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Endeavor Investor Network Convenes Over 120 Entrepreneurs and Investors in NYC

On May 5th, the Endeavor Investor Network convened growth market leaders in New York City for a day of networking and learning. The invitation-only event gathered over 120 participants including Endeavor Entrepreneurs and leading investors […]

May 13th, 2015 — by admin

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The Power of Scale-Ups: Harvard Business Review and the World Economic Forum Spotlight High-Impact Entrepreneurship

Scale-up companies, defined by Endeavor Insight as companies more than three years old with a minimum of 20% average annual employment growth, have become a major force in transforming economies around the world. Bringing focus to […]

October 7th, 2014 — by admin

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Lesson #2 from Endeavor’s fastest growing entrepreneurs: Don’t be afraid to work at a big company

CLICK HERE to read the full Endeavor Insight report, “Emerging Market Entrepreneurs Have Emerged: A look at the fastest growing entrepreneurs in Endeavor’s portfolio”

While it is not surprising that the majority of Endeavor’s fastest growing entrepreneurs are serial entrepreneurs, the finding that a majority have also previously worked at large corporations–including multinational companies–is somewhat counter to traditional notions of the “solitary entrepreneur.”  Moreover, many of these high-growth entrepreneurs argue that this prior experience at a large company was a key asset in helping them grow their current venture. Specifically, they cite this experience as having been essential to learning about a specific market and/or about the organizational structure that operates within large companies.

Basel Mashhour, founder of The Bakery Shop, an Endeavor Entrepreneur in Egypt who would have placed in the Top 100 of this year’s Inc. 500, explained that his previous experience working at Henkel as a brand manager helped him to better understand consumers and to identify new needs for certain customer segments: “It gave me [a] good view on the market, how it’s segmented and how to understand the consumers. Also, working in a big corporation gave me a sense of how to deal with the different departments and get the best out of everyone since, as a brand manager, I handled the brand from the marketing side, the sales side, and the production side.”

To learn more about Basel, other fast growing Endeavor Entrepreneurs, and their lessons for success, please read the full report here.

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Endeavor network member Fadi Ghandour’s next investment: building a future for Arab social entrepreneurship

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

By Knowledge at Wharton

Fadi Ghandour’s name has been synonymous with Arab entrepreneurship. In 1982 he established Aramex as an express operator for the Middle East and South Asia, and it became the first Arab-based company to trade on NASDAQ in 1997. He is also a founding partner of Maktoob, the Arab/English Internet portal that Yahoo! acquired in the fall of 2009 for US$85 million.

Now, Ghandour is stepping away from the CEO seat to take on a new role, joining a growing group of social entrepreneurs attempting new business models in the region that blend profit with social impact.

Having long promoted entrepreneurship in Arab countries, Ghandour spoke with Arabic Knowledge@Wharton about Ruwwad for Development, his first step in social impact efforts, in addition to a broader discussion about what’s next for social enterprise in the MENA region.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Arabic Knowledge@Wharton: For those who are not familiar with Ruwwad for Development, could you please provide a short description?

Fadi Ghandour: Ruwwad is a private sector led, non-profit community empowerment organization that helps disadvantaged communities through youth activism, civic engagement and education.

We started Ruwwad for Development (which means Entrepreneurs for Development) in Jordan in 2005 by initiating an ongoing dialogue with the community of Jabal Al-Natheef, a severely marginalized urban area of approximately 75,000 residents in the heart of East Amman, Jordan, to identify the needs of the youth, children and the community. We have now expanded to Egypt, Palestine and Lebanon.

Seed funding from Aramex and myself initiated the first project. Then it became an independent organization backed by several private sector entities and entrepreneurs. Ruwwad’s model is based on a network of partnerships between the private sector, civil society organizations, target communities and government.

Ruwwad’s Mousab Khorma Youth Education & Empowerment Fund (MKYEF) provides students with university scholarships in exchange of volunteering hours every week back into their own community. The volunteering hours are recycled into three main programs targeted at youth, children and the community. It uses a community organizing methodology that supports grassroots leadership development.

Arabic Knowledge@Wharton: How successful has Ruwwad been in achieving social impact? How do you measure the impact?

Ghandour: The impact is measured in different ways. Some of the data is available. But it is also measured in the number of companies and volunteers from the private sector we manage to engage, where the private sector decides to take an active approach to development and invest in their communities. Executives run some programs such as the enrichment program from the private sector, volunteering their time to transfer knowledge and business skills to youth.

Impact is also measured by the employment placement of youth and jobs being created by budding entrepreneurs. One of our students started a company and employs 12 people today. So we also created a micro-venture fund to invest in these new businesses to create employment opportunities rather than just try and place them in jobs.

Our “Six Minutes” reading campaign that aimed to encourage reading beyond school textbooks several minutes a day for pleasure also exemplifies impact. The campaign, led by teachers, youth, and librarians, has created 160 organizers and 23 teams, organized 6,620 public readings and has mobilized 4,463 adults and children who pledged to read alone or collectively.


