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40 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 13 Countries Join Network at the 56th International Selection Panel in Miami; Endeavor Reaches Milestone of A Thousand Entrepreneurs Selected

Miami, FL – December 11, 2014 – Endeavor selected 40 high-impact entrepreneurs leading 22 companies in 13 countries at its 56th International Selection Panel. Endeavor now supports 1,030 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 651 companies across 22 countries. The first […]

December 12th, 2014 — by admin

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Endeavor Entrepreneur Companies Featured in The Economist Ranking of Top Internet Companies

The Economist recently charted the top three internet and technology companies in 50 countries based on data from the World Startup Report. The ranking demonstrates the number of emerging markets with growing tech scenes that are succeeding outside of the […]

July 14th, 2014 — by admin

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Silicon Valley to Beirut: Recommendations for Entrepreneurs

As highlighted in a new report by Endeavor Insight, entitled “How to Improve Access to Finance in Lebanon,” Lebanon is primed to make its mark on entrepreneurship.

To make this mark, all actors in the ecosystem have specific roles to embrace in order to expand access to finance—a crucial piece of successful entrepreneurial ecosystems.  From interviews with nearly 20 influential Lebanese actors in the entrepreneurial ecosystem (including VCs, incubators, entrepreneurs, etc.), it is evident that entrepreneurs themselves have an important, immediate role to play in the development of the Lebanese funding landscape.  Be on the lookout for actionable recommendations for other ecosystem actors over the next few days.    Below are key actions which emerged in interviews:

1)      Learn to bootstrap: Too many entrepreneurs see successes in Silicon Valley as evidence that funding should fall into their lap. As Elie Khoury, co-founder of YallaStartup says, “YallaStartup means ‘start working!’ YOU as an entrepreneur have to start figuring out how to make it work with low funding.” Entrepreneurs in Lebanon need to learn the importance of making sacrifices and bootstrapping. Plenty of entrepreneurs have created highly successful businesses with only limited funding in the early stages, but it required great sacrifice to pursue what they believed in.

2)      Be investment-ready: Entrepreneurs should not worry about approaching VCs until they are ready. They need to have something to show–a prototype, a demo or a proven model–before approaching funders. Too often, entrepreneurs show up with a “great idea” and a business plan without any proof of concept or revenue model. “Take the time to go through the process,” advises Walid Hanna of MEVP. “Build the business, work with incubators, be patient, get good mentors and wait until you are ready to approach VCs.”

3)      Look for strategic partnerships: After seeking out family and friends, most Lebanese entrepreneurs approach VC firms for funding. However, there is an alternative to traditional VC that can often be a better match – strategic partnerships or smart money. “Liaise with bigger companies that can benefit you in ways other than capital,” recommends Fadi Daou, serial entrepreneur and founder of MultiLane SAL. For example, rather than seeking traditional VC funding, a startup focused on providing media services might consider developing a partnership with a top media agency in Beirut.  These types of partnerships can provide strategic direction in addition to funding.

To learn more about where Lebanon is now, as well as read recommendations for how it can fully capitalize on its bright future, please read the full report here.

Video interview: Endeavor Entrepreneur Wael Attili of Kharabeesh [Wamda TV]

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

By Nina Curley

This week’s entrepreneur of the week is Wael Attili, the founder of animation and Arabic digital media company Kharabeesh and Endeavor Jordan company Think Arabia, a creative production, technology and publishing company for the Middle East and North Africa.

Kharabeesh is one of Jordan’s success stories currently, not just because they created our icon, The Mini Entrepreneur. After several of its political cartoons went viral during the Arab Spring, the company began expanding and now offers five seperate content streams, Toons, its adult animation channel, Dawsha, its music production channel, Tahsheesh, its comedy center, Kharabeesh Street, its talk show channel, and Rusoom, its channel for caricatures.

Attili, who spoke at CoE Animate about how the internet democratized animation, chats about how Kharabeesh monetizes digital content, why Kharabeesh has launched a roadshow in Amman and Ramallah that will come to Dubai, and how his family has supported him through the company’s tougher moments.

