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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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StudentUniverse Acquisition of WeHostels, an Endeavor Entrepreneur Company, Highlights the Impact of Endeavor

StudentUniverse recently announced the acquisition of WeHostels, a popular mobile app that enables travelers to book value accommodations around the world. Founded by Endeavor Entrepreneur Diego Saez-Gil in 2011, the vision for the company was to revolutionize the travel experience […]

November 20th, 2013 — by admin

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What the founder’s email address says about your startup

why not?Reprinted from NextView Ventures. Original article here.

By David Beisel, Cofounder and Partner at NextView Ventures, a dedicated seed-stage venture capital firm making investments in internet-enabled startups.

It always feels anachronistic these days to exchange business cards when you usually have someone’s contact information anyway in an electronic format before (via email introduction) or just after (via LinkedIn connection) you meet.  Many people, though, take the opportunity with a physical card to make an impression with a unique spin on their card (size, vertical orientation, etc.).  But the one thing I find which also makes a subtle impression on me when I meet a founder of a startup is the convention of the company’s email address.  I started mentally noting a few sort-of-funny-because-they’re-true cases, so I thought I’d brainstorm a quick list of what founders’ email addresses say about their startups:

john@startup.com <– The first-name convention projects that the company values the individual in a truly personal manner.  Or, it wants to ascribe internal prestige to the early employees (i.e. “I was the first John”) that will not whither as the company grows.

jsmith@startup.com <– This convention conveys the importance of scalability in the organization, even from the founding stage… most likely stemming from a technical founder.

johnsmith@startup.com <– Precision trumps brevity in this startup.

johns@startup.com <– The founder’s last name is too long or hard to spell, and so nobody else at the company will list theirs either.

johnny@startup.com <– It’s a casual, yet hip atmosphere… the office eschews chairs for beanbags, shared tables for offices & cubes, and there’s not a Windows PC to be found.

john.smith@startup.com <– The founding team is all from Microsoft and can’t shake it if they tried.

founders@startup.com <– The founding team is alumni from one of the Techstars programs.

chiefninja@startup.com or chiefcrazytitle@startup.com <– The founder over-communicates in a somewhat conventional manner that he wants to defy all conventions.

info@startup.com <– The team is running in stealth-mode to look inconspicuous, but really wants people to ask.

john-smith114@gmail.com <– The founders can’t even figure out how to buy their own domain name.

jsmith@startup-inc.com <– The founders are so convinced that they’re taking over the world that they want to leave the option of issuing @startup.com email addresses to their consumer users.

js@startup.com <– The founder is a Lean Startup disciple who wanted to put out a Minimum Viable email address.

Is this the emerging markets century?

Ska band backgroundReprinted from Emerging Markets Blog. Original article here.

By David Gates, a senior strategy consultant with 10 years of experience in defining strategy for leading companies in the telecom, media, payments, and insurance industries.

Book Review: Emerging Markets Century, by Antoine van Agtmael (2007).

The world’s largest corporations are no longer just American, western European, or Japanese. A new breed of multinationals from developing countries is rapidly achieving global presence and prestige. They are also attracting more media attention. For example, this week’s Economist looks at emerging-market corporations in one of itsleaders.

One of the best recent analyses of emerging market corporations is a book written by investment manager (and originator of the term “emerging markets”) Antoine van Agtmael. In Emerging Markets Century, van Agtmael seeks to explain the why and thehow behind the success of the world’s top emerging market corporations.

The author describes three distinct waves of commercial development in emerging markets since the end of World War II. First, Western corporations made foreign direct investments in plants in developing economies. After a while, local entrepreneurs began to set up their own plants, typically to provide outsourced production to the Western multinationals. Over time, these local businesses acquired more skills and capabilities, gradually moving up the value chain and into ever more competitive markets. Eventually, the best of these firms achieved recognition as top global corporations.

