High-Impact Entrepreneurship

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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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Latin American Entrepreneur Companies Globant, Tecsis and Imagen Dental Profiled in Spain’s El Pais

A recent article in Spain’s El Pais featured Endeavor Entrepreneurs Guibert Englebienne, Bento Koike, and Ricardo Villarreal as well as Endeavor President Fernando Fabre as they discussed economic growth, innovation and competitiveness in the Latin American region. The article […]

January 22nd, 2014 — by admin

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Endeavor to launch a new country affiliate in Saudi Arabia

Full press release below.

Endeavor to launch a new country affiliate in Saudi Arabia focused on High-Impact Entrepreneurship

New York, July 18, 2012 – Endeavor announced today that it will launch a new affiliate office in Saudi Arabia, expanding its efforts to select and service high-impact entrepreneurs in the Middle East.

This will be Endeavor’s fifth Middle East regional affiliate, following successful launches over the past six years in Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. Endeavor has already selected 90 entrepreneurs representing 59 companies in the MENA region and provides a range of services including mentoring, providing access to key networks and introductions to sources of smart capital.

All Endeavor affiliates are spearheaded by a local board of leading businesspeople each of who share the organization’s vision for screening and selecting entrepreneurs and then providing them guidance to scale their businesses.

The Endeavor Saudi Arabia founding board will be chaired by Rami K. Alturki, President of Khalid Ali Alturki & Sons. He will be joined on the board by HRH Princess Banderi A.R. Al Faisal, Director General, King Khalid Foundation, Mohammed A. Hafiz, CEO, Al-Sawani, Musaab S. Al Muhaidib, CEO, Al Muhaidib Technical Supplies, Abdulaziz A. Al Omran, VP, Khalid & Abdulaziz Al Omran Co., Hossam Radwan, CEO of Abraaj Saudi Arabia, Faisal Tamer, Managing Partner at The Tamer Group, and Abdulla Al Zamil, CEO of Zamil Industrial.

The board has recruited Rakan Al Eidi to serve as the first Managing Director, overseeing day-to-day operations for Endeavor KSA. His initial responsibilities include recruiting the first Endeavor Entrepreneur candidates in the Kingdom and building a staff to support them.

“We’re very excited to bring Endeavor’s proven model to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said board Chairman Rami Alturki. “Entrepreneurship is one of the keys to addressing the need for tens of thousands of new and innovative jobs in the Kingdom.”

“Through our work with high-impact entrepreneurs in the MENA region, we hope to inspire a culture of entrepreneurship, leading to innovation as well as job and wealth generation.” said Endeavor Co-founder & CEO Linda Rottenberg. “We’re very excited by the enormous opportunities to build entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia.”

The launch of Endeavor in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would not have been possible without the strategic guidance of our regional board members and key partners. Endeavor Global would like to thank Abraaj Capital for their commitment and ongoing support to accelerate Endeavor’s expansion and impact within the Middle East and North Africa.

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 2010, Endeavor Entrepreneurs throughout Latin America, South Africa, Turkey, Egypt and Jordan had created more than 150,000 jobs and generated over $4 .5 billion in revenues. For more information, visit www.endeavor.org

Further Information:

For more information on Endeavor Saudi Arabia, please contact Rakan Eidi, rakan.eidi@endeavor.org. For further details on Endeavor Global and Endeavor’s entire portfolio of High-Impact Entrepreneurs please contact david.wachtel@endeavor.org or Joanna.harries@endeavor.org

Endeavor Entrepreneur Omar Koudsi: creating relevant Arabic content is Jeeran’s recipe for success

Reprinted from mediaME.com. See original article here.

 

mediaME speaks to [Endeavor Entrepreneur] Omar Koudsico-founder of Jeeran.com. Omar shares his views on Jeeran’s“Reviews & Places” business strategy, growth of user-generated content in the MENA region, digital media expenditures and much more.

Q. As one of the first Arab online communities, you have witnessed the development of the Arab Internet landscape over the past decade. Tell us about your journey as a portal, and how you got to where you are today.

My business partner and I started developing websites during our university years. Jeeran emerged and we tried several business ideas as part of it. Some of them were more successful than others.