It’s a new era for digital media in the region. “This is the first time we see young celebrities from YouTube and people are waiting to get their autograph. This is something we’ve never been able to see before,” he says.

[Disclosure: Think Arabia has received funding from MENA Ventures, the investment vehicle run by Wamda’s Chairman, Fadi Ghandour].

Silicon Valley to Beirut: Recommendations for Government officials

As highlighted in a new report by Endeavor Insight, entitled “How to Improve Access to Finance in Lebanon,” Lebanon is primed to make its mark on entrepreneurship. To make this mark, all actors in the ecosystem have specific roles to embrace in order to expand access to finance—a crucial piece of successful entrepreneurial ecosystems.  From interviews with nearly 20 influential Lebanese actors in the entrepreneurial ecosystem (including VCs, incubators, entrepreneurs, etc.), it was evident that government has an important, immediate role to play in the development of the Lebanese funding landscape.  Be on the lookout for actionable recommendations for other ecosystem actors over the next few days.    Below are key potential governmental actions which emerged in interviews:

 

1)      Focus on infrastructure: “The government needs to work on providing the basics” (Elie Akhrass, Kafalat). 100% of the funders and facilitators interviewed said that the main thing the government should work on was developing infrastructure. In order to foster a truly dynamic entrepreneurial environment, the basics, electricity and internet, need to be reliable utilities.

2)      Create a space to foster entrepreneurship: The government should invest in creating a space, or “Entrepreneur City” that is exclusively for entrepreneurs. Similar to the concept of New York’s General Assembly, which receives city funding in order to promote education around technology, design, and innovation, providing a home for this sector will encourage collaboration and foster education amongst entrepreneurs. “We need a home for this space,” comments Omar Christidis of Arab Net. “This is a key way to stimulate growth in the sector.”

To learn more about where Lebanon is now, as well as read recommendations for how it can fully capitalize on its bright future, please read the full report here.

Recognizing the power of digital dreams: Eastline Marketing’s founders among Executive‘s “Top 20 Entrepreneurs”

Reprinted from Eastline Marketing. Original press release here.

Beirut, Lebanon, November 10, 2012: Executive, a highly respected Lebanese business magazine, selected 20 outstanding entrepreneurs and featured them in an article published online on the 2nd of November 2012. Eastline Marketing’s founders, [Endeavor Entrepreneurs] Marc Dfouni and Nemr Nicolas Badine, were among the privileged few to receive this prestigious magazine’s stamp of approval. Dfouni and Badine were chosen since they have shown they have the drive to succeed and the ability to rise to the challenges inherent in a country brimming with instability.

Founded in 2006, Eastline Marketing specialises in online marketing and has gained a solid reputation over the years. The team is now 15 members strong and revenues are steadily growing. In 2011 they were $800,000 and are expected to soar to $1.2 million in 2012 and $2 million in 2013.

The 35 year old entrepreneurs were honoured to receive this stamp of approval from Executive. Nemr Nicolas Badine commented that this was “Another great accolade for Eastline and the best is yet to come…” While Marc Dfouni stated, “We are very flattered to have been selected amongst the top 20 entrepreneurs in Lebanon and this comes with great gratification. Our aim is to become the leading digital marketing player in the Middle East region by 2016. This recognition is an encouraging sign that we’re on the right track.”

An award-winning online marketing firm, Eastline Marketing focuses on strategies that best address their clients’ needs and goals. Specialized in social media marketing, search engine optimization, paid search marketing, online advertising and online public relations, the firm has also created its very own technology to garner optimal results and impact.

Eastline Marketing has a vision and is taking steps to make it a reality by offering comprehensive digital marketing services (social media marketing, search engine marketing, display advertising and mobile marketing) and enlarging the potential of its social media marketing software platform. Badine and Dfouni’s digital dreams look set to leave their mark on the real world of business and online marketing.

