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Endeavor and Linda Rottenberg Profiled in The Christian Science Monitor

The Christian Science Monitor, a U.S.-based international news publication, recently profiled Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg and the story of Endeavor, spotlighting the organization’s journey and its rapidly growing global impact. In particular, the article calls […]

April 16th, 2014 — by admin

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Endeavor Wins Bronze Stevie® Award

Endeavor was named the winner of a Bronze Stevie® Award in the Company of the Year – Non-Profit or Government Organizations category in The 10th Annual International Business Awards.  The International Business Awards are one of […]

August 14th, 2013 — by admin

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Four most common myths entrepreneurs believe about raising capital

Reprinted from under30ceo.com. See the original article here.

By Adam Hoeksema

I work at a technology-based business incubator, and one of my roles is to help our clients raise capital. Whether these companies are trying to raise capital through debt or equity, the entrepreneurs tend to have some pretty interesting assumptions about the process of raising capital. I hate to be a “dream-crusher”, but I often have to break the news that the capital raising process just doesn’t work that way. Here are 4 of the most common myths that entrepreneurs believe about raising capital:

1. I Won’t Have to Give Up Equity

Entrepreneurs commonly say, “There must be investors out there willing to give me a loan if I can pay them back with 15% interest, I shouldn’t have to give up any equity in my company.” The problem is that startups and small businesses are the riskiest investments out there. If an investor wanted to earn 15% interest, there are still much safer ways than investing in a startup. The risk of investing in a startup is too great for a 15% maximum reward. If you need funding, you need to be willing to give up equity.

2. Investors Value a Company Based on Future Potential

This is a myth that you can see every single week if you watch the TV show “Shark Tank.” A common example is an entrepreneur who has created a product that might have a potential market of $100 million, but they have only sold $100,000 worth of product to date. The entrepreneur might want to value the company at $50 million because the market is huge, but an investor is only going to value the company at a couple hundred thousand. Why? Because investors don’t base the value of your company on how big your market is, they base the value of your company on current results. Your company still needs to have a huge potential market to attract investors, but you just won’t find a savvy investor who values your company based on a dream.

3. 100% Potential Return is Enough

Entrepreneurs falsely believe that the potential for investors to double their money is enough to attract investment. The problem is that a common rule of thumb for an angel investor might be:

% of investments are a total loss
% of investments breakeven
% of investments make money

In order to earn a respectable return on their investment, investors need to be looking for businesses with the potential to provide 10x returns. Let’s say an investor doubles the investment in all 3 of the investments that make money, at the end of the 5 or 7 years that it would take to cash out of all 9 investments, the investor would breakeven. The 3 investments that provided a 100% return would merely cover the losses of the bottom 3 investments. A 100% return is good, but entrepreneurs need to understand that investors are looking for companies that have the potential to provide much greater returns.

4. Investors Like Companies With No Competition

When I ask entrepreneurs why someone should invest in their company I often here this response, “Because we have no competition, no one is doing what we can do.” Then, I have to break the news to them that in 99% of cases this is going to be a major turn off to investors. If you have no competition at all, the question is why not? Maybe others have tried to implement this idea and it did not work. Maybe the challenges are too great for you to succeed. Additionally, competition can actually be really helpful, because it gives management someone to learn from, and compete against. Competition can help keep the management accountable. If customers are choosing your competitor consistently, investors know it is time to change management. Without a competitor to benchmark against, an investor is left in unknown territory. There are some investors that love to take huge risks in unproven industries and with unproven business models, but those kind of investors are rare. If you don’t have competition, you must be prepared with a really good reason to the question “why not?”

If you can keep these 4 myths in mind as you work to raise capital for your company, you will better understand the mind of a potential investor, and ultimately be able to present a compelling case to an investor.

Adam Hoeksema is the Founder of ExecuitvePlan which helps entrepreneurs write powerful business plan executive summaries in order to raise capital. Adam is also the creator of the ExecutivePlan Executive Summary Template, which has been downloaded and used by over 5,000 business owners seeking to raise funding.

12 ways to make the world fall in love with your brand

Reprinted from under30ceo.com. See the original article here.

By Wempy Dyocta Koto

On February 16, 2011 The Borders Group announced that it had filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection, listing $1.275 billion in assets and $1.293 billion in debts.

Within the boardroom of its Ann Arbor, Michigan headquarters were crisis talks of private equity investment, auctions, petitions, lease takeovers, bids and eventually, liquidation.

