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Brazil’s Bebê Store Announces Acquisition of Competitor Baby.com.br; Receives Investment From Endeavor Catalyst

Bebê Store, a leading online baby goods retailer in Brazil co-founded by Endeavor Entrepreneur Leonardo Simão, recently announced the acquisition of Baby.com.br, one of its main competitors in the region. In addition, the company successfully raised a $12.3 million […]

July 24th, 2014 — by admin

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Two Mexico Entrepreneurs Named Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurs of the Year for 2014

The  Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year Awards is an annual list of the top innovators driving global, regional and industry agendas to improve the state of the world. The 2014 list of 30 entrepreneurs includes […]

March 26th, 2014 — by admin

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Boy Scouts of America re-introduce entrepreneurship badge

Reprinted from the Huffington Post Blog. Original article here.

By Maria Popova.

For nearly four decades, Boy Scout merit badges have been awarded for the qualities, principles and virtues society most values in young people.

Though an Entrepreneurship merit badge was quietly introduced in 1997, this year the Boy Scouts are updating the badge and re-introducing it with greater prominence. The new Entrepreneurship Merit Badge is a true testament to the age of the entrepreneur, encouraging business savvy and innovation from an early age.

By earning the Entrepreneurship merit badge, Scouts will learn about identifying opportunities, creating and evaluating business ideas, and exploring the feasibility (how doable it is) of an idea for a new business. They will also have the chance to fit everything together as they start and run their own business ventures.

The move shows the increasing value of entrepreneurial thinking as a social problem-solver and a necessary lifeskill in the pursuit of success today. It also validates geekiness as a proverbial — and now physical — badge of honor, much-needed vindication for us geeky kids everywhere.

Impact of co-working on entrepreneurs and startups

Reprinted from Growvc. Original article here.

Guest post by Erica Bell.

Startups and entrepreneurs are often innovative and intelligent, and looking for a way to save. Co-working environments can help you start a business. From lower costs to improved networking, co-working spaces have more to offer than Wi-Fi, convenient parking and hot coffee for the early morning and late nights. In a Deskmag study, respondents answered that they increased their social circle, business network and productivity from working in a co-working environment. If you’re an entrepreneur or are launching a new startup, consider co-working.

Here are 3 benefits that come from a co-working space.

A Way to Save
Rent isn’t cheap – especially if you live or work in a major city. Early-on entrepreneurs and startups are often strapped for cash and looking for ways to save. Co-working spaces are a great way to save on overhead while still being able to work in a clean, professional environment. By renting a co-working office space, you’ll save on office furniture and office equipment. Depending on where you choose to go, you can gain access to frequently used equipment such as a scanner, copy machine and fax machine.

You can also cut down on typical business expenses, from electricity bills to lunches. If you’re used to running into a local coffee shop for free Wi-Fi, you’ll no longer feel the pressure to make a purchase or fight with others over the only outlet left. Memberships are often more flexible than a commercial real estate lease, offering space by the hour, day or month. You may also be able to trade expertise with another for a mutually beneficial, short-term and cost-effective partnership.

A Source of Support
In a co-working space, you can network and connect with other startups and entrepreneurs in a no-pressure zone. You can meet potential investors, clients and partners. Use the co-working environment to tap into the minds of others when it comes to problem-solving and new ideas you’re unsure of. If you need a project done quickly or need advice when you’re having second thoughts, there’s a good chance the people around you can provide a recommendation.

Co-working environments with regulars often have a sense of community, where renters become the advocates of others. Not only does everyone in the building want to succeed, they are often more willing to help others do the same. You are unlikely to see someone with a glazed-over look of dissatisfaction day in and day out – a common ailment in corporate offices. Co-working spaces, from the furniture to the culture, encourage feedback, communication and many find a new support system amongst fellow entrepreneurs and startups.

A Foundation of Innovation
With the ability to tap into your newly found support system, your innovation is taken to new heights. Martin Ruef, a sociologist at Princeton who studied entrepreneurs, found that those who broadened their social sphere of contacts from small groups of acquaintances to larger, more loosely-connected networks of people were far more innovative than those who didn’t. More innovation is what you will get in a co-working environment with the perspectives of a wide range of people with varying experiences and industries.
You could find your next idea by spending some time in a co-working office space. There are more than a few instances of people companies with people they’ve met while co-working. You can also develop your own experience. Some offices will offer workshops on topics like “VC pitching” or events such as brown bag lunches for more networking opportunities.
Co-working shifts the startup mentality away from the focus on finding funding and onto the tasks of growing a company culture, developing innovative ideas, and locating positive support networks. According to Deskmag, the majority of co-workers report an increase in self-confidence – almost 90%. By working in a co-working environment, you can gain confidence, ideas and new insights while saving money.