Agtmael profiles 25 emerging market companies in different industries, including:

• Fourteen high-tech or capital-intensive companies: Samsung (Korea), Hyundai Motor (Korea), Hyundai Heavy (Korea), POSCO (Korea), TSMC (Taiwan) Hon Hai (Taiwan), HTC (Taiwan), Lenovo (China), Infosys (India), Ranbaxy (India), Embraer (Brazil), Tenaris (Argentina), Sasol (South Africa), MISC (Malaysia)

• Five basic commodity producers: CEMEX (Mexico), CVRD (Brazil), Aracruz (Brazil), Petrobras (Brazil), Reliance (India)

• Six consumer companies: Yue Yen (Taiwan), Haier (China), Modelo (Mexico), Concha y Toro (Chile), Televisa (Mexico), Telmex/America Movil (Mexico)

The 25 profiles are interesting and informative. Collectively, they yield several valuable insights on the factors behind the success of emerging market corporations:

• Among the most important success factors were an early commitment to export markets and a relentless focus on superior execution and quality. These two go together: focusing on exports requires producing internationally competitive products, which in turn requires the highest quality. Hyundai Motor’s rise has tracked its determination to succeed in the US market. Hyundai seriously blundered when it first entered the market because its cars were perceived as low-quality. The company rebounded by targeting Toyota as the quality benchmark to beat (while also appealing to consumers by offering the best warranties in the US market).

• Some companies have become world-class by moving up the value chain. Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Hon Hai began life as a low-value added components manufacturer, but is now a “one-stop-shop” to US clients such as Dell and Apple.

• Other suppliers became world-class by innovating on supply chains. Mexico’s CEMEX and Argentina’s Tenaris used information technology to offer highly customized order fulfillment and rapid delivery to their customers. Brazilian regional jet manufacturer Embraer turned traditional outsourcing models upside-down by recruiting US, European, and Japanese “partners” to build its planes.

• Many emerging market players defied prevailing industry perceptions and created new business models. Steel manufacturers were supposed to be located near resource mines, but South Korea’s POSCO set up shop far away from any mines, believing that increased transportation costs would be more than offset by other efficiencies.

• The world’s leading emerging market companies increasingly recognize the value of branding. Samsung is already a premier global brand. Other companies, such as Lenovo and Haier focused on acquiring trusted Western brands (IBM and Maytag).

These are just some of the most compelling of many insights described in the book. The 25 case studies make Emerging Markets Century a treasure trove of information and a valuable read for international business executives, academics, and investors.

I have a few minor gripes with the book. Eight of the case studies are from South Korea and Taiwan, which are among the most industrialized and well-educated of the emerging markets. It is questionable how well their experiences apply to other countries.

Meanwhile, there are no Eastern European or Turkish case studies. Nor are there any banks or retailers. This is not for a lack of compelling sources. Brazilian bank Itau, Turkey’s Koc Group, Chilean department store Falabella, Russian foods company Wimm-Bill-Dann, and South African mobile phone group MTN are top-notch companies.

I would also like to have read more on the theme of frugal innovation (which was wonderfully profiled in the Economist in a survey of articles last year). The idea behind frugal innovation is that emerging markets companies will find ways to offer compelling products at the low price points their markets require. The best example is the Tata Nano, a $2,000 automobile that surely would have never been developed in the West.

These are small issues. This is a great book that is well worth your time. I believe many of the themes it identifies will influence the 21st century global corporate landscape.

Top 10 signs your business is not VC fundable

Reprinted from Startup CFO. Original post here.

By Mark MacLeod, a Partner at Real Ventures (Canada’s largest seed VC fund) and an advisor to some of Canada’s leading startups.

You don’t have to look too far to find entrepreneurs that have had a tough time raising VC$. Despite the endless stream of funding announcements these days, most companies that want to raise VC, don’t. This is due to a variety of reasons, but one of the biggest, is that venture capital is a very specific thing. It’s not what all technology businesses should think of when they need capital.

It only really works for businesses with:

- High potential for escape velocity

- A large potential market

- A team capable of building a large company

Sounds easy, but most opportunities don’t hit those criteria. This is why most VCs fund around 1% of the deals that they see. So, that means most people are not getting funded.

To help you judge whether VC is right for you, here are my completely subjective top 10 reasons why a business would not be VC fundable:

Services, not product: While some great startups were services companies before becoming product companies, you cannot (usually) raise $ for a services business. Why? Hard to scale without adding lots of bodies. VCs look for highly scalable products.

