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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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Endeavor Insight Releases “City Hubs for Entrepreneurship” Report on Miami

Endeavor Insight, with support from the Knight Foundation, recently released the first publication in its “City Hubs for Entrepreneurship Series”, explaining the results of an analysis on the opportunities and obstacles to Miami’s growing entrepreneurship […]

January 28th, 2014 — by admin

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The art of NYC cycling for entrepreneurs #bikenyc

Reprinted from This is Going to be Big. Original article here.

By Charlie O’Donnell.

A lot of people ask me about cycling in NYC.  They ask me about startups, too.  As I was biking around the other day, I realized that they have a lot in common and so the advice I have to give about both is pretty similar:

1. Cycling is a *higher* risk activity, but it doesn’t have to be dangerous.

If you’re going to start a company instead of working for someone else, you’re definitely putting something at risk–current income, opportunity cost, some social capital perhaps.  That being said, it doesn’t mean you’re going to wind up homeless if things at your startup don’t work out.  Failure of a startup doesn’t mean failure of your career by any stretch–so long as you treat people with respect and honesty, and you work hard.

2. Taking some amount of additional risk can make for a better overall outcome–because biking in bike lanes all the time is boring and may not even be that much safer.

If you’re going to put it all out there in a startup, bite off something that you’re not 100% sure will work out, but that, if it did, would make a significant impact.  If you have zero chance of failure, you really didn’t challenge yourself–and you might actually be more successful if you attempt something harder that is worth doing.  That will inspire others to join and help.

3. Pay attention to traffic patterns–buses only pull over at bus stops, taxis will dart back into the street after a dropoff, etc.

Pattern matching is one of the most useful skills out there as an entrepreneur.  How do users generally behave around your value proposition?  What has worked in other startups?  Why?  What hasn’t worked?  If you can’t learn from the patterns of history, you’re going to get flattened.

4. Big trucks are slow to accelerate–you can always beat them out when they’re moving from a standing stop.

What if Google does this?  Well, they could, but you have to believe that you’ll do it better, faster, cheaper.  They could do anything but you have the advantage of already being in the flow of the market.  By the time a big company gets its act together, you’ll be free and clear.

5.  The things that will get you aren’t what you expect–it’s not the cars, but potholes and pedestrians. 

Startups are all about being prepared for anything–knowing where you’re heading, but being nimble at the last second when something comes up that could wipe you out at the wrong moment.

6. There is absolutely nothing you can do when a car door swings open right in front of you except brace for impact. 

Staying alive is the name of the game in a startup–and you’re going to have plenty of near death experiences along the way.  Know they will happen, and that you won’t see them coming.  Just hold on tight and weather the storm.

7. There’s no such thing as the “best bike”.  There’s only the best bike for you.

There are lots of goals people have when they start a company.  Some people want to see their ideas win.  Others want to make a ton of money.  Other people just like the challenge.  Just because another company does things a certain way doesn’t mean they’re necessarily right for you.

8. You need a good lock.

Don’t get obsessed with competition, but know what the alternatives do well so you know how you can be better.  Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll lose, but you don’t want to lose on a feature that you could have easily built which is what your competition ate your lunch with.

9. You must wear a helmet. 

Put all the right legal documents in place–co-founder agreements, privacy policies, etc.

10.  Get some bright lights and reflectors. 

Learn how to market yourself and what you’re doing, both personally and as a business.  You won’t have a ton of money to put towards marketing, so understanding PR and ways of building up awareness about your efforts through social media are really important to get noticed.

Safe biking! (and startupping!)

The startup spouse: On risks, trade-offs and never sleeping on the floor

Reprinted from OnStartups. Original article here.

By Lisa Rosen, the startup spouse.  You can follow her on twitter @entreprenrswife.