The classy way to get media coverage for your startup

Reprinted from OnStartups. Original article here.

Guest post by Nicholas Holmes.

In those two lines, I (and almost all the journalists I know) made a rapid judgement on the newsworthiness of content, never spending enough time thinking about what a story could become, rather than what it was. In short, if your piece of news wasn’t 100 percent right, it would rarely get the time of day.

Savvy PR practitioners know this. The best will be in contact all the time (or at least well before they have a news story to pitch) in an attempt to figure out how to maximize the chances of something being picked up. It’s a wonder there aren’t more of them. Sadly there aren’t and 80 – 90 percent of pitches I received followed the tired format of “Hi X, Company Y is launching a product next week and we thought it would be of interest to publication Z.”

So here’s an idea to try when getting media coverage for your startup – don’t start by pitching the product. Start by pitching nothing.

Clearly showing that you understand that a journalist doesn’t just exist to publicize you is one of the fastest routes to his or her heart. It’s literally the difference between drunkenly hitting on someone in a club and taking him/her on multiple dates to the restaurant you can’t afford. Hell, you’d be unlikely to start a sales pitch without knowing your customer, or begin discussions with an investor without finding out exactly what they were interested in — so why treat the media differently?

The closest relationships journalists build are with people who can provide long-term value to them by offering something that isn’t just self-promotion. Conversely, these tend to be the names you see cropping up again and again in the media.

So instead of a product pitch, why not offer something else if you’re trying to use the media to get the word out about your startup? The following list should get you started:

Comment
Having a network of people to offer opinion and analysis is critical for most journalists and it’s a great way of getting your name out there, even when you don’t have any news. So make sure your media contacts know who you are and what you’re qualified to talk about by introducing yourself with a short biography and an offer to help.

Briefing
Most journalism is about distilling complex topics into chunks that people understand, which means journalists need to be knowledgable about a lot, and always stay up-to-date. If you’re an expert, or have access to experts, you can offer to spend some time highlighting trends or recent developments in your area to help journalists do their job better.

Access
Perhaps it’s a cliche, but one of the best ways to curry favor is to open doors. Does your business have an investor, a board member or a founder who’s in demand? Offering an introduction to the right person can help ensure that you’re remembered for the right reasons, and it doesn’t have to be just a cynical gesture. Connect two people who will benefit from knowing each other and you’ve done them both a good turn.

Data
Many companies I’ve come across sit on piles of newsworthy data they’ve never considered using. It could be information interesting to everybody or just to a niche audience, but take a look at some other examples of companies doing this and see if you might do something similar. Are you collecting data you can aggregate about your users that will be of interest to a consumer publication, such as their top tracks, movies or TV shows? Do you have access to collated information on Twitter that a journalist could use to prove a point? Or does your business measure something nobody else does?

Insights into the business
TechCrunch ran a surprisingly popular series some years back which took a look around startup offices in the style of MTV Cribs — a perhaps extreme example of how day-to-day business operations can be interesting. Think about whether your organization does anything particularly noteworthy operationally which could give a journalist some inspiration. Are there unique management styles or internal practices?

Coffee
Too simple? Never! If you can meet conveniently, meeting a journalist face to face is the best way to make sure that you’ll be remembered as more than just an email address. It also signals that you’re willing to invest serious time on getting to know this person, which will be appreciated – and who knows where you’ll both end up in the future?

Misconceptions about the importance of focus

Reprinted from CompanyFounder. Original article here.

By Paul Morin

It’s a common refrain among coaches: “You must focus to be successful”.

I agree with this statement. Focus is important in sports, business, relationships and almost every other aspect of life! That said, I think it’s important to get a clear and slightly altered definition of focus, in order to make “focusing” a realistic objective.

On dictionary.reference.com, two helpful definitions of “focus” are as follows:

7. to bring to a focus or into focus: to focus the lens of a camera.

8. to concentrate: to focus one’s thoughts.

While I think focusing in the camera sense is a useful metaphor for thinking about how to be successful, here we will discuss focus from the concentration perspective. That is, we’re talking about focus in the sense of concentrating, of zeroing in on one thing, one goal, one activity, etc., to the exclusion of other potential distractions.