You are a sole founder: VCs much prefer investing in co-founders vs. solo founders. If you don’t have a co-founder it will be tougher to raise $. And more importantly, it will be tougher to build your company.

You don’t know any VCs: VCs get so many deals shown to them that they rely on a variety of filters to screen them out. One of the biggest is the source of the deal. If you are submitting your business plan to info@scaryvc.com, you’re wasting your time. You need to either know the VCs your’re pitching or have a very trusted referral into them.

You have no traction: This is a biggy. So many people come in and pitch VCs when they are just starting out. And while there are many funds that do seed, including ours, even seed VCs have a strong preference for investing in startups with some market validation and users already. Nothing gets VCs to move faster than traction.

You have outsourced development: This is a complete killer for me. As soon as I hear this, I try and end the meeting. Why would you outsource product development as a technology company? Would you invest in a law firm run by non-lawyers? Me neither. All tech companies need to have lots of geeks.

You serve a niche market: While I always encourage startups to focus on a specific niche to start, the product you are building must ultimately serve a broad market in order to be of interest to VCs. The more specific niche you address (even if’s a big one), the more you need to raise capital from people and funds that understand that niche.

You don’t know the market: If VCs know more about your target market than you do, you’re in trouble.

You are disorganized: Speed is so important to tech startups. If you are slow to respond to due diligence requests that makes investors nervous. If you can’t be completely on top of things when your company is small, how will you be better as your company grows?

You move slowly: This relates to the previous point a bit. While some VC deals come together very quickly (those deals usually have massive traction), most evolve over a few months. If your business is not making huge progress over those months, then you likely will not get funded.

You lack that founder magic: This is by far the #1 killer. While it’s true that some of the biggest startup success (especially in direct to consumer companies) were run by 1st time founders, I’m pretty sure those founders had something special that made investors excited (or had traction). Mark Zuckerberg was a crazy developer (and had traction). Steve Jobs had an uncanny ability to place people inside his ‘reality distortion field’.

Whatever your magic skill is, it has to translate into a superior ability to build product, team or customer base. And if investors can’t see that, they will pass – always!

Fred Wilson, on leveraging your partners to grow and develop your team (with audio)

Reprinted from Fred Wilson’s A VC. Original post here.

In talking about “your partners”, I will focus on your investors, because that is what I am. A VC. Most of this advice can be used to a degree with other partners, advisors, independent board members, consultants, etc.

There are a lot of investors who can write checks. But there are not a lot of investors who can help you build and manage a team. If you have a choice in your investors, which not everyone will have, you should select investors who can do the latter.

The best investors, the ones who have been at it for a while and have great reputations, will have a large network of people they have worked with over the years. Their network will also include people who they want to work with and who want to work with them. They can and do play matchmaker between their network and their portfolio companies. I suspect the partners at USV spend at least 25% of our time on things that would be considered “recruiter” functions. And we should probably spend more of our time on this. I don’t know of a better way to positively impact the performance of our investments.

But not every portfolio company gets equal benefit out of our recruiting function. Like all things in life, the squeeky wheel gets the oil. We love all of our investments equally but some demand our time and attention and others do not. The ones who demand get. The others get too, but not as much. So rule #1 is demand that your investors help you grow and develop your team. Ask for results, expect results, get results.

Rule #2 is to be very specific about what you want and request help in frequent small asks. One of our portfolio companies that I am actively involved with sends me an email each week with up to three specific asks. No more than three. I can do three each week. What I can’t do is a vague open ended request once in a while with a very large ask.

Rule #3 is to communicate actively with your investors. Make sure they know what you want and what you don’t want. I know a lot of investors who spam their portfolio companies with resumes. That is not helpful. Make sure your investors know the jobs you are actively recruiting for. And let them know about the roles you are “opportunistically” recruiting for. And most importantly, make sure they know what you are not looking for and why. When you get resume spam, instead of ignoring it and deleting it, reply back with a courteous but clear message about why that was not helpful.