“He who sleeps on the floor will not fall off the bed.” ~ Robert Gronock

“I quit my job today,” announced my husband, Seth Rosen, as he casually dropped his briefcase and strolled through the front door of our apartment. As if it was no big deal. As if quitting one’s job is a routine occurrence. To be fair, Seth had talked about leaving his day job to work full time with his best friend, Mike Salguero, on CustomMade.com, a website they had recently purchased. And, to be fair, Seth had asked me repeatedly how I felt about the move. I had assured him that, in no uncertain terms, he had my unequivocal support — mostly because I didn’t think he would actually do it. Yet, here I was, staring at my newly-minted entrepreneur, unsure of whether I should throw up my arms to hug him or strangle him. After all, lots of people talk about starting a company because they think they have a million dollar idea, but very few pull the proverbial trigger. There is a reason for that. Leaving a seemingly safe and reliable salary for the uncertainty and potential perils of a startup company is risky. More startups fail than succeed, especially if a business requires venture capital. A quick search on Wikipedia told me that there are around two million new businesses started in the United States every year, of which less than 800 receive venture financing or 0.04%. CustomMade was already doomed. To make matters worse, it was the summer of 2009 and the US economy was in a deep recession. Was he nuts? (more…)

What if your business was a book?

Reprinted from Duct Tape Marketing. Original article here.

By John Jantsch

Let me first state that I think anyone who has figured anything out about a market, industry or innovation has proper reason to write a book. If you’ve perfected a process of methodology, your process, methodology and your entire world will benefit from the mere act of documenting it in a way that makes it teachable and transferable.

But, that’s not what this post is about. (sort of)

For some time now I’ve been trying to get marketers to approach their educational content plan as a total body of work rather than a daily or weekly event.

If you would actually do that you might have a central theme for your content, specific structure, chapters based on important keywords – perhaps even stories, characters and plots.

If you were to move away from your business even further you might even see how your entire business could be properly and effectively cast as a book.

If that were so your business would have a value filled title, hook, narrative, backstory and structure.

I’ve written three books now and I can tell you that the process involved in proposing, outlining and writing a book has powerful applications for building and marketing a business.

A publisher considering your book would need to know who the book was for, why this book was different, what the reader would get from the book and ultimately the topics contained within the chapters.

An author writing a book would start with this framework and then evolve, adapt and learn as the book unfolds in ideas, drafts and edits. Ultimately the book would have to produce value for the reader. It would not have to be a prize winning piece of literature, but it would have to be organized, properly researched and worth reading.

The parallels between what it takes to write a book and what it takes to communicate the essence of a business to an ideal client market are stunning.

So, I guess it’s time to start your book.

Let me repeat that I think anyone who has figured anything out about a market, industry or innovation has proper reason to write a book. If you’ve perfected a process of methodology your process, methodology and your entire world will benefit from the mere act of documenting it in a way that makes it teachable and transferable.

But, even if you don’t have any plans to actually write a book your business will benefit from a book like mindset.

Look at your business and pretend that you are writing a book proposal. Your proposal should reflect the core elements of your business, process or methodology that are central to what makes you unique and central to what your ideal client is searching for.

Include:

Title – how can you position this book to stand out?

Author – what expertise, knowledge or experience do you have that makes you qualified to tell this story?

Audience – who specifically must read this book and can they afford to pay for your services?

The hook – what tantalizing knowledge will the reader get from this book?

Competition – what other books are out there right now that might compete for this reader?

Chapters – what are the key concepts and structural elements that make this a body of work?

Do you see how this framework might also apply to more than a book? Do you see how it could also apply to creating a marketing strategy, writing a sales letter or putting together a new service?

In the end, we’re all publishers of information of one sort or another. Why not truly embrace this thinking by approaching your content creation, marketing and entire business as though it were a book? And maybe, just maybe, you’ll get a book out of it as well.

Wamda Entrepreneur of the Week: Endeavor Entrepreneur Firat Isbecer of Turkish mobile solution company Pozitron (video)

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

This week’s entrepreneur of the week is Firat Isbecer of Pozitron, an Endeavor Turkey company. Here he describes how he landed his first big client, despite competing with a Finnish company backed by Nokia, discusses how mobile payments are on the rise in Turkey and the MENA region, and explains why an entrepreneur working in the mobile space will need to focus. “If you want to have a sustainable, but not that scalable business, go B2B, but if you have a really good idea and a very strong team to execute that idea, gaming is very competitive… Arabic is spoken by 600 million people, so online gaming and mobile gaming is where there is huge growth,” he says. [Apologies for the pixelated video; this was filmed during the week with internet blackouts in Lebanon.]

