the same space as competitive.

Pooling technical resources can deliver a product with a more complete feature-set because of the different perspectives brought to the design and development process by team members with a slightly different but equally valid view point. Pooling capital can mean delivering a more complete product, or if minimal viable product (MVP) is attainable without additional capital then money can be focused on capturing beta testers and/or early users. Pooling talent increases your chances of attracting outside investors and shows with action that all team members are professionals dedicated to making the company successful rather than being CEO of their own startup. And pooling time means that by dividing up critical tasks and responsibilities more gets done faster and with less effort because team members can focus what time they have on doing what they do best.

If all of the potential merger partners are very early stage, especially if no company has any market traction or revenue, the best approach to a merger is a simple equitable split – 50/50, 25×4, etc. If one person gets greedy, arguing their contribution holds greater value than the rest, then you don’t want them for a partner now or at any stage – championships are rarely won by a single player. If one company has revenue and the other potential partners do not, then some small concession should be made for the entity bringing in the most important resource to continued success.

At the end of the day, the best early mergers are teams of professionals who have all seen the same market opportunity and have dedicated this segment of their careers to it. As you sit at your desk in a co-working space or innovation center and engage with other clever people at the coffee shop, consider the notion of joining forces, talk about it openly – you may find a willing partner, a kindred spirit, and greater success than working alone.

Wall Street Journal: Endeavor Entrepreneur Sidar Şahin, Peak Games founder, wants to change the world

Reprinted from the Wall Street Journal. Original article here.

By Ben Rooney

Among Turkey’s fledgling start-ups, Peak Games stands slightly apart.

For while the other big names of the Turkish start up scene — Yemeksepeti (online food ordering), Ciceksepeti, (an on-line flower seller), Trendyol, (flash sales) Markafoni, (private shopping club), and GittiGidiyor (an eBay clone)—are all big mainly inside Turkey, Peak Games under its charismatic founder Sidar Şahin, is getting big by spreading outside the country as well, mainly in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

And it is big. The company claimed earlier this year that it has more active users than Electronic Arts and was the third most popular games maker on Facebook after Zynga and King.com.

Mr. Şahin, who was previously a founding partner at Trendyol, founded the company in 2010 after feeling he had done all he could at Trendyol and wanted to return to his passion, games. He started a gaming company as early as 2001 and a mobile gaming company in 2002. But he also wanted to do something much, much bigger.

“I started Peak to change the world,” he says with no equivocation.

“In Turkey there is no ecosystem. It has just started. Yes there is a big potential. It is just starting. It is not there yet.”

He is second to none in his admiration for what Google has achieved and is taking a leaf out of its book. “Everyone says Google is a search engine. No. Google is a culture. What they have created is a culture.

“How we want to change the world is we want to create a culture here. It is about creating vision and culture. It is all about people.”

He sees Peak as being something of a training ground for would be entrepreneurs. “We take people in and train them. Then they become leaders and go on. We take in new people, and they become leaders.” He speaks admiringly of the so-called PayPal mafia, the group of founders who went on to create a whole slew of other start ups. “I want a ‘Peak Games mafia’.”

For him it is not about games, “it is about changing something in Turkey. The only way to do this is to build product and engineering-focussed companies in Turkey.”

So his ambition is to build one of the biggest gaming companies in the world, and the biggest technology company in Turkey.

He claims some success. Not only has the company succeeded in climbing rapidly up the social games league table, but he said it is drawing in graduates. “Last year everyone wanted to join Procter and Gamble. This year when you talk to new graduates, they want to join us. They say they want to be part of the company that reaches millions of people.”

Mr. Şahin has a long history of running companies. “I have started many companies,” he says laughing. “Most of them failed.” His modesty belies a successful track record including a mobile games company in 2002, a video portal and several others both in Turkey and abroad.

“I need to conquer the Turkish internet,” he told himself so he set about it in what he now admits was completely the wrong way. “I burned more than $10 million of my own money. I was so stupid. I would see a good model and copied it. I tried to build a social network because Facebook wasn’t here in Turkey then. But you cannot do it [build a great company] if you have ego and a focus problem.

“I had a big ego problem. I hit the wall big time, then again, then again. I said enough. I learned a lot about myself but it was hard,” he admits.

But it was then in 2009 that he met up with the people who were to become the co-founders of Trendyol. “That year was amazing. We went from 3-4 people to 500 people.”

