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Endeavor Greece Celebrates Two Years and 3,500+ Jobs Created By Its Entrepreneurs

Endeavor Greece released an infographic and video to highlight the office’s impact during its two year anniversary. The team supports some of the region’s top high-impact entrepreneurs who continue to drive sustainable job creation and contribute to […]

December 18th, 2014 — by admin

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Colombian Entrepreneur Alex Torrenegra Highlights Endeavor and Bogotá’s Tech Sector in The Wall Street Journal

Bunny Inc. co-founder and Endeavor Entrepreneur Alex Torrenegra recently authored an article for The Wall Street Journal’s Accelerators, a blog that features expert advice from successful entrepreneurs on business strategy and development. In his piece, Alex […]

April 16th, 2014 — by admin

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Op-ed by Endeavor network member Juan Pablo Cappello: “Did ‘Silicon Beach’ get beached in Miami? Let’s restart our engines and accelerate South Florida’s tech potential”

Juan Pablo Cappello, a member of the Global Board of Directors, wrote the following piece for the Miami Herald. The original story may be found here.

Few places on Earth invoke the kind of economic envy that Northern California’s Silicon Valley does. So much so, that hopes of being the “next Silicon Valley” have spawned scores of wannabes worldwide such as Silicon Oasis (Dubai), Silicon Cape (Cape Town) and Silicon Sloboda (Moscow). In the U.S., “Silicon Beach” is coveted by five cities, among them Miami.

Obviously, all these places share the same ambition: to attain the lucrative concentration of fresh talent, disruptive ideas and venture capital that has driven Silicon Valley’s technological innovation and financial success over the past 50 years. The problem is that there’s only one, and will always will be only one, Silicon Valley.

Should places like South Florida, with the means to foster technological innovation locally, abandon their ambitions? In a word, no. Some, like Israel’s Silicon Wadi, have gone beyond pretension: The Economist ranked it second in the world to Silicon Valley in the concentration of home-grown, high-tech companies, with U.S.-based global firms such as IBM, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Google, Cisco and others having research facilities there.

Did Silicon Wadi happen overnight? No, it took about 40 years, with roots established even earlier than that. Did the Israeli government help? Yes, with low-interest loans and substantial grants, many notably from Israel’s military. Was academia involved? Indeed, Israel’s Technion – Israel Institute of Technology – and its Weizmann Institute of Science are ranked among the world’s top 20 academic institutions in computer science. Venture capital? Yes, that helped accelerate the region’s success, too.

In the late ‘90s, Latin American entrepreneurs flocked to Miami, considered the Americas’ crossroads. The Lincoln Road promenade teemed with Latin notables, such as StarMedia Network, Yupi.com, Patagon.com, DeRemate, Viajo.com, eritmo.com and El Sitio, while others, like Zona Financiera and Telefonica de Espana’s Terra Networks were nearby. Although South Florida wasn’t a tech hotbed then any more than now, IBM’s Boca Raton campus was where the PC was born and still employed more than 10,000 people. Fort Lauderdale’s Citrix Systems went public in 1995 and ended the decade with more than 1,000 employees. In 2001, the Terremark NAP (Network Access Point), which carries nearly all of Latin America’s Internet traffic to and from 148 countries, opened in downtown Miami.

So what happened to Miami’s Silicon Beach community when it seemed to be percolating so nicely as we entered the 21st century?

We became complacent. We took the sprouts of innovation for granted rather than cultivating them. Then came the great dot.com bust of 2000, which tightened the reins on venture capital for years. The Great Recession of 2008-2011 was the near knock-out blow.

In my conversations with Latin-based startups over the past several years, I’ve found that, sadly, almost none have expressed interest in a regional headquarters in Miami. Today’s successful Latin American technology companies look to Sao Paulo, Brazil, as the launching point for a regional expansion strategy. And they’re much more likely to open an office in Palo Alto than in Miami as a next step.

Let’s restart our engines.

We have to accept that getting Miami’s technology community back on track will be a long-term project, but we can accelerate it. Five key requisites are needed that can help spur the realization of Silicon Beach’s potential more quickly:

1. Leadership. Regional leaders need to agree on a vision of Miami as a thriving, world-class technology hub, and then establish specific goals, objectives and milestones to get us there.

Leaders must include: representatives of the city of Miami as well as municipal governments across South Florida; members of academia from the area’s universities and colleges, especially those involved in The Launch Pad at the University of Miami and the Americas Venture Capital Conference at Florida International University; C-level executives from existing regional technology firms and other companies that would benefit from a technology metropolis; representatives from private sector technology accelerators, such as Incubate Miami and the Enterprise Development Corporation in Boca Raton; local foundations that have innovation as part of their mandate such as Endeavor and the Knight Foundation; and members of the South Florida financial community, including venture capitalists focused on funding Latin American innovations, such as members of the Latin American Venture Capital Association.