Demystifying e-commerce: How to offer competitive customer service

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

By Nader Museitif

A customer service strategy for an online store is as critical as it is for a brick and mortar. Some may start with the misguided perception that having the online storefront shields the business from the dreaded encounters with customers that physical stores have. But anyone with the least experience in e-commerce would agree that customer encounters can be very challenging at times – especially if not handled with a clear process and a precise approach.

It might be useful here to define customer service broadly as encompassing moments when customers seek contact with the business for matters beyond the scope of browsing the store, adding goods to cart, or checking out. Customer service is the interaction that happens between the business and the customer, at the customer’s request, to address a certain queries or issues. Yet one can still look at it in the traditional model of two parts: pre-sale and post-sale service.

Pre-sale Customer Service

Pre-sale isn’t usually a very challenging interaction; this is where potential or return buyers are asking questions about the products, prices, shipping methods, or other aspects that relate to a probable order they want to make. The key factors for whoever is handling the “ticket” are

1. Having the proper knowledge to address the query professionally. This is about training and preparing the customer service staff on the various aspects of the business and giving the right access to information when they need it to address queries.

2. Addressing the query within a guaranteed time window and as fast as possible. This metric is about capacity and clear SLA’s to the customer service team while managing the customer service expectations (for example, responding to e-mails within 24 hours).

3. Having the right attitude and approach to engaging the customer and converting his/her query into an interactive experience, thereby increasing the chances of a sale and registering a positive point with the customer for future purchases.

Post-sale Customer Service

Post-sale is where the action is. These are customers that placed orders and are calling, e-mailing, or posting on Twitter or Facebook for specific concerns, queries, complaints, or, if you’re lucky, praise. These will increase, in correlation with the number of orders on the site, and it’s important to build capacity to handle the growing influx of customer contact. The customer service team must have visibility on order status and a deep knowledge of the business model, specifically the supply chain. The systems they use must be designed to provide such knowledge and manage a rigorous workflow that results in resolving customer issues. It is redundant to stress the importance of the attitude of call-centre staff or the tonality of the e-mails going to customers. The more the customer comfortable the customer feels about the person handling their query, the more they are likely to accept delays or inconveniences (to an extent). Therefore it is crucial to empower agents and give them the tools to act rather than just taking notes.

The channels that an online store makes available for customer contact are also worth planning and designing specific approaches for. The ones we see in the region are telephone, customer service e-mail, and social media (facebook fan pages and twitter). Some use live chat but that isn’t a big trend yet. Clearly social media is adopted by many customers who will post with immense passion about an experience. Opening up such a channel must have the right skills standing by to handle these public posts under a customer service and branding strategy. So be prepared and use the posts to bring the customer closer.

Customer service for an online store should evolve and be viewed as part of the overall user experience. It becomes a competitive advantage in the face of growing competition and increases return purchases by happy customers. So make sure there are clear policies on the site regarding warrantees, returns, exchanges, shipping times, fees, etc. Also expect that no matter how clear the policies are, customers will want to enforce their own. How the business manages these policies becomes a secret sauce that either kicks off with customers or simply turns them off.

After experience in aerospace, logistics and M&A, Nader’s work in e-commerce and belief in the region’s online potential are his top passion at Aramex. You can reach him at nader.museitif@aramex.com

Seems awkward, ignores the rules, but brilliant: Meet the maverick job candidate

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

In a paper recently published in the British Journal of Psychology, Elliroma Gardiner, an organizational psychologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science, found that employees with maverick personalities could be secret weapons for making businesses successful. Gardiner’s research interests are in the role of individual differences in an organizational setting.

By encouraging creative, independent thinkers to come up with innovative, brilliant ideas and giving workers the support and time to pursue their projects, companies could introduce their next Angry Birds or Google News to the marketplace. In an economic climate where employees might be asked to do more with fewer resources, she says, hiring that maverick employee may be the way a company can increase their profits.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows after the jump.
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Seth Godin: “Take this simple marketing quiz”

Reprinted from Seth Godin’s Blog. Original article here.