We started as a blog network which was being used, but not by enough people. Our work wasn’t reaching too many people and we were not seeing growth rates that were satisfying. So we asked ourselves what we could do that would be unique to our site, and how it would differ from the other platforms that had been developed. So we thought of this ‘reviews and places’ concept and thought it would be useful in the Arab World.

This next evolution of Jeeran aims to create something relevant to our community. This is where the concept came from. The search for something useful and relevant to our society made us develop the new Jeeran.com.

We knew it would be a challenge to develop the site. It was not something that could be developed by a programmer who lived thousands of miles away. It took a lot of time and effort, but we were drawn to the challenge because it meant we were really going to create something of relevance.

We agreed on what the main concept would be, and decided we would create a site that would list places and services, and would allow people to review them. The concept was to create a place where you people could review places in a meaningful manner. We started in Amman, Jordan, and have since rolled out in nine other cities.

This concept has been successful from the get-go because people saw the value in it. The value is within the framework of the site. We help people find what they are looking for, whether it be a restaurant, a lawyer, a real estate agent, or a car dealership. Other people’s reviews are open to the public, and help people determine what businesses to interact with.

Q. Tell us about the growth you are seeing in user-generated local content in the MENA region. Are we still suffering from a low percentage of Arabic content on the Internet?

The situation is much better percentage-wise when compared to 3 years ago, thanks to mobile and social media. The biggest change is that people around the world started to consider social media content as user generated content. Usage of Facebook and Twitter in our region is quite strong, so the total is much larger. However, I still think there is a lack of creative, innovative content in Arabic, with the exception of video.

Q. You have recently hired a specialized media representative to handle all your advertising sales. Tell us more about the thinking behind this decision.

We are very happy with our decision to outsource our brand advertising to the Choueiri Group. Jeeran has always been a products company and not a media company. Our relationship with Choueiri Group will allow us to focus on products, while they handle the agency world.

Q. Digital media expenditures are growing in the Middle East. What in your opinion are the main challenges or obstacles for faster growth?

What we still lack in this region that is hindering digital spend growth is transparency and being performance driven as opposed to being relationship driven (the relationship between the site and buying agency).

The relationship driven model works for traditional media such as billboards, TV, and radio because it is very hard to measure the returns. However for online, you can measure results and know what you get out of your spend. Unfortunately, I still don’t see enough emphasis given to the return on spend for online, but I am confident that is changing.

Q. What is your projection for percentage of growth in online spending in 2012 for the industry as a whole, and for Jeeran specifically?

2012 has had a slow start for many advertising sectors, but I am confident that the numbers will be compensated in the months to come. With the challenging political and economical situation in our part of the world, I think it would be good if we see 20% Year-On-Year growth in the digital world.

Q. Where does Jeeran go from here in terms of expansion and technological developments?

We have just released Jeeran.com iPhone and Android applications. Through the applications, one is provided with a list of places, whether it be restaurants, clinics or any other service-providers. In addition, one has access to the places’ telephone numbers and directions through Google maps. The results will appear according to your priorities and based on reviews made by the city’s residents. The applications are available free of charge.

Q. What, in your opinion, is Jeeran’s legacy as such a long term player in the digital media scene, and what advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

I would say my advice to digital media entrepreneurs is to never give up. I would advise them to not go for the easy solutions. Find something you feel passionate about and something you feel is of relevance, and really give it your best shot. It might take you several years to achieve your goals. It took us close to ten years to establish our business, but we never gave up and it paid off.

CEO of newly selected Wehostels shares thoughts on Endeavor and his new start-up

Reprinted from PulsoSocial. Original article here.

By Aleyda Rodríguez (translated from Spanish by David Rousseau)

Diego Saez-Gil, Wehostels: “My objective as an entrepreneur is to give back 10 times the amount I’ve received.”

Last week, we announced that Wehostels would be participating in Endeavor’s ISP.  This week, we bring you two more headlines about the popular start-up, one of which was granted in exclusivity to PulsoSocial. First, the company has just opened its new offices in Bogotá, in the HubBog co-working spaces. Second, Lucas Lain has just joined the Wehostels team as the new CTO. I recently sat down with Diego Saez-Gil, co-founder and CEO of Wehostels, to discuss his experience as an Endeavor Entrepreneur and his involvement in the young start-up.