2. Coordination. Organizing these leaders and distilling their combined know-how, creativity and discipline requires a dynamic, well-qualified individual or group of individuals in the pilothouse. A management office must be established, and an actionable agenda executed with appropriate follow-up.

3. Funding. The effort needs a capital foundation from both the public and private sectors to provide seed capital for startups and operational funds for coordinating and executing the plan.

4. Positioning. Funding will also support development of the proper positioning of Miami and South Florida as a place where new ventures are welcome — to succeed and, occasionally, to fail — along with venture capital to support them. Miami’s role as the Americas’ crossroads should be re-emphasized.

5. Marketing. With 70 percent of its population Hispanic, Miami should encourage startups to redouble marketing efforts aimed at the 53 million Hispanics in the U.S., a demographic estimated to have $1 trillion in buying power in 2010.

Worrying about being the “next Silicon Valley” — much less yet another “Silicon Beach” — is pointless and will not help Miami realize its potential as a bastion of technological innovation. Rather, a regional economic development plan is needed, one that recognizes innovation and collaboration as core engines of growth and job creation. The benefits will be many, not least the diversification of our economy, with technology supplementing the often cyclical service and construction sectors to create a more balanced, dependable economy.

Juan Pablo Cappello, partner in Patagon.com, co-founder of Idea.me and Sauber Energy, and practicing attorney, was named a 2012 “Top 50 Entrepreneur” by Business Leader.

Endeavor August 2012 newsletter

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9 secrets for replicating Silicon Valley’s success

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

By Kia Davis

July’s Global Innovation Summit (GIS) in Silicon Valley brought together 400 people to share ideas and on what makes a good startup ecosystem. After much debate, shareholders determined that there’s no single solution. However, there are several tactics that may work to replicate Silicon Valley’s success anywhere:

Persevere. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s first venture went from a student startup to a $100billon IPO in 8 years. But a typical profile for a successful entrepreneur is more likely to include a number of ventures that didn’t quite work out. Ultimately, what makes them succeed is their endurance and the willingness to try and try again.

Collaboration is king.Successful innovators know that sharing ideas makes their company stronger, not weaker. Sharing ideas and best practices makes things better for everyone, and ecosystems that are built on a culture of collaborating produce more successful startups.

Choose venture capitalists that can be more than an ATM. In Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs talk about “dumb money” and “smart money.” “Dumb money” is cash from someone who can’t help in any other way. “Smart money” is cash from someone who can also provide valuable advice, connections, assistance, press, or introductions. Good VCs do this for their portfolio companies, and great VCs do this for the entire ecosystem.

Connections, connections, connections. Successful ecosystems are filled with people endlessly networking and sharing their networks with each another; some people even compete in their ability to help others. Competition might not be necessary, but it’s important to cultivate a sense of generosity.

It’s not about the tax breaks. Some governments around the world focus on tax breaks to stimulate innovation. But Silicon Valley has some of the highest living costs and worst tax regimes in the world. And yet, startups live and thrive there. Tax breaks alone won’t do much to build an ecosystem.

Government should invest in demand, not ventures. Investing in companies that don’t have a market is setting them up for failure. By investing in market development and driving demand, governments can play a key role in supporting entrepreneurs without backing ventures that don’t have the right fit.

Foster mentorship. Good mentors and good role models make good ecosystems. Mentors guide and advise startups, but also get startups their customers and partners.

Involve your customers and stakeholders in early stages. Whether you are designing a prosthetic leg for the wounded, a new tech incubator, or a location-based app, the best designs are ones that go to the customer to understand their needs, processes, and daily lives very early on.

Capital is overrated.The real drivers of success are strong teams and good market fit- not how much money a company is able to raise. The focus should always be on getting the basics right, on making sure your team has the right skills to deliver, and on getting your product out there.

eMBA field report: enjoying spontaneity and discovering new marketing frontiers in sunny Silicon Valley

Dhiraj Sehgal is an MBA candidate at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is interning with Endeavor Entrepreneur Vinny Lingham’s new venture, Gyft, through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

It is a third of the way through my internship at Gyft now and it has been an incredible experience. Working with an entrepreneurial team on their new gig has provided me with insights into how companies are started and what unique financial, organizational, strategic and execution challenges they face. I was hired into a marketing role to help the team launch Gyft’s mobile app but it has morphed into an all-encompassing marketing role, which has required me to use my previous marketing experience extensively, apply my academic Wharton learnings and discover new marketing frontiers. The internship is a mix of product management and marketing. I have been working with legal, engineering, and sales and business development personnel to define the product, create value proposition collateral, conduct usability testing and simulate customer experience.