Silicon Valley to Beirut: Recommendations for a Lebanese entrepreneurial ecosystem

As highlighted in a new report by Endeavor Insight, entitled “How to Improve Access to Finance in Lebanon,” Lebanon is primed to make its mark on entrepreneurship.  To succeed in this goal, all actors in the ecosystem have specific roles to embrace in order to expand access to finance—a crucial piece of fostering a true culture of innovation.  From interviews with nearly 20 influential Lebanese actors in the entrepreneurial ecosystem (including VCs, incubators, entrepreneurs, etc.), it was evident that there are actionable steps that can be undertaken by the government, entrepreneurs, and funders.  (Be on the lookout for a series of blog posts which focus on each of these actors.)  Below is the high-level recommendation which all Lebanese actors should work toward:

1) Engage and organize the Lebanese diaspora: With an estimated 10 million Lebanese living outside of the country versus just 4 million in Lebanon, a large untapped population lives outside of Lebanese borders. Ecosystem stakeholders should develop a strategy to leverage this brain drain.

2) The government could invite prominent expat business leaders and entrepreneurs to visit Lebanon, meet with dynamic Lebanese entrepreneurs, and experience the entrepreneurial ecosystem. IDAL (Investment Development Authority of Lebanon) plans on employing this tactic by working with organizations such as LIFE (Lebanese International Finance Executives) and LebNet, to engage the diaspora.  Their combined goal is to help build the technology startup community within the country in order to encourage more mentorship and angel investment.

3) VCs should try to engage Lebanese entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and other locations, similar to what is being done by LebNet. By involving these entrepreneurs on their boards and in their investment committees, VCs can expose the Lebanese start-up community to the influence, inspiration, and guidance of the most successful Lebanese entrepreneurs.

To learn more about where Lebanon is now, as well as read recommendations for how it can fully capitalize on its bright future, please read the full report here.

Fred Wilson: How to be in business forever

Reprinted from A VC. Original article here.

By Fred Wilson

I will be doing office hours today at 6pm eastern. You can watch them here on this link. If you want to submit questions for office hours, you can do that here. Just like last week, I will review a few business model canvas projects and then will answer questions for the rest of the office hours.

This week I’d like to talk about company culture and how it impacts sustainability. If you want to be in business forever, you need to build a culture that sustains the business. I talked a lot about this in a post on culture a while back. You should give that a read as part of the assigned reading for this course. Here is the money quote from that post:

“Companies are not people. But they are comprised of people. And the people side of the business is harder and way more complicated than building a product is. You have to start with culture, values, and a commitment to creating a fantastic workplace. You can’t fake these things. They have to come from the top. They are not bullshit. They are everything. There will be things that happen in the course of building a business that will challenge the belief in the leadership and the future of the company. If everyone is a mercenary and there is no shared culture and values, the team will blow apart. But if there is a meaningful culture that the entire team buys into, the team will stick together, double down, and get through those challenging situations.”

I bumped into a friend last week who works at a company that is going through a difficult time right now. I asked him about the “talent drain” that is going on in his company. He said “the ones who were in it for only the money are long gone, the doubters are gone now too, and we are left with the true believers now.”
I thought to myself that the mistake the CEO of that company made was bringing the mercenaries and doubters into the company in the first place and allowing them to stay.

Mercenaries have no place in your company and your culture. Doubters are a bit different. You certainly don’t want to create a culture of “yes maam” in your company. So some doubting is healthy. But it should be out in the open. The doubts should be expressed upfront and they should be discussed and debated. But once the decisions have been made, everyone needs to get behind them. Ongoing doubting is not helpful to a culture.

True believers are required to get through the hard parts. And you need to be the leader who inspires the true believers. Watch this short video where @dens described what he did when Facebook launched a competing product to Foursquare.

You get true believers in your company by giving them something to believe in and someone to believe in. That is you. Even if you are scared shitless or bummed out, you can’t show that to the team. You have to lead if you want the team to follow.

The thing that you give them to believe in is called a vision. Make it a long one, a very long one. I like Bill Gates’ vision for Microsoft:

“When Paul Allen and I started Microsoft over 30 years ago, we had big dreams about software,” recalls Gates. “We had dreams about the impact it could have. We talked about a computer on every desk and in every home.”