Across America and the world, the brand’s lovers felt emotions that hollow the stomach, while business analysts focused on Borders’ failure to surf the irreversible digital wave and other actions that, with creeping determinism, could have prevented the crash of a loved empire.

Personally, I reflected on my days at Borders’ multi-leveled Post Street store at Union Square in San Francisco, where I left my heart and memories sitting by the windowsill, lost in time, scanning and selecting books, music and magazines.

When people like brands, they have personal relationships but are relatively indifferent to news of its collapse. They reflect on the reality that failure is just a part of business.

However, when people love brands, they are actively engaged and outspoken investors in its future. Company stewards face public backlash and occasionally praise for a brand’s evolution, rise and demise.

With brands we love, our emotional connection as consumers transcend logical mathematical measurements of limit. Advertising genius Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi writes that ultimately, love is what is needed to rescue brands.

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Five elements that distinguish successful entrepreneurs — from Endeavor’s Dubai selection panel

Reprinted from wamda.com. See the original article here.

By Nour Eldean El-Gabri

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend Endeavor’s 42nd International Selection Panel (ISP) in Dubai. For those who don’t know, Endeavor is a non-profit whose mandate is to boost “high-impact entrepreneurs.” Because of its focus on those entrepreneurs who can scale and create a large amount of jobs, notable Middle East commenter Thomas Friedman has said that it’s the “best anti-poverty program of all.”

Similar events to the ISP in Dubai are held in different locations around the world six times a year, offering an opportunity for entrepreneurs to showcase their talents and their businesses to some of the most successful business people on the planet. It is not a competition; companies are chosen on their individual merits and are not compared with other entrants; as many as all and as few as none can be selected as Endeavor Entrepreneurs at any given event.

Entrepreneurs in attendance came from a wide variety of industries, ranging from a software developer whose main product “Prey” is capable of taking a picture of anyone using your computer if it has been stolen, to “Football United,” the official retail store of the largest football club in Egypt.

No matter what industry the entrepreneurs came from, it was clear that all of them were very hungry to succeed. Some showed it more than others, but even with the shyer candidates, it did not take much digging to discover that their passion in life was their company; each of them cared about their businesses more than anything else. This relationship was highlighted as entrepreneurs began to receive feedback from panellists. Those with “good” ideas and businesses were instantly happier and more energized, and many of the candidates’ confidence increased dramatically.

Hopefully increased confidence will not lead to worse judgement in the long run. The importance of staying humble was emphasized to me by Arif Naqvi, Founder and Group CEO of Abraaj Capital, who mentioned that, in general, entrepreneurs should not dwell on the admiration they receive from others, but rather should focus on building their companies.

Those on the other end of the spectrum might also benefit from staying focused on development; those whose ideas were criticized seemed to get slightly depressed almost straight away. There was one candidate however, whose optimism persevered. Even after not being selected to be an Endeavor entrepreneur he told me, “It’s fine, I still have my company,” with a large smile on his face.

Personally, I believe that if you really believe in what you are doing that should count for more than what others might tell you at a single event, you need to believe in yourself first, because many people will doubt what you are doing. As panelist Abdulaziz Al Omran said, “it’s easy for us to sit here and criticize these entrepreneurs, but they are really doing something great.”

As an admirer of entrepreneurs, it was interesting to discover the paths these entrepreneurs had taken to arrive where they had. Some had never had a “real job;” others had worked for more than ten years before venturing out on their own. The one quality that they all had in common was that they had discovered a gap in the market that wasn’t filled. This meant they either found that something at a particular price point or level of quality wasn’t currently offered, or, as in the case of “Prey,” they realized that there was what I’ll call here a “natural human need” for a product that simply hadn’t been created yet.

Sitting on the sidelines of the event and listening to entrepreneurs present their businesses and the responses of their well-established counterparts, I learned five invaluable lessons that I want to share:

1. Find the best advisors no matter what it takes. Endeavor CEO and co-founder Linda Rottenburg, said it best when she said, “stalking is underrated.” Do whatever it takes to find the best people you can who will listen to you and provide feedback. As mentioned above however, at the end, the decisions will be yours to make, and sometimes you’ll need to simply ignore other people’s views.

2. Have a clear strategy. As an entrepreneur, you should know where you want to go. Even if it’s a very rough sketch, try to have a roadmap of how you hope to get there.

