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Argentina’s Fën Hoteles Plans U.S. Expansion with Properties in NYC, LA and Miami

Argentina’s  Fën Hoteles, founded by Endeavor Entrepreneurs Patricio Fuks and Alejandro Frenkel, recently announced that it is planning an expansion across the U.S.  In partnership with real estate investment firm Rosental Group, the hotel management firm will […]

February 27th, 2015 — by admin

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Uruguay’s PedidosYa Acquired By Delivery Hero, Expands Network to 20 Countries

Uruguay’s PedidosYa, an online solution for food delivery in Latin America, recently announced a majority acquisition by Germany-based Delivery Hero. Founded by Endeavor Entrepreneurs Ariel Burschtin, Álvaro García, and Ruben Sosenke in 2009, PedidosYa currently operates a network of 12,000 partner […]

June 28th, 2014 — by admin

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Why your brand is dead in the water

Intern think's drew's website needs an updateReprinted from Drew’s Marketing Minute. Original article here.

By Drew McLellan, a 25+ year marketing agency veteran who lives for creating “a ha” moments for his clients, clients’ customers, peers and audiences across the land.

Here’s how most brand evolve.  The organization’s leadership huddles up at a corporate retreat (or if it’s a start-up, around the kitchen table) and decide on a tagline and maybe a logo.

The tagline becomes the battle cry of the brand and they’re off to the races.

Or worse yet…the organization hires an agency who claims to “do branding” and after a little deliberation, the ads have the new tagline and logo and voila, the brand is launched.

Fast forward 6 months or maybe a year.  The tagline and the brand are limping along.  No one really uses them anymore.  And if they do, they think of it as the “theme of the month” and assume it will just go away over time.  And it does.

There are many reasons why a brand fails….but the biggest one in my opinion is that the employees are not properly engaged and connected to the brand.  Without a huge investment of time, energy and some money — the brand remains a superficial cloak that can easily be pulled off or shrugged off when it gets to be a challenge.

Your employees are the key to a brand’s long term success.  It’s that simple.

When we are asked to develop a brand for a client, we require the step we have dubbed “seeding the brand” which is the whole idea of introducing the brand promise to the employees and letting them take ownership of it — deciding how to deliver the promise, how to remove the barriers to keeping the promise and how to keep the brand alive inside the organization.

If a client won’t agree to implementing that stage of the process, we won’t do their brand work.  No ifs, ands or buts. Why? Because it won’t work without that step. And I don’t believe we should take their money if we can’t deliver success.

Discovering and then building a brand takes a village.  And you have to start by including your own villagers.

Seth Godin: Feet on the street

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

The complement to the brilliant strategy is the thankless work of lower-leverage detail.

An organization with feet on the street and alert and regular attention to detail can build more trust and develop better relationships than one than hits and runs.

• Contact every user who stops using your service and find out why.
• Create a newsletter for every journalist who covers your space, and deliver it every three weeks, even when you’re not asking for anything. Just to keep them in the loop.
• Eagerly pay attention to people who mention you online and engage with them in a way that they prefer to be engaged.
• Sponsor industry events and actually show up.
• Write a thank you note every single day, to someone who doesn’t expect one.
• Build your permission asset by 1% every day. Every day, 1% more people are eager and happy to hear from you.
• Write a blog every day, not to sell, but to teach.
• Connect people in your industry, because you enjoy it.
• Host community meetings in your store.
• Put a lemonade stand in front of your business and let the local kids donate the money to whatever charity they like.
• Hand out free samples every chance you have.
• Keep in touch with people who used to work with you and continue to help them get great gigs and new business, even years later.
• Put together an honest buyer’s guide, pointing out in which instances your competitor’s products are a better choice.
• Run classes for your customers.
• Run classes for your competitors.
• Build a recruiting pipeline that is in place more than a year before you need to hire someone.

None of this is sufficient. Your product and your strategy have to be brilliant. But a lot of it is necessary. Hearts and minds…

Endeavor highlighted on The Economist blog: the other Arab spring

A recent article, “Theintern wants to make sure the artist is credited other Arab spring, on The Economist’s Schumpeter Blog (summarized below) discusses the development of businesses and entrepreneurs in the Middle East. Jordan-based Endeavor company IrisGuard was used as example of one such company that is innovating technology for the Arab World.