Diego Saez-Gil and his team at the Wehostels offices, in the HubBog.

Aleyda Rodríguez: You are an Endeavor Entrepreneur. What has this experience meant to you in terms of learning and personal growth?

Diego Saez-Gil: Yes, I was lucky  enough to have been recently selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur. The whole process has turned out be an extremely enriching experience.  Endeavor forces you to question every aspect of your business, from the macro all the way down to the micro. This introspective procedure is instrumental to any company’s growth. But more importantly, Endeavor puts you in touch with high-level people who give you their full attention and provide you with an invaluable service, analyzing your business, asking you questions, and offering you feedback. I was fortunate enough to receive feedback from people such as David Kidder, a serial entrepreneur in New York, Diego Piaccentini, VP of Amazon.com, as well as many other entrepreneurs and executives of the same caliber. You learn a great deal from such experienced people. I also like how Endeavor  inspires you at a more personal level to be a better person and realize that your responsibility as an entrepreneur is much broader that you might think: a good entrepreneur is also one who  generates a positive impact on society. I was amazed at how all these people with really busy schedules were so generous in giving up some of their precious time just to help entrepreneurs like me. Inspired by their generosity, I have decided to dedicate one hour of every day to other entrepreneurs. My goals is to give back 10 times what I’ve received.

 Aleyda Rodríguez: What is the most ambitious goal you’ver ever undertaken in all your time at Wehostels?

Diego Saez Gil: Wehostels has only existed for a short period of time, so we are currently taking on quite a number of goals and challenges. One of our  main goals is to develop the best possible products and adapt them to the actual needs and desires of our users. Another one of our top objectives is to capture and connect the market of travelers with that of hostels. We need to attract both markets simultaneously, and until we attain a critical mass, our service won’t be optimal. Finally, we have to deal head on with the challenge of competing with big-companies and swiping them of their market quotas. However, I am very confident in my team, and I know that together we will triumph over all of these obstacles.

Aleyda Rodríguez: How did this idea come about?

Diego Saez-Gil: A few years ago, I was lucky enough to move to Europe to complete my Master’s degree.  Once there, I fully took advantage of my stay and backpacked all throughout the continent. During the course of my travels, I started to take notice of many business opportunities. As a traveler, I felt that backpacker community was being underserved by the Internet travel industry. The web’s technological advances, reflected for instance in the growth of social networks and in the increase of  smart phones, were not being used to their full potential. I spent a lot of time researching the internet travel industry and discovered that the market opportunity there was very great. The idea behind our start-up continues to evolve but our passion for the internet travel industry remains the same.

Aleyda Rodríguez:  What is the current number of actual users on Wehostels?

Diego Saez-Gil: We’d rather not release that information for now, but our number of users is growing every day, and we are very excited about the traction we’ve attained on all fronts.

Aleyda Rodríguez: Describe your experience at the Endeavor ISP.

Diego Saez-Gil: The ISP was amazing. I was in Canary Wharf, in London’s Financial District, where many investment banks and corporations have their HQs. The most valuable part of the whole experience was the feedback I received from the panelists reviewing my application. I was lucky enough to deal with heavyweights such as Nicolas Szekazy, of Kazek Ventures, Matt Harris of Bain Capital, as well as other impressive panelists. I also had the opportunity to meet  other entrepreneurs from around the world who were also attending the event. It was an incredible experience. I came back full of energy and enthusiasm for what tomorrow will bring.

Aleyda Rodríguez: What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned working with Wehostels?

Diego Saez-Gil: There are thousands of things I’m still learning every day. In one of my more recent learning experiences, I was taught the importance of having a focus point: we entrepreneurs have a lot of ideas and we try to cover too many at a time when we really should be focusing on a few things we want to be good at. Another important lesson I learned is that having the right team is essential; everything else is secondary. In order to keep attracting the most talented people to our team, I want to make Wehostels the most appealing company there is to work for.  We are actively trying to create a great work environment in our offices. Our employee benefits, for instance, are hard to match.

Aleyda Rodríguez: You succeeded at being selected at the Endeavor ISP. What’s next for Wehostels?