Until recently, often when I thought about focusing, I thought about it in an extreme way. I thought about focusing on just one thing, to the complete exclusion of all other things. I thought that in order to be successful in one endeavor, I had to completely shut out all other activities, not just for the moment, but for an extended period of time.

I continue to think that shutting out all other distractions can be very effective in achieving one’s goals in a particular endeavor. Unfortunately though, I’ve also realized that for most people, including me, it is usually completely unrealistic to shut out all other distractions, at least for an extended period. Like most people, my life is not one-dimensional; I have my family, my business, my sports, my leisure activities, etc. Given that reality, can I ever really “focus”?

Thankfully, the answer is yes! I can focus! I can focus on one thing at a time. And when I’m done with that particular endeavor, I move on to the next one and I focus on that one. I guess what I’m saying is that you can become a “serial focuser”. It works.

What doesn’t work is trying to do several things simultaneously! When you are distracted while performing an activity, it’s virtually impossible to achieve your optimal result. Take an example that’s getting a lot of press these days: texting and driving. It has caused many serious and fatal accidents. This is a great metaphor for what can happen in other aspects of your life when you don’t concentrate, when you’re distracted while doing something that requires your complete focus.

Another key point is that focus is usually more important at certain junctures of an activity than at others. For example, if you’re playing soccer, or tennis, or baseball, one of the most important times to be completely focused is when you are about to strike the ball. Focus is important at other times in those activities, but it’s at premium at the moment of impact. This situation repeats itself in other sports as well, and it repeats itself in business and other aspects of life too! There are certain moments when your complete attention is required for optimal performance and there are other moments when it is not as critical.

So, if you’re going to become a “serial focuser,” and I encourage you to do so, understand the key moments in your endeavor, whatever it may be, where the value of complete focus is at a premium. Make sure that you are dialed in, switched on, tuned in, etc. at those moments. If you need to take a mental break, or if you need to multi-task, as we all do from time to time, don’t do it in one of those premium moments. If you do, your performance is likely to suffer greatly!

How do I get in touch with a VC?

Reprinted from Next View Ventures. Original article here.

By Rob Go.

I got this question on a panel last week, and coincidentally, I had a couple folks on Twitter tweet out the same question. Generically speaking, the question is “how do I get in touch with a potential investor about my company?”

I don’t know for sure if this is true, but I have the impression that early stage VC’s as a whole have gotten more accessible than probably any time in the past. Many investors I know (myself included) do read every email that is sent to them and make some mental decision about whether they want to engage or not.

Speaking for myself, I triage all my email. In most cases, I will respond with a pretty quick “no thank you” with little feedback on the specific opportunity. We invest in about 10 companies each year, out of the thousands that we screen, so it’s impractical to give substantive feedback for each one. In most cases, the companies that approach us are pursuing interesting opportunities and led by impressive folks, they just don’t hit the bar we set for ourselves for the level of passion we want to have about every opportunity we invest in.

I will admit that in some cases, I won’t respond or fail to respond right away. This occurs mainly when I just think the founder hasn’t tried at all to make a real connection. This is usually because of a very generic email, or a company that pings me that is very obviously outside of our scope of focus. I find that most savvy entrepreneurs do a little research on the investors they reach out to to figure out if it’s a fit and a mutually effective use of time. We are pretty explicit that we are a dedicated seed stage fund focused on internet-enabled businesses. I have a couple blog posts that also lay out some more specifics of our portfolio too, such as the fact that 80% of our investments are based in the US East Coast and the rest are opportunistic across the rest of the continental US. So I’ll often quickly scan and ignore emails pitching companies that are really far afield from our stated focus area, stage, or geography. I just presume that I am part of a scattershot email outreach approach. By the way, most of these emails tend to come from intermediaries of some sort, not the founders themselves.

I also explicitly don’t list my email address on our website, although it is findable if you simply go to my blog and click “about me”. Again, part of this is to create just a bit of friction so that I can spend as much time as possible with a) our portfolio companies b) the potential investments we are seriously considering and c) founders who are resourceful and are reaching out to us because they have done some research as to why we would be a good fit. Finally, I’m also pretty responsive on social media when folks engage with us. In fact, we have actually invested in a company that first connected with us through a comment in a blog post. Here was the text (edited for privacy):

Rob –

I run a [edited] software company that has caught some fire. I don’t think I could have verbalized the way we want to continue to build our company better than how you did today. We have an amazing product, fantastic team members/advisors and the best stakeholders involved. We also have [edited blurb about customer traction]. A recent article about us that gives a good 10,000ft view (it’s short!): [edited out this link]

We have some VCs that we really like and have developed a relationship with – but I’d love to meet with you guys (I’m also a fan of Lee’s). Any chance we could make it happen at some point? In either case, thanks for the piece.

