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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

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Endeavor Entrepreneurs Silvina Leibenberg and María Noel Ache Featured on CNN en Español

Endeavor Uruguay Entrepreneurs Silvina Leibenberg and María Noel Ache were both  featured on CNN en Español for their work as successful female entrepreneurs. Silvina Leibenberg appeared on the channel’s “America Latina: Fuerza En Movimiento” series, which spotlights successful  business leaders and entrepreneurs […]

January 2nd, 2014 — by admin

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What makes a minimum viable team?

Reprinted from This is going to be big. Original article here.

By Charlie O’Donnell

You have a million things to get done at your startup, yet you only have a handful of people to do them. How are you ever going to get it done? Who should you hire? What should be the makeup of a founding team? What is the Minimum Viable Team, if you will, for a startup?

To make life simpler, I’ll take a page from George Carlin, who masterfully widdled down the Ten Commandments down to two simple rules. I can break down all the things a startup needs to do into three ideal people.

Let’s start out with the basic functions of a tech company:

1) Engineering
2) Marketing
3) Sales
4) Business development
5) PR
6) Design
7) Product Management
8) HR
9) Operations
10) Finance

Ok, that’s just overwhelming.

Ready to start simplifying?

The last two are pretty basic. On a 2-3 person team, there really are no “operations”, save for some light calendaring, and “finance” is pretty simplistic. To the extent that you need bills paid and some simple bookkeeping, you should 100% outsource this, because it’s not a good use of anyone on the team’s time. Let’s call these tasks “Some outsourced crap the team shouldn’t be thinking about.”

Now we’re down to nine core business functions on a small startup team.

Let’s take sales and business development. When the product is early and still pivoting, these are kind of the same thing. In a way, you can think of BD as “sales when you don’t know what the product is yet.” It’s basically working with potential outside partners to reach your business goals–which could be revenue, distribution, financing, product development, awareness, etc. If you think about it, these things are all of the goals of another function on the list–PR. Interesting that biz dev and PR would have the same exact goals–but not surprising, since they deal with the same group: outsiders. PR is just a way to get outsiders to come to you, so communicating to them should be part of the same role as negotiating business deals with them.

So, we could generalize this function and call it “Attracting and benefiting from outside interest.”

That leaves seven core business functions. Just to recap, we have:

1) Attracting and benefiting from outside interest.
2) Some outsourced crap the team shouldn’t be thinking about.
3) Engineering
4) Marketing
5) Design
6) HR
7) Product Management

But wait, isn’t the recruiting part of HR also about outside interest? Sure is! Getting people to join your company is a key goal of early PR. The part that isn’t about recruiting, like healthcare benefits if there are any, shouldn’t that be part of the crap the team shouldn’t spend time thinking about? Yup! So, poof! Break that baby up, divide it, and now we’re down to six.

Wikipedia defines Marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers”. So, when you read into it, marketing isn’t really selling, it’s more of finding and packaging the right thing to sell to the right customers. Hmm.. what other functions in our organization have to do with our customers? Well, a good product certainly requires a good customer or user experience. And what is a good user experience? It involves a deep understanding of the target audience and figuring out what kinds of interactions they’re going to find valuable.

Understanding the audience and designing products that suit their needs requires close cross-functional collaboration to get it right. Therefore, it makes sense that all of these functions in the process–marketing, design, and product management–fit under one roof:
“Customer experience.”

The role of a customer experience person is simple: understand my customer and satisfy them by creating easy to use products that enable them to accomplish their goals. How you do this tactically is a combo of intense user research, narrowing product requirements, getting feedback, user experience testing, etc.

That leaves us with four functions of a startup:

1) Attracting and benefiting from outside interest
2) Customer experience
3) Engineering
4) Some outsourced crap the team shouldn’t be thinking about

Tada!

And given that the outsourced crap isn’t a person at the company, there’s your three person startup team:

“Outside person”
“Customer experience”
“Builder”

Many startups start with two people. When you’ve got two people on the team and you’re going super lean in the early stages, usually your best bet is to have a customer experience person and a builder. Outside tasks, like getting PR for the company, can often be done with the help of advisors and investors who are good at showing the company around. Plus, in such a connected world, at the seed stage, the “outside” bar is low–a good article, review, demo can be a difference maker and get you on the right radars.