Rule #4 is to selectively engage your investors in the recruiting process. Use them when they can help. Use them to close an important candidate. Use them to get a second or third opinion on a particularly important hire. Don’t give your investors control over your hiring decisions but engage them as trusted advisors. As the Gotham Gal likes to say “you get what you give.” Give someone a role and a feeling of being involved and you will get help.

Rule #5 is to expose your investors to your team. Give them a sense of the culture of the company and the composition of the team. Give your best and brightest “air time” with your investors. Your employees will like it and so will your investors. I really enjoy being invited to speak to an all hands meeting, or to have lunch with the team, or to go play paintball with a couple portfolio companies. It allows me to help with retention, it allows me to think more clearly about who might fit with the team, it allows me to help the company in more ways, and most of all, it makes me feel good about the work that I am doing.

There is a limit to all of this. You should not let your investors become too engaged in the company. You and your team must run the company and there needs to be a very clear line between what is advice, assistance, and help and what is a shadow management function. If your investor is running your management team meeting, you know you’ve crossed the line. That is a bad place to be.

But many entrepreneurs overcompensate for this by stiff arming their investors and that is a mistake too. You can’t do everything yourself. Your investors can help. They operate at 30,000 feet and as a result they see a lot more of the markets that matter to you than you do. That includes the market for talent. So leverage them in the war for talent. Use them wisely. And you will see that it will pay dividends.

Find egg-breakers: People with influence and authority who are unafraid to use them

Reprinted from Both Sides of the Table. Original article here.

By Mark Suster

VC’s keep different titles but the most common that I’ve come across that are investment professionals are (in ascending order of seniority): analyst, associate, principal and partner.

These are the permanent members of a VC. Then there is the EIR (entrepreneur in residence) who is usually at a VC for a temporary period of time and other individuals such as venture partners or operating partners.

The process for raising money from a VC is a sales process and as such much of what is taught in enterprise sales can be applied. While this post is written about raising venture capital (which I always remind entrepreneurs IS a sales process) the lessons can be applied to any sale or biz dev deal.

This lesson on NINAs applies to VC pitches as well as any sale.

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All CEOs should be an outside director for one company

Reprinted from FeldThoughts. Original article here.

By Brad Feld

This week I had two meetings with CEOs of companies we’ve recently invested in where the question of “what is an ideal board meeting” came up. I’m writing an entire book on it called Startup Boards: Reinventing the Board of Directors to Better Support the Entrepreneur so it’s easy for me to define my ideal board meeting at this point since my head is pretty deep into it intellectually.

One of the things I always suggest to CEOs is that they be an outside director for one company that is not their own. I don’t care how big or small the company is, whether or not I have an involvement in the company, or if the CEO knows the entrepreneurs involved. I’m much more interested in the CEO having the experience of being a board member for someone else’s company.

Being CEO of a fast growing startup is a tough job. There are awesome days, dismal days, and lots of in-between days. I’ve never been in a startup that was a straight line of progress over time and I’ve never worked with a CEO who didn’t regularly learn new things, have stuff not work, and go through stretches of huge uncertainty and struggle.

Given that I am no longer a CEO (although I was once – for seven years) I don’t feel the pressure of being CEO. As a result I’ve spent a lot of the past 17 years being able to provide perspective for the CEOs I work with. Even when I’m deeply invested in the company, I can be emotionally and functionally detached from the pressure and dynamics of what the CEO is going through on a daily basis while still understanding the issues since I’ve had the experience.

Now, imagine you are a CEO of a fast growing startup. Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to spend a small amount of your time in that same emotional and functional detachment for someone else’s company? Not only would it stretch some new muscles for you, it’d give you a much broader perspective on how “the job of a CEO” works. You might have new empathy for a CEO, which could include self-empathy (since you are also a CEO) – which is a tough concept for some, but is fundamentally about understanding yourself better, especially when you are under emotional distress of some sort. You’d have empathy for other board members and would either appreciate your own board members more, or learn tools and approaches to develop a more effective relationship with them, or decide you need different ones.

There are lots of other subtle benefits. You’ll extend your network. You’ll view a company from a different vantage point. You’ll be on the other side of the financing discussions (a board member, rather than the CEO). You’ll understand “fiduciary responsibility” more deeply. You’ll have a peer relationship with another CEO that you have a vested interest in that crosses over to a board – CEO relationship. You’ll get exposed to new management styles. You’ll experience different conflicts that you won’t have the same type of pressure from. The list goes on and on.