3. Be willing to listen. That is, be open to hearing what critics have to say, because it might just be the advice that will save your company from going bust. Being defensive might shield you from a single conversation, but you might be blinding yourself to vulnerabilities that might actually exist and expand with time. As one panelist said, “we have two ears and one mouth, we should listen more than we speak,” following with the idea that no matter what position one is in, we should be open to debate, as we tend to learn more from people we disagree with.

4. Differentiation is key. Hassab Medical Labs of Egypt and Baydoner, a restaurant chain in Turkey, are two examples of businesses that were able to differentiate their product from the competition in their local markets with simple yet novel techniques. Hassab did this by employing a doctor on-site who could provide lab patients with traditional medical checkups at a reduced fee. Baydoner did so by adding an extra layer of service to the traditional mall food court experience, having waiters serve food, and limiting their menu to a single main item- shawerma. Arif Naqvi highlighted the importance of this added value, complimenting a Mexican company for creating a standard product with a unique twist. To position your company in a way that is different (and hopefully better) than the pack will likely make it sustainable in the long term.

5. Execute impeccably. If you want to thrive, you must execute well. For example, 4E, a soap manufacturer, distributor and Endeavor candidate company in Mexico, succeeded in winning orders from industry heavyweight Wal-Mart, among others, by being an extremely reliable supplier in a market of unreliable suppliers. As one panellist said, “McDonalds wasn’t the first restaurant to serve hamburgers, they just did it better than anyone else.”

In the end, 20 entrepreneurs from Egypt, Turkey, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico were chosen to join Endeavor’s pool of 676 total entrepreneurs, who work in 422 companies spanning 12 emerging market countries. I recommend that anyone who is thinking about taking their company to the next level considers Endeavor and the enormous benefits they offer to help them accelerate. The five points above are only a tiny glimpse into what the organization has to offer. I wish I could learn more; I guess the only way would be to one day apply myself, and I encourage anyone else who is interested in social entrepreneurship to do the same.

Nour is a Strategy consultant at Price WaterhouseCoopers in Abu Dhabi. His main passions in life are entrepreneurship, psychology and music. He graduated from the George Washington University in Washington, DC with a concentration in Finance in 2009.

Fuel Economics: 10 tips for being the flip (not the flop)

Reprinted from Forbes.com. See the original article here.

By Adriana Galue

I have the good fortune of living in Boulder, Colorado – home of TechStars.

For those not familiar with it, TechStars is the largest US accelerator focusing on technology companies. They fund an average of 50 companies per year. Each selected company receives $100K of seed money in exchange of common stock. I like the fact that they actually take common and not preferred stock. The TechStars model has been replicated in several other cities in the U.S. In addition, they just launched a Global Accelerator Network.

How easy is it to get in with TechStars? Well, 1% of the applicants are funded. The accelerator receives an average of 4,000 applications per year. The good news is that TechStars co-founder David Cohen has recently set up a $28M fund. 50% of this capital will be devoted to fund companies that go through the TechStars program.

With startups appearing on a daily basis, how do investors differentiate between a flip and a flop?

Here are some tips that might help entrepreneurs be in the flip side of the equation.

1. Build something that people want. In other words, know your target market.

2. Team + Team + Team + Traction + Revenue. The quality and experience of the team is key. With the well-known fact of “developer hopping” the investor wants to know how your team was formed. Have you known each other for quite sometime? Is your team diverse enough? Do you have the domain expertise required? What is your passion level? What is your vision?

3. Traction: Does your product or service has enough traction in the marketplace? In other words, are you viral? For a typical consumer Internet company, investors might expect a 5% growth/week. This number should be sustained over months.

4. Bootstrap: Your minimum viable product should be bootstrapped. The days of asking for $500K to build a prototype are gone (unless, of course, you have wealthy friends and family).

5. Be realistic about your valuation. A pre-revenue startup sits typically in the range of $1M-$4M pre-money valuation. Your positioning on this range depends on the quality of the team, the vision and the demo traction.

6. When hiring, consider waiting a year before you actually give equity away. Those who are truly passionate about your product will show commitment before expecting stock.

7. Be attached to the problem you are solving, not to the solution you are providing. This is the best advice I have ever received.

8. Pay more attention to your data and less attention to your ego. In this regard, read the story of StepOut (fka Ignighter). It is the perfect case study about the importance of paying attention to the data your customers provide everyday.

