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31 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 15 Countries Join the Endeavor Network at the 54th Selection Panel in New York City

New York, NY – August 14th – Endeavor selected 31 high-impact entrepreneurs leading 21 companies in 15 countries at its 54th International Selection Panel. Endeavor now supports 948 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 606 companies across 20 […]

August 14th, 2014 — by admin

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Colombia’s Refinancia Announces Majority Acquisition By Encore Capital; Plans Expansion in Latin America

Refinancia, founded by Endeavor Entrepreneur and Colombian Board Member Kenneth Mendiwelson, recently announced news that the California-based Encore Capital Group has purchased a 51% stake in the company. An entrepreneur success story in Colombia, Refinancia’s announcement demonstrates the […]

February 28th, 2014 — by admin

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Press release: Ernst & Young launches Global Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

LONDON, 6 SEPTEMBER 2012. Ernst & Young is delighted to announce the launch of its Global Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, an online platform providing guidance to entrepreneurs and innovators on their growth journey as well as enabling fast growing companies to connect to each other sharing their different perspectives.

The new online platform showcases relevant entrepreneurial programs, conferences and forums from around the world and provides access to an extensive global network. The center also aims to help entrepreneurial companies with their future growth plans and how best to access funding.

Maria Pinelli, Global Strategic Growth Markets Leader at Ernst & Young, says: “As the world leader in advising, guiding and recognizing entrepreneurs and high-growth companies, we aim to bring together entrepreneurs, investors, major corporations and governments from around the world to accelerate companies to market leadership and facilitate the connections that help businesses to grow.

“Growth is hard to come by as businesses battle increased economic volatility, global power shifts, disruptive technology and new ways of working. Against this backdrop, only the most innovative and entrepreneurial businesses will continue to grow. By sharing our over 30 years of experience working with the world’s most dynamic and ambitious companies, from start up, through emerging enterprises, to rapid growth and market leadership, we hope the center will be a valuable help to established and future entrepreneurs.”

To access the Ernst & Young’s Global Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, go to www.ey.com/entrepreneurship

Lesson #1 from Endeavor’s fastest growing entrepreneurs: Think big to achieve big

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”

The fastest growing Endeavor Entrepreneurs (13 of whom would have qualified for the Inc. 500 list this year) set aggressive growth targets; on average, they aim for 80% yearly growth. When asked if they had met the ambitious goals they had set three years prior, more than 90% had met or exceeded their target. This high success ratio seems to give credence to the notion that ambitious goal setting is crucial to aggressive growth. As the saying goes, “think big, achieve big.”

Endeavor Entrepreneur Yunus Güvenen, CEO and founder of Digitouch, explains that Digitouch was able to meet its goal of growing approximately 100% yearly for three years due to relentless drive and focus. “We fell short [of our revenue goals] in some areas and went above in others. When you don’t make the targets in one area of the business, you try to find another area to make up for it.” Still, setting targets remains a clear motivator for Yunus, as he explains that “believing that you can build this market, that you can make it, is something emotional, but it also gives you the drive to do it.”

Do ambitious goals work as a self-fulfilling prophecy? To read more about “Thinking Big” and other lessons from Endeavor’s fastest-growing entrepreneurs, check out the full report.

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Coming up (Oct 14-17; Dubai): SuperReturn Middle East 2012

The largest private equity event in the MENA region returns for 2012 with its strongest ever line-up of regional investors, international fund managers and fabulous guest speakers. With more in-depth commentary from independent academics and analysts, SuperReturn Middle East 2012 will discuss and debate private equity trends in the region and beyond. This is your opportunity to hear from 120+ leading regional and international speakers including top representatives from Silver Lake, Emirates Investment Authority, Al Murjan International Holding, Abraaj Capital, Stepstone Group, Citadel Capital, Rashed Al-Rashed & Sons Co, Khalid Ali Alturki & Sons Co and many more. Plus meet 100+ top LPs at the excellent networking opportunities, giving you the opportunity to really push your business forward.

Find out more at http://www.superreturnme.com/FKR2332ENV

Chris Dixon: Once you take money, the clock starts ticking

Reprinted from Chris Dixon. Original post here.