More often than not, however, you wind up with an outside person and a builder–because outside people are usually the business people who knew the industry well enough to have the idea in the first place. If you have the magical unicorn that is both a builder and someone who has a process for thinking about customer experience, you’re gold–but not many of these exist. So its left up to you, but you may have another resource you’re not thinking about. Many startups outsource visual design work, and instead of hiring that designer, hire a second developer.

I think that designer could be more helpful than you think, and maybe will do more for you than a second developer. The designer should be your third leg of the stool.

That makes the decision of the founding outside person:

1) Learn product management, like, yesterday.
2) Deputize the designer and bring them on full-time to run the product management process.

In regards to the latter, let’s be clear about what we mean by a designer. Design encompases a number of different areas:

1) Interaction design: These people are tasked with learning about your users, coming up with the flows to help them get done what they need to get done, and who maps product requirements to a set of wireframes. In other words, if you build a photosharing app, they’re the ones that realize that an app needs two buttons, taking a picture, and pulling from your phone, to get photos into the system, and put together what clicking each one means.

2) Visual design: These folks put flesh on the wireframe, giving your app a look and feel that will appeal to your

3) Usability: These people not only smooth out the rough edges so that your users can *easily* accomplish their objectives. This is a continual process–one that many people unfortunately outsource as a one time “fix”. If anything, if you had to outsource something, visual design is something you can have someone else do for you to give you a base set of colors, styles, etc that will serve you well in the near term. Usability needs to be a weekly, in-house process. Your whole team should be forced to watch users use the product with their eyes glued open each week.

Point being that your designer, if they’re doing their job and you’ve got them in a process that immerses them in customers, are the closest people in your company to the mindset of your users. While you’re out pitching to investors and press in the outside role, they’re testing to see whether or not people understand the word “invite” versus “request” in the context of your app. That’s the person who needs to own feature requirements, best practices on implantation, etc. When you’ve got a feature idea, you should be submitting it to them to see whether it jives with their model of a user.

What’s even better about this model is that more and more designers are learning how to code and getting a deeper understanding of how the technology works that they’re designing for–because those are the constraints they need to keep in mind when figuring out solutions to user problems.

It’s also important that this person is full-time–always thinking about the users for this product and not just one of many contract customers. Many startups will tell you that it’s nearly impossible to hire a designer full-time and I agree–but that’s to hire them as a designer. I know a bunch of designers who have jumped at the chance to own product as an opportunity to gain responsibility, and broaden their skillset while still keeping creative juices flowing and getting high levels of customer interaction. It’s a win-win for btw sides and it is the kind of offer startups should consider making. Product management processes can be learned, but curiosity, creative problem solving and continual desire for improving the product are drives found in most designers that are tough to take a class on.

EFE, which has worked with Endeavor in the Middle East, wins Schwab award

Reprinted from Education for Employment

During a ceremony at the recent World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of New Champions in Tianjin, China, Education for Employment (EFE), which has worked with Endeavor in the Middle East to create employment opportunities, was recognized as one of the world’s leading social innovations by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. Chosen from more than 1,000 international applicants, EFE was praised for its “novel approaches, demonstrated impact and ability to shape global, regional and industry agendas.” EFE’s Founder & Chair Ron Bruder and President & CEO Jamie McAuliffe accepted the award on behalf of the EFE Network of affiliates in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia,Yemen, Europe, and the United States. As a Schwab Award recipient, EFE is fully integrated into the events and initiatives of the World Economic Forum, allowing EFE to benefit from peer-to-peer exchanges with other top leaders in business, government, civil society, social enterprises and the media.

Andreessen Horowitz’s Peter Levine: how to coach tech founders

Reprinted from Angel Investment Network. Original article here.

Andreessen Horowitz funds companies with technology oriented founders. Hear what Levine thinks makes them unique and how he works with them.

Tips for effective one-on-ones

Reprinted from Ben’s blog. Original article here.

By Ben Horowitz

After I wrote A Good Place to Work, people flooded me with feedback about one-on-ones. About half the responders chastised me, saying that one-on-ones were useless and that I shouldn’t put so much emphasis on them. The other half wanted to know how to run more effective one-on-ones. It seems to me that both groups are likely talking about two sides of the same coin.

Perhaps the CEO’s most important operational responsibility is designing and implementing the communication architecture for her company. The architecture might include the organizational design, meetings, processes, email, yammer and even one-on-one meetings with managers and employees. Absent a well-designed communication architecture, information and ideas will stagnate and your company will degenerate into a bad place to work. While it is quite possible to design a great communication architecture without one-on-one meetings, in most cases one-on-ones provide an excellent mechanism for information and ideas to flow up the organization and should be part of your design.