9. Study trends. It is essential to be strategic from day one.

10. Understand opportunity. We are moving towards a Human Computer Interaction (HCI) model. Ideas navigating in this space might have tremendous funding potential. Funding opportunities are also available for API-driven companies who establish a utility model for improving a method.

Last but not least, the data-utilization space is very underdeveloped. Figure out how to use data pass just storing it. We currently store massive amounts of data that sleep in some server completely unutilized.

Always remember that investors continuously think in fuel economics. How much fuel do I put in and how much output do I get? At almost $4.00/gallon, passion, performance and efficiency are key.



Adriana Galue is a co-founder at Mint Consulting. She is a scientist, techie, entrepreneur, lover of nature and immigrant whose genes trace back to the Middle East, Africa and Spain. She was born in Colombia and educated in Canada. Adriana writes about her perception of the world, education and startups. She holds a MBA from the University of Colorado at Boulder Leeds School of Business. Follow her on Twitter at @AdrianaGalue.

Endeavor’s game changing entrepreneurs from Brazil, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa to speak at Milken Global Conference

The following press release can also be accessed on BusinessWire.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Endeavor, the leader in catalyzing high impact entrepreneurship worldwide, will be taking center stage at this year’s annual Milken Institute Global Conference today. Five Endeavor Entrepreneurs from Brazil, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa will be featured on a panel entitled “Game-Changing Global Entrepreneurs” that will explore the important role that entrepreneurs play in generating the jobs and wealth needed to transform emerging markets into growth economies.

“Investors need to realize that the next great company could come out of Rio, Cairo or Jakarta just as easily as Silicon Valley.”
“Whether in Latin America, the Middle East, South Africa or Indonesia, entrepreneurs face unique challenges and obstacles,” says Endeavor co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg who will moderate the panel. “In addition to having few role models and a lack of support networks, they struggle with finding access to smart capital. We’re hoping to address the latter issue by exposing the audience at Milken to some amazing stories of innovation and success coming out of countries that may not yet have caught their attention.”

Entrepreneurs speaking on the panel are:

Nevzat Aydin, Co-Founder and CEO, Yemeksepeti.com, Turkey’s answer to seamless web has pioneered online ordering and home delivery of food in Turkey, Russia and the UAE.

Mario Chady, CEO and Co-Founder, Grupo Trigo, Brazil’s leading casual dining chain manager with over 250 branches.

Vinny Lingham, CEO of Gyft.com, a South African entrepreneur whose previous company Yola has its website building software featured on all new HP computers. Vinny now resides in Silicon Valley.

Amr Shady, Founder and CEO, T.A. Telecom, an Egyptian leader in mobile platforms whose signature Buzz! technology powers content sharing via SMS.

Leila Velez, Co-Founder and CEO, Beleza Natural, a $70 million chain of beauty salons catering to the Afro-Brazilian market.

In addition to moderating the “Game-Changing Global Entrepreneurs” panel on Monday afternoon, Rottenberg will be a panelist during a Monday morning session on “Investing in Emerging Markets.” She will be speaking about Endeavor Catalyst, a recently launched donor fund that is a passive co-investor in professional funding rounds of Endeavor Entrepreneurs. Initial supporters of Endeavor Catalyst, which has raised over $13 million so far and made two investments, include Endeavor Board Chairman Edgar Bronfman, Jr., LinkedIn co-founder and Greylock partner Reid Hoffman (also an Endeavor board member), eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and Pershing Square Capital Management founder and CEO Bill Ackman.

“I’m gratified that the investment community is finally recognizing that entrepreneurs are creating huge opportunity and value all over the world,” says Rottenberg. “Investors need to realize that the next great company could come out of Rio, Cairo or Jakarta just as easily as Silicon Valley.”

Endeavor PiLA field report: A gringa’s perspective on entrepreneurship in Chile

By Laura Marrin, Princeton in Latin America fellow

From day one in Chile, I was directly immersed in Endeavor’s work and this hands-on learning is what enabled me to really understand Endeavor’s work and become even more passionate about it. So what exactly do I do at Endeavor Chile? Through my PiLA position I have worked primarily in the Search & Selection department, searching for, interviewing and supporting local high-impact entrepreneurs as potential Endeavor candidates.