2011’s string of protests and uprisings across the Arab world has resulted in a wave of regime changes and progressive reforms. However, behind the political revolution lies an economic one. Entrepreneurship is on the rise throughout the Arab world, and so are the impacts made by business incubators. Endeavor co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg believes that the Arab world resembles Latin America 10-15 ago. The rise of the Arab start ups has begun, following political reform, and like their Latin American counterparts they are seizing this opportunity to shape their own economic landscape.

One such company doing just that is IrisGuard, which joined Endeavor in 2009. The Economist article describes how the company has innovated for the Arab environment as follows: “IrisGuard developed a system for identifying people from their irises (which means that women do not have to remove their veils). It is now used by border guards and banks across the region and beyond.” And IrisGuard is only one of the many start ups that have taken advantage of the economic climate after the revolutions. While there are still many challenges to overcome in the Arab world, it is becoming increasingly clear that the wheels of entrepreneurship have begun to turn, and aren’t slowing down any time soon.

Thirteen Endeavor Entrepreneurs are growing as fast as Inc 500 Companies

intern thinks title is lame

Thirteen of Endeavor’s high-impact entrepreneurs in emerging and growth markets have scaled their business at an extremely fast pace, and are growing as fast or faster than the privately held US businesses on this year’s Inc. 500 list! To qualify for the Inc 500 class of 2012, just released today, a company must have a growth rate of at least 762% over the 2008-2011 time frame and a minimum starting revenue of $100k. Even more exciting, over ninety Endeavor Entrepreneurs have been growing as fast as Inc 500 companies based on historic thresholds for previous Inc 500 lists. Congratulations to Endeavor’s fastest growing Entrepreneurs for the 2008-2011 period, and stay tuned for more details on each of these fastest growing Endeavor Entrepreneurs in the coming weeks!

To leave or not to leave as your startup grows

Reprinted from NextView Ventures. Original article here.

By David Beisel, Cofounder and Partner at NextView Ventures, a dedicated seed-stage venture capital firm making investments in internet-enabled startups.

A few weeks ago, a very good friend who works at a growing startup emailed me with the following question (in which I’ve masked just a few of the identifying details):

What does it mean when almost all of a startup’s early employees have left the company?

By almost any measure, [our company] is doing phenomenally well. We’re coming up on our 5th birthday; we have ~250 employees with offices in New York, SF, and London; we have contracts with 70 large customers, including most of the biggest in our space; our investors are [three top Silicon Valley firms]. But by the end of the month, we’ll have only 5 of our first 10 (including the two founders) employees and 10 of our first 20. We’ve been running at 20-30% attrition over the last 9 months. Our CEO is entirely dismissive that there could be any sort of attrition problem. No one has ever been promoted onto the management team, only hired in from outside.

I guess the “myth” of the startup is that companies that beat the odds and “make it” do so in such a way that those that entered on the ground floor leave, eventually, have accumulated a great deal more responsibility. In your experience, is this myth true? As an investor, how would you evaluate a company that has such high turnover but still manages to dominate its space?

My email response to his question was (with the bolding added to this blog post):

You’re asking quite a bit in this email, both explicitly but implicitly underneath. To the direct inquiry about attrition of early folks in startups generally, I think that’s very natural. People who are suited to building a ship aren’t always the best (or have the interest in) sailing the ship, and vice versa. The skillsets required for being effective in an organization with two dozen people or less are very different from those from being effective in one with a couple hundred. The roles transition from being broad ones with high impact to specialized ones with focused results. Additionally, the financial risk-reward profile of the company changes with this progress. So it doesn’t surprise me that the early employees who joined with you are leaving; the situation has changed. That being said, it sounds like there has been a spate of departures recently, which sounds like a different set of issues which may be affecting the company.

But I also think you’re asking a career question about tenure at a startup company, to which my answer (an opinion) is very binary: I am of the opinion the best route is go early and stay until a successful exit -or- stay until you vest your initial grant and not a day longer. Given the dynamics I mentioned, tenure at a startup should match an individual’s interests/skills, but also synch with financial/career milestones. As an early employee with the company taking off, staying through to an exit will be rewarding both financially and also from a leveraging career trajectory. But after you’ve initially vested (after three or four years?), there aren’t as many marginal benefits in either category (additional option grants are less significant and responsibility accumulation is incremental) until the company hits that very important exit scenario.

eMBA field report: leveraging private sector efficiency to improve education for disadvantaged groups in Mexico

Mutu Vengesayi is an MBA candidate at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and is interning with Endeavor Entrepreneur company Enova in Mexico through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

Approaching the midpoint of my internship, I am struck by how quickly and comfortably I have settled in at both Enova and in Mexico City. This is largely due to the collegial, relaxed and inclusive culture at Enova that has made working here both fun and fulfilling. That the company’s entrepreneurs have succeeded in creating such a pleasant work environment without detracting from the urgency of their mission is that much more impressive. As Enova undergoes an aggressive expansion over the next few years, it will certainly be faced with a myriad of challenges and undergo significant changes. However, judging from my short time at the company, it is clear to me the talent and temperament to make this transition as smooth as possible are in place.