Generally, people who think one-on-one meetings are a bad idea have been victims of poorly designed one-on-one meetings. The key to a good one-on-one meeting is the understanding that it is the employee’s meeting rather than the manager’s meeting. This is the free-form meeting for all the pressing issues, brilliant ideas and chronic frustrations that do not fit neatly into status reports, email and other less personal and intimate mechanisms.

If you are an employee, how do you get feedback from your manager on an exciting, but only 20% formed idea that you’re not sure is relevant without sounding like a fool? How do you point out that a colleague that you do not know how to work with is blocking your progress without throwing her under the bus? How do you get help when you love your job, but your personal life is melting down? Through a status report? On email? Yammer? Asana? Really? For these and other important areas of discussions, one-on-ones can be essential.

If you like structured agendas, then the employee should set the agenda. A good practice is to have the employee send you the agenda in advance. This will give her a chance to cancel the meeting if nothing is pressing. It also makes clear that it is her meeting and will take as much or as little time as she needs. During the meeting, since it’s the employee’s meeting, the manager should do 10% of the talking and 90% of the listening. Note that this is the opposite of most one-on-ones.

While it’s not the manager’s job to set the agenda or do the talking, the manager should try to draw the key issues out of the employee. The more introverted the employee, the more important this becomes. If you manage engineers, drawing out issues will be an important skill to master.

Some questions that I’ve found to be very effective in one-on-ones:

If we could improve in any way, how would we do it?
What’s the No. 1 problem with our organization? Why?
What’s not fun about working here?
Who is really kicking ass in the company? Who do you admire?
If you were me, what changes would you make?
What don’t you like about the product?
What’s the biggest opportunity that we’re missing out on?
What are we not doing that we should be doing?
Are you happy working here?

In the end, the most important thing is that the best ideas, the biggest problems and the most intense employee life issues make their way to the people that can deal with them. One-on-ones are a time-tested way to do that, but if you have a better one, go ahead with your bad self.

Lack of planning: the number one reason why angel investors say no


Reprinted from Angel Investment Network. Original article here.

By Eva Pearce

Seeking financial support from an angel investor should be mutually advantageous. Investors are looking for great opportunities in which to invest and make money, while entrepreneurs may have great ideas but no capital. Angel investors do refuse investment opportunities and for all sorts of reasons, it may well be because they don’t consider the idea a viable one, or it is just not something that has grabbed their attention. However, sometimes the idea may well be a great one, but the investor still says no, simply because the entrepreneur hasn’t done their homework.

Pitching an investment opportunity, no matter how great the idea, requires plenty of planning. All too often, entrepreneurs go into a pitch cold and are shocked as to why the investor has declined the opportunity. They may well be onto a winner, but have been refused simply because they have not prepared properly and considered the needs of the investor, and this poor planning soon becomes evident.

Poor pitch
The pitch is something many people looking for investment fret about, and yet it should be simple, after all, it is your business idea and if you can’t explain it, nobody else can. If you can’t explain your business idea to somebody, you can’t expect that person to want to invest. An angel investor needs to know what they are plowing their money into, so the pitch should be succinct and concise and should clearly explain what your business is about both as an outline and in detail. For instance, say you intend to provide a European wedding service where you help people get married in romantic places such as Paris, Rome or Venice and do all the arrangements for them. Your pitch should detail what exactly it is your business offers, so you should explain that for a fee you take care of everything. You organize the necessary documentation and visas, sort through the European bureaucracy, organize the photographer, buy euros on the behalf of the couple, book the hotels and arrange the flights.

Once you have set up the business idea, you need to have also planned for any questions. For instance, after pitching the European wedding idea, an investor may ask what happens if the hotels are all booked, or do you charge commission for buying euros or booking the hotel? What happens if the couple changes their mind? If you can’t answer these questions then you can’t expect the angel investor to want to give you any money.

Poor business plan

Too many people asking investors for money have either a poor business plan or none at all. A business plan should outline not just the initial idea, but also outline every aspect of the aims for the business and possible threats. This should include how it will be marketed, operational information such as where you will be based, the running and set up costs, possible threats to the business, any potential barriers to success, a sales forecast over three years, and what return you are offering for any investment.

Of course, if it is a new business you may have no idea of what your sales forecast or costs may be. However, an investor will have expected you to research similar ideas and come up with at least a realistic estimate. Most investors will want to scrutinize or question your business plan so make sure you have done your homework and you business plan contains as much information as possible.