Through working for Endeavor Chile I have learned a number of important things about entrepreneurs, businesses, and economic growth and development in Latin America. With my Search & Selection work I have had the opportunity to visit two of our regional offices in Antofagasta and Puerta Varas in order to interview potential candidates. Through these trips, not only have I discovered other fascinating parts of Chile, but I have also learned about the different types of challenges that entrepreneurs face in the regions versus in Santiago. Some of the different challenges that entrepreneurs in Chile face involve: raising capital, getting loans, developing a concrete business pitch, creating a shareholders agreement, receiving legal advice as they expand their companies internationally, and how to conceptualize short and long term strategic growth plans. However, only supporting entrepreneurs in the capital will have a limited effect in helping Chile’s economic growth and development as a nation, which is why Endeavor Chile is committed to finding and supporting high-impact entrepreneurs in others regions, as seen by its four regional offices.

Additionally, I was lucky enough to be able to attend one of Endeavor’s famous International Selection Panels (ISP), where Endeavor candidates undergo a series of intense interviews to decide if they will be accepted into this global high-impact network. I attended the ISP in Punta del Este, Uruguay this past December. This is when I finally truly understood the entirety of the Endeavor model and what an amazing impact it has.

As part of the preparation for these international selection panels, I write detailed 14 page business profiles on our candidate companies, which has also been an eye opening experience. I now understand much better how entrepreneurial ventures are often formed and how a company designs its business model, thinks of its client base, decides on its value proposition, thinks about growing its internal team and plans for the short term and long term success of the organization.

In January I also had the chance to accompany some of our Endeavor entrepreneurs and candidates to the Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness in Latin America (ECLA) program that is hosted at Columbia University’s Business School. This two-week course was the first part of the ECLA program in which we all received a crash course in the foundations of international business which included classes on: accounting, problem definition, pricing, operations strategy, data analysis, sustainable enterprises, and information technology. Participating in this part of the ECLA program not only enhanced my knowledge of business principles, but also provided me with the opportunity to meet high impact Endeavor entrepreneurs from all over Latin America.

When I look back on my last 9 months with Endeavor Chile, the first thing that comes to my mind is how grateful I am for receiving a PiLA fellowship and having the opportunity to spend my first year after graduating from college working in Latin America with an amazing non-profit like Endeavor. The people that I have had the pleasure to meet and work with are what have had the greatest influence on my wonderful experience here in Chile. From day one, my colleagues at Endeavor Chile welcomed me into the team, not just as some new intern fresh out of college, but as a team member with important ideas to share.

At Endeavor Chile we celebrate birthdays, weddings, and going aways together, which has made my Endeavor Chile colleagues my family away from home. I have developed a deep respect and appreciation for both the caring and amazing people that I have met in Chile as well as the awe-inspiring diversity and beauty of this country which spans deserts in the North, to valleys in lakes in the metropolitan area, to glaciers in southern Patagonia. No matter what adventure awaits me after my PiLA year with Endeavor, I know that my time with Endeavor Chile will always be one of the highlights of my life.

As I reflect on my amazing Endeavor Chile PiLA experience to date here is a list of my most memorable moments.

– Learning to dance the cueca (the national folkloric dance of Chile) and engaging in crazy relay race antics with my Endeavor coworkers to celebrate Chilean Independence Day
- Stargazing in the San Pedro de Atacama desert
- Attending an International Selection Panel in Uruguay and becoming even more passionate about the Endeavor model for economic growth and development
- Ziplining in the mountains of Mendoza, Argentina
- Attending the ECLA program and learning basic business principles
- Trekking through Patagonia to see breathtaking glaciers

Young people in the Middle East are ready to innovate: Interview with Habib Haddad


This post originally appeared in Wamda. You can find the original post here.

Lebanese entrepreneur Habib Haddad is one of the Middle East’s biggest cheerleaders for the creation of a vibrant startup culture. As founder and CEO of Yamli.com, a search engine allowing users to type in Arabic without an Arabic keyboard, he has illustrated the region’s vast potential.

Haddad, 30, has been at the center of the Arab world’s rising ecosystem almost from the start. In 2005, he co-founded INLET, International Network of Lebanese Entrepreneurs and Technologists, which supports Arab-inspired entrepreneurship. He also formed Relief Lebanon, a grassroots campaign that aided Lebanese during and after the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.