A computer on every desk and in every home. That was a big hairy audacious goal in the late 70s. And it is exactly what happened, at least in the developed world.

The cool thing about that vision is it is drop dead simple to understand but took decades to execute. That’s a long vision that your team can buy into and stick with for the long haul. That’s what you need.

So if you want to build a business that lasts, you need a big and long vision and you need to be a leader who can inspire the team to believe in the vision and to believe in you. You need to hire folks who will stick around for the long haul and you need to be open to the doubts and doubters. But if they keep doubting, you need to part company with them. Don’t hire mercenaries. They won’t work no matter how hard you try.

Building a culture that can sustain the business is the most important investment you can make in your company. Once you’ve gotten a product into the market and proven product market fit, there is nothing that is more important than team, culture, and values. It is the glue that holds the whole thing together for the long haul.

Have every new employee do customer support for two weeks

Reprinted from Feld thoughts. Original article here.

By Brad Feld

A few weeks ago an entrepreneur of a fast growing consumer-oriented company told me that he has every new employee do customer support for two weeks. Their approach is they onboard the new person, given the a one week “get settled into your role / get up to speed on the company” period and then they spend weeks two and three full time in the customer support organization.

I’ve let this roll around in the back of my head and think it’s absolutely brilliant. The first week is a typical “first week at a new company” which includes a formal day of orientation on the first day. The next four days are structured around on-boarding the person and getting them involved in their role and their team, but not too deeply. This allows there to be a “break in period” where the person is learning the systems and structure of the company.

Week two is a full time immersion in the customer care organization. Total front-line stuff. The same first week any new customer care rep would get. Day one is whatever the normal orientation is followed by four days of “training wheels customer care.”

Week three is a fly on the wall from a managers view of customer care. Rather than front-line support, this is involved in all the meetings – up and down the customer support organization – to understand what people are dealing with. The last day includes a debrief meeting with the CEO.

I think a version of this process could be created for virtually any size company in any market segment. You are trying to have the person do three things: (1) be on the front-lines of the company and understand what that looks like, (2) engage directly with the product and customers, and (3) understand how the organization works from the customer point of view.

There’s a powerful second order effect, especially if every employee does this regardless or rank or title. In the first month of their tenure, they see the organization from the inside out. This creates a powerful common view that can generate an entirely different set of early actions for anyone in a new role. It also creates a powerful culture dynamic. And it does a little of what we try to do in the first month of TechStars – which is to “slow down to speed up.”

Hatching an international office: 6 tips for startups going global

Reprinted from OnStartups. Original article here.

Guest post by Diana Urban.

International expansion can provide a startup with tremendous growth opportunities. It allows your company to grow faster by casting a wider net, and helps diversify your revenue stream. While global expansion can be an exciting time, it’s a significant undertaking and requires some careful planning and making some hard decisions.

Today, HubSpot announced its European Headquarters launch in Dublin, Ireland. As part of the HubSpot International team, I wanted to share some of our learnings with you.

Here are six important things to consider when expanding a startup internationally:

1. Follow your customers and prospects

To determine where your biggest global opportunity exists, take a look at your customer base. If 50% of your International customer base is in Europe and only 8% is in Latin America, it makes a lot of sense to choose Europe as your International HQ. Let your domestic team build your Latin American segment up to a point where it’s ready for its own HQ. Make sure you have enough proven revenue in a region before opening up a new branch.

Also take a look at where the majority of your non-domestic prospects, or leads, live. You may notice that you’re generating the most leads in a country other than your largest international customer base. If this is the case, take conversion rates and cultural factors into consideration. Even though you’re generating a lot of leads in a particular country, can its population afford your products’ price point?

Finally, as much as we’d like to “follow the metrics” and make purely data-driven decisions, the choice of location might come down to people. Does one of the founders have a particular affinity or background in a location? Do you already have one of your stars anxious and eager to start an office in a particular country? These “people-based” factors should be considered. Often, the “optimal” decision from a metrics and revenue perspective is not the “best” decision.

