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Argentina’s Technisys Raises $13 Million in Funding Round, Receives Participation From Endeavor Catalyst

Technisys, an Endeavor Argentina entrepreneur company, raised $13 million in a Series B round of funding that included participation from Intel Capital, Alta Ventures, KaSZeK Ventures, Endeavor Catalyst and existing investor Holdinvest. Technisys has brought an […]

October 17th, 2014 — by admin

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Colombia’s Refinancia Announces Majority Acquisition By Encore Capital; Plans Expansion in Latin America

Refinancia, founded by Endeavor Entrepreneur and Colombian Board Member Kenneth Mendiwelson, recently announced news that the California-based Encore Capital Group has purchased a 51% stake in the company. An entrepreneur success story in Colombia, Refinancia’s announcement demonstrates the […]

February 28th, 2014 — by admin

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eMBA field report: pushing boundaries for personal growth and professional gain in Monterrey

Marjorie Camporini is an MBA candidate at IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. She is interning with Endeavor Entrepreneur company Vialux through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

Here I am, writing my blog post for Endeavor on the airplane on my way to Bogota. It is hard to leave the beautiful mountains of Monterrey, but exciting to go to Colombia for the first time. Three weeks ago, I started working for Vialux, a Mexican company based in Monterrey that provides difficult-to-find cell sites to telecommunications carriers. So, why am I going to Bogota now?

My project at Vialux is to build a business plan for expansion to Brazil. The company’s last expansion project brought them to Colombia and Endeavor Entrepreneur Fernando Martinez (a partner at Vialux and the creator of my project) believed that it would be useful for me to go to Bogota and analyze the successes and failures of that expansion plan. After a few days there, I will fly to Brazil with Fernando for two weeks of meetings. The objective is to learn about the Brazilian market, gather as much information as possible for the expansion plan and find potential partners and managers for the future Brazil office.

All in all, working for Vialux has been an amazing experience so far. My project is very challenging and working with Omar Rios (Vialux’s Commercial Manager) and Fernando has been a great way to learn not only about the industry and the company, but also about the Mexican economy and way of doing business. I am also learning about entrepreneurship and the transition from a small, scrappy company to a larger, more structured one. These two men have shared every single detail of the company operations with me and that, combined with the aligned, positive environment at Vialux, has made me feel at home. I truly feel that I am part of the company and not just an intern.

However, life is not just about work and I have to confess that I was not expecting to meet the awesome people I have met in Monterrey. I was also not expecting that I would enjoy the Sierra Madre Mountains so much. It is fascinating to live in a place surrounded by these giant rocks! Mariya Krasteva, another eMBA who is studying at MIT and Harvard, is also working for Vialux, but at the parent company, Enexa. She is my roommate and together with two other Monterrey eMBAs, Maria Fernanda Brockman and Nuno Neves, we have been exploring everything the city has to offer. Local friends have been amazingly supportive and their hospitality allowed us to acclimate very quickly. We have gotten excursion tips  from Rocio Diaz Gonzalez, our local Endeavor staff contact, many times and have enjoyed sightseeing, climbing, visiting caves, partying and of course eating (much more than I should!) real and delicious Mexican food.

I am glad that I have had the opportunity to get to know a little bit about Mexico, hang out with incredible friends and challenge myself with a very dynamic project which allows me to see the results of my work and feel that I am adding value to the company. I am sure I made the right choice when I decided to work with Vialux and its vibrant entrepreneurs Fernando and Francisco. In addition, it is rewarding to be part of Endeavor and to learn more about how this successful nonprofit is making a significant, social impact all over the world. The local office of Endeavor is always organizing events to put eMBAs, mentors and entrepreneurs together.  What can be more inspiring?  All my expectations have already been exceeded and I am looking forward for the next four weeks in this exciting atmosphere.