But ultimately Mr. Şahin wanted to go back to running his own business and doing what he wants to do—to transform the Turkish internet scene.

The company’s first games were based on traditional Turkish and Arabic card and board games and were aimed not only at Turkey but the Middle East/North Africa region. It was this targeting of both the under-served home market (few games were available in Turkish) and the larger MENA region that has been the reason for Peak’s success to date.

And hoping to cash in on the expanding penetration of smartphones both locally and abroad the company is moving heavily into mobile gaming.

Peak’s offices have an enviable office, overlooking the Bosphorus, the river that historically brought wealth and influence to what was then Constantinople, now Istanbul. Peak is looking to do much the same.

Wamda entrepreneur of the week: Endeavor Entrepreneur Melih Odemis of Yemeksepeti (video)

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

By Nina Curley

This week’s Entrepreneur of the Week is Melih Odemis, co-founder of Yemeksepeti, an online food ordering and delivery service that also operates in the Middle East and North Africa through the site FoodOnClick.

The company, now an Endeavor Turkey company, is a success story to learn from. It now boasts 1.5 million users and connection to 8,000 restaurants in Turkey, the UAE, and Russia, handles around 50,000 orders a day, employs more than 200 people in Turkey, and is set to scale throught the Arab World with FoodOnClick after recently closing a round of $44 million in funding led by General Atlantic.

Yet the company was hardly an overnight success. Not only did the company open in November 2000, right as Turkey was going through the biggest economic crisis in its history, but it opened early enough that internet penetration was quite low, hovering around 2 million users.

When internet penetration in Turkey began to increase quickly, (now around 30 million internet users), Yemeksepeti began to grow at a rate of 200% a year, Odemis recalls. He discusses the challenges of growing to keep pace with demand, and how they funded the company back when VCs and angel investors were not readily available, challenges he also discusses in his recent talk at CoE E-Commerce.

As foreign money comes into Turkey, it creates opportunities for young entrepreneurs, he says; yet, he advises, they must always think about building something viable before seeking investment.

Watch the complete interview here:

Watch the video in multiple parts below:

Crisscrossing the globe in the name of entrepreneurship: a spotlight on Endeavor Entrepreneurs

Reprinted from Young Entrepreneur. Original here.

By Neil Parmar

Plenty of young entrepreneurs in the U.S. struggle to build enough momentum to launch into new markets. Try starting up and immediately catering to foreign consumers.

This is the predicament faced by many emerging-market entrepreneurs — that is, entrepreneurs attempting to launch startups from the developing world. Though they share similar challenges as U.S.-based startups — among others, they tend to have few, if any, influential contacts and a dearth of funding opportunities — emerging-market entrepreneurs often must also contend with an insufficient knowledge about how to adapt to cultural differences.

The good news for these emerging-market entrepreneurs is they can get help. A host of new programs — some even located in the U.S. — are offering to help groom founders and their ventures for future success.

Fadi Bargouti has taken a number of different approaches to nurture his baby, Curl Stone Studios, an animation house he co-founded in 2009. Among other things, the 34-year-old Amman, Jordan resident participated in two separate incubator and accelerator programs to aid his expansion into the Middle East and North Africa. The programs called Oasis500 and Silicon Badia helped Bargouti focus his company and even assisted him in attracting seed funding.

“We want to have our own [animation] genre,” says Bargouti. “We want to explore the Western style and Japanese style, and come up with our own.”

More recently, however, Bargouti tried out and was selected to become a member of Endeavor Jordan, a globally connected organization that launched just three years ago and supports so-called high-impact entrepreneurs. The group selects treps who demonstrate an ability to grow ventures that can employ hundreds, or even thousands, of people and generate millions of dollars in wages and revenues.

While Bargouti only joined Endeavor Jordan this summer, he is already reaping benefits through the group’s mentors and networking opportunities that it hosts. For instance, within a couple of hours of asking for connections to help push into the United Arab Emirates, someone at Endeavor Jordan had already started scheduling meetings with the top brass of popular animation TV channels. “That for me is tangible,” says Bargouti. “I’ve been trying really hard to reach out to them.”