The team is exceptionally talented from the founders to the engineers who are working in the background. I am learning a lot about how to manage design and engineering teams’ expectation in regards to providing defined marketing feature requirements and how to do periodic evaluations about which features to include. The best part is that we don’t have to set up meetings and send agendas. The engineers are sitting next to me and we have impromptu discussions and real-time feedback loops. This is amazingly brilliant. There’s a lot more to come as I continue my internship journey at Gyft!

Endeavor Entrepreneur Jorge Soto, on using technology to fight illicit networks

The following post is reprinted from Opinno. The original post may be found here.

By Jorge Soto, Endeavor Entrepreneur

Last week I attended and participated in a Google Ideas Summit panel on Illicit Networks in Los Angeles. It touched on the limits to freedom of expression due to the fear of being trapped in an illicit network and how technology could, or couldn’t, help with the situation.

It’s interesting that a business like Google organizes these types of events where people who have suffered within an illicit network (human trafficking, narcotics, violence and slavery), institutions such as Interpol, the US Department of State, government representative (the Mexican Secretary of Government attended), technology businesses and geeks share experiences, ideas, critiques and solutions.

The first talks centered on the positive and negative impacts has on our lives and security. It was recalled that in the Mumbai attacks (2011), the terrorists were able to track police movements via the Internet and social networks and base their activities on that information. Something similar occurred in the 1972 Munich attacks and their live broadcast outside the Olympic village.

Whether or not technology has caused more damage than wellbeing or if it is more effective than a gun, I believe a story is in order:

“If you ask a priest whether you can smoke while you pray, he will surely say no. If you ask him if you can pray while you smoke, he will probably say yes.” At the end of the day, it’s all about perceptions.

What disappoints me is that there are still tech companies and geeks that believe the only solution to this sort of problem is a technology-based one. Fortunately, I believe that Google doesn’t share this vision and this is the reason they organize these events.

In my opinion, it’s naive to think that technology is more than a tool to resolve or understand problems, but at the same time we can’t continue to overestimate the power of maps, visualizations and secure hotlines. Many times, this vision has been seen to be influenced by Silicon Valley., when thanks to mobiles or computers, people report, communicate or avoid better. For that, I believe we should rethink the model.

Society shapes technology but, equally, its use is determined by the conditions in which a society lives. In Mexico, Twitter is a tool for alerting citizens of risks and in LA to share events.

Another question is that while maps and reports bring into focus the symptoms of a problem, how can we use technology to attack a problem at the root—this being a lack of confidence in ourselves and our governments? We neither share experiences nor make our cities feel alive. To that end, we have not been able to create strong networks in our society.

In Mexico, criminal organizations have created strong links in communities. Many local media outlets don’t cover the violence and conditions that exist there out of fear. Our president signs into law censorship laws such as ACTA and vetoes victim laws while some states propose even more backward laws.

It’s as if citizens are trapped in a spiral of fear, all with access to social networks and technology.

A first glance, while listening to heartbreaking stories of some of the attendees of the Google Ideas Summit, they seemed different but really share two common problems behind the lens of technology:

1. How can we ensure that people understand, participate in, share and protect messages?

2. How can this shared trust be translated into accountability and problem resolution?

Really, it’s not a technological problem but rather an anthropological one.

However, I believe that technology can help solve the root problem when people share information about what makes our communities feel alive and what’s positive about where they live. If we propose a model where people say and share positive aspects instead of complaining about the negatives, it will create a true community of shared experiences.

Jorge Soto is the founder of Citivox, an Internet platform dedicated to linking citizens with their governments to solve common problems. A graduate of Columbia’s University’s Columbia Business School, Jorge is passionate about eliminating the divide between people and their governments. He is also a winner of 2012’s TR35 Mexico competition. Twitter: @smjorge22

eMBA field report: explosive IT growth, exuberant dancing and a steak that will make you cry in Bogotá

Manuel Alvarez Ortega is an MBA candidate at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.  He is interning with Endeavor Entrepreneur company Aranda Software through Endeavor’s eMBA Program

I’m already halfway through my internship in Bogotá and time is flying.  I came to Colombia from Hong Kong to work with Aranda, a local software company, on their expansion strategy in Mexico and Brazil.  I must say that the experience has been quite rewarding so far both personally and professionally.