One of the interesting things about having been investing in startups for a number of years is that at any moment you get an inside peek at startups at a variety of different stages. In the course of a few weeks, I might talk to people who are ideating around new business ideas, people raising seed rounds, people raising later (VC) rounds, people whose products are blowing up, people whose product are struggling, people getting acquired, people leaving acquirers to start new companies, etc. Sadly, there are also usually a few companies that are struggling and facing the serious possibility of running out of money and being forced to shut down.

One side-by-side comparison struck me recently.  Company A is just now raising a seed round. The money they raised will last 12 months (personally, I strongly recommend raising 18 months of runway – if you have the option to do so). Company A was also, in my opinion, not ready to raise money (they needed to work on their plan and team more). Company B raised a seed round about 10 months ago and is now struggling to raise more. Company B had the option to raise more money back then but chose to only raise 12 months runway in order to minimize dilution. Company B also made the mistake of having a large VC invest $100K in the round (a meaningless amount to a large VC). The large VC has since said they won’t support the company (despite the fact that the company made pretty good progress on the business) creating a massive signaling problem.

In the current “frothy” environment, where seed investors are aggressively offering money to entrepreneurs, it is easy for an entrepreneur to think “well, if I’m getting offered money this easily at the seed stage, I’ll get offered money easily later.” In fact, once you take professional investor money, the attitude of investors (both insiders and outsiders) changes dramatically: you’ve gone from planning mode to operations mode. When you do planning, research, experimenting etc. without having raised money, investors think you are prudent (I recently interviewed the Warby Parker founders for TechCrunch and they said they spent 1.5 years planning/researching before they raised money). When you do it with other people’s money, and don’t make what they perceive to be enough progress, the investors can quickly lose faith.

The obvious lesson is well known by experienced entrepreneurs. Don’t raise money until you are ready, and when you do, raise enough to have a good shot at reaching “accretive milestones” so you can raise more money, become profitable, or whatever your goals might be.

Endeavor Entrepreneurs and network members recognized as Middle Eastern tech stars

Jeeran da man!
If you’re a keen reader of the Endeavor blog you’d know already about the other Arab Spring. The Middle East’s tech industry has become a hotbed of innovation and development, and many Endeavor affiliated companies are leading the way. Listed below are a few of those rising tech stars, as selected by Al-Monitor (original post here).

Endeavor Network Members:

Habib Haddad, Lebanon

The World Economic Forum has recognized Habib Haddad as a Young Global Leader, while Arabian Business ranks him as one of the most influential Arabs under 30. This tech entrepreneur founded bothYamli.com, an Arabic search engine, and YallaStartup!, which nurtures early-stage ventures in the Middle East and North Africa. Now Haddad is CEO of Wamda, where he helps fund, educate and empower the region’s entrepreneurs.

Fadi Ghandour, Jordan

It took three decades of innovating within the Middle East’s logistics industry, but Fadi Ghandour has grownAramex into a $700 million-a-year company with a presence in more than 60 countries. He built Aramex into the Arab world’s first business to list on New York’s Nasdaq exchange, and has recently been adding new e-commerce services to boost company revenues via technological innovations. Ghandour, known for mentoring promising young business owners, was named a high-impact entrepreneur of the year in 2011 and is set to retire from Aramex this year.

Maktoob, Jordan

It’s been nearly three years since Yahoo! forked over $164 million for Maktoob, an Arab news site founded in Amman, and the deal still remains one of the region’s most talked about tech acquisitions. Co-foundersSamih Toukan (shown) and Hussam Khoury helped grow Maktoob’s base from 2 million users a decade ago to more than 18 million today. But both men have since moved on to run another online giant together:Jabbar Internet Group, which has spun-off the brands not acquired by Yahoo and include Souq.com andCobone.com.

Endeavor Entrepreneurs

Jeeran, Jordan

Since Omar Koudsi (left) co-founded Jeeran.com in Amman in 2000, he has evolved the blogging service into a user-generated review site that’s similar to Yelp and attracts more than 25 million page views each month. Last month, the company received seed funding from the 500 Startups accelerator. Koudsi still oversees Jeeran as its CEO, though Laith Zraikat (right), a co-founder who left the venture, is now reportedly working on a new mobile app service.

