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Endeavor and Linda Rottenberg Profiled in The Christian Science Monitor

The Christian Science Monitor, a U.S.-based international news publication, recently profiled Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg and the story of Endeavor, spotlighting the organization’s journey and its rapidly growing global impact. In particular, the article calls […]

April 16th, 2014 — by admin

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Endeavor and Arvento Win People’s Choice Stevie® Awards

On the heels of its Bronze Stevie® Award, Endeavor was named the People’s Choice Award winner for Favorite Company- Non-Profit or Government Organizations Category- in the 10th Annual International Business Awards. Endeavor Turkey Company Arvento […]

September 27th, 2013 — by admin

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Summer blog series: Read 2012 eMBA reports from the field! (updated)

As part of Endeavor’s annual eMBA program, generously supported by Barclays, MBA students from around the country are selected to work on-site with our entrepreneurs for 10 weeks during the summer. This year, 31 eMBAs were placed with 27 Endeavor Entrepreneurs in 10 countries across the world.

The eMBAs create stories chronicling their experiences throughout the summer, contributing to Endeavor’s blog as part of our “eMBA field report” series.

Here are the accounts we have published thus far:

Spreading innovative design from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia

This eMBA has been surrounded by entrepreneurs in colorful Lebanon.  He’s on a mission help furniture designer Nada Debs expand to Saudi Arabia and to solve the unemployment crisis in the region through entrepreneurship.

A fresh approach to fast growth and seaside splendors in Uruguay 

Working alongside the sharp entrepreneurs of Pedidosya.com has been a dream for this eMBA and it’s helped him to re-shape his career goals.  Weekends spent at nearby getaways didn’t hurt, either.

Lights, camera, asado!

This eMBA’s charismatic host entrepreneur welcomed him with a steak dinner and then got right down to business.  Since then, Adrian Garcia has been thrilled to bring a fresh perspective to an already well-positioned and fast-growing media company.

Pushing boundaries for personal growth and professional gain in Monterrey

At the foot of the beautiful Sierra Madre Mountains of Monterrey, this eMBA is plotting her host company’s expansion to Brazil.  She’s already learned a great deal about the Mexican economy and way of doing business and next she’s off to Colombia for a research project.

Taking charge and finding adventure in Santiago

For this eMBA, his summer internship has been the full package: he’s lived in new country, learned a new language, applied his business school knowledge and hit the slopes and the beach in the same weekend.

Research and teamwork in Egypt 

A repeat blogger on Endeavor.org, this eMBA has dusted off his programming knowledge at Hindawi. Along the way, he’s treated his co-workers to a Chinese feast and they, in turn, invited him to an aftar, a traditional Ramadan breakfast.

Rainy weather and fiery ambition near the southernmost point in the world

Working with Innovex has led this eMBA to Puerto Montt, the salmon capital of Chile, where he is working with the advisory board to help chart out the company’s future.

Saving the world one industrial city at a time

Living in Monterrey, Mexico has been rewarding for this eMBA, where he is helping Imagen Dental build a business plan for national expansion and even attended an Endeavor National Selection Panel.

Taking an entrepreneurial risk to keep Mexican companies safe

Interning at ALTO, this eMBA is collaborating with the CEO to research, strategize, and create a plan to expand the company to all of Mexico.

Tea and vision technology in enchanting Istanbul

This self-proclaimed tea addict has been stationed in Turkey, where she has not only analyzed markets to determine the potential for Vistek’s products within them but also found even bigger tea drinkers than herself.

Preserving public transportation at one of Chile’s 2011 “best places to work”

At Grupo Alto, this eMBA is helping one of the leading entrepreneurs in Chile to break into Santiago’s public transportation market to work with bus operators to protect against fare evasion.

Inventive flowers and food in fast-growing Istanbul

As an intern for Ciceksepeti.com, this eMBA is helping expand and develop the e-commerce company’s corporate structure while becoming an expert in modern versions of traditional Turkish cuisine.

Promoting health in the Mexican sun

At Alivio Capital, this eMBA has gained insight into both customer and management goals so that she may help focus the company’s commercial strategy and brand identity on what its consumers want.

Financial savvy and pisco sours in Santiago

After being selected, this eMBA has worked as the Executive Director of International Expansion for ForexChile, where she has designed the business plan for the company’s upcoming entrance into Peru.