Enova, in partnership with the government of the State of Mexico, runs 70 educational centers targeting disadvantaged communities across the state. These centers provide a surprisingly comprehensive range of educational services, ranging from supplemental after-school classes for public school students to adult education for women. The company plans to expand seven fold within the next four years to 500 centers across the entire country. My role has revolved around the strategic planning for this expansion. Though I’ve mainly focused on helping to develop the financial model for the expansion, I’ve also gotten exposure to planning for an effective expansion of the company’s operational functions. The scope of my work has allowed me to experience firsthand the dynamism of Enova’s leadership team. The company is run by three entrepreneurs, Mois Cherem, Raul Maldonado and Jorge Camil Starr. Because their talents complement each other extremely well, each has been able to focus on running a different aspect of Enova, which has allowed the company to grown rapidly over the past three years without major hiccups.

I’ve spent my first few weeks in Mexico getting to know Mexico City better and have been impressed by its vibrant and diverse culture. Living in Colona Roma, where Enova has its offices, has certainly helped as the neighborhood is both charming and bohemian, and boasts a great selection of restaurants, bars, plazas and art galleries, among other things. Despite having initially been a little concerned by the security situation in Mexico, I have not encountered any problems and have felt safe throughout my stay here. I hope to travel more in the second half of my stay and experience what other regions of the country have to offer.

All in all, I am extremely happy with how the eMBA program has shaped up for me. The work that Enova is doing is groundbreaking in many ways and represents an early instance in the emerging world in which the private sector has partnered with government to profitably and efficiently deliver higher quality education to disadvantaged groups. As someone from Southern Africa, I can see the Enova model translating effectively there. From a personal development point of view, the chance to work with Enova’s entrepreneurs has helped me better understand and frame what it takes to build and run a world class enterprise in an emerging market environment.

Endeavor Entrepreneur company PagosOnline wins inaugural Secure Development Award from Veracode

Endeavor Entrepreneurs Martin Schrimpff and José Fernando Veléz were recently honored by Veracode when their company PagosOnline won one of three Secure Development Awards. The following is a report on the story, while the official press release may be found here and more information about the award may be found here.

Last month, Veracode, a leading American company in cloud-based application security testing, recognized PagosOnline as one of the most secure software developers of 2012. PagosOnline, led by Endeavor Colombia Entrepreneurs Martin Schrimpff and José Fernando Veléz, is the leading payment service provider in Latin America, which specializes in integrating local forms of payments into their online payment platform.

This is the inaugural year of Veracode’s Secure Development Award, which recognizes Veracode’s small and mid-sized customers who have developed the most secure software applications. The rigorous selection process began with 18,000 applications, which were evaluated based on their flaw density, or the number of flaws present per megabyte of code. PagosOnline, along with On-Line Strategies from Dallas, Texas and SecureKey Technologies from Toronto, Canada stood out among other candidates as the most secure applications scanned by Veracode.

A Mexican business innovator: Endeavor Entrepreneur Martha Debayle

The following article is reprinted from Americas Quarterly. The original article may be found here.

When Mexican media personality Martha Debayle gave birth to her first child 16 years ago, like many new moms, she felt “clueless about what it meant to be a mother.” To make things worse, when she looked for information in the media about parenthood, all she found were clichés and patronizing language. Other parents might have given up and muddled through on their own; Debayle turned her frustration into a multimedia empire. BBMundo (“Baby World”), which she founded as a web startup in 2000, is now the destination of choice for 680,000 Mexican mothers and mothers-to-be eager to learn about reproductive and prenatal health and child-rearing.

Debayle, now 44, had worked in Mexican radio and television since the age of 18. She was especially irritated by media stereotypes that assumed mothers only wanted to talk about diapers and strollers. “I thought there must be other women like me,” she recalls. In 1997, Debayle persuaded executives at Televisa, Mexico’s biggest media group, to air “bbtips,” a 20-minute morning television segment. Her hunch paid off: ratings of the program soared, and in three years viewership grew to 1 million.