Peak Games, Turkey

Peak Games is another fast-growing online gaming company, and its founders Rina Onur (left) and Sidar Sahin (right) secured a $5 million investment a few months ago from Earlybird Venture Capital. Their Istanbul-based business boasts more than 30 million active players, many who play the company’s traditional Turkish and Arabic card and board games. Peak Games has grown to become the world’s third-biggest social gaming company.

Khaled Ismail, Egypt

In 2007, Endeavor, an organization that finds and grooms high-impact entrepreneurs from around the world, selected Khaled Ismail (pictured) as its first member in the Middle East. Last year, Ismail became Endeavor’s board chairman in Egypt just months after having most of the assets from his successful software company, SySDSoft, acquired by Intel. The Egyptian now mentors other entrepreneurs in his home country and works as managing director of Intel Mobile Communications.

Curl Stone Studios, Jordan

Fadi Bargouti (left) and Majdy Abo-Mathkoor (right) have created one of the region’s most promising digital entertainment houses, Curl Stone Studios, which is introducing many of their characters through web episodes and mobile apps. Their venture was incubated at Oasis 500, a well-known Jordanian accelerator, and both men were just selected to be mentored through Endeavor, a group that identifies high-impact entrepreneurs. Fadi Ghandour, the founder of Aramex, sits on their company’s board of directors.

An Endeavor Entrepreneur’s mantra: wisdom from Daniel Daccarett

Nice SmilesAfter a recent Endeavor retreat for Chilean Endeavor Entrepreneurs, Daniel Daccarett shared some inspirational words about his experience as an Endeavor Entrepreneur…

I share with you my mantra which has helped me at various points in my life as an entrepreneur, starting from the day when I decided not to wait for opportunities but rather go out to find them.

I decided to look at every problem as an opportunity to find a solution. I decided to look at every night as a mystery to solve. I decided to look at every day as an opportunity to be happy. That day I discovered that my only rivals were my own weaknesses and that in these lay the only and best way to excel. That day I stopped fearing losing and started fearing not winning. I discovered that I was not the best and that perhaps I never had been; I stopped caring about who would win and who would lose; now I simply care about knowing that I am better than I was yesterday.

I learned that the best you can do is not reaching the top, but rather continuing to climb. I learned that love is more than simply being in love…love is a philosophy of life.

That day I stopped being a reflection of my few triumphs and started to be my own dim light of the present; I learned that being a light is worthless without lighting the path for others. That day I decided to change so much…that day I learned that dreams only exist so that they can come true.

Since that day I don’t sleep to get rest…now I simply sleep to dream. That day was May 14, 2002, when Endeavor opened its heart to me.

- Daniel Daccarett, Endeavor Entrepreneur

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Daniel’s original words in Spanish…

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Endeavor Entrepreneur Diego Noriega discusses the Endeavor Experience, offers advice to High-Impact Entrepreneurs

Recently, we caught up with Argentine Endeavor Entrepreneur Diego Noriega (selected in 2009) to learn more about his dynamic entrepreneurial journey…

In June 2011, eBay acquired your company alaMaula, the fastest growing local classifieds network in Latin America. What was the role of Endeavor throughout the process?

Let’s be clear. I know that if I wasn’t an Endeavor Entrepreneur, and I didn’t attend Endeavor’s Silicon Valley Tour or receive help from an Endeavor-supplied BCG consultant, I would have never sold alaMaula to eBay. Not a chance!

Of course, I didn’t become an Endeavor Entrepreneur overnight. This was a process that started in 2000 while doing an MBA. I resigned from my job and I became an entrepreneur. The journey wasn’t easy. I had to close my first business in 2002, around the same time I divorced. I lost all my money and family, as well as anyone’s trust that I could accomplish my dream to build a successful business and therefore drive a cultural change in Argentina — where 85% of the people work for the government or companies related to it.

Thanks to Endeavor, my teams and I have grown a lot. And of course, the businesses opportunities are great because of the networking and trust built into the Endeavor experience.

What do you do in your current role at eBay? 

I am the General Manager of eBay Classifieds in LatAm and I am also responsible for taking a look at potential deals across the region. I am having a great experience because I have access to a lot of new resources. It’s lots of fun, and the knowledge I’ve gained is what I appreciate the most.