I usually recommend only one outside board. Not two, not three – just one. Any more than one is too many – as an active CEO you just won’t have time to be serious and deliberate about it. While you might feel like you have capacity for more, your company needs your attention first. There are exceptions, especially with serial entrepreneurs who have a unique relationship with an investor where it’s a deeper, collaborative relationship across multiple companies (I have a few of these), but generally one is plenty.

I don’t count non-profit boards in this mix. Do as much non-profit stuff as you want. The dynamics, incentives, motivations, and things you’ll learn and experience are totally different. That’s not what this is about.

If you are a CEO of a startup company and you aren’t on one other board as an outside director, think hard about doing it. And, if you are in my world and aren’t on an outside board, holler if you want my help getting you connected up with some folks.

Revenue vs. margin

Reprinted from Chris Dixon. Original post here.

Three years ago, Fred Wilson wrote a great blog post called When Talking About Business Models, Remember that Profits Equal Revenues Minus Costs. The point he made was both simple and profound. The simple part is summed up in the post’s title[1]. The profound part is that high growth, early-stage tech companies often have a choice about how to become exceptionally valuable businesses: they can focus on growing revenues at the expense of margins, or margins at the expense of revenues.

Most recent successful tech companies seem to have chosen the former: growing revenues at the expense of margins. Again and again, we see S-1 filings with revenues growing rapidly but profit margins that are low to negative. The same is true for the rumored financials of private companies. I think I understand why they made this choice, but wonder if it was a mistake.

To understand why these companies made this choice, you need to look at their formative stages. Many of them raised money from VC’s at multi-hundred-million to multi-billion dollar valuations, often before the companies were profitable or had even settled on a business model. In most cases, the companies and investors were acting reasonably[2]. But the end results might have been to unwittingly commit themselves to revenue over margin growth.

Why? Money has its own inertia and somehow always seems to get spent. Some of this spending is reasonable and even necessary (infrastructure, defensive expansion to international markets). But then there are harder choices. For example, do you invest heavily in sales and marketing to grow your revenue faster? Do you stay open and try to become a platform and therefore force yourself to experiment with new business models? Or do you become closed to “own the user” and therefore benefit from existing business models like advertising? Fast revenue growth seems to be the best way to justify your valuation. But the next thing you know you have a high cost structure that requires you to raise even more money and grow revenue even faster.

The root cause here is a deeply held belief throughout the business world that exceptional revenue growth is more likely than exceptional margins. For example, if you talk to professional public market investors and analysts you’ll often hear statements like “that’s a low margin industry” – implying that every industry has “natural” profit margins which companies can only defy for short periods of time. This belief is also reflected in public market valuations for recent tech IPOs: companies like Groupon that put revenue over margins command very healthy valuations.

The problem is that this deeply held belief in “revenue exceptionalism” over “margin exceptionalism” is a hangover from the industrial era. Unlike industrial era companies, information businesses tend to be deflationary, shrinking the overall revenue of an industry. They also tend to have network effects (and complementary network effects), making them more defensible and therefore higher margin than non tech businesses. Given this, why do companies continue seeking revenue at the expense of margins? Fred made this same point in his original post, but people didn’t seem to listen.

 

[1] Companies (like all cash generating assets) are ultimately valued at a multiple of present and projected future profits. The historical average P/E ratio of the DJIA is about 15, meaning that (on average) if a company is generating $100M in profit, it is valued at $1.5B (Fred prefers to use a 10 multiple, perhaps to be conservative?). One way to understand this is to imagine that companies dividend out all their profits every year. If you bought something for $1.5B and it dividended out $100M every year, that would be a 6.6% annual return.

[2] Why are these high-priced financings reasonable? From the company’s perspective: your traffic is growing so fast you need to invest millions of dollars in infrastructure. Meanwhile copycats are popping up in other countries. You don’t know if the financial markets will suddenly dry up. Someone offers you, say, $50M for minimal dilution. Seems like a reasonable hedge. From the investor’s perspective: the history of venture capital shows that almost all the returns are generated from big hits like Amazon, eBay, Facebook and Google. (As Paul Graham once put it: “The difference between a bad VC fund and a great VC fund is one big hit”).