Overvaluing the business

You may think you have a million dollar idea, but that doesn’t mean you should value your business at a million dollars. If you ask an angel investor for $100,000 for a ten percent share of your business, you will probably find the investor either laughs or walks away. You need to be realistic, while you may think the business has the potential to earn millions, an investor will look at what the business is worth at the moment. If you have few assets and limited sales, your business is not going to be worth very much. A more realistic figure for a start up to offer an investor will be around 50%. While this may sound steep, without investment, your million-dollar idea will essentially be worthless. Furthermore, any investment is a risk to the angel investor, and the potential share should reflect this.

No exit strategy

While your business idea may become your whole life and is all you think about, it won’t be the angel investor’s, and there is a chance he or she doesn’t want to be tied to you and your business forever. Most investors will want you to offer them an exit strategy and a time limit on the investment where they will get their money back and be able to walk away. An angel investor is just that, an investor, they are not your partners so don’t plan on them wanting to stay with you forever. Make sure you have planned for the future, both positively and negatively. You may think things won’t go wrong, but an angel investor probably won’t share the same optimism, so ensure you have a strict time limit as to when you will be able to pay them back.

Join us for the 2012 Endeavor Gala (Nov 8)

Join the movement of innovative job creators

CLICK HERE to read the full Endeavor Insight, Omidyar Network, and Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs’ report, “Why Becoming Large Matters: How scalable, high-growth entrepreneurs can help solve the jobs crisis” or use the interactive Job Creation Calculator.  

The world needs to create more than 500 million new jobs by 2020 to provide career opportunities for the currently unemployed as well as young people who will be joining the workforce. SMEs which grow into large businesses are uniquely capable of quickly scaling and, relative to microenterprises and un-scalable SMEs, growing SMEs are most critical to meaningful job creation, especially in developing countries. By supporting and investing in scalable SMEs, policy makers, business leaders and development works can help fight the jobs crisis.

Many innovative organizations are working towards this goal, include Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) members Endeavor, Omidyar Network, Acumen Fund, Ignia, SEAF, and New Ventures. These organizations are investing resources and providing much needed support to entrepreneurs all over the world.

Globant (Endeavor company in Argentina): Globant’s four founders transformed a self-staffed IT outsourcing shop into a company of more than 2,800 employees that is putting Buenos Aires on the tech map. Globant is one of Latin America’s fastest growing independent software product development companies and the leader of a new sector in Argentina.

Ziqitza Healthcare (Acumen Fund portfolio company in India): Ziqitza Health Care Limited (ZHL) is the first private ambulance company in India that provides service for all, regardless of income, and is one of just three organized operators in the country. In 2007, the company had 10 ambulances in Mumbai. Today, it has more than 870 Ambulances across Mumbai, Kerala, Bihar, Rajasthan, and Punjab.

Versé (Omidyar Network Portfolio company in India): Versé offers a suite of mobile classifieds products that allows people of all socio-economic classes in India and other emerging economies to engage and access important information that can help them improve their lives. Versé facilitates deeper connections between people, their needs, and new opportunities through services such as: SMS-alerts, a Hindi language option, zero-cost USSD sessions, and customized information searches powered by online and print media partners.

To learn more about these and other fast-growing, job-creating companies read the full Endeavor Insight Report here or experiment with the interactive Job Creation Calculator here.

Lesson #2 from Endeavor’s fastest growing entrepreneurs: Don’t be afraid to work at a big company

CLICK HERE to read the full Endeavor Insight report, “Emerging Market Entrepreneurs Have Emerged: A look at the fastest growing entrepreneurs in Endeavor’s portfolio”

While it is not surprising that the majority of Endeavor’s fastest growing entrepreneurs are serial entrepreneurs, the finding that a majority have also previously worked at large corporations–including multinational companies–is somewhat counter to traditional notions of the “solitary entrepreneur.”  Moreover, many of these high-growth entrepreneurs argue that this prior experience at a large company was a key asset in helping them grow their current venture. Specifically, they cite this experience as having been essential to learning about a specific market and/or about the organizational structure that operates within large companies.

Basel Mashhour, founder of The Bakery Shop, an Endeavor Entrepreneur in Egypt who would have placed in the Top 100 of this year’s Inc. 500, explained that his previous experience working at Henkel as a brand manager helped him to better understand consumers and to identify new needs for certain customer segments: “It gave me [a] good view on the market, how it’s segmented and how to understand the consumers. Also, working in a big corporation gave me a sense of how to deal with the different departments and get the best out of everyone since, as a brand manager, I handled the brand from the marketing side, the sales side, and the production side.”