Mobile media in Monterrey; the right place at the right time

Working in Mexico for Naranya, this intern has helped develop a new business and marketing strategy for the Latin American ecosystem, fully immersing himself in the entrepreneurial atmosphere of the city.

In Egypt, change is in the air

From his first journey through the now-famous Tahrir Square to his work with Hindawi on a project calculating top bloggers for uFollow, a type of RSS compiler, this intern has had an unforgettable experience in Cairo.

A Brazilian adventure filled with strategy, futebol and broken Portuguese

When he hasn’t been going to futebol games, exploring Brazil, learning Portuguese, or indulging in Brazilian cuisine, this eMBA has worked with the leadership of Arizona to draft long-term strategies for growth.

A test of will power in the struggle to break down barriers in South Africa

Despite a retail market that caters to international behemoths, this eMBA is optimistic about the future of an African fashion brand as she works to develop its first e-commerce platform.

A summer spent selling ads to car dealers and jump-starting a personal journey

Interning in Brazil has allowed this eMBA not only to brush up on his Portuguese, but also to confirm his desire to work abroad and start his own company.

A lesson in scaling businesses and mountains in Monterrey

This eMBA’s internship experience has challenged her mentally and physically, from conducting business meetings in Spanish to climbing el Cañón de la Huasteca.

A taste for coffee and creative growth, Chilean-style

At Sirve, the top seismic engineering company in Chile, this eMBA has savored the local coffee and chocolate and the opportunity to become a part of a talented and open-minded management team.

Explosive IT growth, exuberant dancing and a steak that will make you cry in Bogotá

This eMBA arrived to a brand new office an apartment stocked with food.  Since then, he has worked on an passionately on expansion plan
to Mexico and Brazil while still making time to see the sights and eat some truly amazing steak.

A quest to improving online tourism options in Argentina

This eMBA has learned a great deal about the Latin American tourism industry while strategizing about how to consolidate its offerings online and touring the barrios of Buenos Aires, himself.

Spontaneity and new marketing frontiers in sunny Silicon Valley

This eMBA is putting his marketing knowledge to the test for a South African Endeavor Entrepreneur in the world-renowned, dynamic start-up environment of Silicon Valley.

Leveraging private sector efficiency to improve education for disadvantaged groups in Mexico

Mutu Vengesayi is an MBA candidate at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and is interning with Endeavor Entrepreneur company Enova. Hear about her experiences incorporating technology in the classroom.

Enjoying spontaneity and discovering new marketing frontiers in sunny Silicon Valley

Dhiraj Sehgal is an MBA candidate at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is interning with Endeavor Entrepreneur Vinny Lingham’s new venture, Gyft, located in the heart of the tech industry.

Marcos Galperin and Reid Hoffman speak on CNBC about entrepreneurship, Endeavor

Earlier this year, Endeavor Entrepreneur Marcos Galperin was named the 2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year from Argentina, while Endeavor board member Reid Hoffman was the winner from the United States. The following are excerpts from their interviews on CBNC at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Monaco Forum.

Interviewer: How are you helping to make an entrepreneurial spirit in your community?

Marcos Galperin: I’m helping create and foster an entrepreneurial spirit in Latin America by participating in all sorts of activities where we foster entrepreneurship. I’m a board member of Endeavor in Argentina, I’m a big donor of Endeavor, and we support and help high impact entrepreneurs in Argentina and in the region. I’m constantly mentoring and helping entrepreneurs access investors in Latin America and in the United States, and I’m very active in this area.

Reid Hoffman: There have been two themes to how I choose non-profit organizations. One is entrepreneurship, which is entrepreneurship in terms of how do we change societies—this is Endeavor and Kiva and Startup America—and the other one is the use of the consumer internet. So, for example, DoSomething, which enables every teen to be a philanthropic agent. And both of these get to confounding scale and have the same impact on the world, that what I do as an entrepreneur, with LinkedIn, has. The U.S. has a great history of entrepreneurship, but now in kind of the modern, kind of globalized times, it’s more important than ever. So, with the combination of Startup America, which helps entrepreneurs in each of the fifty states; Kiva, which helps micro-entrepreneurs; and Endeavor, which helps high-impact entrepreneurs around the world; each of these organizations helps grow and foster both entrepreneurial culture and the network of essential people that make entrepreneurial companies go. Customers, advisors, investors; all these sorts of things all come down to networks, and so you grow the network.