Not so simple, actually, and about more than just classical marketing:

There are a hundred people in a room, perhaps a trade show or a small theatre. What’s your choice:

1. Sit in the back, watch, listen and learn.
2. Cajole your way onstage so you can make a slick presentation that gets everyone on their feet, buzzing and excited, eager to do business with you or hire you.
3. Set up a booth in the lobby that energizes and engages 12 of the people enough that they tell their friends, while it disturbs or mystifies two of the others and is ignored by the rest.
4. Provide a service (like cookies and juice in a box at the exit) that many of the people there are appreciative of but few remember or talk about.

Most people say they choose #2. In fact, most marketers actually do #1 or #4, and it’s only #3 that gives you the best chance–create a remarkable product or service, don’t depend on getting picked to have a lucky break on stage, and gradually spread your purple cow among people who are truly interested.

Apple and Nike and Starbucks are trotted out again and again as marketing gold standards, because they are beloved by many and ignored or distrusted by few. But these are the outliers, the .0001% that don’t represent what actually happens when successful ideas reach the marketplace.

The mass market is no longer. There is almost no room left for the next Procter & Gamble or Google. Instead, you are far more likely to do your best work if you are willing to delight a few as opposed to soothe the masses.

Endeavor Entrepreneur company Wizards Productions, a Jordan-based gaming studio, pivots into mobile

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here. This story features Endeavor Entrepreneurs Hussam Hammo, Afif Toukan and Sohaib Thiab‘s company, Wizard Productions.

By Nina Curley

2012 marks a new era for Wizards Productions, which today announced a publishing agreement with 6waves, a leading international social and mobile games publisher.

Wizards Productions, has historically focused on massively multiplayer online (MMO) games, yet now intends to publish its first mobile game, Aqua Jam, in 4 weeks for iOS and later this year for Android.

“We believe that the gaming industry is shifting towards mobile and we believe that there is great potential in it,” says newly anointed CEO Sohaib Thiab. “Mobile also allows us to publish our games globally.”

With a regional mobile penetration rate of 96% in the Arab World, higher than the global average of 82%, thanks to outliers like Saudi Arabia (whose mobile penetration rate may approach 132%), it’s easy to see why a regional gaming company would go mobile. The shift also makes makes sense given the sense of Wizards Production’s Amman studio. “Mobile games are smaller in scale and can be developed very quickly,” Thiab says.

The gaming company, which was founded in Amman in 2008, is also switching CEOs, as original CEO Afif Toukan steps down and COO Sohaib Thiab steps into the lead role. The shift is purely for personal reasons and not due to team conflicts, notes Thiab; Toukan will still be a stakeholder and partner but not a working partner.

Wizards Productions began its gaming career localizing concepts like “Hitman’s Life” with online game “Arabian Hitman,” also launching popular battle game “Operation Arabia,” the first 3D MMO developed entirely locally in the Middle East, which, at its peak, had 220,000 monthly active users.

Aqua Jam, however, will focus on a younger audience, from 8 to 20 years old, with a simple storyline- a family is seeking to recover the other half of its members, who we kidnapped. The game will initially be published in English, but then will be likely be localized in Chinese, thanks to 6waves’s presence in Hong Kong, and then Arabic as well. While Wizards will no longer focus on localization, it will continue to push to publish its games in Arabic, and will port some of its previously published Arabic games to mobile, says Thiab.

The shift follows the trend across the gaming sector in the region- as companies like Wixel Studios in Beirut shift to publishing mobile games in English, and TakTek Games signing a deal with U.K.-based mobile publishing giant Chillingo in April to publish simple language-less games with a global appeal as well.

While some lament the lack of games that truly capture the spirit of the region, it seems gaming companies are prioritizing profitability over local flavor, taking the fastest route to going global.

The trend is not exclusive to the region, however. Social gaming MMO publisher Kabam also pivoted towards producing mobile games early this year, moving away from publishing primarily on Facebook. The jury is still out on whether this has been a successful shift, yet many are following suit, looking to mobile as the future of gaming.

eMBA field report: lights, camera, asado!

