High-Impact Entrepreneurship

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Endeavor Greece Celebrates Two Years and 3,500+ Jobs Created By Its Entrepreneurs

Endeavor Greece released an infographic and video to highlight the office’s impact during its two year anniversary. The team supports some of the region’s top high-impact entrepreneurs who continue to drive sustainable job creation and contribute to […]

December 18th, 2014 — by admin

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Endeavor Uruguay Spotlights Entrepreneur’s Multiplier Effect, Featured in El País

Endeavor Uruguay recently published a map of Endeavor’s Multiplier Effect in the country, highlighting the local entrepreneurship ecosystem and the contributions of Endeavor Entrepreneurs. Published as part of Uruguay’s 2013 Impact Report, the map focuses on the impact […]

May 28th, 2014 — by admin

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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.

What separates an entrepreneur from a high-impact entrepreneur?

Reprinted from BusinessTrade.org. Original article here

by Louis Nel

Entrepreneurs start their businesses seeking to generate a stable income from their ventures. High-impact entrepreneurs, alternatively, seek to grow a stable business that can make an impact. Here’s three ways to find out which one are you.

According to Paul Jones, representative of the Council of Innovation in the US and experienced angel and venture capitalist investor, there are four main differences between entrepreneurs and high impact entrepreneurs:

1. Vision

Most small business entrepreneurs start their business with the idea to attain a measure of stability in their financial life. That is why some researchers also refer to them as lifestyle entrepreneurs. Building a profitable business that can pay them a regular income is their main goal. They may want to build a legacy, passing their business down to next generation or they may want to sell the business when they retire in order to supplement their retirement investments, but the focus stays on regular income generation over the long-term.

High impact entrepreneurs, in contrast, are less worried about maintaining a regular income and are more focused on short-term operations and long term personal wealth. This can take place over 3- 5 years. It may involve building the organisation up to an exit transaction, where the business is sold off to a purchaser for a substantial amount. Funds can then be used to finance new high-impact entrepreneur endeavours.

2. Growth potential

For the lifestyle entrepreneurs, establishing a business that can be sold for a large value in the long-term (5-10 years) is not that important, as maintaining a business model which operates a level that generates their desired income and corresponding lifestyle. Consequently, the business is often run at the minimum of risk to maximum growth ratio.

Compared to lifestyle entrepreneurs, high-impact entrepreneurs have a larger appetite for risk. Their aim to generate long-term personal wealth depends on the short to medium value of their business. They may be more inclined to accept much greater uncertainty to achieve a much higher returns. Capitalizing on new trends, implementing innovative technology, pioneering new consumer markets are all characteristics of high impact entrepreneurs approach; this is a way to capitalize on ingenuity and  capture new market share while stimulating their businesses’ growth.

3. Measuring impact.

In an interview with Memeburn, a business and technology website, Anthony Farr, CEO of Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, acknowledged a link between high impact entrepreneur businesses and businesses that create jobs and economic growth. This in part describes the impact that these entrepreneurs make on the economies within they function. Small business entrepreneurs have an inherent incentive to streamline their business operations, which leads to little job creation. Alternatively, high-impact entrepreneur organisations often drive innovation and because their focus is growth, they tend to generate more jobs.

Jones states that one should not make the mistake of vilifying small business entrepreneurs or classifying high impact entrepreneurs as good or evil. Both entrepreneurs play an essential role in their respective domestic economies. Small business often makes up the core of the economies, providing stable job opportunities.  High impact entrepreneurs are innovation drivers and market creators. They are both needed and should both be encouraged is to grow and develop.

Endeavor Entrepreneur company Yemeksepeti to enter MENA after investment from General Atlantic and Endeavor Catalyst

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

By Nina Curley

As Webrazzi reported today, Yemeksepeti, a leading Turkish food ordering site, has announced a US $44 million round of funding from New York-based private equity firm General Atlantic, with co-investor Endeavor Catalyst.

It’s a big round for the already successful Turkish startup that has grown to 1.2 million registered users, 50,000 orders a day, and 200 employees since its humble beginnings in 2000. Co-founder and Endeavor Entrepreneur Melih Odemis told Wamda that he started the business with only his co-founder, Endeavor Entrepreneur Nezvat Aydin, and went without a salary for 4 years to get the business on its feet.