Colombian people have shown themselves to be very warm and welcoming.  I arrived from Hong Kong at 10 p.m. and three of my co-workers were waiting for me at the airport.  They took me to a very nice apartment they had rented for me and filled with food for the next few days. After taking the next morning to recover from my trip and jetlag, I was taken to Aranda’s offices to meet the rest of my colleagues.

I’m lucky to have arrived just a few months after the company moved to their new offices, which are really nice.  They have wide open and well-lit spaces: an entertainment room with sofas, a TV and videogames where you can calmly have a cup of coffee and chat with co-workers during breaks, and a meeting room where they gather the last Friday of every month to celebrate all of the month’s birthdays with a cake and to introduce the recently hired personnel and talk about general issues.

Outside of the workplace, I’ve been able to enjoy visiting various tourist attractions, such as Monserrate mountain, the historical quarter of La Candelaria and even La Calera at the city outskirts for horseback riding. I’ve had the opportunity to rumbear (the local way to say “party”) at night to and try the wide variety of dances (which, I have to admit, I still can’t tell apart that well). The food has also been great. After one year in Hong Kong eating all sort of Asian food, which I love, I’ve enjoyed trying the different South American flavors. I almost cried when I ate my first good beef steak here.  It is not easy to find them in China.

Working with Aranda has been awesome. It is very rewarding to work with a relatively new company that is fighting against the market leaders in the region in such a competitive environment as the IT industry. I have also been amazed by the entrepreneurial spirit I have sensed in the region, not only within Aranda, but everywhere. It grabbed my attention that several people asked me about businesses I have seen in China but not in Colombia and the other way around when I said I came from Hong Kong. That has not often happened to me in other places.

To summarize, the experience of working with Endeavor and Aranda has been great and I would recommend it to anybody wiling to explore other regions and markets and who are passionate about entrepreneurship.

Can Facebook spice up place reviews? Endeavor Entrepreneur company Jeeran launches social update

neat stuffReprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

By Nina Curley, Editor-in-Chief at Wamda.

Today, Endeavor Entrepreneur company Jeeran is making location reviews in the Arab World a more social experience, by launching an updated iPhone app and website that are completely integrated with Facebook.

The new app forces users to sign in to the Jordan-based review site using only their Facebook account, in a bid to enhance customer accountability while providing new features. The app can now automatically detect a user’s city, allows users to add new offline places to the community, and integrates Facebook’s open graph to display actions taken on Jeeran on Facebook Timeline.

It’s clear that the Jeeran team felt that the move was essential for gaining traction with consumers and ensuring content quality as the platform scales. The platform integrated with Facebook for two main reasons, says co-founder and CEO Omar Koudsi. Firstly, “our site depends on the authenticity of the users who are writing the content. One way to make sure we have high quality content is to make sure the people wring the reviews are real.”

Secondly, he says, “We value the opinion of our friends more than that of strangers. Jeeran makes use of that fact by highlighting the reviews of your friends.” On the new app and website, users can then browse either their friends’ or elite users’ activity.

The move makes sense for the Jordan-based platform, which could face a slowdown in customer uptake if content is seen as a static resource or users in the region don’t maintain an appetite for reviews. It can also be difficult for review sites like Yelp to find a clear path to profitability, thanks to the difficulties of selling online advertising to companies newly coming online (to which Jeeran caters). Thus integration with Facebook is a big step for Jeeran, towards encouraging viral content and creating a more engaging experience.

The Jeeran team is looking to focus in on its consumers in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, before exapnding too quickly, says Koudsi. The vast majority of these users- 80% and 99% in Jordan and Saudi, respectively- user Jeeran in Arabic, and with over 3,000 buinsesses on the platform, and 800,000 visitors a month, the site is not lagging.

The next question is, will Jeeran procced to go beyond places, into offering reviews of merchandise, food, and general items for sale, similar to the arena that co-founder ex-Jeerani Laith Zraikat is working in with Olgot? Koudsi won’t reveal much about Jeeran’s exact future direction, but Jeeran has recently shifted its slogan and position from “Places in Your City” to “Reviews by the People”… we’ll have to stay tuned.

Endeavor company Bodytech honored for 15 years of growth and job creation

On July 23, as part of the celebration of the 202nd anniversary of the independence of Colombia, the Colombian Society of Press and Media recognized Endeavor Entrepreneurs and Bodytech founders Gigliola Aycardi and Nicolás Loaiza for establishing an important Colombian institution. Bodytech is currently the largest chain of health and fitness clubs in Latin America, and is largely recognized for having professionalized and consolidated a health and fitness industry that was once fragmented and informal in Colombia.