Debayle soon set her sights on the growing Internet phenomenon. She used her credit card to buy a web domain, and in September 2000 launched www.bbmundo.com with the slogan “Inspired by love, guided by knowledge.” Despite limited financing and limited traffic at first, Debayle turned down purchase offers from Televisa, Grupo Bursátil and Kimberly Clark-Mexico. “I knew that if I sold, I would lose control of the philosophy that I wanted the company to abide by,” she explains.

Debayle’s quest for independence led her to formulate a unique business model. Instead of selling ads, Debayle offered companies like Nestlé and Gerber space on bbmundo.com through “micro-sites”—essentially, individual pages on the site where they could post information about pregnancy and parenting.

To ensure editorial independence, BBMundo would check all content before it was posted, and would reserve the right not to publish material it judged unreliable, and to post competing views.

Advertisers bought into it. Today, BBMundo has over 60 clients, including pharmaceutical giants like Sanofi, kid-friendly brands like Disney, and consumer and food product companies like Froot Loops.

The brand has expanded to multiple media platforms: what originated as a TV segment and morphed into a website is now a print publication, radio talk show and iPad application. Revista BBMundo, a lavishly illustrated monthly magazine, has a monthly circulation of 40,000. “Martha Debayle en W,” a daily three-hour radio program, has 600,000 listeners. There’s also “bbcard,” through which users receive discounts on everything from diapers to doctor’s appointments.

And the BBMundo database itself—with precise information on users’ sex, age and number of children—is an asset; outside companies are increasingly contracting BBMundo to conduct market research and develop communication strategies.

Today, 94 percent of BBMundo.com’s users are women between the ages of 18 and 44. The vast majority (85 percent) live in Mexico (most in Mexico City), though the website also reaches users in the U.S., Spain and the rest of Latin America. Registration is free, and readers can access tools such as a fertility calendar and a height-and-weight calculator for babies at different stages of development, as well as in-depth articles with pregnancy and parenting tips, from the right way to breastfeed to navigating a son’s adolescence. Users can also participate in online forums with health professionals and with one another.

That’s a long way from diapers and strollers.

What the founder’s email address says about your startup

why not?Reprinted from NextView Ventures. Original article here.

By David Beisel, Cofounder and Partner at NextView Ventures, a dedicated seed-stage venture capital firm making investments in internet-enabled startups.

It always feels anachronistic these days to exchange business cards when you usually have someone’s contact information anyway in an electronic format before (via email introduction) or just after (via LinkedIn connection) you meet.  Many people, though, take the opportunity with a physical card to make an impression with a unique spin on their card (size, vertical orientation, etc.).  But the one thing I find which also makes a subtle impression on me when I meet a founder of a startup is the convention of the company’s email address.  I started mentally noting a few sort-of-funny-because-they’re-true cases, so I thought I’d brainstorm a quick list of what founders’ email addresses say about their startups:

john@startup.com <– The first-name convention projects that the company values the individual in a truly personal manner.  Or, it wants to ascribe internal prestige to the early employees (i.e. “I was the first John”) that will not whither as the company grows.

jsmith@startup.com <– This convention conveys the importance of scalability in the organization, even from the founding stage… most likely stemming from a technical founder.

johnsmith@startup.com <– Precision trumps brevity in this startup.

johns@startup.com <– The founder’s last name is too long or hard to spell, and so nobody else at the company will list theirs either.

johnny@startup.com <– It’s a casual, yet hip atmosphere… the office eschews chairs for beanbags, shared tables for offices & cubes, and there’s not a Windows PC to be found.

john.smith@startup.com <– The founding team is all from Microsoft and can’t shake it if they tried.

founders@startup.com <– The founding team is alumni from one of the Techstars programs.

chiefninja@startup.com or chiefcrazytitle@startup.com <– The founder over-communicates in a somewhat conventional manner that he wants to defy all conventions.

info@startup.com <– The team is running in stealth-mode to look inconspicuous, but really wants people to ask.

john-smith114@gmail.com <– The founders can’t even figure out how to buy their own domain name.

jsmith@startup-inc.com <– The founders are so convinced that they’re taking over the world that they want to leave the option of issuing @startup.com email addresses to their consumer users.

js@startup.com <– The founder is a Lean Startup disciple who wanted to put out a Minimum Viable email address.

Is this the emerging markets century?

Ska band backgroundReprinted from Emerging Markets Blog. Original article here.