2. Set ambitious international goals

Expanding internationally is a big investment, so it’s important to set ambitious goals to get the highest ROI possible. For example, plan for 30% of your business’ revenue to come from your global HQ within 3-5 years. Defining an international revenue goal for your international office will help you determine things like:

-How many sales reps do you need to generate $X in revenue?
-How many marketing leads do you need to generate to make those reps successful?
-How quickly does your international customer segment need to grow to reach that goal within 3 years?
-How many customer service reps will you need in order to serve this segment?
Whatever numbers you set to suit the needs of your own business, make sure you set those goals ahead of time so that you can plan accordingly every step of the way. Setting clear goals ahead of time will help keep the team that opens up the international headquarters accountable for its success.

3. Hire locally but be consistent culturally

A major benefit of opening up an office overseas is being able to recruit local talent, who will be experts in your industry in their culture. No matter how much you’ve been educated in the nuances of the culture you’re entering into, nobody will be better prepared than the people who grew up in the region.

If budget allows, try to bring over your new global employees for a couple weeks of training in your primary office. They will likely be teleconferencing frequently with your primary HQ, so having them join for training in-person helps put a face to the name for all future interactions.

Even though you should plan to hire mainly locals to staff your International Headquarters, be sure to maintain your company culture by sending over a group of expats, even if for a limited time range — six to 12 months can suffice.

Most importantly, ensure that from Day 1, members of your international team feel like they’re part of the company. Give them training. Give them career opportunities. Give them access to information and resources.

4. Network and attend conferences

Although America is becoming very dependent on virtual communication, in-person interaction is highly valued in cultures like Europe and East Asia. Use conferences and networking events to make connections with local industry-leaders in the region you’re opening your new office. Plan to stay a couple extra days after the conference for 1:1 meetings with your new connections. Meet with local press in-person to provide interviews on your global expansion plans.

Networking with the locals will help you spread the word not only about your product, but about the career opportunities now available to the local marketplace. You may need to hire aggressively your first couple years in your new office branch, so networking is imperative to drive high-quality candidates to your business.

5. Don’t underestimate cultural differences

Just as marketing best practices vary culture-to-culture, so do business practices. For example, in the U.S. it is typical for employees to have 10 non-holiday vacation days. However in Europe, it is customary for employees to have at least 20 non-holiday vacation days — and be required to take all of them. It’s important to take this cultural difference into account when projecting sales quotas and development sprints.

6. Get support from finance, HR, and ops experts

When opening an office abroad, there are a lot of overhead elements to plan for, such as:

-Negotiating leases and contracts
-Determining company structure
-Setting up accounting and tax reporting systems
-Supporting expat and local employees’ HR needs

Expect that you will need ongoing support from your finance, HR, and operations departments, and plan to hire agencies to help if you don’t have the resources in-house. Again, global expansion is a big investment, and it’s important to get these basic elements right from the get-go.

Endeavor Entrepreneur company Integr8 IT, part of the Integr8 Group, acquired by Business Connexion

Reprinted from Integr8 press release. Original article here.

In a major development within the domestic ICT services space, ICT infrastructure management and managed services specialist firm Integr8 IT, part of the Integr8 Group, has been acquired by Business Connexion for an estimated R126 million.

Integr8 IT is the largest privately owned ICT infrastructure management and managed services companies on the African continent. It was established in 2001 by high-impact award winning entrepreneur duo [and Endeavor Entrepreneurs] Robert Sussman and Lance Fanaroff and is a renowned leader of annuity based infrastructure management and managed services to the mid-market corporate throughout South Africa and Africa. The company owns and operates the only African based Nerve Centre®, a digital hub of people, technology and process, that regulates, monitors and maintains the technology infrastructure for many leading corporations.
Intergr8 IT’s key IP has been built into this Nerve Centre®, which underpins all service management. This includes “self-healing” routines and the intelligent management and real time remediation of distributed infrastructure.