Lunch with Monterrey eMBAs Maria Fernanda Brockman, Mariya Krasteva, Nuno Neves and local friends

Climbing en Huasteca

San Pedro and its mountains

10 video resources every entrepreneur should know

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

By Nina Curley

It’s always best to get tailored advice from hands-on mentors, but in your “free time” it also pays to get inspired by content around the world that reveals insights from other entrepreneurs. It also helps, when the going gets tough, to remember that there’s a global community of people with similar experiences, and resources available online to boost your knowledge. Here are 10 resources that will enhance your skill set and allow you to stand on the shoulders of entrepreneurial giants.

1. Khan Academy

If you don’t know about Khan Academy yet, get acquainted. The comprehensive site, created in 2006 by Bangladeshi American educator Salman Khan, offers over 3,200 video tutorials on everything from Algebra to Valuation and Investing, Venture Capital and Capital Markets, and several Microeconomics courses to get entrepreneurs set up with the basics about understanding markets and finance.

2. Potential

Dubai-based SME consultancy Potential, founded by Lebanese entrepreneur Shadi Banna, hosts a large trove of presentation videos in English, Arabic, French, and Turkish on very specific topics in finance, marketing, legal issues, and sales, including presentation on business plans, innovation, getting investment, growth strategies, intellectual property, building a team, and project management, among others. For those looking for Arabic presentation tutorials tailored for SMEs, this may be the best resource on the web.

3. Stanford’s ECorner

For those looking for in-depth lessons, Stanford University offers hour-long interviews with leading entrepreneurs on its E-Corner website. The content is also available on iTunes via its Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast- with video and without, or on the Stanford E-Corner iPhone application. The most recent three videos are a discussion on finding your way, by Drew Houston of Dropbox, Secrets at Apple’s Core, by author Adam Lashinsky, and A Playlist for Entrepreneurs by the creators of Spotify.

Another good resource for tech entrepreneurs is Stanford’s Technology Entrepreneurship podcast series, which run closer to 15-20 minutes, featuring specific discussions of business models, technology life cycles, sales and marketing, and venture capital investment.

4. Cofounder TV

Launched by Rony Nashar of Dubai-based accelerator SeedStartup this February, Cofounder TV offers a curated list of videos from around the web that offer advice to entrepreneurs. In contrast to some of the more U.S.-focused resources, Cofounder TV includes more international content, like a recent International Entrepreneurship Panel featuring entrepreneurs from Indonesia, Vietnam, Chile, Columbia, and Germany. Some (including the last one) are aggregated from the Founder Institute, some from the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship, others are documentaries, but Nashar has done the legwork for entrepreneurs, making it easy to consume the best of the genre without sifting through the troves of material online.

Since he launched the platform as a side project, Nashar says that he’s seen a lot of traffic from around the globe, with 28% of viewers coming from the U.S., 32% from Asia, mostly China, 26% from Europe, 7% from South America, 3% Australia & New Zealand, and 3% from Africa when we last spoke. Yet he confesses that he would love to see more consumption in the Middle East.

5. HBR Ideacast

For those looking for a quick tutorial, Harvard Business Review offers its weekly audio podcast series, HBR IdeaCast, both on its website and on iTunes. Browse interviews with experts and industry leaders, on topics ranging from group decision making to leadership (with Christiane Amanpour) or to growth strategies. The podcasts range from 10-20 minutes, and you can alternatively browse transcripts on the website.

6. MIT OpenCourseWare

At MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW), you can download and view free lecture notes, exams, and videos from MIT courses, essentially getting an MIT education, anywhere. For entepreneurs, those in the Sloan School of Management and even some Microeconomics might be useful.

7. Cisco eTube

Like the Stanford E-Corner, Cisco eTube is a large repository of video interviews with startup founders and global business leaders. It boasts 557 videos tagged “entrepreneurship,” with 210 simply about having the right mindset. 26 videos also focus on web 2.0, and 4 on a topic as specific as green computing. If you have time to shift through the videos, the site could be a useful, resource for an international perspective.