Respectfully,

[edited]

Finally, a couple final more generic suggestions on how to reach out to an investor:

-How you get connected matters quite a bit. The best way is usually an introduction through an entrepreneur or trusted advisor to the investor. Often, the most straightforward way to do this is through the founder of a portfolio company.

-Social media can be an effective way to build some rapport with someone before even having met them. I’ve gotten to know a number of investors by first interacting with them on social media months before we ever met in person. As with all things, how you interact is a signal of your personality, judgement, and EQ, all of which does have bearing in an investors impression of you.

-Many investors have forums where they are open to meeting folks in a completely open-ended, and unqualified manner. Take advantage of these! These take the form of office hours or other sorts of informal sessions. Again, I came very close to investing behind a founder who I first met during an open office hours session. What I was impressed by was that this founder left me a great impression as being someone who had a) deep domain expertise, b) a really earnest and effective leadership style and c) laid of what he was going to do next and promised to come based on that plan. He did come back in a few months with tons more learning, great insights, and a more fully formed team and product plan. It was really impressive.

I hope this doesn’t come off as conceited. We try to behave like invited guests at the entrepreneur’s table, for both our portfolio companies and prospective founders. This demands that we leverage our time efficiently, and that we are as transparent and responsive as we can be. But there are probably a lot of ways that we can improve, so as always, I’m open to suggestions if any readers think that the practices I describe above come off badly or short-change entrepreneurs.

A chat with Endeavor network member Fadi Ghandour: how to encourage entrepreneurship in the Arab world [Wamda TV]

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

By Nina Curley

http://youtu.be/TvNKcCS7bSA

At the Abu Dhabi Media Summit last month, Fadi Ghandour discussed opportunities and challenges for entrepreneurs in the Arab world, in an hour-long talk, which you can watch here.

Afterwards, we had a frank chat with him where he explained that “the knowledge economy is the future,” noting that it is important for startups in the Arab world, especially in the tech sector, to realize that copying and pasting a model may be ok, but you have to innovate to make your startup relevant to the region.

By observing trends in developed economies, Ghandour explains that we can get a sense for what will happen in the Middle East and North Africa as the ecosystem develops. “What happens there will happen here,” he says, “but with a twist.”

He also stresses the importance of local innovations; “We don’t want to be only a consumer society, because a lot of the knowledge industry needs to be generated here.”

“Entrepreneurs are the creators of future jobs, and there is a high unemployment rate among all youth in the Arab, and that’s the biggest danger for stability in the Arab world – bigger than any other danger. But we’re not doing enough about it,” he explains. It is thus incumbent upon governments to enable entrepreneurship through easier business regulations, stronger broadband infrastructure, free trade in the region, and a freer movement of peoples between countries.

Ghandour adds that governments need to foster competition instead of protectionism to release entrepreneurs to innovate and build better products and services for consumers. “Small and medium-sized enterprises need to be encouraged,” he says, “Access to capital, access to knowledge, access to networks is where the future lies.”

How to discover your perfect value proposition

Reprinted from Duct Tape Marketing. Original article here.

By John Jantsch

This is part two of a three-part series on Finding Strategy. Each post includes a free template.

So, I’ve been preaching this one pretty hard for a bunch of years and see no end in sight, because it’s just that important.

Find a way to differentiate your business, one that matters to somebody, or you’ll be forever doomed to compete on price.
Get really, really clear about the single-minded point of difference that some narrowly defined ideal client cannot live without and you’ve got the secret to marketing success. Seems pretty simple, right – then why do people fight it so?
I’ll tell you why, because to be unique, you have to actually be different and that scares the heck out of most business owners.
But let me tell you the most important lesson I’ve learned in all my years of owning a business – your customers and prospects want you to be different, they require you to be different.
If you want to succeed in business you have one job – find a way to propose that you are completely different in a way that a market wants and values, exploit that difference in every word that you compose and watch your profits soar.
This is the essence of the elusive marketing strategy so many companies long for.
Okay, enough preaching let me teach you a simple process I’ve used for many years that often helps business owners nail the core difference and value proposition that matters most.