10 things you can learn from the Apple Store, by Guy Kawasaki

they have interns too

Reprinted from Guy Kawasaki’s Blog, How To Change the World. Original article here.

By Guy Kawasaki

My friend, Carmine Gallo, has written a book called The Apple Experience: Secrets to Building Insanely Great Customer Loyalty. The Apple Store is the most profitable retailer in America, generating an average of $5,600 per square foot and attracting more than 20,000 visitors a week.

In the decade since Steve Jobs and former head of retail, Ron Johnson, decided to reimagine the retail experience, the Apple Store not only reimagined and reinvented retail, it blew up the model entirely and started from scratch. In his research for The Apple Experience, Carmine discovered ten things that the Apple Store can teach any business in any industry to be more successful:

1. Stop selling stuff. When Steve Jobs first started the Apple Store he did not ask the question, “How will we grow our market share from 5 to 10 percent?” Instead he asked, “How do we enrich people’s lives?” Think about your vision. If you were to examine the business model for most brands and retailers and develop a vision around it, the vision would be to “sell more stuff.” A vision based on selling stuff isn’t very inspiring and leads to a very different experience than the Apple Retail Store created.

2. Enrich lives. The vision behind the Apple Store is “enrich lives,” the first two words on a wallet-sized credo card employees are encouraged to carry. When you enrich lives magical things start to happen. For example, enriching lives convinced Apple to have a non-commissioned sales floor where employees feel comfortable spending as much time with a customer as the customer desires. Enriching lives led Apple to build play areas (the “family room”) where kids could see, touch and play on computers. Enriching lives led to the creation of a “Genius Bar” where trained experts are focused on “rebuilding relationships” as much as fixing problems.

3. Hire for smiles. The soul of the Apple Store is in its people. They are hired, trained, motivated and taught to create magical and memorable moments for their customers. The Apple Store values a magnetic personality as much, if not more so, than technical proficiency. The Apple Store cares less about what you know than it cares about how much you love people.

4. Celebrate diversity. Mohawks, tattoos, piercings are all acceptable among Apple Store employees. Apple hires people who reflect the diversity of their customers. Since they are more interested in how passionate you are, your hairstyle doesn’t matter. Early in the Apple Store history, they also learned that former teachers make the best salespeople because they ask a lot of questions. It’s not uncommon to find former teachers, engineers, and artists at an Apple Store. Apple doesn’t look for someone who fits a mold.

5. Unleash inner genius. Teach your customers something they never knew they could do before, and they’ll reward you with their loyalty. For example, the Apple Store offers a unique program to help people understand and enjoy their computers: One to One. The $99 one-year membership program is available with the purchase of a Mac. Apple Store instructors called “creatives” offer personalized instruction inside the Apple Store. Customers can learn just about anything: basics about the Mac operating system; how to design a website; enjoying, sharing, and editing photos or movies; creating a presentation; and much more. The One to One program was created to help build customers for life. It was designed on the premise that the more you understand a product, the more you enjoy it, and the more likely you are to build a long-term relationship with the company. Instructors are trained to provide guidance and instruction, but also to inspire customers, giving them the tools to make them more creative than they ever imagined.

6. Empower employees. I spent one hour talking to an Apple Store specialist about kids, golf, and my business. We spent about ten minutes talking about the product (a MacBook Air). I asked the employee whether he would be reprimanded for spending so much time with one customer. “Not at all,” he replied. “If you have a great experience, that’s all that matters.” Apple has a non-commissioned sales floor for a reason—employees are not pressured to “make a sale.” Instead they are empowered to do what they believe is the right thing to do.

7. Sell the benefit. Apple Store specialists are taught to sell the benefit behind products and to customize those benefits for the customer. For example, I walked to the iPad table with my two young daughters and told the specialist I was considering my first iPad. In a brilliant move, the specialist focused on my two daughters, the ‘secondary’ customer who can influence a purchase. He let the girls play on separate devices. On one device he played the movie, Tangled, and on the other device he brought up a Disney Princess coloring app. My girls were thrilled and, in one memorable moment, my 6-year-old turned me to and said, “I love this store!” It’s easy to see why. Instead of touting “speeds and feeds,” the specialist taught us how the device could improve our lives.