By meeting with leaders in different regions around the world, it’s awesome to get to know the cultural differences in adapting our business to each country and region.  It’s also a challenge to get to know my own region better. Latin America is unique and I am learning lots every day about the process of influencing the region with our online classifieds network. We have a great strategy and a great team. Now it’s all about execution!  We are close to being number 1 in Argentina and Colombia…and I know we are going to do it.

Can you tell us more about visiting.net?

Several years ago I started the first Latin American travel content network which provides tons of information regarding tourist spots. We monetize the site through ads. A couple years ago with another international consultant from McKinsey in New York, we decided to launch a short-term rental booking engine in our LatAm travel network.

There’s a real market gap when it comes to people wanting to rent houses and apartments in order to have a different experience. People have been very happy with this service launching, as have the property managers with whom we’re partnering. We have a very aggressive business plan and expect to reach 10,000 properties by the end of 2012, becoming the biggest vacation rental inventory in our region.

Personally, it is a new challenge not to be the CEO of Visiting, but I am very comfortable with my new role and I love the passion on this team to make things happen.

What advice do you have for other people who want to become high-impact entrepreneurs?

Not to give up.  Big dreams are not easy.

In 2009 when I was going through the selection process I traveled over 1,000 km [620 miles] by bus to get from my hometown, Santiago del Estero, to Buenos Aires.  I wasn’t that young and I’m not skinny, and even though my back hurt, my heart was full while accomplishing this critical phase to becoming an Endeavor Entrepreneur.

Also, just before I caught the plane to go to San Francisco for Endeavor’s Silicon Valley tour, I received very bad news from my main client and I almost didn’t take the plane.  I can’t forget that on the way to the airport I almost told the taxi driver to come back to the city.  That happened five times in a one-hour drive.  It might sound silly, but if that taxi turned around, I would have never sold alaMaula to eBay.

Another piece of advice is: don’t be afraid to take risks. Even if you don’t succeed, it will be a great experience with lots of meaningful learning.

A turning point in my story was in 2009 when I became an Endeavor Entrepreneur. Since then, I’ve taken advantage of most of Endeavor’s support programs, and the VALUE of it all is just incredible. But it also takes an effort from the entrepreneur’s side to reach out proactively and get the best out of every program.  Endeavor’s programs have been a life-changing experience and I encourage all of my fellow Endeavor Entrepreneurs to really take advantage of them.

Overall, what has been the role of Endeavor on you and your companies?

Thanks to my Endeavor mentors, I’ve learned that nothing can be built with a weak base, and the bigger your dreams are, the stronger base you need. The number 1 thing I’ve learned is that you need to delegate, engage a great team, and grow a great culture. Endeavor’s support has been very valuable in providing mentorship and resources to our main needs.

I consider it a virtuous circle where the more you participate, the more you give and receive. Plus, it is a lot of fun to be involved with a lot of energetic and great people with whom I share the belief that by doing, you are collaborating to make this world a better place.

For me, Endeavor has made a great difference.

How has the state of entrepreneurship in Argentina changed over the last decade?

It is very dynamic now and a lot of people are in new ventures. Also there are tons of government, NGOs, and university programs for entrepreneurs. Endeavor Entrepreneurs like Wences Casares, Andy Freire, and Santi Bilinkis have done a great job making the huge “first step” that was needed.  Nowadays, a lot more people are leading the entrepreneurship movement and spreading the word across the country like the Globant guys, Luciano Nicora and other entrepreneurs that are really engaged.

You can tell that people admire Endeavor Entrepreneurs, which is great, but also a big responsibility.

I know that there is a lot to do still because we are far away from the knowledge and spirit that entrepreneurs have in the U.S., especially in Silicon Valley. For instance, there I met a 15-year-old entrepreneur who is the CEO of a legitimate B2B company! I’ve heard tons of pitches and you can tell that there is a big difference.  The U.S. is core value creation oriented and in LatAm we are a lot more product oriented. We will get there eventually, and hopefully the entrepreneurial ecosystem is going to help.

Anything else you’d like to say?