Haddad has a bachelor’s degree in computer and communication engineering from the American University in Beirut and a master’s in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California. In his latest enterprise, Haddad has turned his attention to budding mentorship programs in the Middle East and North Africa. In July, he took over Wamda, an Arab company aimed at fostering early stage entrepreneurship in the region by inspiring, empowering and investing in local entrepreneurs. It is supported by Abraaj Capital — the powerhouse private equity group in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.
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Six questions to ask a potential angel investor

Reprinted from growvc.com. See the original article here.

By Daniela Baker

Many entrepreneurs wonder if they may vet investors just as they are to be evaluated in turn. The answer is yes! These are people who may be investing in your company so not only do you have a right but a duty to find out as much about them and their investment strategy as you can. Doing so will save you significant time and energy.

The best strategy is to ask the following six questions before you reveal the details of your business concept. If any investor is hesitant to answer, move on to the next.

Have they invested in other companies over the past 6 months, year, two years? Before revealing too much about your business concept you want to first determine whether this person is a genuine angel investor. A serious angel will have invested in at least one company over the time period noted above. If the angel has not made many (or any) investments during any one of these periods, ask for a realistic assessment of your chances to obtain funding. If you receive a vague response, such as “I’m currently reviewing several proposals” it may be that this person is not a genuine investor but only seeking to hear about new ideas. A common method for an investor to get out of a deal after they have obtained all the information about your concept is to attach unacceptable terms, such as significant input into business operations or unrealistic expectations of performance.

What are their specific criteria for investing in company? This question is one of the first you should ask. You want to know at what stage of the business they fund (i.e. concept, beta, product launch, first customer contract). If your needs don’t mesh with their funding strategy you can cross this investor off your list early in the process.

Do you have to pay them to present your pitch? In a survey conducted by the Angel Capital Association (ACA) in 2008, 62.2 percent of angle investors reported they do not charge fees to listen to presentations. Of the remaining 37.8 percent who do charge fees, the average amount was $580. For full details regarding presentation fees visit here.

How involved do they wish to be in the business? This runs the gamut from completely passive (“call me when you sell”) to active participation in day-to-day operations–complete with desk and phone—to everything in between. There is no right or wrong answer here just ensure that you are comfortable with the level of involvement (or noninvolvement) the investor desires to have.

Will they fund additional rounds, if needed? Most angels are focused on the short-term and seek to exit within 5 years or less. As a result, they don’t anticipate funding beyond the first round. However, many times additional funding is needed down the line and, while you can apply for a credit card to obtain needed funding, it pays to also explore just how deep each investor’s pocket is.

What is their exit strategy? As noted, most angel investors seek to exit within 5, perhaps 6 years. There are also investors who subscribe to the “early exit” model and seek to be out of the business with two or three.. The other end of the range has investors staying in for at least 10 years (these are the investors who may be willing to fund additional rounds). Again, no right or wrong answers here but just make sure that you and your investor are in agreement regarding exit strategy. Good luck!

Daniela Baker is a small business blogger at the credit card review website, CreditDonkey.com.

Endeavor Entrepreneur Ezequiel Farca presents second book, Path

Endeavor Entrepreneur Ezequiel Farca is the creative director and CEO of the design firm EZEQUIELFARCA, located in Mexico City. One of the most important designers in Mexico, Ezequiel Farca is known for his clean, modern, and sophisticated aesthetic. On Friday, April 27th, Farca will launch his second book, Path, with a cocktail party at the Hotel Americano from 6:00 – 9:00 pm at 518 West 27th Street, NYC.

“Path” compiles 18 years of work and shows the design process, drawings, sketches, and models of his most important projects, from architecture, interior architecture, furniture design, and product design in Mexico and abroad.

Farca’s story begins in Mexico City and has grown to inhabit great design cities all over the world:

Born in Mexico in 1967, Farca began his career at the Universidad Iberoamericana in the same city, with an Industrial Design Degree (1980-1991). He got a scholarship by the Western Washington University inWashington State, to continue his studies of Specialization in Industrial Design (1991- 1992). He completed his studies in design with a Master in Big Scale Architecture and Other Environments at the Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya, in Barcelona, Spain. He is now finishing an MBA at UCLA.

In 1995, Ezequiel opened his first design studio, and later on opened a furniture showroom in the heart of Polanco, a prestigious commercial and residential area in Mexico City. Ezequiel Farca was the first furniture designer to combine the talents of fashion designers, jewelers, and lifestyle designers of international renown.