Yemeksepeti, whose founders are also Endeavor Turkey entrepreneurs, didn’t take on funding until 2008, when European Founders Fund, a venture capital fund led by Rocket Internet’s Samwer brothers, invested $3 million for a 20% stake. With its second round, the food delivery giant is looking to further expand in the Middle East region. “We have been looking at the Middle East, since we are in the UAE and know a lot of people in the region,” said Odemis. Oman might be first; “the GCC will be the first playground.”

The company already operates in the UAE under the name FoodOnClick, yet Yemeksepeti will be further investing in their MENA arm to boost its performance. It averages over 400 orders a day, but it could be better. The company faced a learning curve when localizing for the diverse Dubai market, says Odemis, but now is looking to accelerate and consider acquiring relevant local companies in the region whose models can be fit to Yemeksepeti.

The company is also welcoming Gabriel Caillaux, managing director at General Atlantic, to its board of directors. General Atlantic opened its first European office in 1998 and since has invested over $3.2 billion to support the growth of nearly three dozen European-based companies.

Even after this round of investment, the two co-founders hold close to a 50% stake, he says. “I always to tell entrepreneurs not to give up more than 20-30% [in equity] in their first angel or VC round; you have to keep at least 70-80% until the company grows to a significant size.”

After 5 years of endurance, Yemeksepeti became cash flow positive in 2005, so they were able to fund their own growth and only take on investment when truly needed. “It’s always better to wait for investors to come to you rather than going after them,” Odemis warns.

Odemis and Aydin are also founding partners in the Galata Business Angels, a network of over 25 angel investors, including founders from AirTies, Yemeksepeti.com, Mynet.com, and Markafoni.com and prior executives at Apple, eBay, Maxim, Turkcell and DBI. The Network is hosting a meetup and pitch session on October 5th, in hopes of perhaps finding the next Yemeksepeti.

“This is an enormously exciting moment for Nevzat and his team at Yemeksepeti, and we are thrilled and proud to be participating in it,” said Linda Rottenberg, co-founder and CEO of Endeavor Global.

Endeavor Catalyst co-invests in Yemeksepeti.com

Endeavor Catalyst today announced that it had participated in a $44 million round of funding in Endeavor Turkey company Yemeksepeti.com. The investment round was led by General Atlantic, a top global growth equity firm that manages over $18 billion in capital. This represents GA’s first investment in Turkey.

According to CEO Nevzat Aydın, the company will use the funding to propel international expansion. Yemeksepeti.com is an online food delivery portal that provides 1.5 million registered users from Turkey and the United Arab Emirates access to over 6,500 restaurants, including major chains like Domino’s, Pizza Hut, and KFC. Since selection by Endeavor in 2007, the organization has connected Yemeksepeti to senior executives from Foursquare, Seamless, and Travelocity, as well as providing visibility at conferences, media events, and at local universities.

Endeavor Co-Founder & CEO Linda Rottenberg said that the investment marks a critical inflection point for Yemeksepeti.com. “This is an enormously exciting moment for Nevzat and his team, and we are thrilled and proud to be participating in it,” Rottenberg said. “Our experience in other global markets suggests that investing in high-impact entrepreneurs like Nevzat ignites change throughout a region’s economy. New networks begin to form, inspiring and supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs who go on to create even more jobs and innovation. We look forward to Yemeksepeti providing a terrific model for this transformative economic development.”

To learn more about the investment, please click here

Fight poverty: move the GDP needle

High-Impact Entrepreneurship, a powerful engine for job creation, may also be an effective poverty reduction tool on a macro level.  A groundbreaking 2010 study by Maxim Pinkovskiy and Xavier Sala-i-Martin, researchers at MIT and Columbia University, demonstrated that in Africa from 1995 to 2006, GDP growth and extreme poverty rates were almost perfect mirror images of each other.