To entrepreneurs:

Do whatever makes you happy. At the end of the day, everything is about relationships, making unforgettable moments, projects, etc.  Have a positive vision about things and fight a lot for building a great team.

To Endeavor Staff and Entrepreneurs:

Many thanks to Endeavor and the teams that are doing a great job.  And many thanks to all my fellow Endeavor Entrepreneurs that I’m able to spend time with from all regions.

I am sure that [Endeavor Co-founder and CEO] Linda [Rottenberg] is very proud of what she started, but I also think every entrepreneur is happy and very proud to be part of this wonderful mission of changing the world by selecting and supporting High-Impact Entrepreneurs across the globe.

Hockey tips for entrepreneurs: do you know where the puck is going?

Reprinted from wamda.com. Original article here.

By Christopher Schroeder. Christopher is an Endeavor network member and a former CEO of the social platform start-up HealthCentral which he sold this past January. He is also on the board of Wamda. You can follow Christopher on twitter @cmschroed

While not a huge hockey fan, I am a great admirer of the sport’s legend Wayne Gretsky. I simply am in awe when women and men come around in any field and dominate their craft; as an ever-curious entrepreneur I am fascinated by how they view the world.

I read recently that when Gretsky was asked what he thought about when he was on the ice, he paused a long moment and said: “I’m always thinking about where the puck is going, not where it is.”

This blew me away. It is really so simple, so obvious at a level. But when one is working twenty hours on the day-to-day mission at hand, how much stands in our way – or we let stand in our way – to think where the pucks we chase will be?

When my team and I first started HealthCentral, the social and content platform for people to learn and share their health and wellness experiences, one of the all-time great Silicon Valley entrepreneurs – a Gretsky of his field for sure – emailed me to say:

“Congratulations! Welcome to our world where there are two and only two emotions: utter euphoria and abject fear!” I knew what he meant by the end of the first week.

The euphoria is easy to describe – on certain days you believe with every ounce of your being that you are building that which was never been there before. Even the abject fear part is pretty easy. In one of our start-ups we must have had in the first two years alone three near-bankruptcy moments. I can tell you that in my venture investing I have seen more investments than my wife would allow me to admit go crashing to zero. Failure or risk of failure – an acceptance that it is the norm in these ever changing technological worlds and, while it stinks, one must simply dust themselves off, learn, and get back at it – is at the essence of entrepreneurship.

But my friend wasn’t just talking about fear of failure in binary terms, but also the daily discomfort with uncertainty that can blind us from looking up and watching where the puck is moving. Some of us, but much less than one would guess in my experience, really thrive in daily uncertainty. The best of us want to innovate, we want to solve interesting problems, we want to have our opinion matter, and we assuredly want independence. But we often want to be told what to do and/or seek comfort in creating a tried and true “way things are done.”

With this comes two of the most corrupting forces in a fast growing innovation organization: first, a view that we are so smart that the way we do things are the only way; second, and a close sibling, a rising view that “we’ve always done it that way.” There is almost defensiveness in these forces – that somehow challenging existing, even recently developed, paradigms is almost disloyalty.

This, of course, is compounded when a company gets to scale. Pick your favorite example of the once unstoppable innovation juggernauts like Kodak, Nokia, Sony all taken on if not defeated by people who focused not on where and how they skated, but where the puck was going.

In fact, the bigger one gets, the more one risks looking down at their own skates. I can think of only two companies who looked hard at the way they did things and changed 180 degrees. IBM once had over 70% of their revenue tied to mainframe computing, clearly to puck-watchers destined to be overwhelmed by personal computing — and in less than two years they effectively exited it. Intel, who had made its name and a multi-billion dollar business in the commodity chip business similarly simply decided to get into more complicated processors.

One of my favorite stories from the latter was how Intel founder Andy Grove did something I’ve recreated 100 times since even in my early stage enterprises. He and his co-founder turned to each other and said, “Let’s go into the other room and come back and pretend we were our own board of directors. What would we do?” It was a short meeting. They knew the answer – leave the commodity chip business. But it took this simple framework to help them see the puck they only sensed was moving away for them for years.