Identify your ideal client
The first step is to identify your ideal client. I wrote about The Secret to Finding Highly Profitable Clients here. You know you have an ideal client in mind when you can ponder how great life would be if you have a dozen or so more just like them.
Create a list of six to eight of your current ideal clients and commit to sitting down with face to face or over the phone for about fifteen minutes. You are going to conduct an interview of sorts that may lead to some fabulous revelations.

Ask them these questions
Once you have your client’s attention pose some variation of the following questions.
A word of caution here, you’re not looking for scientific data here, you’re looking themes and stories that offer clues to what really does make your firm unique. In most cases you will need to use follow-up statements such as – “Okay, we provide great service, that’s awesome, but tell me a story about a time we did.”

1. Why did you hire us/buy from us in the first place? (Here you are looking for clues to what helped them decide to buy, what build trust, what resonated in your marketing and sales processes.)

2. What’s one thing we do that you love the most? (Stick to one thing and help them get as specific as possible)

3. What’s one thing we do that others don’t? (Again one thing – this may sound a lot like the second question, but what you are really trying to do here is get some industry comparison going – you might get some stories of how others have failed them in the past and there offer some interesting opportunities.)

4. If you were to refer us what would you say? (This is your chance to have them describe what you do best as though they were telling a friend. This point of view can be very powerful and this answer might actually turn into a testimonial. In many cases that’s precisely what I’ve done with answers to this question.)

5. Can you tell me about three other companies that you love? (This question does a couple of things. It allows you to better understand what they think best of class looks like and why and it helps you build a list of potential strategic partners. Think about it, your shared client thinks you both rock!)

6. Bonus: If you can pull this off, have them conduct an online search and simply ask them to type the phrase they would enter if you were no longer around and they needed to replace what you do for them. (I like to try to have them physically do this. It’s amazing what you learn from watching what people really do to find things online. Experience tells me you might not be optimizing your content for the same terms your prospects are looking for.)

We’ve created a handy tool that you can use to record your client interviews – Download our free client survey template here

Work with themes that matter

From your interviews you should have some rich themes to work with. Don’t underestimate the power of simple things. Quite often your clients value the little things you do that are special. Resist the temptation to dismiss them as unimportant enough to use as your core point of difference.

I once worked with a remodeling contractor that felt their superior craftsmanship was the key and while their clients acknowledged this they admitted that it was an expectation because the company was also higher priced than most. What they didn’t expect was how thoroughly their people cleaned up the job site every day. That idea was unique and using it in all of their marketing created a dramatic shift in strategy and sales.
In the final part of our Finding Strategy Series we’ll cover how to turn your point of difference into a core message, value proposition and something I call Your Talking Logo.

Endeavor Entrepreneur Rob Sussman: Growing something out of nothing

Reprinted from Integr8. Original article here.

By Lesley Stones

Wired for tech Rob Sussman, Integr8, says he has a particular mindset that understands how computers think.

Visitors to the offices of Integr8 might notice that all the teacups on the shelves are lined up with the corporate logo neatly facing forward. None of them are chipped or cracked, because a company slack enough to tolerate broken cups will also tolerate business proposals sent out with coffee stains on them.

Integr8’s joint CEO Rob Sussman is deadly serious as he tells me this, then sees my expression and grins. “I’m fanatical about everything being organised. I know it’s anal but I believe it’s important,” he says. “If you make a big thing about little things, then the big things become important as well. The office has to be immaculate. I can drive myself berserk so I must drive my people absolutely crazy. I sometimes have to apologise and say this is how I am, everything has to be perfect, but it’s worked well for us.”

Sussman founded and grew the Integr8 group with his brother-in-law Lance Fanaroff. It’s a real family business, with his wife Tami the chief marketing officer, his mother-in-law the client relationship manager, his mother running the company’s property portfolio, Fanaroff’s brother running the IT rental division, his sister in office administration and a brother-in-law working as a project manager. The group has about 540 other employees too, making it the largest privately-owned ICT company in Africa.

Drop-out

Sussman is only 38 and looks younger, with gelled, spiky hair and a lean body honed by daily workouts. “I used to be the youngest guy in the boardroom, but now the average age is 26. So I’m the old, grey-haired one, except I don’t have any yet,” he jokes, finger-combing his funky hair and sipping a Diet Coke.

He’s come a long way since his inauspicious school days and directionless adolescence in Cape Town.

“I did computing in Standard Eight and dropped out, thinking it wasn’t for me. We had to code to make a green turtle run around a screen and we spent ages doing that. At the end you had a turtle running around and I thought, `What on earth was that all about?’”