You’ve secured your first corporate pitch. Now what?

Reprinted from Under30CEO. Original article here.

By Josh Ferris. Ferris is an interactive marketer with a background in real estate and web technology. Find Josh on Twitter at @joshferris.

—–

Corporations can be scary. First, they’re described as ‘entities’, which just sounds monolithic and unfriendly. The truth is, corporations need your innovation now more than ever and most would be happy to talk with you about ways that you can grow their business.

Step 1: Get your foot in the door. What do you do next?

Know Their Dress Code

Before you go to your first pitch, start by finding out what the company culture is like. Are they business casual, conservative suit and tie or do they wear t-shirts every day? The first impression a corporate client will have of your business is the way you dress to represent it.

If they’re suit and tie and you show up with messed hair and a t-shirt, what does that say about your business? Further, what does that say to your prospective client about how you feel about THEIR business? It’s all in the details. When in doubt, go business casual.

Bring Everything You Need To Make Your Presentation Anywhere

This might seem obvious but don’t assume that your potential customer has the technology you need to effectively communicate your ideas and value in their conference rooms. What if a promised conference room is unavailable and you need to have a meeting by a blank wall in the cafeteria?

You could bring paper copies of your presentation but then you’re butchering trees for no reason. Instead, consider bringing an iPad or a portable projector that you can use to convey your points no matter where you are.

Prepare To Answer Tough Questions About Funding And Vision

Corporations are scoping out ways to lower in-house costs by outsourcing specific needs to entrepreneurs like you but they’re careful about who holds the keys to their castle. If they don’t see the deal being valuable for them over the long term or if they don’t think you’ll make it to next year, they will be hesitant to do business with you.

Alleviate this concern by being open about funding, what your goals are and how you see your product evolving over the next two years. Most companies are willing to give you a chance but they want reassurance that they’re making the right decision by seeing that you have all your ducks in a row.

Consider Alternative Licensing Models

This affects each industry differently but you should have an open mind to more than one licensing option for your product. Cost per user, per month seems to be a popular tech business model these days but it shouldn’t be your only model.

Imagine if a corporate customer wants to work with five startups that all have different values and services. If all five are on a $5 cost per user, per month business model and the company has 1,000 employees, it’ll cost them $25,000 per month or $300,000 per year to use all five services. That’s no drop in a bucket.

Taking it a step further, startups are getting better and better at tailoring their products to a niche. As this continues, the competition to become the next “$5 per user, per month” company grows significantly.

Explore alternative models like one-time cost licenses or an annual tick up (clearly outlined for your customer) of cost per user, per month, as you add more features.

Companies are receptive to the idea of “test driving” a service at a lower cost and you’ll get the benefit of that customer’s feedback as you build your product.

Be Receptive To Feedback And Changes

Your product is your baby. You probably couldn’t quantify the number of hours you’ve slogged through code, networking events and the like just to get your foot in the door.

Still, in the end, no product is flawless and you should be open to feedback and suggestions. You might find tailoring a product to a particular customer opens your business up to servicing their competitors as well.

Stay In Touch

Lastly, stay in touch. Most corporations don’t turn on a dime and decisions aren’t made overnight. Not even over two weeks or two months.

Look at it like this: if they operate on quarters (Q1-Q4), you have four opportunities to reengage them about your product each year. Use the time wisely and share new updates and enhancements you think they would like. Ask for feedback on ways to improve what you have.

Above all, start by building a relationship and then keep it going. Even if you don’t get their business, they might refer you to someone that does become a customer.

Mexico’s growth will come from entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises

Reprinted from innovations (volume 7, number 1) - MIT Press Journals. Original abstract page here and article here.

Text based on the presentation, “A Unique Approach to Measure How High Impact Entrepreneurs and Venture Capital are Key Drivers for Long-Term Economic Growth.” Fernando Fabre, Endeavor Global.