In the world of start-ups if I’ve seen anything utterly consistent among the greatest world-class teams it is three things:

Complete, company-wide belief in, understanding of, and passion for the mission at all levels. Companies in Silicon Valley and New York City have drawn criticism for placing making money too hight in the last of priorities of late. I can’t, however, think of one that succeeded based on passion and vision alone (and I can name a few famous ones struggling mightily because of it). In fact, without a doubt, those who did achieve financial success did so as an outgrowth of passion and execution for their mission.

It sounds like a cliché, but people are everything. It takes very few naysayers and doubters to be real cancers in an organization. But the culture, starting with leadership, can inoculate here from the beginning if consistently applied in the years that follow. Tony Hsieh of Zappos fame is a Gretsky in entrepreneurship across more than one sport and I love the policy he and his team adopted: paying people to leave their company. If for a few thousand bucks you’d leave, you were never in to begin with, and you were more than likely to be one of those cultural cancers.

Tony is rare – and few seem willing to go this far. But world class organizations have people: knowing and utterly committed to the mission; knowing how they fit in the mission and can impact it; knowing how one can grow in their career and skills; encouraging acceptance of failing and flexibility of pivoting to new realities; inspiring curiosity in all things; displaying in action genuine team work – not lip service. In one of my favorite portfolio companies today no one –regardless of function – goes home until they check on their fellow colleagues.

Finally, they really look and reward what Peter Thiel and one of his colleagues Auren Hoffman calls “unobvious connections.” Great companies understand what needs to be executed today, but they keep looking up – push each other to keep looking up — for the big picture of change. They ask themselves and execute on what could be. They are the customers and consumers that they seek – today, and where the puck of unlimited and ubiquitous technological innovation can take them.

Mural.ly launches with venture round led by Intel Capital

no alt text I'm tiredEndeavor Entrepreneur Mariano Suárez Battán made the news this week when he launched his newest service, Mural.ly. The following is the press release reprinted from Business Wire. Original release here.

Mural.ly, an innovative platform to create murals of content, launched today and is now available for free for users throughout the world. The platform allows users to aggregate links and other web content and displays them in a customizable space that resembles a physical bulletin board or wall. It also serves as a social network for “ideators”, individuals who can co-create engaging murals and learn more about each other’s personal interests or business ideas. Mural.ly also announced the acceptance of a seed round of venture capital from Intel Capital, Alta Ventures, 500 Startups, and various angel investors from the Americas. The funding will enable user attraction and retention efforts. A future round of funding is currently being sought, which will allow larger-scale promotions and expansion. Some of the company’s management team is planning a move to the United States in the coming months in order to best enable growth in that region.

Mural.ly was previously released in private beta, and quickly attracted more than 3,000 users who provided valuable feedback which was reflected in the new launch. The web-based platform allows users to map together different content formats including images, embedded video, links, and social media content onto one unified mural.

“Mural.ly is a simple way to collect web content, arrange it visually, and then share it with a group,” said Mariano Suarez Battan, Mural.ly CEO and co-founder. “We envision people from around the world using our murals collaboratively as works-in-progress, a phenomenon we call ‘social visual ideation.’ We come from the social game space, where we successfully launched Bola, a Facebook soccer game played by millions of people. With Mural.ly we are leveraging the best features of video game user interfaces and mechanics and inserting them into our aggregated content murals. Our goal is to become the ‘Github of Visual Ideation’ and the clear leader in that space.”

Adding content to a custom mural can be done through simple drag and drop. Users can pull in content from multiple sources including YouTube, Vimeo, Pinterest, Google Maps, DropBox, and myriad others. Each piece of content appears as a stretchable shape on the mural and can be layered or organized freely to leverage the brain’s spatial memory. A zoom feature and a multi-directional pan function allow users to quickly browse through larger murals to find the right content section.

“Mural.ly caught our attention for its ease of use and potential to transform the way in which individuals and businesses collaborate by utilizing HTML5 along with multimedia computing technologies applied to a new content format,” said Dave Thomas, Managing Director of Intel Capital for Latin America. “As seasoned entrepreneurs, Mariano and Pato’s past experience building a successful video gaming company is a valuable asset in helping them to build a new method of communication and collaboration. This is a powerful service and we look forward to working with Mural.ly to help achieve sustained long-term growth.”