He also dropped out of biology and accounting, worrying his mother by his lack of academic prowess. But his father was unfazed. “My father was very chilled and laid-back. If I’d followed my dad, I’d be working on Greenmarket Square or renting out chairs on the beach,” he says. “School didn’t interest me. I didn’t like the academic side or the structured environment. Later, I also learned the corporate environment wasn’t something I enjoyed. I’m more in tune with the entrepreneurial world.”

Most of his friends went to university, but Sussman didn’t. He had no plans at all, so he enrolled for the easiest-possible year-long business course, then skipped most lectures.

If I’d followed my dad, I’d be working on Greenmarket Square or renting out chairs on the beach.

His life was going nowhere, but when his father decided to move on, his entire world changed. “You know how people say you have an ‘ah-ha’ moment? Well, I got a proper klap as a wake-up call. Within the space of six months, my parents got divorced, my older sister went to live in Johannesburg, my younger sister went to live in Israel and the family house was sold. My mom and I moved into a guest house and shared a room with our dog. I thought if there’s ever a time to wake up, it’s now.”

Losing his whole family support system was the turning point. He enrolled for electronics at a technical college, followed by a three-year course in electrical engineering. “I excelled. I learned to listen in class, studied hard and did my homework every day.”

Going it alone

A job with IT company Bhekisizwe taught him how to build computers. He also took a Microsoft course and lobbied his managers to let him launch a Microsoft business unit. When they refused, Sussman quit to set up a Microsoft integration company on his own.

“I realised I had a particular mindset that understood how computers think. I just kind of get it; maybe I’m wired that way. So I went on my own and started selling computers to friends and then to businesses.”

With 550 people, it’s not a close-knit family business. It’s not sitting around with pizza by the pool.

Despite his lethargic start, Sussman quickly got his act together. “I missed out on the phase of partying and drugging. I didn’t smoke and I didn’t drink. I was too busy working and looking after my mother. Saturday nights consisted of movies with my girlfriend and my mom.”

If his girlfriend tolerated his mother joining them on dates, she was definitely a keeper, I say. She was, and they’re still together two decades later.

He’s also still very close to his mother, and treated her to a European cruise for her 68th birthday, where she attracted envious glances from old dowagers convinced she was travelling with a toy boy.

Despite good looks and easy charm, Sussman says he’s only had two girlfriends, one from 16 to 18, and Tami from the age of 18. “I’m very much a long-term player,” he says. “I pick something and I give it a proper go.”

Tami now wants children, and Sussman is happy to oblige. “My wife wants kids, so kids she’ll get,” he says indulgently. The reason they are still child-free is because they have both focussed so hard on building the business.

What really kick-started his career was when one of his sisters introduced him to her boyfriend, Lance Fanaroff. Fanaroff was a businessman importing glass at the time, but when he won an IT networking contract, he commissioned Sussman to conduct the work. As the scope of the job grew, they joined forces to launch a company, initially working with business partner Mark Levy, who later left to form Blue Label.

Boom and bust

This was at the height of the dotcom boom, and they sold the business to a bigger company with big dreams of listing. But that plan burst along with the dotcom bubble, leaving the trio with nothing.

“We had nothing. No customers, no income, no money,” Sussman recalls.

The trio each stumped up R150 000 to create another company, Integr8IT, in March 2001.

They continually reinvest the profits into the business, rather than splurging on luxuries. I ask if he has any extravagances at all, and his answer is the gym. He’s serious. Not a flashy car, luxury house or baths in champagne, but fitness sessions. Trying to uncover any vices in this good, clean-living Jewish boy is a hopeless challenge.

He lives in an apartment in Cape Town’s Mouille Point, built when Integr8 first invested in commercial property developments. That shows how Sussman is happy to dip into various ventures rather than being an IT devotee. “I think I’m an entrepreneur,” he says. “I like to grow things out of nothing.” He didn’t come from money or a fancy education, he says proudly, pointing out what a successful enterprise they have grown from three initially small investments.

He’s also learned the importance of a properly structured corporation, overcoming his initial dislike of such formality. “I have figured it out,” he grins. “I now realise why corporate systems exist ? to enable companies to grow.”

His growth plans are hugely ambitious, with an aim of doubling in size every year for the next three years. That could involve listing or a take-over by a larger company. Not chasing growth would be unfair to the young employees who want to learn and join the management team and become partners and directors, he adds.

“I chase success, and I don’t think success is money. Money can come from success, but you can inherit a lot of money and it doesn’t make you a success. For me, success is growing things out of nothing.”