By Álvaro Rodríguez Arregui

For a country to grow, private-sector companies have to grow. Since 1993, revenues of the companies that comprise Mexico’s Stock Market Index (Índice de Precios y Cotizaciones of the Bolsa Mexicana de Valores) have experienced a compounded annual growth rath (CAGR) in dollar terms of 14 percent. Comparatively, the CAGR over the same period in revenues of the companies that make up the Bovespa Index (Brazil’s stock exchange index) has been 2 percent.

Yet over the same time period, Mexico has experienced a mediocre growth in relationship to peer countries. Mexico’s nominal GDP CAGR since 1993 has been 5 percent, versus 9 percent for Brazil. This means Brazil has growth a rate 1.8x faster than Mexico’s. It’s because of this disparity that a recent survey of the top 92 business leaders in Mexico, done in anticipation of the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, found that “the topic at the top of the minds of most Mexican executives is economic growth.”

Why has Brazil’s GDP grown 1.8x faster than Mexico’s if Mexico’s largest companies have grown 7x faster than Brazil’s? The answer is entrepreneurship and the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Large companies in Mexico have in fact shown dynamic growth; however, that has not translated into a higher GDP because these companies have not increased the size of the pie; they have, rather, captured a greater piece of the existing pie. Moreover, the largest companies have achieved their growth primarily through expansion with foreign market operations, which does not contribute to the growth of Mexico’s GDP.

Given that the growth of Mexico’s largest enterprises does not raise its GDP, the country is left with two main options: to create more microenterprises, or to increase the growth of its SMEs.

Achieving one percentage point growth in the GDP by creating new microenterprises would mean adding 273,000 such companies. To achieve the same result through the growth of SMEs, 105 midsize companies would have to grow from medium to large. Therefore, from a public policy perspective, it is most efficient to focus on SMEs to raise the GDP.

I am not arguing that Mexico should abandon its programs to facilitate the creation of microenterprises. However, it is important to recognize that these efforts will primarily address issues of social inclusion, which is very necessary but will not result in the short- or medium-term growth of Mexico’s economy.

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eMBA field report: a Brazilian adventure filled with strategy, futebol and broken Portuguese

Uday Tumuluri is an eMBA student at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. He is interning with Endeavor Entrepreneur Guilherme Bruno at Arizona through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

As I stepped out of the Guarulhos airport and looked at the surroundings, a thought began to take shape in my mind. When I rode through the infamous Sao Paulo traffic in the taxi it became clearer: on appearance, Sao Paulo is just like Mumbai or New York, a massive city full of traffic; huge, elegant buildings and depleting infrastructure alike; and most importantly, a busy city. On my first day at work, I was overwhelmed by the friendly and welcoming nature of the employees of Arizona and in the next few weeks I realize that this is a trait of all Brazilian people – to be friendly, warm and welcoming. I knew Brazil loved its futebol and on my second day I got a taste of the passion as I watched, amongst fans, two rival teams battle out a cup semi-final and slept to the sound of fireworks across this city.

My project thus far at Arizona has been more than I could have asked for. I am currently working with the company’s leadership to draft a long-term strategy for growth in Brazil’s rapidly growing economy. Arizona is a leader in pre-media services (i.e. finalization and proofing done on advertising media before it is published) and has created technology tools that are being used by top agencies and companies in Brazil to manage their media assets. In the past year, Arizona has taken the shape of a technology company while remaining hungry for growth.

My project took shape in an interesting manner, which indicates the flexibility one can have as an eMBA Summer Associate. It started with a plan to start a new consultancy service for clients, but in speaking with the leadership, we soon realized that the need of the hour is a long-term strategic plan. This is where I come in: to identify market opportunities for growth in-line with Arizona’s vision to be the leading marketing services company.

My stint at Arizona has been very rewarding not least due to the amazing camaraderie and the belief bestowed upon me by the leadership at Arizona. The Endeavor Entrepreneurs, namely Guilherme Bruno, Alexandre Hadade, and Marcus Hadade, are people who passionately care about Arizona and work tirelessly to strengthen the company and take it to new heights. Patricia Osorio, who heads Marketing and Innovation at Arizona, is a fantastic person to work with on a daily basis because she ensures that I have all the resources and help I need to succeed at Arizona and in Brazil. The fast pace and continuous idea generation at Arizona and can seem disorganized to some. For me, however, it is a wonderful challenge to work on as I try to channel these ideas towards my project objectives. I am midway through my internship and I am enthused about the possibility of making a significant impact on Arizona’s future strategy in the coming weeks.