Similar to Google Docs, multiple individuals can work on mural content in real-time, making it an ideal collaboration platform for global teams. Users can invite others to edit murals through an individual invite email function or through a shared link that is ideal for sharing with larger groups. Completed murals can also be showcased with a full-screen presentation mode, ideal for multiple environments such as sales meetings, creative presentations, or interactive classroom settings. Both public and private murals are available for users who want to either open their content to group input or control the sharing of proprietary information by keeping the mural within a closed work or personal group.

Mural.ly is free for all public mural users. For more information about Mural.ly, visit www.mural.ly or follow the company on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mural_ly.

About Mural.ly

Mura.ly is a startup firm based in Buenos Aires, Argentina that offers a free online platform that allows users to group together multimedia content from various sources into flexible Murals, that are used for group ideation and visual sharing. The company received funding in 2012 from Intel Capital, Alta Ventures, 500 Startups, and various angel investors from the Americas from. Mural.ly was founded by Mariano Suarez Battan, Pato Jutard, and Agustin Soler. Mr. Battan and Mr. Jutard both previously founded Three Melons, a maker of social games which was acquired by Playdom/Disney in 2010. For more information about Mural.ly, visit www.mural.ly.

Endeavor Entrepreneur company Shonaquip recognized for innovative wheelchairs and mobility solutions

Reprinted from The Citizen. Original article here.

by Rhoda Kadalie

Many do not have access to appropriate wheelchairs and community-based seating support services, especially in under-resourced areas. Poor families have few options and no knowledge of where to obtain appropriate wheelchairs.

Shona McDonald faced similar challenges after her second daughter was born with cerebral palsy. She was unable to find any positive advice or equipment suitable for her daughter; she found that the government could only offer one of three wheelchairs –  small, medium or large and as a result of this, she designed and made a wheelchair fitting the specific needs of her daughter.

This was SA’s first  battery-powered full body support buggy. McDonald increasingly came into contact with other parents and people with disabilities that asked her to do the same for them. This was how Shonaquip was established in 1992.

Shonaquip is a social enterprise created to improve the quality of life of people living with mobility disabilities in disadvantaged areas. Today there are around 80 different types of wheelchairs on the government tender list compared to the three wheelchair types before McDonald began her work. At present, Shonaquip employs around 70 staff members, 30 of which are people with disabilities. To date they have designed, produced and delivered over 65 000 chairs to needy patients.

All Shonaquip branches are run by dedicated and passionate therapists and seating technicians who specialise in wheelchair fitting, customisation and training in their regions. The occupational therapists and technicians who are fieldworkers hold seating clinics at various schools.

As a result of the therapy offered to each child, Shonaquip has made a tremendous impact on communities and has educated them to be mindful of the needs of children with disabilities, that they can become functional members of society, and need not be relegated to the back of the house or the shack.

Shonaquip does not only work at the community level but also on a national scale.
In partnership with other organisations, they have been instrumental in including the need for posture support and seating as a fundamental part of the national government’s health policy.

Their influence has spread as far as the World Health Organisation for which they have formulated the Guidelines on Wheelchairs for under-resourced countries and to
promote greater access to appropriate wheelchairs by assisting governments to develop and grow proper systems to provide wheelchairs.

The government also contributes to the salaries of the carers and therapists at the seating clinics but during the 2010 World Cup, government froze all wheelchair orders, which resulted in Shonaquip dismissing 35 workers across their operation due to financial constraints.

This made McDonald and her team realise that they needed to look to other revenue streams to ensure their sustainability.

The shortage of appropriate wheelchairs results in unnecessary and costly health and social problems for both the wheelchair users and those caring for them. As a direct result of Shonaquip, there is now broad recognition that people seated properly have fewer medical complications and need less surgical care. This project has become highly effective and efficient and over time the wheelchairs have been adapted to the South African terrain.

Shonaquip is slowly extending its reach beyond South Africa’s borders to neighbouring countries and continues to be innovative in the sense that the design team is now in the process of redesigning its wheelchairs to be flat-packed for export purposes.

Their products are in high demand because custom-made wheelchairs elsewhere in the world are much more expensive.

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