Endeavor network member Christopher Schroeder, on investing in e-commerce: Part 1 [Wamda TV]

Investing in E-Commerce: Part 1 [Wamda TV]

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

By Nina Curley

In the second panel at our June event CoE E-Commerce, Show Me The Money, Part 2: Investing in E-Commerce, Chris Schroeder an Endeavor network member, who has previously served as CEO at HealthCentral and Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, discusses the investment opportunity in the Middle East and North Africa, explaining that the region doesn’t need to look necessarily to models from the West.

“The debate about what’s going to be the next hub of innovation, in places like MENA, the next Silicon Valley… is also irrelevant overall because I think what we’re seeing is networks of hubs of innovation and product development with huge ramifications for the kinds of things that we will be looking at as investors,” he says.

Panelist Pamir Gelenbe, Venture Partner at Hummingbird Ventures, who is originally Turkish, discusses how he returned after growing up in the UK to invest in Turkey, how he prefers the energy in Turkey to that in the UK, and how he came to invest in Jordan-based flash sales site MarkaVIP.

When it comes to finding good entrepreneurs in MENA, says Gelenbe, “It’s the same as everywhere else- we look for integrity, fast execution, we look for people who have a world view and understand best practice from everywhere, and typically we look for people who have had a few failures as well.”

¡De una! One year in Bogotá at Endeavor Colombia, by PiLA Fellow Melissa Tran

After recently returning from a Princeton in Latin America fellowship at Endeavor Colombia Melissa Tran reflects on her experience.

De una, short for de una vez, has quickly become my favorite Colombian phrase. The literal translation for de una vez is “all at once,” but in Colombia, the phrase has a meaning that is closer to “Okay! Let’s do it!” or “Yes! I’m all in!” For example, a common response to a friend’s invitation to lunch would be a wholehearted, “¡De una!” After a year living and working in Bogotá, de una has also come to embody the optimistic spirit that I love about Colombia and its people—a willingness to embrace opportunity and say yes to challenges without hesitancy and with passion and enthusiasm.

One year ago, I came to Bogotá to begin a yearlong fellowship at Endeavor Colombia through the Princeton in Latin America program. Since then I have been working with the Search and Services team to help search for, select, and support high impact entrepreneurs in Colombia. The Endeavor selection process begins with a series of interviews between entrepreneur candidates and our accomplished business mentors. Our team facilitates these interviews in which mentors scrutinize and evaluate the entrepreneurs’ businesses for innovation, growth potential, and fit with Endeavor.

Entrepreneurs that make it through this rigorous process and past a local selection panel have the chance to present their companies at an International Selection Panel along with candidates from Endeavor offices around the world. Before each International Selection Panel, I work with our entrepreneurs to write a detailed company profile, which describes their personal history, as well as outlines all aspects of their company’s business model. Through my interactions with our entrepreneur candidates, I have learned that what distinguishes high impact entrepreneurs is a de una attitude—that is, an ability to embrace opportunities without hesitation—as well as the propensity to think big and a desire to promote social and economic change in their country and the world.

Luckily for me, my PiLA fellowship happened to coincide with Colombia’s turn to host an International Selection Panel in May. The ISP, as we call it, is an event that represents the pinnacle and culmination of the Endeavor selection process, where candidates pass their final rounds of interviews and are selected to become Endeavor Entrepreneurs. The process of planning this large scale event—hosted in the beautiful Caribbean coast city of Cartagena, and involving over 100 participants from around the world—was both challenging and rewarding. After many months of planning and coordination, it was amazing to convene such a talented and impressive group of entrepreneurs, mentors, and Endeavor staff from all over the world, and to see the Endeavor model at its very best in action.

Besides accompanying entrepreneurs through the selection process, I also had the chance to work closely with selected entrepreneurs as part of my work with Entrepreneur Services. Once entrepreneurs have been selected to become a part of the Endeavor network, we help them identify challenges that their companies are facing, and then match them with mentors within our network that can help. Through facilitating mentorships and work sessions, we work with our entrepreneurs on such diverse projects as launching a new line of business, designing a new media marketing plan, and expanding their companies internationally. It has been a truly humbling and inspiring experience to work with and learn from the many talented Endeavor entrepreneurs and mentors who are setting positive examples for future generations of Colombian entrepreneurs.

Fortunately, my year in Colombia wasn’t all trabajo and no play. Colombia is a country of amazingly diverse landscapes: from the expansive highlands of the antiplano, to the lush plantations of coffee country, and the jungle-lined sparkling beaches of the Caribbean coast. Here in Colombia, I discovered that half the fun of traveling is being open to adventure and embracing the unexpected and unknown. Five-hour truck ride with 19 other Wayuu passengers? An exploding game of tejo with locals at 2am? Salsa dancing outside with 10,000 people in Bogota’s largest central plaza? ¡De una!

Reflecting on this last year, the highlight of my time in Colombia has definitely been the many wonderful people that I have had the privilege of meeting. Colombians have a reputation for being some of the friendliest people in the world, a title that is very much deserved. I am especially grateful for my co-workers who have been so patient with me and have inducted me into the world of entrepreneurship and business in Colombia. Even though I was foreigner and a recent college graduate, my coworkers welcomed me as a respected member their team and always took my ideas and opinions seriously. They, and the many other Colombians and gringos whom I met during the last year, have made this experience worthwhile for me.