I cannot possibly end this blog without mentioning that I have been exploring Brazil. Rio de Janerio is truly a paradise and the most beautiful city I have seen. The food in Brazil is rich in variety with its feijoada, solgados and yes, the acai. I speak broken Portuguese, but I am amazed at how patient people are and willing to help me. Already, I can clearly state that these weeks are taking the shape of an unforgettable life experience as I look forward to more exciting work and travel. Muito Obrigado Endeavor, Arizona e no Brasil!

Endeavor network member shares thoughts on Investor Network event in London

Reprinted from Ahmad Takatkah’s blog. Original post here.

On my way to San Francisco to join Kauffman Fellows Program, I stopped in London as I was invited to become a member of Endeavor Global Investor Network, and participate in both: a round table discussion about the VC industry in the MENA Region, and in several speed dating sessions with global Endeavor Entrepreneurs to mentor and advise. The Investor Network event was held immediately following Endeavor’s International Selection Panel in London.

There were startups from: Brazil, Argentina, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, South Africa, and Indonesia. While investors were from USA, UK, Spain, Mexico, Turkey, Argentina, Morocco, Saudi, and Jordan.

From Jordan, there were only two investment firms participating: Oasis500 for Seed Stage, and Sinbad Ventures for Early Stage, while from Saudi there was a representative from Abraaj-KSA for High Growth and Late Stage investments.

The round table discussion was really great, the speakers gave insights about the VC and PE industries in the emerging markets they come from. Some of the investors shared with us their success and failure stories. I learned a lot.

Regarding the mentorship, actually this was not my first time to mentor global entrepreneurs. At SeedStartup, the seed accelerator of Dubai, I mentored entrepreneurs from Italy, UK, and even from Tanzania. The new thing about this experience is having growth stage global entrepreneurs not only seed/early stage ones. Mentorship is a two way learning experience, and I have to admit that I have learned new things from the high growth entrepreneurs I met — especially from Lebanon and Turkey. So I guess this is one more step towards becoming a global VC.

During this week, a few more startups were selected to join the Endeavor network as well. And I am happy for all of the Jordanian and Arab entrepreneurs who were selected this time: Curlstone, Altibbi, At7addak, and ElementN. Congratulations guys, you deserve it.

“The struggle”: words of advice on entrepreneurship’s “dark side”

Reprinted from Ben’s blog. See original article here.

By Ben Horowitz, cofounder and General Partner of the VC firm Andreessen Horowitz 

Don’t admit that your faith is weak
Don’t say that you feel like dying
Life’s hard then it feels like diamonds
Your home’s just far too gone
Much too late to even feel like trying
Can’t understand what I’m saying
Can’t figure out what I’m implying
If you feel you don’t wanna be alive
You feel just how I am
— Lupe Fiasco, “Beautiful Lasers”

Every entrepreneur starts her company with a clear vision for success. You will create an amazing environment and hire the smartest people to join you. Together you will build a beautiful product that delights customers and makes the world just a little bit better. It’s going to be absolutely awesome.

Then, after working night and day to make your vision reality, you wake up to find that things did not go as planned. Your company did not unfold like the Jack Dorsey keynote that you listened to when you started. Your product has issues that will be very hard to fix. The market isn’t quite where it was supposed to be. Your employees are losing confidence and some of them have quit. Some of the ones that quit were quite smart and have the remaining ones wondering if staying makes sense. You are running low on cash and your venture capitalist tells you that it will be difficult to raise money given the impending European catastrophe. You lose a competitive battle. You lose a loyal customer. You lose a great employee. The walls start closing in. Where did you go wrong? Why didn’t your company perform as envisioned? Are you good enough to do this? As your dreams turn into nightmares, you find yourself in The Struggle.

About The Struggle

“Life is struggle.” –Karl Marx

The Struggle is when you wonder why you started the company in the first place.

The Struggle is when people ask you why you don’t quit and you don’t know the answer.

The Struggle is when your employees think you are lying and you think they may be right.

The Struggle is when food loses its taste.