Diego Saez-Gil: First and foremost, it is with great pleasure that I announce the addition of a new and very important member to our team:  Lucas Lain, a serial entrepreneur who has built a number of companies (one of them was acquired by Argentina’s Grupo Clarin) has come on board as CTO. His addition to our team couldn’t come at a better time. Lucas’s extensive experience in the development of cell phone technology will prove invaluable as we narrow our focus on mobile phones. Our co-founder and first CTO, Alex Torrenegra, is now our Technical Advisor.

We are also very excited about the launching of our first mobile app for the Iphone. We are very proud of our application and are confident that it is at least 10 times better than the competing applications out on the market, both in terms of design and user experience.  We hope it will be available on the App store by the end of the month (We’ll keep you posted on this!).

Endeavor Entrepreneur Luis Chicani speaks to 7,500 Nigerians at The Platform 10.0

By Sam Weyrauch, Endeavor summer intern

On the western coast of Africa lies Nigeria, its most populous country. It has the continent’s second largest economy, yet faces many challenges, and has one of the highest population densities. It also includes an eager and budding horde of entrepreneurs ready to take the next step with their companies.

Endeavor Entrepreneur Luis Alexandre Chicani traveled across the Atlantic from Brazil to Nigeria recently to participate in the entrepreneurship-focused Platform 10.0, a biannual Cultural Innovation Conference. After Endeavor’s Allen Taylor heard from Silicon Valley friend Sarah Lacy about Pastor ‘Poju Oyemade, who runs the event, he encouraged Chicani to attend. Lacy, the author of Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky, a book promoting worldwide entrepreneurism, had spoken at the event last spring.

Chicani spoke to an audience group of over 7,500 people—as well as thousands more online and on TV—at The Platform before presenting at a smaller Q&A workshop for about 2,000 Nigerians alongside speakers from the U.S., China, India, and Nigeria.

“I talked to people hungry for knowledge,” he said in an interview. “I got very excited to contribute something, and decided to talk about Do’s and Don’ts that drove my life as an entrepreneur in Brazil. As one of Endeavor’s commitments is giving back to communities that need this kind of help, I felt very happy to participate at Platform 10.0 and of course, talked a lot about Endeavor.

Luis continued: “The idea was to tell my history with DentalCorp, BenCorp, TourisMed Brazil and Club Saúde, pointing out difficulties and achievements and always trying to make some comparison with Brazilian and Nigerian realities. I had an opportunity with 21 DentalCorp offices in different urbanized areas of Brazil, but also in the Northeast and Amazon Area where the conditions and needs were much more like those in Nigeria.”

Among the countless entrepreneurs he met, Chicani highlighted two that particularly struck a chord with him. The first was Dr. Edwin Ndubuisi, who founded New Dimension to mentor young African leaders and entrepreneurs to develop their communities and to showcase positive role models to inspire the next generation, in a similar manner to Endeavor. The second was Fifehanmi Bankole, a life coach and senior strategist with Harval Nigeria Limited.

“It was really an honor to give a message about how wonderful it is to develop a culture of entrepreneurship, and that the main fuel is your dream and resilience to go, day after day, facing similar challenges and opportunities,” Luis said. “I wanted to make as many people as I could excited about becoming an entrepreneur (or continuing as one) as a positive force in Nigeria.”

 

eMBA field report: breaking down barriers, both physical and psychological, in South Africa

Elizabeth McKenna is an MBA candidate at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. She is interning with Stoned Cherrie in South Africa through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

Arriving in Johannesburg, I was immediately struck by the unrelenting fences and dividers in the city. Gates, walls, electric wiring, and other barriers to entry served as obstacles at every turn and every step. Given this pervasive element, I expected a corresponding wariness from the city’s denizens. My experience could not be more contrary. Nkhensani Nkosi, the Endeavor Entrepreneur for whom I am working, has welcomed me with open arms as have her staff, the local Endeavor team, and even her family and friends. Nkhensani has treated me like an equal in discussing business ventures and like a friend, including me in family activities and weekend events.

Nkhensani’s company, Stoned Cherrie, is a fashion house that embraces an Afro-Urban aesthetic. Nkhensani strives to bring a modern African product to the local and international marketplace. Like many South African entrepreneurs, she faces many barriers to entry in her native country. The predominant marketplace in South Africa is the shopping mall due to its security and its convenience. The owners of this real estate ultimately dictate market access and pricing. Unfortunately, these decision makers cater to large department stores and international brands. My project at Stoned Cherrie is to find unique solutions around these barriers to entry. We are looking at innovative retail methods and new ways to market and sell Stoned Cherrie merchandise.