The Colombia Society of Press and Media specifically honored Bodytech with the General Francisco de Paula Santander Law and Democracy award in the degree of Grand Cross of Commander in recognition of the initiative and drive that have marked the company’s growth over the last 15 years since its founding. The award also distinguished how the company has served as a strong engine of quality job creation as well as improved the lives and health of millions of Colombians.

How to be a VC: Being open

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

By Charlie O’Donnell.

I always get asked how to get into VC and so I think a lot about what it takes to do the job well.  I’m way early in my career, so I won’t say I’ve perfected anything yet, but after 8 years on the investing side and 3 in startups, I’ve come up at least one thing:

Be open.

In venture capital, you say “no” a lot.  When you say no a lot, you get good at it.  It comes off the tongue fast and in lots of different ways.  It is your default response.

Practicing the word no as many times as a VC does means you have to fight not to have your mind close on you.  I fight it…and fight it hard.  I want your pitch to be the one I say yes to–and I want you to solve the inherent problems in your business model.  I want to figure out if I can help you get there.

I don’t think that every VC takes the approach that anyone can be successful–or that every problem is fixable, which is weird to me because their job is to make people successful and fund things that solve problems.  Yet, time and time again, I see well practiced dismissiveness.

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How to use fifteen minutes a day to create a culture of accountability

Reprinted from Duct Tape Marketing. Original article here.

By John Jantsch

It’s great to have a plan. Even better to charge out and begin to execute the plan. But, to keep your plan alive day in and day out, you’ve got to have a routine that holds everyone accountable for all things big and small.

To keep commitment high and reinforce a culture based on your objectives you need to install a systematic approach to meetings that allows people to be heard, get help, pose ideas, participate, learn, grow, move projects forward, and stay connected.

This will include annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily planned sessions designed to accomplish specific tasks.

I can almost hear some collective groaning coming from my readers, but trust me on this. If you do this right, you’ll wonder how you ever succeeded without it. You may find that more gets done in terms of actual work and real team building in a month using this system than at any time in your business.

First off, have everyone in the organization sketch out their near term plans. The projects they need or intend to get done in the 30, 60, and 90 days based on your overall marketing or business plan. This should be an ongoing moving process and will be one of the tools used in your meeting system.

Daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly

Every organization, depending upon the number of employees and other logistics, will have slightly differing needs, but the basic framework should look something like this:

Quarterly meetings – These meetings should be used to give “state of the business updates” that will likely include financial data and reporting on goals and objectives for the year.

One of the ways that many organizations reinforce core values is to choose a quarterly theme that relates to one of your stated core values and plan activities and initiatives that highlight the chosen value. I’ll go into more detail about this specific tactic in a subsequent chapter on culture.

These meetings should be fun and celebrate achievements, milestones and accomplishments that may fall outside the realm of work.

Monthly meetings – These meetings may include financial and milestone reporting, but should also include teaching.

One of my favorite ways to include teaching in the monthly meeting is to select a member of the staff, regardless of department, and charge them with leading a session about their department or function’s specific initiatives, goals and achievements.

This can be a fun way to “get to know accounting” or “showcase the new advertising campaign.”

Weekly functional meetings – It gets a little trickier once you start breaking meetings down to functional teams or departments. This is where organizations with flat structures (everyone reports to one boss) start to choke. If you’re the boss and you manage everyone in the organization, this tactic will reveal why you can’t continue this practice.

The good news is that this process and the project planning process I wrote about recently are how you start to create a management structure in your organization where perhaps none existed previously.

In fact, many organizations find that the sheer act of planning creates its own logical team organization structure based on who can be and is responsible for projects.

The focus of the weekly meeting is project movement. If you have a very small staff this may be a weekly staff meeting, but the focus is still to get updates on projects. If you have a very organization you may logically conduct these in small groups around projects.

Some mid-sized organizations hold weekly all hands meetings in addition to functional staff meetings in an effort to highlight their most important initiatives.

VML, a digital marketing agency located in Kansas City, holds an all staff meeting every Tuesday morning with the primary purpose of highlighting the organization’s community, non-profit and charitable activities. The brief meeting is also frequently used as a way to recognize staff members who exemplified core values during the coarse of the week.

Daily functional huddle

The concept of the daily huddle has been used in large business for years and has had a huge impact on organizations such as Ritz Carlton, Johnson & Johnson and 3M. Verne Harnish, author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits did a great deal to popularize the notion in small business circles. Harnish contends that this was one of Rockefeller’s core concepts used while building Standard Oil.

While some may view this tactic purely in terms of efficiency I think it’s one of the greatest ways to build team commitment and spirit and once again reinforce purpose.

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