As I am wrapping up my one year in Colombia, I now catch myself using de una almost as much as a Colombian! More significantly, though, I have also adopted the Colombian approach of facing new opportunities and challenges with enthusiasm and passion. I am very thankful to have had the experience of living and working in Bogotá for the last year, and I hope that I can approach my next adventure with the same de una attitude that Colombia has taught me.

GigaOm on Endeavor’s Silicon Valley Tour (“As VCs edge into Latin America, founders come stateside for an education”)

Reprinted from GigaOM. Original article here

By Eliza Kern

As some of Silicon Valley’s investors move toward Latin American to find the next hot startups, international founders still look to the United States for models of entrepreneurship and innovation that can be applied back to their home countries — with or without VC dollars.

It’s a beautiful, quintessentially Silicon Valley sight: a throng of entrepreneurs and investors, paired off with notebooks and wine glasses under the umbrellas and palm trees of Stanford’s business school. The founders are pitching, and the investors asking questions as they do business on a breezy Friday afternoon in Palo Alto. It could be any VC cocktail party in the Valley, except that nearly all of the founders are Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs from Latin America, and they’re here to learn from the startup mecca.

More than 100 entrepreneurs, mainly from Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil, gathered in the Valley Friday to meet with investors and startup mentors. The group was organized through Endeavor, a global non-profit that promotes entrepreneurship by connecting foreign startups with resources and mentors in their home countries. While Endeavor has been around since 1997, the group’s early focus on Latin American markets makes it particularly valuable as Silicon Valley’s investors are expressing greater interest in that market.

But what were Friday’s founders looking to bring home? Sure, a check from investors would be great. But just as many seemed to be looking for a better understanding of the culture in Silicon Valley that they’re trying to emulate at home.

“What I love about Silicon Valley is that it has an ecosystem ready for everything,” said Juan Manuel Alvarado Bustamante. “You have the ideas and the money and the companies all in one place. In Mexico, we still need role models. We need Bill Gates, we need Zuckerberg, we need Steve Jobs.”

Venture capital investors are talking a lot about Latin America right now, and several of them are putting significant money into the market. Redpoint and BV Capital’s eVentures launched a VC firm in Sao Paolo that closed a $130 million fund for Brazilian investments, 500 Startups recently took entrepreneurs and investors to Mexico City, Sao Paulo, and Buenos Aires with the Geeks on a Plane trip, and 500 Startups also recently acquired a Mexican accelerator. Investors have been interested in Brazil for a while now, and Mexican investments are growing too.

Just how much the folks on Sand Hill Road are heading south is still questionable. As Katie Fehrenbacher noted in her profile of 500 Startups founder Dave McClure, investing in foreign markets requires a serious degree of travel and hard work that not every investor is willing to put in when so many opportunities are right here at home. Several investors at Friday’s event expressed doubt that the trend was more than the work of a few passionate individuals, and several Latin American founders said they’d been told by investors not to bother looking for funding until they’d relocated to California.

But even if investor interest and record in Latin America is mixed, there’s no question that international startups are looking to Silicon Valley for guidance as their own startup cultures grow at home. The Buenos Aires government provided funding for some of its most promising companies to visit the United States for a week, attending TechCrunch Disrupt and meeting with CEOs and investors as well as Endeavor, with the recognition that the exposure could kickstart the country’s economic growth.

“We can see what is happening here, and it generatates ideas for generating business in Latin America,” said Augustin Gau, one of the Argentinian entrepreneurs picked to make the visit. “For us, it’s about coming to the best place in the world, with the most developed market in the world, so we see a lot of things you’re not going to find in Latin America.”

These can be difficult markets to grow companies in, with entrepreneurs facing challenges from high taxes, to local investors taking huge percentages of equity, to cultural norms making it incredibly difficult to accept failure. A big part of Endeavor’s philosophy is that if one or two startups in a region really take off, those founders can serve as the best mentors to other local companies, often better than distant American CEOs. But seeing American counterparts who’ve taken risks and achieved global results is huge, said [Endeavor Entrepreneur] Santiago Subotovsky, an Argentinian entrepreneur-turned-investor with Emergence Capital.

“The biggest thing they get coming here is the vision of thinking big,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK HERE to read the full Endeavor Insight report, “Emerging Market Entrepreneurs Have Emerged: A look at the fastest growing entrepreneurs in Endeavor’s portfolio”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reprinted from Chris Dixon. Original post here.

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

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

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

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

Endeavor Entrepreneurs and network members recognized as Middle Eastern tech stars

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

Endeavor Network Members:

Habib Haddad, Lebanon

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

Fadi Ghandour, Jordan

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

Maktoob, Jordan

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

Endeavor Entrepreneurs

Jeeran, Jordan

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

Peak Games, Turkey

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

Khaled Ismail, Egypt

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

Curl Stone Studios, Jordan

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

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