What’s more, some treps are also taking advantage of Endeavor’s growing presence in the U.S. to learn about starting up from Silicon Valley itself. A new program, launched in partnership between Endeavor and Stanford University, gave treps the chance to travel to California for one week in August to learn about scaling fast-growth companies in global markets. The invite-only training cost a full $3,500, though participants say the price was worth paying for some professional brush-up tips

“Leadership skills is something I really have to improve,” says Daniel Wjuniski of Brazil, who attended the Stanford – Endeavor Leadership Program. He was only in his early 20s when he joined an online vehicle-trading startup. But after being diagnosed with a chronic disease and finding it hard to get the info he needed, he decided to roll the dice and start his own health-based information site in Portuguese. Known as Minha Vida, his WebMD-like portal started in 2004 but recently received serious financial injections from Intel Capital and Endeavor Catalyst, allowing it to expand from 50 to 100 employees in just six months this year.

“There are two types of skills I’ve learned,” says Wjuniski, now 34, and serves as CEO at Minha Vida, which boasts more than 14 million registered users. “One is strategic: how to grow the business by acquisitions or growing your line of products. Another thing is really psychological: how to make decisions, talk to someone, persuade someone.”

Jaime Carter, who’s from Mexico and has been an entrepreneur since the age of 19, is hoping his time at the Stanford – Endeavor program will help him gain perspective and an edge in U.S. As the founder of a healthcare software company called Health Digital Systems, Carter who’s now 49 oversees offices that are located in six different countries. Networking through Endeavor has helped him understand the U.S. market better, he says. Though, he acknowledged that the true test will occur once his team gets fully functioning here: Next year, Carter plans to launch an outpost in Silicon Valley.

The special sauce that stirs Endeavor’s unique mentorship formula

Reprinted from Nearshore Americas.  See original article here.

By Jon Tonti

Mentorship is a critical component of any business accelerator or incubator although the maturity of the mentoring process seems to vary widely.  Endeavor Global, the well known organization borne to stimulate and motivate the world’s “high impact” entrepreneurs, has carved out a special niche in the Latin America market – where mentoring continues to greatly influence the ‘die or fly’ prospects of next-generation business creators.

“Endeavor provides three essential elements in its conceptual mentorship approach: senior advice, a valuable network, and world class partners. The senior advice is intimate counsel, not only strategic but also tactical,” says Jorge Grad, a former outsourcing leader for IBM in Latin America and Partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Endeavor Global was founded in 1997 by Linda Rottenberg and Peter Kellner with an aim to help advance social and economic development in emerging markets countries through the direct support of high-impact entrepreneurs and the wider diffusion of entrepreneurial culture.  To date the model is deployed in 14 countries around the world (the latest being Greece) supporting 604 entrepreneurs at 385 companies that enjoy the mentorship provided by Endeavor’s 1000+ person strong VentureCorps network spread around the globe.

Grad, who has spent 10 years as an Endeavor mentor and sits on a laundry list of corporate boards, says there is a unique approach that places Endeavor in a different category than many of its boot-strapping peers. “What we have is a unique group of senior executives really committed to inspiring entrepreneurs to realize large goals. The valuable network draws upon Endeavor being a global organization, we can expand interactions with leaders of local and global industry, connect entrepreneurs with investor communities and also with global peer entrepreneurs, which in our experience is a key value regarding differentiation” he said.

Noting Endeavor’s mature mentorship model, we were anxious to find out from Grad if corporations have anything to learn from the Endeavor.

Learning and Inspiring

“I am firmly convinced that corporate mentorship has a lot to learn regarding Endeavor’s approach in monitoring young internal entrepreneurs … basically the discipline in getting the teams really inspired, strongly supported and also properly measured.  The global mentorship structure is particularly key for nearshore operations,” remarked Grad.

David Wachtel, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Endeavor, elaborated on the Advisory Board dynamic that yields results for Endeavor.

“The term ‘mentoring’ gets thrown around a lot, but the devil is in the details. There are a lot of incubators that have some kind of mentoring component; the Endeavor system is already well defined. We are in the process of implementing the Advisory Board model as opposed to the one-on-one mentor as a best practice organization wide. It works better for our advisory board mentors as well as their mentee(s),” said Wachtel.

We asked Wachtel if there is some way in which the organization harvests the knowledge created by simultaneous advisory board – mentee conversations occurring continuously over the network. He said that because of privacy concerns there is no explicit knowledge capture / republishing that could compromise an entrepreneur, but there is an Endeavor managed “entrepreneur CRM.”

“Endeavor uses Salesforce to keep track of the mentors, their skill sets, etc. and the mentees and their needs. It is like a big CRM for entrepreneurs that is administered by local representatives and country representatives. The staff takes notes, follows up, and connects the dots; they make sure the second string communications and promises are made good on,” he added.