No matter the nation’s geography, political history, natural resource endowment, size, or colonial origin, the countries in the Pinkovskiy-Martin study experienced poverty reduction proportionate to GDP growth. Their conclusion – that “the driving force that explains the substantial reduction in [African] poverty…is economic growth,” – has important implications for the High-Impact Entrepreneurship policy sphere. Endeavor’s 700+ high-impact entrepreneurs, who, combined, generated ~$5 billion in revenues in 2011, have an average peak annual growth rate of 69.4%. Their unique ability to expand rapidly, attract foreign investment, and contribute to demand chains in the productive economy makes high-growth firms true engines of economic growth.

It would take, for example, just 169 medium enterprises expanding into large firms in Mexico to raise GDP by a full 1%. In contrast, 578,528 microenterprises would have to be created to have the same impact.

Economic growth is good for the poor. While some institutions such as the World Bank caution that there is considerable variance in the poverty-reducing potential of a given amount of growth from place to place, even those results that are not directly pro-poor can result indirectly in long-term gains for economically disadvantaged populations. When governments accumulate greater tax revenues from businesses and a growing middle class, they have a greater capacity to design and implement development programs. Middle class demands for product differentiation as they become more brand-conscious further expands the potential of a productive economy.

To learn more about the potential for high-impact entrepreneurship to transform economies via GDP growth read the full report here.

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CNBC Squawk Box: CEO Linda Rottenberg discusses Endeavor Greece

BusinessWire press release: “Endeavor launches a new country affiliate in Greece focused on High-Impact Entrepreneurship

Endeavor launches a new country affiliate in Greece focused on High-Impact Entrepreneurship

The press release below can also be found on BusinessWire.

Athens, September 12, 2012 – In the midst of continuing economic turmoil in Greece, Endeavor announced today that it launches a new affiliate office in Athens, bringing its high-impact entrepreneurship model to Europe for the first time.

“I have always believed that some of the best entrepreneurs emerge in times of chaos,” said Endeavor co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg. “Greece is an extremely resource- and culture-rich country. There are huge opportunities for entrepreneurs, both in traditional industries like food and agriculture and in emerging sectors like biotech. We look forward to working with Greece’s High-Impact Entrepreneurs.”

Founded in 1997, Endeavor selects and supports high-impact entrepreneurs who have the potential to scale from promising SMEs into companies that create hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs and generate significant revenues. In the past 15 years Endeavor has selected 708 high-impact entrepreneurs from 12 countries around the world in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, and Southeast Asia. In 2011, these entrepreneurs generated US $5.0BN in revenue and had created 200,000 jobs.

All Endeavor affiliates are spearheaded by a local Board of leading business persons, each of whom believes that high-impact entrepreneurship can transform economies. With unemployment in Greece at a staggering 23%, the new Board Members of Endeavor Greece firmly believe that despite the country’s current economic challenges, Endeavor will help create opportunities and spur entrepreneurial activity.

The Endeavor Greece Board will be chaired by Michael D. Chandris, Chairman, Chandris Group; and vice-chaired by Mareva Grabowski, Head of Emerging Markets, Dara Capital, who is also the founder of the Greek affiliate. They will be joined on the Board by Marily Frangista, Managing Director, Franco Compania Naviera; Thodoris Kyriakou, Group CEO, Antenna Group; Johanna Papadopoulou, President & Managing Director, E.J. Papadopoulos S.A.; Dimitrios Papalexopoulos, Managing Director, Titan S.A.; Yiannis Stassinopoulos, Viochalco S.A.; Spyros Theodoropoulos, Managing Director, Chipita S.A.; Takis Theoharakis, Deputy CEO & Vice President, Nissan N.I. Theoharakis S.A.; and Melina Travlou, Managing Director, Neptune Lines Shipping & Managing Enterprises S.A.

“Endeavor comes to Greece at a pivotal moment,” said Board Chair Michael Chandris. “The crisis has unleashed a new wave of entrepreneurship. Thousands of young people are no longer content with accepting a civil service job but are keen to develop their entrepreneurial ideas. Endeavor can become a catalyst to this process and thus have a substantial impact on a society in transition.”

Chandris and the board have recruited former McKinsey & Co Manager Haris Makryniotis to serve as the first Managing Director, overseeing day-to-day operations for Endeavor Greece. Makryniotis intends to introduce the first Endeavor Greece Entrepreneur candidates- the founders of digital “city insider” platform Daily Secret- to an International Selection Panel in Istanbul, Turkey, in early October.