To learn more about Basel, other fast growing Endeavor Entrepreneurs, and their lessons for success, please read the full report here.

Endeavor network member Fadi Ghandour’s next investment: building a future for Arab social entrepreneurship

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

By Knowledge at Wharton

Fadi Ghandour’s name has been synonymous with Arab entrepreneurship. In 1982 he established Aramex as an express operator for the Middle East and South Asia, and it became the first Arab-based company to trade on NASDAQ in 1997. He is also a founding partner of Maktoob, the Arab/English Internet portal that Yahoo! acquired in the fall of 2009 for US$85 million.

Now, Ghandour is stepping away from the CEO seat to take on a new role, joining a growing group of social entrepreneurs attempting new business models in the region that blend profit with social impact.

Having long promoted entrepreneurship in Arab countries, Ghandour spoke with Arabic Knowledge@Wharton about Ruwwad for Development, his first step in social impact efforts, in addition to a broader discussion about what’s next for social enterprise in the MENA region.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Arabic Knowledge@Wharton: For those who are not familiar with Ruwwad for Development, could you please provide a short description?

Fadi Ghandour: Ruwwad is a private sector led, non-profit community empowerment organization that helps disadvantaged communities through youth activism, civic engagement and education.

We started Ruwwad for Development (which means Entrepreneurs for Development) in Jordan in 2005 by initiating an ongoing dialogue with the community of Jabal Al-Natheef, a severely marginalized urban area of approximately 75,000 residents in the heart of East Amman, Jordan, to identify the needs of the youth, children and the community. We have now expanded to Egypt, Palestine and Lebanon.

Seed funding from Aramex and myself initiated the first project. Then it became an independent organization backed by several private sector entities and entrepreneurs. Ruwwad’s model is based on a network of partnerships between the private sector, civil society organizations, target communities and government.

Ruwwad’s Mousab Khorma Youth Education & Empowerment Fund (MKYEF) provides students with university scholarships in exchange of volunteering hours every week back into their own community. The volunteering hours are recycled into three main programs targeted at youth, children and the community. It uses a community organizing methodology that supports grassroots leadership development.

Arabic Knowledge@Wharton: How successful has Ruwwad been in achieving social impact? How do you measure the impact?

Ghandour: The impact is measured in different ways. Some of the data is available. But it is also measured in the number of companies and volunteers from the private sector we manage to engage, where the private sector decides to take an active approach to development and invest in their communities. Executives run some programs such as the enrichment program from the private sector, volunteering their time to transfer knowledge and business skills to youth.

Impact is also measured by the employment placement of youth and jobs being created by budding entrepreneurs. One of our students started a company and employs 12 people today. So we also created a micro-venture fund to invest in these new businesses to create employment opportunities rather than just try and place them in jobs.

Our “Six Minutes” reading campaign that aimed to encourage reading beyond school textbooks several minutes a day for pleasure also exemplifies impact. The campaign, led by teachers, youth, and librarians, has created 160 organizers and 23 teams, organized 6,620 public readings and has mobilized 4,463 adults and children who pledged to read alone or collectively.

(more…)

Endeavor network member Christopher Schroeder, on investing in e-commerce: Part 1 [Wamda TV]

Investing in E-Commerce: Part 1 [Wamda TV]

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

By Nina Curley

In the second panel at our June event CoE E-Commerce, Show Me The Money, Part 2: Investing in E-Commerce, Chris Schroeder an Endeavor network member, who has previously served as CEO at HealthCentral and Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, discusses the investment opportunity in the Middle East and North Africa, explaining that the region doesn’t need to look necessarily to models from the West.

“The debate about what’s going to be the next hub of innovation, in places like MENA, the next Silicon Valley… is also irrelevant overall because I think what we’re seeing is networks of hubs of innovation and product development with huge ramifications for the kinds of things that we will be looking at as investors,” he says.

Panelist Pamir Gelenbe, Venture Partner at Hummingbird Ventures, who is originally Turkish, discusses how he returned after growing up in the UK to invest in Turkey, how he prefers the energy in Turkey to that in the UK, and how he came to invest in Jordan-based flash sales site MarkaVIP.

When it comes to finding good entrepreneurs in MENA, says Gelenbe, “It’s the same as everywhere else- we look for integrity, fast execution, we look for people who have a world view and understand best practice from everywhere, and typically we look for people who have had a few failures as well.”

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