Intergr8 IT has a portfolio of specialised business units and services that include: infrastructure management, private on-premise and off-premise private cloud services, public cloud services, virtualisation, storage, routing, switching, security, hosting, connectivity, internet services and disaster recovery. This is further complemented by its professional services business units, with lead architects in high level design infrastructure, and further supported by its project management office for global rollout and provisioning.

According to joint CEO Sussman, Integr8 IT has always been a hugely attractive target due to its unique positioning – with a stream of offers from companies looking to acquire, merge or list the ICT Company.

“This deal makes real sense to Business Connexion and Integr8 IT, as well as our respective personnel and clients. For the first time in South Africa there is a single company with 7,000 highly skilled personnel that span the continent, which scales the delivery of its services from the mid-market corporate to enterprise space. This is a unique and compelling offering for our joint customers, who are able to experience the benefit of Africa’s largest IT company”, says Sussman.

Sussman points out that BCG, the holding company of BCX and the largest IT outsourcing company on the African continent, has allowed him and his executive team to tick all of the boxes with regards to their three basic principles that relate to the acquisition of the company:

-The well-respected Integr8® brand that is synonymous with technical acumen and delivery remains.
-100% of Integr8’s employees that have been hand-picked over the past decade are not only retained, but given additional career and growth opportunities in the now almost 7,000 strong personnel company.
-Integr8 IT remains a strong entrepreneurial, innovative and well corporatized entity and continues to own the mid-market corporate space, with a partner that will help it double its growth year on year using the Integr8 Nerve Centre® leveraged platform.

About the acquisition, Sussman adds, “I am excited from where we have come from, I am hugely excited about where we are today, but this pales in comparison about the excitement I feel for the opportunities that will arise whilst working hand-in-hand with BCG and all of their subsidiaries.”

Joint-CEO Fanaroff speaks of global opportunities for both Integr8 employees and Integr8 customers, considering it to be an immediate effect of the acquisition, along with the ability to scale, promote and leverage the wide breadth of services that exist in this formidable force.

“Integr8 IT has had the luxury of organic growth over the past decade and it has been built with a balance of entrepreneurial innovation and corporatisation. The intellectual property and structural capital, together with the technology specialisation and critical mass developed over the years, has given Integr8 IT unique positioning in the midmarket corporate”, says Fanaroff

“Over and above the depth and breadth of our services, together with BCX, our South African and African footprint allows us to scale our offering with the offerings of the multi-nationals and enterprise ICT players in the public sector and broader African market,” states Fanaroff.

Matthew Blewett, Business Connexion Chief Operating Officer and Head of Mergers and Acquisitions’, notes, “The Business Connexion Group has a very clear growth strategy and the acquisition of Integr8 IT supports this by allowing the Group to expand its offerings into identified markets where it currently has a minimal share. Ultimately for a services–oriented business like ours, its greatest asset is its people. To this end we are very excited about the quality of leadership and skills that will be joining our group through Integr8 IT. The company’s proven growth track record and innovative solutions will be a welcome addition to the Business Connexion Group.”

Benjamin Mophatlane, CEO of Business Connexion Group comments, “It is an absolute pleasure to announce the transaction between the two enterprises. The rationale behind acquiring Integr8 IT is to strengthen our market depth and breadth within the mid-market corporate clients, which is experiencing huge growth within the South African and African Markets.“Rob Sussman, Lance Fanaroff and their team bring entrepreneurial flair and proven management and leadership capability to allow even broader benefits for Business Connexion, where Business Connexion can further extend its offering into the mid-market corporate. Integr8’s strong delivery via their Nerve Centre® brings additional infrastructure and managed services capability to this market and is also hugely complimentary to the Connexion Zone strategy”

With Business Connexion already having a staff compliment of about 6600, the assimilation of Integr8, will add another 550 personnel to the group with 286 full time employees and 264 regional contactors to the company.“Integr8 is a business that is well renowned and has won numerous awards. As recent as last week Integr8 was voted the Microsoft Midmarket Partner of the year award for 2012. We are extremely proud and privileged to welcome Integr8 to the Business Connexion Group, says Mophatlane.

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.

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