Ideas factory

What he is growing now is ZunguZ, an application developed to let Facebook users securely transfer money to and from their Facebook contacts.

Integr8’s ideas machine usually begins when Sussman comes up with something new and proposes it to Fanaroff. Instead of picking holes or shooting it down, Fanaroff tends to stretch things into even greater possibilities. “As much as I present an idea, he catapults it even further. I plant the seed, he waters it and I have to trim it back. It’s a fantastic relationship and works really well.”

Discussing the creation of new ventures makes Sussman realise that that is what keeps him interested in being at the helm even though Integr8 has grown into a serious corporation. Yet sometimes he questions whether being joint CEO is still the perfect role.

“With 550 people, it’s not a close-knit family business. It’s not sitting around with pizza by the pool,” he says. “As the business grows, it’s no longer about you, it’s about your people and what they demand and their careers. You doubt yourself. You sometimes sit in a meeting and think, ‘I wonder if I’m the right guy for the job now?’ We have put brilliant people in the right roles to run the business on a day-to-day basis and a lot of them are better than I am.”

Yet he’s very much the leader, and still loving it. As our evening interview ends, he tells me he’s going straight back to work. “I can’t wait to see what’s happening and who’s done what. Work isn’t work ? it’s what I want to do. It’s my passion,” he says. “I get into bed at night with my laptop and work.”

Which is one thing that may have to change, or those elusive children could remain some way off yet.

The secret to finding highly profitable clients

Reprinted from Duct Tape Marketing. Original article here.

By John Jantsch

Most people view marketing and selling like this.

You target a market segment, tell them what you have to offer, maybe work in a little solution selling and hope they choose you.

Or

You target a market segment, respond to RFPs and hope they choose your price.

Either way, what you’re building is a recipe for low prices and even lower profits.
See, the secret to high profits is to take price out of the equation to a large extent by offering some unique and desirable element that can’t be compared.

The problem with solution selling and responding to RFPs is that both of these approaches basically make every business look the same so price is the primary issue.
The secret to creating consistently high profits is to understand how to choose your clients and not the other way around.

Yes, you need to select exactly whom you intend to work with and let your unique way of doing business illustrate your premium pricing value proposition.
Now, when I say choose your clients I’m don’t mean making a list of clients you want to work with or that you think would be nice names in your portfolio.

What I’m referring to is the intentional act of identifying the characteristics of an ideal client and going after only prospects that fit that profile. Taking this approach allows you to significantly increase the likelihood that you will only work with clients that appreciate your unique approach and expect paying you what that’s worth.

I have developed a three-step approach for helping you get clearer on this idea. You may want to download our free ideal client template here.

1) The #1 Unmet Need

The first step is to figure out who has a problem you can solve and what their goals are for solving this problem. I know we all think everyone needs what we do, but the key to finding ideal clients is to also find prospects that are in flux, have the desire to make a change and are open to a disruptive approach.

You must find that demographic, help them define their goals and speak to their greatest unmet need.

2) The Crucial Behavior

Once you identify the larger pool of prospects that have the need, it’s time to turn your attention to a narrower subset that has demonstrated a behavior that can give real clues to their willingness to respond to your unique approach.
This element is harder to define because you won’t discover it on a direct mail list of selected fields. But, when you understand it, you’ll have the tool to unlocking this approach in ways that will make you incredibly smart and confident about zeroing in on ideal clients.

Let me give you an example that might apply to any service type business.

I found long ago that there are three behaviors that stand out as crucial markers for an ideal client. It almost doesn’t matter what industry, if one of these three characteristics is apparent I can charge ahead with confidence that I want that client.
We’ve identified these behaviors with names to give us common language to refer to.

Movers – Movers are people who care about their industry almost as much as they do about their business. They have a need to serve and realize that by improving the overall health or impression of their industry, they win as well.
These people serve on industry and association trade group boards and committees and always look for ways to improve their business.

Educators – Educators teach as an approach to selling and business development. They hold classes, create content that educates and are often found leading discussions and presentations both related and unrelated to their core business.
No surprise, this behavior responds very well to an inbound, content based, educational approach in kind.

Skeptics – This last group might seem odd, but the one thing I’ve discovered about skeptics is that sometimes they are as open to anyone for a truly new approach. What they’ve grown skeptical of is that everyone is saying the same thing and no one is delivering results.
Sometimes the only way to uncover skeptics is through networking, but this group may indeed to very open to a disruptive approach.