Our primary solution is e-commerce. This has been an intriguing challenge as no other South African fashion designer has yet to establish an e-commerce platform. At first, my project overwhelmed me as we discussed warehousing, courier services, sales forecasting and website design. As I thought about the many components to the project, my anxiety only multiplied. Working directly with Nkhensani has been a remarkable experience. She believes in making the impossible happen. As we have chipped away at all of the project’s variables, our vision is slowly becoming a reality. With its challenges come great rewards. In my mind, e-commerce, m(mobile)-commerce, and s(social)-commerce are not only the most cost-effective and efficient methods of selling but also the future of retail. I believe that the establishment of an online platform for Stoned Cherrie will create global access and ultimately lead to a new set of global customers. I am thrilled to be working with Nkhensani on such a valuable asset to her long-term business development.

Working and living in Johannesburg, I have faced overt barriers to entry. However, in my short time here, I have learned that beyond these barriers lies a wealth of opportunity, creativity, and an incredible future for South Africa.

eMBA field report: courting car dealerships and changing career trajectories in São Paulo

Anthony Muljadi is a recent graduate of Harvard Business School. He is interning with iCarros, founded by Endeavor Entrepreneur Fernando Ortenblad, through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

Oi!

My name is Tony and I recently graduated from Harvard Business School. I grew up in Colorado and worked as a consultant in New York prior to my MBA. During business school, I was actively involved in activities surrounding Social Enterprise, Volunteer Consulting, and International Business. These three passions eventually led me to seek out an internship with Endeavor.

I am currently an eMBA working at iCarros, an internet startup in São Paulo that sells classified ads and online products to car dealers across Brazil. I am working closely with Endeavor Entrepreneur Fernando Ortenblad, the Superintendent of Operations, on a number of marketing and sales initiatives at iCarros. I was initially drawn to working with iCarros because I wanted to gain experience in an entrepreneurial environment, work in an emerging market, and better understand the function of marketing.

My experience at iCarros has far exceeded my expectations. The people here have been incredibly welcoming and helpful. I am constantly learning new things as I gain exposure to diverse projects, ranging from CRM implementation, to new product development, to measuring sales effectiveness. My favorite part of the internship has actually been learning how to work in a different language and culture. Picking up Portuguese has become easier as I attend meetings and go to lunch with my Brazilian coworkers.

A few passions of mine have been solidified during my time here at iCarros. The first is that I want to continue working internationally, regardless of where my career takes me. What I love about international business is that it forces you to adapt to a different environment, understand other people’s perspectives, and find common ground. Entrepreneurship is another passion of mine that has grown here in Brazil. I know that someday I will want to start my own business, because I have realized that when you are your own boss working toward something you believe in, your job becomes infinitely easier. That is not to say that being an entrepreneur is easy in itself, but rather the challenges you face become that much more important to overcome.

I only have three more weeks here at iCarros and I am feeling quite sad about leaving. I have had such a great experience here at the company as well as in Brazil as a whole and I really hope to come back some day. I feel so lucky to have been given this opportunity by Endeavor, and I know that many of the lessons I have learned here will be incredibly valuable later on in my career.

eMBA field report: scaling businesses and mountains in Monterrey

Marjorie Camporini, Maria Fernanda Brockman and Mariya Krasteva at Grutas de García, Mexico

2012 eMBAs Marjorie Camporini and Mariya Krasteva and Rocío Díaz González of Endeavor Mexico at La Bandera in Monterrey

Mariya Krasteva is an MBA and MPA candidate at MIT Sloan and Harvard, concurrently. She is interning with Inmobiliaria Enexa and Vialux through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

My first month in Monterrey, Mexico has given me everything I was hoping for and more!

The Mountain King

Monterrey in Mexico has two r’s and is therefore spelled differently than Monterey, California. While its homophonic, American brother is situated on a waterfront, Monterrey is cuddled amongst the magnificent hills of Sierra Madre. Thus, the city stays very true to its own name – el rey del monte means “the king of the mountain.”