Along the years, the more than 40 national and international distinctions and design awards that Ezequiel has won include the Quorum Award for the best designer in Mexico, the award for the Best Design for his famous lounger Zihua, the Best Product Design of the Year from the magazine Interior Design and the International Award of Design in 2008 and 2010, and the Red Dot and Design Preis in 2010. IDA 2011 competition, the silver award for the kitchen furniture category.Ezequiel Farca was named Best Designer of the Year 2007 by the magazine Ambientes, was the winner of the Icons of Design award of Architectural Record, and has been published in architecture and design magazines all over the world.

Ezequiel Farca is also well-known for design collaborations with the famous Mexican architects. Enrique Norten put him in charge of the furniture design of the exteriors of the famous Habita Hotel. Teodoro Gonzalez de Leon put him in charge of the furniture of Reforma 222 in Mexico City and for the hotel El Encanto in Acapulco, Gro. Other prestigious projects include the Hotel Ventanas del Paraiso in Los Cabos and the architectural development Los Veneros with Icon Group in Puerto Vallarta and Fairmont in Acapulco. Commercially, Farca’s firm EZEQUIELFARCA has designed products and ambiances of high profile for industrial customers such as José Cuervo, Stanza, Vitromex, Corian, Comex, Nouvel Studio, Aeromexico and Kartell, among others.

In 2007 and 2011, RM along with Arquine published the books EzequielFarca and Trayectoria distributed by the editorial house R.A.M. in the United States and Canada, and by Actar D in the European Union. The books can be found in the best architecture, design and art libraries around the world, including the library of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City, USA.  Check out “Path” on April 27th!

Farca collaborates with Endeavor staff members. L to R: Peter Olivier, Rebecca Plofker, Sasha Sadrai, Gerardo Cervantes, Maria Jose Cervantes

Gilt Groupe entrepreneurs tell their story: By Invitation Only

Gilt Groupe is an e-commerce website that provides instant insider access to today’s top designer labels, at up to 60% off retail. Founders Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson are active members of Endeavor’s global network, and were honored as High-Impact Entrepreneurs of the Year at our 2010 gala in New York City.

Now, Alexis and Alexandra have co-authored a book, By Invitation Only, that tells the story of Gilt Groupe’s establishment and its eventual rise to success as the #1 luxury flash sale website in the United States.

(To purchase the book, which hits stores on April 19th, click here and use the code “endeavor”.)

For further insights, Endeavor interviewed the successful duo. Here’s what they had to say…

What was your ‘AH-HA’ moment that lead to founding Gilt?

We loved shopping the bins of New York sample sales, and we knew that millions of people would respond if we could transfer to the Web the excitement of competing for top brand bargains.

Alexandra, with your experience in retail and Alexis, yours in e-commerce- how did this experience help shape the vision of Gilt?

Some of the core elements that define Gilt’s vision were influenced by our prior work experiences. These include well managed growth, a strong level of trust from customers, word of mouth marketing. When Alexis was at eBay it was the fastest growing company in history, so her expertise on how to manage explosive growth was invaluable when Gilt got on its own growth fast track. Alexis also learned plenty from e-Bay about e-commerce and the power of grassroots, word-of-mouth marketing. Not only did Alexis get the chance in her twenties to run a company within a company (eBay Canada) and help launch eBay Motors, she also drank the Kool-Aid of startup optimism and inspiration that would prove irresistible when she later launched her own startup with her cofounders.

Alexandra’s jobs at Louis Vuitton and Bulgari prepared her for tough sales meetings and gave her insights about customers by working with them face to face. She learned at these jobs that she would establish the trust of customers if she refused to sell them something that wouldn’t look right on them. Much of Gilt’s success is due to the insights Alexandra learned about earning the trust of customers and curating selections shrewdly to help customers look their best and get the best value. Plus, Alexandra knew firsthand that most brands had overstock that they literally burned, and that this was a problem waiting for an entrepreneurial solution.

Many Endeavor Entrepreneurs own family businesses. Were you friends before you started Gilt? Can you comment on maintaining your friendship as partners? Any advice?

We became friends when we met at Harvard University as undergrads and then became best friends at Harvard Business School. Being close friends who complemented each other well was an essential ingredient to Gilt’s success. The secret to staying friends when you’re in business together is to always make sure your professional relationship doesn’t busnify your friendship—your friendship should take priority and the time you spend together shouldn’t be just about business.