8. TechCrunch TV

Again, when it comes to tech entrepreneurship, TechCrunch is a good place to go to see various sides of the business, with product reviews in “Fly or Die,” investment advice in “Ask a VC,” entrepreneur profiles in “In the Studio” and its “Founder Series,” startup work environments in “TC Cribs“, and other niche series along with breaking news and events.

9. The TechStars TV Show

The TechStars TV Show, which featured a startup reality show on Bloomberg TV, isn’t an educational resource in the direct sense. But seeing what other startup founders go through in high pressure situations, as they try to pitch their companies, incorporate mentors’ advice, and battle to reach their targets before the end of the show, might inspire you.

10. Wamda TV

This may seem shameless, but we can’t leave ourselves off of this list. Just remember you can always head to our Wamda TV channel to check out our latest profiles of entrepreneurs, event coverage, and Entrepreneur of the Week series. Almost all of our content is in both English and Arabic.

Bonus: Country-specific sites

A few sites in the region focus on showcasing entrepreneurs in a specific country:

Jo’preneurs offers great profiles of major Jordanian entrepreneurs, drilling into the critical issues in short segments in Arabic.

The Egypreneur YouTube channel features interviews by founder Abdelrahman Magdy with thought leaders and startups in Egypt, including event coverage, although now that Egypreneur has shifted into becoming a social network, video content has slowed.

Bahraini Views offers crisp interviews in Arabic showcasing Bahraini entrepreneurs and business leaders giving their advice in Arabic with English subtitles.

Cisco eTube offers several videos of Lebanese entrepreneurs for some reason, more than it offers from any other country in the region.

If you know of any other country-specific video sites or any others that inspire you, let us know in the comments.

Shorter flights at lower heights: The right way to angel invest

Reprinted from OnStartups. Original article here.

By Dave Balter.  Dave is the CEO of BzzAgent, founder of Smarterer, an active angel investor and a holder of proms. You can follow Dave on twitter @davebalter

Everywhere you turn these days, you find an angel investor. Aside from those who have always invested small amounts of cash in startups, more and more venture capitalists are making personal side deals, active entrepreneurs are investing in other entrepreneurs, seed funds are cropping up everywhere, and Angel List has emerged for the everyman.

But most Angels will fail to get back the capital they’ve invested (let alone make money), and it’s not because they don’t pick good companies or back great entrepreneurs — it’s because they’re completely mistaken about an Angel’s role in the investing cycle.

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100 lessons learned from 10 years of SEO

Reprinted from Quick Sprout. Original article here.

By Sujan Patel

This June marks my tenth year in SEO, which means that I’ve gone through dozens of different algorithm changes and implemented SEO techniques on hundreds of websites across various market verticals.

I’ve worked both in-house and at agencies, but all this experience doesn’t mean that I’ve got the final answer on what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to SEO.  In fact, I’ve made tons of mistakes along the way – and today, I wanted to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned throughout my career.

The following lessons are all based on my own experiences and screw-ups.  They aren’t just related to SEO, but to my life, business and entrepreneurial pursuits in general as well.  I hope you find them useful when it comes to avoiding the same mistakes I’ve made in the past! (more…)

The art of NYC cycling for entrepreneurs #bikenyc

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

By Charlie O’Donnell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. You need a good lock.

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

9. You must wear a helmet. 

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

10.  Get some bright lights and reflectors. 

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

Safe biking! (and startupping!)

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

Reprinted from OnStartups. Original article here.

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

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

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

What if your business was a book?

Reprinted from Duct Tape Marketing. Original article here.

By John Jantsch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

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

Demystifying e-commerce: How to offer competitive customer service

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

By Nader Museitif

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

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

Pre-sale Customer Service

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

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

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

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

Post-sale Customer Service

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

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

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

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

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

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

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

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

An edited transcript of the conversation follows after the jump.
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