8. Follow the steps of service. The Apple Store teaches its employees to follow five steps in each and every interaction. These are called the Apple five steps of service. They are outlined by the acronym A-P-P-L-E. They are: Approach with a customized, warm greeting. Probe politely to understand the customer’s needs. Present a solution the customer can take home today. Listen for and address unresolved questions. End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.

9. Create multisensory experiences. The brain loves multi-sensory experiences. In other words, people enjoy being able to see, touch, and play with products. Walk into an Apple Store upon opening and you’ll see all the notebook computer screens perfectly positioned slightly beyond 90-degree angles. The position of the computer lets you see the screen (which is on and loaded with content) but forces you to touch the computer in order to adjust it. Every device in the store is working and connected to the Internet. Spend as much time as you’d like playing with the products—nobody will kick you out. Creatives who give One-to-One workshops do not touch the computer without asking for permission. They want you to do it. The sense of touch helps create an emotional connection with a product.

10. Appeal to the buying brain. Clutter forces the brain to consume energy. Create uncluttered environments instead. The Apple Store is spacious, clean, well-lit, and uncluttered. Cables are hidden from view and no posters on placed on the iconic glass entrances. Computer screens are cleaned constantly. Keep the environment clean, open, and uncluttered.

The three pillars of enchantment are likability, trustworthiness, and quality. Apple’s engineers take care of quality, and the Apple Store experience personifies likability and trustworthiness. I’ve never left an Apple store without being enchanted—in fact, I seldom leave the Apple Store on University Avenue in Palo Alto without being enchanted and buying something too!

Endeavor’s Allen Taylor talks Latin American entrepreneurship (Venture Equity Latin America)

Lookin' gooooooood Published in Thomson Reuter’s Venture Equity Latin America on July 31, 2012, Volume XI, No. 13. Interview conducted by Dan Weil.

Entrepreneurship is growing by leaps and bounds in Latin America, and the trend is only going to intensify.

So says Allen Taylor, Director of Global Markets for Endeavor, a non-profit group that assists entrepreneurs in Latin America and other emerging markets. (See VELA’s June 15 issue for a story about Endeavor’s investment fund.)

Of the approximately 700 entrepreneurs Endeavor has supported since its 1998 inception, about two-thirds are in Latin America. The organization has offices in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Colombia.

VELA recently spoke with Taylor about entrepreneurship in the region. (more…)

Four building blocks for the new “second industrial revolution”

good skills for internsReprinted from NextView Ventures. Original article here.

There is a dark cloud over the internet sector due to the weak performance of the Facebook IPO.  It’s not horribly dramatic by any means – Facebook is clearly an important company (even if it’s not worth $90B+).  But a lot of entrepreneurs and investors were hoping for a really strong showing to drive more liquidity in the market and continue the surge in hype around internet companies (both start-ups and later stage companies).

The interesting thing is that while many entrepreneurs, tech executives, and investors are short-term nervous about the fate of internet-enabled startups, most are incredibly long-term bullish.  Personally, I’m more bullish about the prospects of internet-enabled innovation than I have been my entire career.

The reason is that I’m convinced that we are on the ground floor of a new innovation wave that is going to be at least as disruptive as the first wave of the internet.  It feels like we are in the early/mid 1990’s again, or, more appropriately, like we are on the cusp on the second industrial revolution where we saw massive developments centered around the foundational innovations of steel, the internal combustion engine, and electricity. Arguably, the second industrial revolution was more impactful to humanity than the first, and I feel the same about what is ahead compared to the first internet innovation wave.

I’m not enough of a tech pundit to create a cohesive theory about the current state of things like Roger McNamee and Mike Maples, nor am I going to rehash the excellent collection of data that Mary Meekerhas graciously assembled (both required reading IMHO), but here are four foundational pieces of infrastructure that is getting me most excited about where the tech industry is today and where it is headed.

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