Monterrey is also another type of a king – one that dominates Mexican business. It is the third largest Mexican city and the home of the biggest and most profitable companies in Mexico, such as Pemex, Cemex, OXXO, etc. and the headquarters of many multinational corporations. Entrepreneurship and innovation are the most powerful engines driving the city’s progress.

Helping Build a New Business

This summer I am interning at a startup real estate investment company called Inmobiliaria Enexa, which was founded by a parent company, Endeavor Entrepreneur firm Vialux. Vialux builds cell phone towers and leases them to telephone operators. The land underneath the towers is usually rented, posing large operating expenses. Purchasing and owning certain lands can be financially beneficial in the long run due to minimizing renting expenses.

Which properties should be owned versus rented? What are the additional costs associated with ownership? How profitable will the business be in 10 years? What is its best strategy over the next 5 years? These are all questions that I am helping answer through building complex financial models to understand and project real estate profitability. I quickly realized that sitting in a conference room and challenging various assumptions together with the Enexa team and the CEO himself, Oscar Odriozola, is quite the real world business experience!

The Global Endeavor Family

There are five Endeavor eMBAs here in Monterrey representing four countries – Brazil, Bulgaria, Mexico, and Portugal and five different business schools. In between discussing our internships and how to bring the most value to the entrepreneurs, raving over the delicious Mexican food (La Nacional and La Mejico are excellent traditional restaurants) and sightseeing (Grutas de García is the most amazing cave I have ever seen), we have gotten to know one another and have become friends. The Endeavor staff here has been extremely welcoming and has ensured that we have both productive and fulfilling summer experiences. In addition to helping us with structuring out internships, they have been introducing us to Endeavor mentors and entrepreneurs through one-on-one meetings and social events, such as start-up drink gatherings.

On a personal note, my summer experience so far has helped me grow significantly through getting me out of my comfort zone both intellectually and physically! I have for the first time built a real estate profitability model, led a business meeting solely in Spanish and rock-climbed the tall dry walls of el Cañón de la Huasteca!

Mariya Krasteva rock-climbing at Huasteca

eMBA field report: coffee and creative growth, Chilean-style

2012 eMBAs Gloriann Lopez and Anthony Campbell and Gloriann’s co-worker

Gloriann Lopez is an MBA student at ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. She is interning with Endeavor Entrepreneur company Sirve in Chile through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

“Cachai?” he asked me with his eyebrows raised and a twinkle in his eye. I nodded my head in agreement. “Cacho,” I responded affirmatively, somewhat proud of my newfound ability to grasp one of the most integral words in the Chilean dictionary.

There is something about Chile. Maybe it is the people, the beautiful mixture of native and European ancestry who you find surrounding you; the many expats you find who come here to explore the treasures hidden within the borders; the warm, genuine nature of a morning greeting; or the necessity of a morning coffee. Maybe it is the bread: soft, delightful and integral to any good day. Maybe it is the breathtaking scenery: the surrounding mountains that seem to dwarf us and make us seem almost insignificant; the expansive ocean that Neruda once loved so deeply and described with such poetic beauty; the far reaches of the dry north; or the harsh, cold climate of the icy south that holds within it treasures that only mother nature can divulge. Maybe it is the history, one of stark contradictions and struggle, that is often misinterpreted and yet inseparable from the DNA and mindset of every Chilean, regardless of age or affiliation. Maybe it is the deep-rooted appreciation for tradition, for education, for perseverance and excellence. Or maybe it is the food, the sweet richness of a Pastel de Choclo, the ingenuity of hearty humitas, the creamy indulgence of just about anything filled with manjar, or the anticipation as you bite into a fresh-made, warm empanada. Maybe it is a bit of everything.

Over the past four weeks I have had the opportunity, through Endeavor, to work with the top seismic engineering company in Chile as a strategic consultant to develop internal and external strategies. The role has been challenging to say the least, but more rewarding than I ever expected. The people that form this visionary engineering company are incredibly hard-working, bright, and forward-thinking when it comes to developing their business to compete both within Chile and on a global scale. There is a great sense of pride in the engineering and creative excellence that forms the basis of Sirve, and the company’s acceptance of me, of my ideas, and willingness to adapt their processes and push themselves to the next level of growth has impressed and inspired me. I feel incredibly lucky to be surrounded by this great team and even luckier to feel like a part of it.