The Struggle is when you don’t believe you should be CEO of your company. The Struggle is when you know that you are in over your head and you know that you cannot be replaced. The Struggle is when everybody thinks you are an idiot, but nobody will fire you. The Struggle is where self-doubt becomes self-hatred.

The Struggle is when you are having a conversation with someone and you can’t hear a word that they are saying because all you can hear is The Struggle.

The Struggle is when you want the pain to stop. The Struggle is unhappiness.

The Struggle is when you go on vacation to feel better and you feel worse.

The Struggle is when you are surrounded by people and you are all alone. The Struggle has no mercy.

The Struggle is the land of broken promises and crushed dreams. The Struggle is a cold sweat. The Struggle is where your guts boil so much that you feel like you are going to spit blood.

The Struggle is not failure, but it causes failure. Especially if you are weak. Always if you are weak.

Most people are not strong enough.

Every great entrepreneur from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg went through The Struggle and struggle they did, so you are not alone. But that does not mean that you will make it. You may not make it. That is why it is The Struggle.

The Struggle is where greatness comes from.

Some stuff that may or may not help

There is no answer to The Struggle, but here are some things that helped me:

Don’t put it all on your shoulders – It is easy to think that the things that bother you will upset your people more. That’s not true. The opposite is true. Nobody takes the losses harder than the person most responsible. Nobody feels it more than you. You won’t be able to share every burden, but share every burden that you can. Get the maximum number of brains on the problems even if the problems represent existential threats. When I ran Opsware and we were losing too many competitive deals, I called an all-hands and told the whole company that we were getting our asses kicked, and if we didn’t stop the bleeding, we were going to die. Nobody blinked. The team rallied, built a winning product and saved my sorry ass.

This is not checkers; this is mutherfuckin’ chess – Technology businesses tend to be extremely complex. The underlying technology moves, the competition moves, the market moves, the people move. As a result, like playing three-dimensional chess on Star Trek, there is always a move. You think you have no moves? How about taking your company public with $2M in trailing revenue and 340 employees, with a plan to do $75M in revenue the next year? I made that move. I made it in 2001, widely regarded as the worst time ever for a technology company to go public. I made it with six weeks of cash left. There is always a move.

Focus on the road – When they teach you how to drive a racecar, they tell you to focus on the road when you go around a turn. They tell you that because if you focus on the wall, then you will drive straight into the wall. If you focus on how you might fail, then you will fail. Even if you only have one bullet left in the gun and you have to hit the target, focus on the target. You might not hit it, but you definitely won’t hit if you focus on other things.

Play long enough and you might get lucky – In the technology game, tomorrow looks nothing like today. If you survive long enough to see tomorrow, it may bring you the answer that seems so impossible today.

  • Don’t take it personally – The predicament that you are in is probably all your fault. You hired the people. You made the decisions. But you knew the job was dangerous when you took it. Everybody makes mistakes. Every CEO makes thousands of mistakes. Evaluating yourself and giving yourself an “F” doesn’t help.
  • Remember that this is what separates the women from the girls. If you want to be great, this is the challenge. If you don’t want to be great, then you never should have started a company.

The end

When you are in The Struggle, nothing is easy and nothing feels right. You have dropped into the abyss and you may never get out. In my own experience, but for some unexpected luck and help, I would have been lost.

So to all of you in it, may you find strength and may you find peace.

 

eMBA field report: mobile media in Monterrey; the right place at the right time

Nuno Neves studied business at ISCTE Business School in Lisbon, Portugal and New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. He is interning with Naranya in Monterrey, Mexico, through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

I am currently working at Naranya. It has the true entrepreneurship spirit that I was looking for! Everyone in the company lives intensely the moment and is always pushing forward in order to achieve excellence. The key for the incredible results at Naranya is the team spirit. Everyone is involved.

Naranya is in Mobile Media & Commerce company and it is developing new products/markets in order to build a mobile ecosystem for Latin American markets. Currently, it operates in seven countries and it plans to expand its market and extend its offerings to become the leader in Latin American Mobile Media & Commerce.

I am currently developing a strategy for new business and products to be marketed in Latin America. It is clearly a challenge and an opportunity. I feel that I’m at the right place at the right time. My days are fascinating. I spend them brainstorming with the CEO, Financial, Product, and Innovation managers in order to create a winning strategy.