About Endeavor

Endeavor breaks down barriers that prevent emerging-market entrepreneurs from reaching their high-impact potential. Hailed by NYT columnist Thomas Friedman as the “mentor capitalist” model and “the best anti-poverty program of all,” Endeavor identifies entrepreneurs leading high-growth innovative companies in emerging markets. These entrepreneurs are given world-class strategic advice, access to key networks and other tools that will catapult them to success. With Endeavor’s guidance they become “high-impact” – expanding employment, generating wealth and inspiring others to innovate. Often overlooked, these local entrepreneurs are now jumpstarting private sector development in their countries.

At year-end 2011, Endeavor Entrepreneurs throughout Latin America, South Africa, Turkey, Egypt and Jordan had created more than 200,000 jobs and generated over $5.0 billion in revenues. For more information, visit http://www.endeavor.org

Further Information:

For more information on Endeavor Greece, please contact Anna Zilakou, anna.zilakou@endeavor.org (tel: 0030-697-887-0661).

For further details on Endeavor Global and Endeavor’s entire portfolio of High-Impact Entrepreneurs please contact David Wachtel, david.wachtel@endeavor.org. (tel: 1-646-783-6139)

Endeavor Entrepreneur’s women-only gym rewrites Turkey’s fitness industry

Reprinted from BusinessTrade.org. Original article here

by Louis Nel

Credited for opening the first chain of women-only gyms in Turkey, Bedriye Hülya, founder of B-fit, has made exercise fun and rewarding, while empowering women at the same time.

Prior to founding the B-fit franchise in 2006, Hülya studied psychology in New York. She joined a fitness programme that prescribed a finite exercise time with a variety of exercises incorporated into the time frame, helping maintain focused attention. She realized that if she could redesign and incorporate the best qualities of the programme into a packaged fitness service, it would also serve the fitness needs of the women in her home country. After studying the dynamics of circuit training, she became convinced that her business idea had potential. She dedicated time to researching machines and equipment, talking to manufacturers and tweaking her business’ fitness and workout programmes. She spent two years going back and forth between the US and Turkey, finally hitting on a ‘formula’ she liked and opening her first gym in İzmir, Turkey.

Hülya’s gym proved very successful and within a year B-fit grew to three separate gyms. From there, the gyms grew almost exponentially, from 10 gyms in 2007 to 15 in 2008, 30 in 2009 and 52 in 2010 throughout the country. In an interview with Today’s Zaman, a Turkish print and web newspaper, she explained the franchise’s popularity.

“(…) This system works in great harmony with our traditions and ways. These B-fit sports gyms accept only women as members. From the founder to the sports instructors, everyone involved is a woman. (…) Then, in this system, women only do 30 minutes of exercise at a time. The most important element at work is that B-fit is quite cheap and therefore works for every budget,” she said.

Hülya points out that while everyone knows they need to exercise, not many people actually exercise. Her franchise fitness services taps into the needs of middle-class and lower-middle-class women, offering them a place where “where women of every age and type can come and be among only women.” This image has done a lot towards breaking down the negative perception of gym clubs in Turkey as exclusive playgrounds for the rich.

In addition, Hülya is also regarded as a social entrepreneur and advocate of positive discrimination. Franchise ownership is open exclusively for women and is seen as a great opportunity for women to start their own business. Aspiring owners are selected for qualities like ambitiousness, friendliness and the need for success, fulfilment or achievement. The costs of machines, brand rights and furniture are all included in the initial US $ 33,200 startup fee, and with clear finance plans available and payment terms spread over five years, business set-up is as transparent and easy as possible.

In addition to pure fitness, the franchise also requires franchisees to run their gym as a social club for women; offering a seminar once a month about healthy eating and nutrition, and organizing member activities, like eat-out dinners, movies and the theatre.

Chosen as one of Turkey’s best entrepreneurs by Endeavor Global in 2009, Hülya was recognised as a valuable high-impact entrepreneur with massive growth potential. Hülya has even set her eyes on increasing the brand’s presence abroad, especially in Central Asian and Middle East countries where women are sometimes less empowered. A positive agent for change, Bedriye Hülya is changing the world one kilojoule at a time.

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