3) The Ideal Client Sketch

The last piece of the puzzle is to write out a thorough sketch of this ideal client that includes the demographics, the #1 unmet need, goals and central behavior that allows you to pinpoint your hottest prospect.
From this three-step approach you should be able to create a hot list of real prospects that your marketing and selling efforts can take specific aim on knowing that your efforts, when successful, will lead to a profitable client.

Endeavor Entrepreneur SocialWire launches optimized ads for Facebook, announces $2m in investment

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

By Nina Curley

Online advertising has yet to be proven very effective. Yet SocialWire, a company started in Istanbul by a Turkish entrepreneur, is out to transform the way companies think about advertising globally.

“Online advertising today requires a lot of guesswork, testing and manual work. It’s like the evolution of print media. When you look at authentic channels of discovery like recommendations, they don’t rely on guesswork, they rely on data signals,” says [Endeavor Entrepreneur] Selcuk Atli, SocialWire’s Founder and CEO. “

That’s where SocialWire comes in.

Online merchants today might not fully understand Facebook’s Open Graph, but SocialWire has made it simple to create and share extremely targeted ads that reflect actions consumers are already taking, much like a recommndations engine.

“There is so much more to Facebook marketing than building Fan pages and paying for likes,” says Atli.

The company allows merchants to leverage Facebook in two ways:

1. Making social actions on the web visible on shoppers’ Facebook Timelines. Once a merchant adds SocialWire Connect to their website, any action that a shopper takes- a purchase, a wish list addition, a product review, a video viewing- can then become visible on Facebook.

2. Promoting the visibility of those actions on Newsfeed via sponsored stories. Once the actions appear on a user’s Timeline, SocialWire Amp allows merchants to, well, amplify the effect of that action by targeting friends who are most likely to click the ads.
This way, SocialWire combines earned media (organic shares) and paid media (promoted actions), as TechCrunch points out. It monetizes by taking a commission on total ad spend.

“When an action is shared on Facebook, typically less than 12% of a user’s friends see those actions,” says Atli. SocialWire ensures it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle, while allowing marketers to choose who to target, when, and on what device (web or mobile).

Competitor Nanigans also allows merchants to promote sponsored stories, but with its Connect platform, SocialWire uniquely offers the ability to monetize almost any action on the web, like reviewing a book on Jamalon or dress on MarkaVIP.

Advantages

1) It democratizes advertising by lowering the cost for small businesses. “SocialWire enables and empowers marketers of all sizes,” says Atli. While a small seller on Etsy won’t have the traffic to make banner ads effective, she could easily promote her whole catalogue on Facebook.

2) It makes mobile advertising effective. By also targeting the 400 million users on Facebook mobile, SocialWire provides a simple way to generate effective mobile advertising in an era when up to 79% of users say they forget typical mobile ads. It can also help mobile startups drive app installs by sharing stories from their apps.

3) It gives users control over their privacy. This point can’t be stressed enough- SocialWire allows users the ability to easily opt out of sharing their actions. Unlike Facebook itself, which makes privacy a tedious and obscure process, SocialWire politely asks users to authorize sharing their actions. “Whenever we share, we let users know,” says Atli.

If you’re skeptical, go ahead and test it out on SocialWire’s demo page.

My biggest concerns when initially assessing SocialWire were: 1) But will I get spammed with actions taken by friends? And 2) how can SocialWire iterate to ensure that its platform helps merchants target the right users?

It turns out both issues have been taken into account: thanks to Facebook’s built-in controls, users can’t see over a certain number sponsored stories in a given time period. When it comes to audience targeting, SocialWire makes this very easy for its merchants, but the company is not an advertising firm itself; it’s up to merchants themselves to assess the data and define their ideal target audience.

Customers and Investors

To launch their product, the company has taken on $2 million in investment from First Round Capital, Wamda Capital, and several angel investors, including Dave McClure of 500 Startups, Wamda Chairman Fadi Ghandour, Wamda board member Joi Ito, and Wamda CEO Habib Haddad.

They’re already taking on customers as well, including apparel retailer Bonobos and Instacanvas, whose CEO says it saw click-through rates of 0.8%, over 10 times that of standard Facebook ads.

A platform like SocialWire is limited to a Facebook audience, but that’s an audience of now around 1 billion globally, and around 50 million in the Middle East and North Africa as of September this year, according to Internet World Stats.

To further help small merchants reach a big audience, SocialWire will also be rolling out a self-service option soon.

Check out screenshots below of SocialWire’s demo platform.


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