These few last weeks have been amazing. I have attended Endeavor’s local events and met local business people. Monterrey has an atmosphere of entrepreneurship that fascinates me. Above all, this has been an opportunity to fully experience the local culture.

Endeavor Entrepreneur shares tips on using 2.0 tools to foster government-citizen collaboration

Reprinted from Opinno. Original article here.

By Jorge Soto, an Endeavor Entrepreneur since 2011

Interaction between governments and citizens through digital media and tools like mobiles and social networks create opportunities for transparency, accountability, participation and collaboration. With these, people are understanding democracy beyond voting every once in a while and are becoming citizens involved in their communities in a local and global way.

Just as Facebook and Twitter create ecosystems, each government has the opportunity to become a platform that encourages citizens to connect and engage to its community, collaborate and find innovative solutions.

The impact these kinds of initiatives have is not yet understood by governments, nor by citizens. In a broad view, a government that embraces and encourages transparency and accountability will involve citizens in the governance process, building the foundation for innovation. New technologies provides a space where these interactions can happen and a real time dialogue is established. The data obtained will be current and will reflect real needs. In this way, governments can make more effective and efficient decisions.

Data by itself and without context does not tell a complete story and provides little actionable insight. The more data a city or a decision maker has does not necessarily lead to more knowledge nor an accurate vision of real needs. In order to separate noise from signal, information must be meaningful. We should not focus on just aggregating data, but in curating it so it can be useful.

That is why data becomes information when put into context, which, when acted upon, brings the identification of patterns that will tell us what, where and when problems occur. Once this happens, it will lead to predictions to better allocate resources in a more efficient way, execute effectively and result in the satisfaction of real needs. Report and information management, two-way communication, real-time visual and relative analysis, transparency and open data makes governments more effective and efficient.

The true power of these types of initiatives may be its effect on the public imagination. With the combination of the wisdom of the crowds, data visualization and real-time information, every citizen becomes a sensor and governments are capable of evolving while making accurate and informed decisions thus providing citizens with what they really need.

For technology to be used by citizens, simplicity is key. Most don’t feel the need or have incentives to participate with their government and engage with their community; but if the correct tools are available, and citizens feel there is someone on the other side of the line, it will encourage them to participate.

The internet has a democratizing effect. New tools and media have made the expression of individuals and their interaction with their governments easier, as well as allowing governments to use that information to address real needs. It is no longer a technology problem, but an anthropological one.

Jorge Soto is the founder of Citivox, an Internet platform dedicated to linking citizens with their governments to solve common problems. A graduate of Columbia’s University’s Columbia Business School, Jorge is passionate about eliminating the divide between people and their governments. He is also a winner of 2012’s TR35 Mexico competition. Twitter: @smjorge22.

Three crucial steps to innovation: tips from Skillshare’s CEO

Reprinted from Forbes.com. Original article here.

By Alex Taub

Scaling Up, Without Screwing Up: A Conversation With Skillshare’s CEO

There are three distinct stages when disrupting any industry. The first phase is finding your company’s product market fit, penetrating a market that is open for potential money-making ventures with a product that has demand. The second phase is scaling your business. There are various sub-stages in scaling your business which I like to refer to as early-stage and later-stage. The third and final phase is continued innovation. Once you have properly disrupted an industry, you need to make sure to keep your foot on the gas and keep innovating.

Two months ago I sat down with Mike Karnjanaprakorn, co-founder and CEO of Skillshare, to chat about his business. Our conversation moved to the topic of disrupting the education industry (something Skillshare is looking to do) and Karnj — as he is called by his friends — told me about a blog post he wrote, entitled “The Three Big Decisions Your Startup Will Make”.

The first decision is deciding what to build. Karnj describes how you should think about what to build at your startup:

Most startups (99%) fail in this stage because they build the wrong product for the wrong market. Are you building something of value that people will use and care about? Are you building the right product for the right market? A lot is written about what to build and how to reach ‘product/market fit’ as fast as possible.