Was there an instance at the beginning where you had to veer from your path and change direction? What happened and how did you implement this change?

Our original business model had been designed to purchase brands’ leftovers. But if we stuck to this model, we would be left vulnerable to the booms and busts of the marketplace or be left dry in months like August when there is little excess inventory to buy. So we started reaching out to brands to try to buy into their current-season merchandise—in other words, place our order at the same time as department stores and full-price retailers. We figured that this would help brands drive their costs down (because manufacturers typically charge less per unit for larger orders). We were right: many brands were eager to work with us as more of a partner, instead of just giving us their excess inventory. We promised not to sell their merchandise at deep markdowns until it had been put on sale on the department store floors. But buying at the beginning of the season was not the same as buying leftovers. For one thing, we were not able to secure nearly as big a discount off the wholesale price. Merchandise produced specifically for us, rather than products taken off designers’ hands at the end of the season (at which point they were essentially sunk costs), was just never going to be as cheap.

We knew we were making ourselves slightly vulnerable because placing our orders six or nine months in advance didn’t exactly allow us to be nimble or to anticipate changes in fashion trends or in our membership growth. We’d even start having leftovers of our own to liquidate, in “final” sales, at even steeper discounts (luckily, our members loved these sales).

We also began discussions with certain brands about the possibility of producing capsule collections exclusively for Gilt. This would guarantee our brand partners more orders, allowing them to meet factory minimums, drive down their costs and increase their margins.

Gilt has an all star senior management team. Can you talk about the process of bringing in more people and scaling? How did you develop a senior management team and decide to bring in an outside CEO?

At the same time that Alexis was feeling the need to switch out of the CEO role, Susan Lyne was on our board and was interested enough in Gilt to consider becoming our CEO. We knew having a CEO of her stature would be a golden opportunity. We had to carefully prepare the rest of the company for this change and make sure that the culture would remain intact. One way we did so was by hiring and identifying evangelists that live our company values and can inspire their fellow employees.

Many of our entrepreneurs are looking to expand internationally. How did you decide to tackle the Japanese market? What have been your greatest challenges in growing abroad?

The appeal of launching Gilt in Japan was simple: an untapped market, no competitors, and access to the biggest luxury spenders in the world, not to mention plentiful inventory. By April 2008, with the very strong urging of the board, we’d made the decision to launch our first international business out of Tokyo. The biggest challenge to the Japan launch was learning that what worked to launch Gilt in the U.S. wouldn’t work there for cultural reasons. While the Japanese love the concept of “invite only” and “private” sales, they don’t really find it acceptable to e-mail friends outside their immediate circles with offers, or especially to profit from friends’ purchases. So much for our social and monetary incentives that we had used very effectively to grow Gilt in the U.S. But we learned what would work instead, which included a Tokyo press conference during which both of us spoke in carefully rehearsed Japanese.

The flash sale market has become saturated. How does Gilt continue to stand out among your competitors?

We have by far the strongest relationships with the very best brands and we’re very careful about how we curate our offerings to serve our customers and earn their trust accordingly. We also invest heavily in presentation and photography which makes all the difference in showing our customers the appeal of any item we sell. We also offer one of the fastest ecommerce experiences around.

Equally, how did you decide to go into other markets like home, food and travel? what have been the challenges in this expansion so far?

We’d always known the site would sell much more than women’s and men’s fashion, and in each category—partly because our competition was nipping at our heels—we made it a priority to launch fast and get a foothold in the home, food and travel markets before other companies did.

What inspired you to write a book on your experiences? How much of ‘by invitation only’ offers lessons to inspiring entrepreneurs?

Helping other entrepreneurs or entrepreneurship dreamers is exactly why we wrote this book. We take readers through all of our toughest decisions and share many lessons we learned along the way from how to get funding to scaling, hiring and leading and everything in between. We hope the book will help entrepreneurs start the business of their dreams and grow it to its full potential.

What’s the greatest advice you received when launched Gilt?

To avoid the dire consequences of rapid growth by anticipating what could overwhelm your systems.

What are you most excited about in the next year? Where do you see Gilt five years from now?

We continue to refine our business model according to the changing needs and desires of our customers as we deepen our relationship with them. We hope to improve personalization for our members by creating a shopping environment that feels tailor made to the preferences of each of our members. Many surprises to come, but Gilt will stay true to its core.

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