By David Gates, a senior strategy consultant with 10 years of experience in defining strategy for leading companies in the telecom, media, payments, and insurance industries.

Book Review: Emerging Markets Century, by Antoine van Agtmael (2007).

The world’s largest corporations are no longer just American, western European, or Japanese. A new breed of multinationals from developing countries is rapidly achieving global presence and prestige. They are also attracting more media attention. For example, this week’s Economist looks at emerging-market corporations in one of itsleaders.

One of the best recent analyses of emerging market corporations is a book written by investment manager (and originator of the term “emerging markets”) Antoine van Agtmael. In Emerging Markets Century, van Agtmael seeks to explain the why and thehow behind the success of the world’s top emerging market corporations.

The author describes three distinct waves of commercial development in emerging markets since the end of World War II. First, Western corporations made foreign direct investments in plants in developing economies. After a while, local entrepreneurs began to set up their own plants, typically to provide outsourced production to the Western multinationals. Over time, these local businesses acquired more skills and capabilities, gradually moving up the value chain and into ever more competitive markets. Eventually, the best of these firms achieved recognition as top global corporations.

Agtmael profiles 25 emerging market companies in different industries, including:

• Fourteen high-tech or capital-intensive companies: Samsung (Korea), Hyundai Motor (Korea), Hyundai Heavy (Korea), POSCO (Korea), TSMC (Taiwan) Hon Hai (Taiwan), HTC (Taiwan), Lenovo (China), Infosys (India), Ranbaxy (India), Embraer (Brazil), Tenaris (Argentina), Sasol (South Africa), MISC (Malaysia)

• Five basic commodity producers: CEMEX (Mexico), CVRD (Brazil), Aracruz (Brazil), Petrobras (Brazil), Reliance (India)

• Six consumer companies: Yue Yen (Taiwan), Haier (China), Modelo (Mexico), Concha y Toro (Chile), Televisa (Mexico), Telmex/America Movil (Mexico)

The 25 profiles are interesting and informative. Collectively, they yield several valuable insights on the factors behind the success of emerging market corporations:

• Among the most important success factors were an early commitment to export markets and a relentless focus on superior execution and quality. These two go together: focusing on exports requires producing internationally competitive products, which in turn requires the highest quality. Hyundai Motor’s rise has tracked its determination to succeed in the US market. Hyundai seriously blundered when it first entered the market because its cars were perceived as low-quality. The company rebounded by targeting Toyota as the quality benchmark to beat (while also appealing to consumers by offering the best warranties in the US market).

• Some companies have become world-class by moving up the value chain. Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Hon Hai began life as a low-value added components manufacturer, but is now a “one-stop-shop” to US clients such as Dell and Apple.

• Other suppliers became world-class by innovating on supply chains. Mexico’s CEMEX and Argentina’s Tenaris used information technology to offer highly customized order fulfillment and rapid delivery to their customers. Brazilian regional jet manufacturer Embraer turned traditional outsourcing models upside-down by recruiting US, European, and Japanese “partners” to build its planes.

• Many emerging market players defied prevailing industry perceptions and created new business models. Steel manufacturers were supposed to be located near resource mines, but South Korea’s POSCO set up shop far away from any mines, believing that increased transportation costs would be more than offset by other efficiencies.

• The world’s leading emerging market companies increasingly recognize the value of branding. Samsung is already a premier global brand. Other companies, such as Lenovo and Haier focused on acquiring trusted Western brands (IBM and Maytag).

These are just some of the most compelling of many insights described in the book. The 25 case studies make Emerging Markets Century a treasure trove of information and a valuable read for international business executives, academics, and investors.

I have a few minor gripes with the book. Eight of the case studies are from South Korea and Taiwan, which are among the most industrialized and well-educated of the emerging markets. It is questionable how well their experiences apply to other countries.

Meanwhile, there are no Eastern European or Turkish case studies. Nor are there any banks or retailers. This is not for a lack of compelling sources. Brazilian bank Itau, Turkey’s Koc Group, Chilean department store Falabella, Russian foods company Wimm-Bill-Dann, and South African mobile phone group MTN are top-notch companies.

I would also like to have read more on the theme of frugal innovation (which was wonderfully profiled in the Economist in a survey of articles last year). The idea behind frugal innovation is that emerging markets companies will find ways to offer compelling products at the low price points their markets require. The best example is the Tata Nano, a $2,000 automobile that surely would have never been developed in the West.

These are small issues. This is a great book that is well worth your time. I believe many of the themes it identifies will influence the 21st century global corporate landscape.

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