Karnj stresses the importance of goal-oriented companies. Once you have figured out what to build it is crucial to think about the larger picture and whether there is a market for your ‘product.’ Ask yourself, “Can I get one dollar?” If you can get one dollar, start thinking bigger: “Can I get ten dollars? One hundred dollars? One thousand dollars?” And so on. Thinking in terms of key metrics can also put the scope into perspective. If you are a disruptive company like New York-based Birchbox, a subscription service that delivers beauty product samples to users on a monthly basis, you need think in terms of how many boxes you can sell. If you are Eventbrite, a San Francisco-based company that gives you all the tools to put together events, you need to think about how many tickets you can sell.
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The next decision in the post: hiring. Karnj describes the biggest pitfall that startups may come up against once they have found their product/market fit.

After you build something of value, the next major decision to make is on who to hire and what they’ll be doing. The number one cause of death for a startup in this stage is not scaling properly (prematurely) and hiring the wrong people to work on the wrong things. It’s an extremely tricky thing to balance as you’ll be hiring people before your company becomes sustainable (if you have VC funding).

This decision exemplifies the second phase of disrupting an industry: scaling a company. Scaling is not easy; for a majority of startups, it is the most difficult phase. Karnj believes that the first fifteen hires that a company makes are the most critical for its success. The first employees determine the tone, message and drive of the company. Companies often have to reorganize early in their development stages for these reasons.

There are two distinct but broadly-defined stages of the scaling phase: early-stage and late-stage. Early-stage scaling is when a startup has found their product/market fit and have received enough traction to convince the team and outside capital to make a big bet on them (usually ranging from $7 to $15 million). Taskrabbit and Zaarly, community marketplaces for an assortment of general products and services, are reimagining what a modern marketplace should look like. Uber, a San Francisco-based technology startup that allows people to call private cars from their cell phones, has expanded to other cities including New York and Toronto. Votizen, a consumer technology company that harnesses social networks to create a connected electorate of voters, recently closed a round of celebrity funding. This will allow them to scale up as election season comes around. All of these companies are doing great things are I would watch out for them as they make the jump from early-stage to late-stage scaling.

Late-stage scaling usually happens once a company has mainstream attention. You are either taking the world by storm (full features in The New York Times, cover of the print Forbes, etc.) or in the midst of dethroning various stodgy leaders in your space. You haven’t become a household name, but you are well on your way. You’ve also probably raised over $50 million in venture capital. Some companies in this stage include Foursquare, a geographical location-based social network that helps users explore the world around them, Kickstarter, a microfunding platform for artists and entrepreneurs to find support for their projects, and Airbnb, a global network of accommodations offered by locals that is disrupting the global hospitality industry. These companies and others, in the late-stage of scaling, could make the jump to the third phase at any moment — if they haven’t already.

The final decision is where to innovate. Karnj discusses what happens after you have properly disrupted an industry and are one of its leaders.

This is the biggest and hardest decision you’ll ever have to make as a startup. If you look throughout history, most companies become irrelevant because they aren’t innovating properly. Apple and Facebook have done a great job but companies like Yahoo, AOL, Myspace (I would even argue Google) have not innovated successfully to stay relevant in society.

It is crucial to remain a dominant player once you have successfully penetrated a market, and there is a good shortlist of companies in this position. Facebook has one of the most aggressive approaches when dealing with continued innovation. The newsfeed and profile revamp, coupled with Timeline, are a few examples that highlight Facebook’s desire to constantly update itself.

Apple is a classic example of a company that disrupted and defined its industry and has continued to innovate in countless others, including personal computers, music, videos, and more. They are continuing to put their feet on the pedal, potentially eyeing TV as its next target.

There are many others straddling the boundary between the end of late-stage scaling and widespread, continued innovation. Those companies include the likes of Zynga and Twitter. Zynga has clearly disrupted the traditional gaming companies such as Atari and EA with games like CityVille, Farmville, Words With Friends. Recently Zynga purchased OMGPOP for $180 million, which forebodes a potential environment for Zynga where they are buying hot and upcoming apps, as opposed to having successes internally. This does not sit well for innovation.

Twitter is at the tail end of the scaling phase and could be thrown into the third stage as they have disrupted the entire news vertical. At this point, breaking news happens on Twitter. While great things have been done, they have to keep pushing ahead and not be afraid to completely revamp how people use and interact with their product. As long as Twitter can continue to build something that users will love, they shouldn’t be afraid to flip it on its head.

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