Keeping it Local

Wachtel mentioned that entrepreneurs are supported by a local reps that connect them with local advisory boards (approximately 80% of mentoring takes place at the local level) and also country reps that connect, for example, a tech firm in Argentina with an advisory board in Silicon Valley.  When there is specialty expertise that resides in a different market, Endeavor reps track down the necessary experts by communicating with their counterparts in other countries using Salesforce Chatter and a sort of shared electronic bulletin board.

“There was a meatpacking business in Uruguay that needed specialized advisory that was not available in the local market so they were put together with a restaurant chain in South Africa that had relevant experience because they ran their own food processing supply chain,” stated Wachtel.

Organizational Development

Endeavor is an organization that does a lot with a little so they are always looking to leverage the networks of each country’s board members and VentureCorps volunteers.  A global services office that serves tech companies by way of finding expertise and funding is located in San Francisco. Wachtel commented that full-time staff is dedicated to leveraging board members’ relationships.

“We have about 350 people in California that are engaged in the network, building it out is a full-time pursuit.” Bain Capital is helping Endeavor structure the process of taking the best from a branch and implementing it across other branches.

Of course the wide variety of data that Endeavor generates across its branches serves for internal research projects and subsequent publications. A current research initiative is identifying the cocktail of factors that produces the high growth entrepreneurs.

“If you really participate you can leap ahead radically, you can find people who have done exactly what you want to do. The network has all ages and backgrounds; you have companies that are Power Point startups and you have companies that have been around for 50 years,” said Mariano Gonzalez, managing director at Gentry Capital Advisors and Endeavor Mentor.

And this is a lot of what Endeavor does for entrepreneurs in emerging markets that do not have access to a highly developed funding and support ecosystem that is enjoyed in the United States.

“Here in the US there are so many resources for entrepreneurs, but in Latin America a lot of companies in the 5-10 million dollar valuation range that experience similar growing pains do not have those resources. Endeavor is very proactive in educating entrepreneurs about how to grow, finance, network, etc.,” stated Gonzalez.

The Mentors

Mentors are recruited by the local board that is also responsible for fund raising. “The local board members supply their rolodexes,” Wachtel said.

According to Wachtel the mentors get value out of lending a hand by using their expertise. Additionally, the mentors are often exposed to people and emerging market countries they would not have been exposed to otherwise and that involvement opens their eyes to new possibilities, future markets, and sometimes potential partnerships.

The head of JP Morgan Latin America acted as an Endeavor panelist and remarked afterwards that it was rejuvenating to share insight with young entrepreneurs. He ended up staying in contact with one of the companies and later put that company in touch with JP Morgan’s sourcing department as the company had developed an impressive web security product.

Video: Endeavor Entrepreneur Zafer Younis of The Online Project

Reprinted from Wamda

At our June CoE E-Commerce event, Zafer Younis, co-founder and CEO of social media agency The Online Project discusses how new brands can best connect to consumers by analyzing levels of friendship.

Younis explains the different types of friendships people have in their lives including “associate”, “fun friend,” “favor friend,” “help mate,” “comforter,” and “soul mate/best friend.” These categories reflect the trust and comfort levels between two parties and can shed a light on successful social networking strategies.

By figuring out what consumers enjoy and connecting with them on an emotional level, companies can more effectively address consumer needs and build ongoing “complex friendships.”

Insights on MENA’s e-commerce space [video]: Elie Habib of Riyada Enterprise Development

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

At our June CoE E-Commerce event, Elie Habib, Lebanon Country Manager for Riyada Enterprise Development, discusses the biggest pitfalls for startups looking for investment and what types of startup pitches he likes to see.

He explains that the MENA e-commerce space is filling up very quickly and new startups need to find a truly unique niche to be able to scale.

Some of the major startup pitfalls he has seen include not having a good team; one that is qualified, passionate, and has the capacity to innovate, create, and execute their idea. He explains that startups always underestimate how much money they will need and overestimate how well they will deliver. Habib adds that logistics and distribution are also a major hurdle which many young startups forget to consider accurately.

What he looks for in a startup presentation depends on the amount of the investment, but both an adequate product demonstration and a good handle on financials are key components of any pitch to investors.

Video: Endeavor President Fernando Fabre, on creating role models

Fernando Fabre, president of non-profit Endeavor Global, discusses how the organization creates powerful high-impact role models.

Contact us

Press center

Community

Newsletter Sign Up