Today, we are in the process of developing and streamlining internal processes through the selection of a new ERP and are working to tighten organizational definitions and operating procedures, as well as analyze and assess external strategies and growth. There is no shortage of work or excitement in any given day and when 6 or 7pm hits, there is no mad rush out of the door. I come home exhausted most nights, but with a sense of achievement and excitement for what tomorrow will bring. Each weekend is filled with a different adventure that renews and refreshes my soul as I meet new people, explore new reaches of the world, and perfect my Spanish, Chilean-style. I wouldn’t wish for it any other way.

Gloriann Lopez, Anthony Campbell & a Sirve co-worker at Isla Negra, Chile

eMBA Anthony Campbell and Gloriann Lopez’s co-worker at Sirve at Valparaiso

How do you make a product into a habit?

Reprinted from Pam Slim’s Blog (Escape from Cubicle Nation). Original article here.

By Charles Duhigg, New York Times reporter and author of the bestselling book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.

How do you make a product into a habit?

That question has bedeviled entrepreneurs and marketers for eons. Everyone knows that once they make their product into a habit – part of a customer’s daily routine, an automatic reaction – it becomes a best-seller. When we start shaving every day, checking our email automatically or wiping the counter after every use, that’s when companies sell us razor blades, smartphones and paper towels.

But how does it happen?

To understand how products become habits, consider the case of how America developed a toothbrusing habit, and in particular how one toothpaste – Pepsodent – became one of the world’s most popular brands.

In the early 1900s, a prominent American businessman named Claude C. Hopkins was approached by an old friend with an amazing new creation: a minty, frothy toothpaste named “Pepsodent” that, the friend promised, was going to be huge.

Hopkins, at the time, was one of the nation’s most famous advertising executives. He was the ad man who had convinced Americans to buy Schlitz beer by boasting that the company cleaned their bottles “with live steam” (while neglecting to mention that every other company used the same method). He had seduced millions of women into purchasing Palmolive soap by proclaiming that Cleopatra had washed with it, despite the sputtering protests of outraged historians.

But Hopkins’ greatest contribution would be helping to create a national toothbrushing habit. Before Pepsodent, almost no Americans brushed their teeth. A decade after Hopkins’ advertising campaigns, pollsters found that toothbrushing had become a daily ritual for more than half the population. Everyone from Shirley Temple to Clark Gable eventually bragged about a “Pepsodent smile.”

I discovered the story of Claude Hopkins a few years ago while reporting my book, The Power of Habit, which explores the science of habit formation. Today, Hopkins is almost totally forgotten. He shouldn’t be. Hopkins was among the first to elucidate principles that even now influence how video games are designed, public health campaigns are managed and that explain why some people effortlessly exercise every morning, while others can’t pass a box of doughnuts without automatically grabbing a jelly-filled cruller.

So, how did Hopkins start America brushing?

By taking advantage of a quirk in the neurology of habits. It wouldn’t be until almost a century later that medical schools and psychology labs would fully understand why habits exist and how they function. Today, we can create and change habits almost like flipping a switch.

But there are historical outliers who seemed to intuit or stumble into these insights before anyone else. Hopkins created a tooth brushing habit by identifying a simple and obvious cue, delivering a clear reward and —most important —by creating a neurological craving.

And craving, it turns out, is what powers a habit.

When Hopkins signed on to promote Pepsodent, he realized he needed to find a trigger for its daily use. He sat down with a pile of dental textbooks. “It was dry reading,” he later wrote in his autobiography. “But in the middle of one book I found a reference to the mucin plaques on teeth, which I afterward called ‘the film.’

“That gave me an appealing idea,” he wrote. “I resolved to advertise this toothpaste as a creator of beauty.”

(more…)

Endeavor Entrepreneur Vinny Lingham on South Africa, entrepreneurship, and his latest business venture

Reprinted from the Daily Maverick. See original article here

By Rebecca Davis

South African tech entrepreneur Vinny Lingham is about to launch his new venture, Gyft, from his base in Palo Alto, California. Rebecca Davis talked to him about life as a start-up guru, how SA government policies are harming investment, and why he’s putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to turning Cape Town into a technology hub.