Montevideo, Uruguay

Adrian Garcia is an MBA candidate at ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. He is interning with Endeavor Entrepreneur company Salado Media in Uruguay through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

Within half an hour of stepping off the plane in Montevideo, I found myself at a restaurant table with the managing director of Salado Media, Endeavor Entrepreneur Andres Ameglio, conversing and sharing ideas on how his business could successfully grow in the U.S. market. This was your normal business meeting, just not with iced tea and something light to eat. Quickly our ideas flowed just like the juices from what seemed like a 2-pound steak on my plate, which Andres suggested that I order. By the end of the meal, I was in quite the food coma, but Andres kept talking strategy and about the future of the company with the voracity of a T Rex. There is a type of professional/family atmosphere here that is not contrived nor processed. It is the essence of Salado Media.

The scope of my project is to create a US market entry strategy for Salado Media, a film and commercial audiovisual production company. The thing is that they are so well positioned to enter that at first I was taken back by the numerous amount of viable avenues for them. In my previous professional experiences and projects, I was accustomed to working with companies that were trying to make up for their lack of talent or capabilities and therefore had limited choices. Now, I have all the tools one could ask for; it’s just a matter of analyzing and seizing the opportunities in the most strategic manner. The executive team already has some great ideas that are more traditional, but I have been able to add value by bringing in more innovative ones along with a structured approach that stems from experiences with other colleagues, my MBA education, and working in different business cultures and industries in the past. Together, the execs and I have been coming up with a strategy recipe that is a mix of the traditional, the new, and the creative.

Life outside of work has been just as dynamic. I share an apartment with another Endeavor eMBA , Tony, who is working for PedidosYa.com and studies at NYU Stern. It’s good to have a “partner in crime” with whom to trek around town, enjoy countless asados, and attempt to run off the provoletas and empanadas with, and also to bounce ideas off of concerning our respective projects.

Right now, I’m writing from Salado’s Buenos Aires office and have had the chance to meet more genuinely nice and accommodating people while also getting the chance to discover a new city. All together, my eMBA project has helped me to grow professionally, personally, and around my waistline.

eMBA field report: a fresh approach to fast growth and seaside splendors in Uruguay

PedidosYa entrepreneur Alvaro Garcia and eMBA Anthony Musso

Anthony Musso is an MBA candidate at NYU’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business. He is interning with Endeavor Entrepreneur company PedidosYa.com in Uruguay through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

I am coming into the homestretch of my eight week internship with PedidosYa (online food delivery leader in Latin America) based in Montevideo, Uruguay and I am delighted to report that it has been an incredibly positive and transformative experience for me. Working and living in Montevideo has given me a strong appreciation for the Uruguayan culture and its wonderful people. Well educated and extremely friendly, my colleagues and I have become fast friends. I feel very fortunate to have landed in such a welcoming environment.

I have also had the opportunity to travel, visiting Punta del Este, Colonia and Buenos Aires. Although I went during the off season, I had an absolute blast in Punta. I have never seen a city filled with so much residential construction and absolutely no industry to speak of, aside from tourism. It truly is a resort city, built to enjoy. Colonia, the oldest settlement in Uruguay, is a charming town with cobble stone streets and a rich history. Across the river is Buenos Aires, which can only be described as…simply the best.

Working with three distinct, highly intelligent entrepreneurs at PedidosYa has been terrific! They have provided me with valuable business lessons and helped me clarify many of my own professional aspirations. Upon arrival, my assigned objective was fairly broad: help us grow in the best way possible. For me, this important task and full access to a fast growing company in an exploding industry was a dream job. I divided my time in two areas. First, focusing internally, I researched industry best practices and developed a road map for automating order processing. Second, I performed an in-depth analysis of the competitive landscape in Brazil, PedidosYa’s largest and most promising market, and with cofounder Alvaro Garcia devised a completely novel marketing strategy.

Looking back, I have learned and experienced a great deal in such a short period of time. I am extremely happy that I took the leap and joined Endeavor’s eMBA program.

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