Vinny Lingham, at age 33, “has forgotten more about acquiring traffic than a lot of people in Silicon Valley know”, to quote a TechCrunch article in 2010. He made his name in search marketing, establishing Clicks2Customers and its holding company, incuBeta, aged 24. Then he founded Yola, a business offering free website building and hosting, which today has seven million users. Then he moved from Cape Town to Silicon Valley. Seven months ago he stepped down as the CEO of Yola to focus on his next big thing: Gyft.

That’s more action – and success – packed into a decade than many people manage in a lifetime. So perhaps it’s not altogether surprising to find that Lingham does not lack  confidence in an interview situation, albeit one carried out down a crackly Skype line.

With three companies behind him and another on the way, Lingham is living the start-up dream. But he’s quick to state that his lifestyle is nothing like the dotcom tycoon of popular stereotype. “Not all entrepreneurs drive around in big cars with fancy houses. I live in a modest little apartment. It’s nice, but it’s just two bedrooms,” he says.

“The difference between entrepreneurs and other people is that you work for a lot lower salary on a monthly basis, but then you’re building long-term equity wealth and value in your shares and the companies you build. Ambition often comes with sacrifice.”

He’s been living in the US for just over four years now. On his first visit to Silicon Valley, in 2002, it wasn’t a very appealing place to be – the market was dead, and not much exciting was happening. But after Google’s acquisition of YouTube in 2006, energy returned to the valley. At the time, Lingham was spending five months of the year on a plane between the US and South Africa, juggling Clicks2Customers’ substantial American client base.

“I built (Clicks2Customers) up within three and a half years to a $10 million-a-year business, with only one South African client. So all the revenue was coming from the States.”

Clients ranged from eBay to Expedia, and Lingham attributes the search marketing company’s success to his own technical know-how. “I understood the techniques to rank keywords for clients higher than anyone else,” he says simply.

“Other people try and start businesses with a very shallow knowledge of the field that they’re in, and it’s difficult to teach someone else if you don’t know how to do it yourself. So I spent many years building up my knowledge and developed a unique insight into how Google’s algorithms work, and we were able to use that to our advantage.”

But the constant travel to ensure that American clients were happy wore him down, and saw the chain set in motion whereby he left the company in order to start Yola in 2007, and made the move to Silicon Valley shortly afterwards.

Four years down the line, there’s still not a trace of American in Lingham’s accent. He says he doesn’t consider himself at all American. “I’m a South African citizen, and I love South Africa, although I’m disappointed in the way things are going. My mother-in-law was attacked last week in her house in Cape Town. These stories are becoming far too common, and it’s quite disheartening. But I’d love to go back one day, although right now it’s a career choice.”

Lingham maintains strong South African ties: he still has fingers in a lot of business pies, and he actively invests in and mentors entrepreneurial talent in the country. He was also a co-founder of the Silicon Cape Initiative, which aims to turn the Western Cape into a tech hub. He thinks the province is the perfect place for this.

“There’s a similar vibe to Silicon Valley, some fantastic tech companies, and the culture is nice and diverse – people from all around the world live there,” he says. “It’s not just about Cape Town, it’s about South Africa, but you’ve got to start somewhere, and tech hubs needs to be geographically centralised, and Cape Town makes a lot of sense.”

His frustration at what he sees as the South African government’s obstructionism in making it difficult for expatriates to make a meaningful economic contribution from overseas is a theme he returns to continually. He cites the notorious “loop structure”, which refers to the prohibition on South African residents holding any South African assets indirectly through a non-resident entity. (Moneyweb once suggested that the loop structure “has probably scuppered more cross-border transactions contemplated by South African residents than any other exchange control or tax policy”.)

Lingham describes the loop structure as a “stupid rule from apartheid. I want to hire South African employees, and I want to give them stock options, in order to build up a culture, to build the business. I’m not allowed to do it.” He sees this as exemplifying the government’s blinkeredness when it comes to making the country an attractive prospect for investors.

“The biggest mistake that the government and people of South Africa (are) making is to think that South Africa is going to be the biggest economy in Africa in 10 to 15 years,” he warns. “South Africa is no longer the gatewa

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