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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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Endeavor Entrepreneur Rodrigo Jordan prepares for second Mount Everest venture

Reprinted with permission from Knowledge@Wharton. View the original article here.

Michael Useem, director of Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management, tells the story of Chilean adventurer [and Endeavor Entrepreneur] Rodrigo Jordan, who climbed Mt. Everest in 1992 and is gearing up for a second climb in May. This time, however, Jordan will be adding two novel twists, both of them reflecting his lifelong passion for exploration and leadership.

On May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay took the final step onto the top of Mt. Everest, the world’s loftiest summit at 29,035 feet. Hillary snapped a photo of Tenzing at the apex, ice axe raised in triumph, a defining symbol, not only for climbing and summiting, but also for aspiring and succeeding in any hard endeavor.

The route that Hillary, Tenzing and other members of the British expedition had pioneered that year was — and is — difficult and dangerous. British parties had been seeking to reach the summit by another route for 30 years, all falling short. The new route opened a better way, but it still required navigating around gigantic ice-blocks and massive avalanches. Even today, with far superior equipment and provisions, those who follow the 1953 way require weeks in the extreme. Some come back with frostbite or snow blindness, and a few not at all, as readers of Jon Krakauer’s account, Into Thin Air, will recall. Krakauer’s book describes the events surrounding the loss of five climbers on this route in a single day in 1996.

A Mountaineering Tradition

Despite the extraordinary hazards and deprivations, Rodrigo Jordan, a Chilean adventurer, set out to climb the mountain in 1986 by an even more difficult and dangerous route up the East face of the mountain. The Kangshung face is nearly two vertical miles of jagged rock and black ice, a colossal challenge for surviving, let alone ascending at high altitude. His team fell short in 1986, tried again in 1989 and finally summited in 1992. Three Chileans, including Jordan himself, were the first of their country to reach the summit, making it a matter of pride and prominence in a nation already steeped in mountaineering tradition with the Andes and Patagonia in its backyard.

Fast forward two decades. Jordan decided that a 20th anniversary celebration of his country’s first ascent of Mt. Everest would be welcome. Like veterans of foreign wars, veterans of Himalayan expeditions sometimes commemorate their achievements with reunions, but Jordan would add two novel twists, both of them reflecting his lifelong compassion for exploration, leadership and learning.

With a PhD in organizational administration from Oxford University, Jordan returned from his triumph in the Himalayas to create Foundation Vertical, a non-profit organization to give inner-city youth an experience in the wilderness; Vertical SA, a company to take company managers and others into experiential learning; and even an institute to run college-degree programs. The Wharton Leadership Program has long partnered with Vertical for its MBA Leadership Ventures in the Atacama, Patagonia, and even Antarctica.

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Spotlight on Endeavor Uruguay: “Experiencia Endeavor” and “Women Entrepreneurs” events

Endeavor Uruguay recently gave aspiring entrepreneurs an exceptional chance to bring their dreams into focus with two successful events.

The Experiencia Endeavor (Endeavor Experience) program has been held intermittently since 2011. Four events will be held in 2012, each with a different theme and a high mentor-to-attendee ratio. Experiencia Endeavor events are conducted in a relaxed atmosphere and present budding entrepreneurs with the opportunity to mingle with each other and join roundtable conversations with Endeavor mentors. The March 2012 gathering was sponsored by Commercial Bank, Costa East, Antel, among others, and had over 120 attendees. Marcelo Lombardi, the Chairman of the National Chamber of Commerce and Services of Uruguay, began the conference by talking about what makes a business successful today.

Participants had the unique opportunity to make contact with more than 20 thriving mentor-entrepreneurs during 12 roundtable sessions. Each group had its own area of focus, including human resources, sales and marketing advice for potential and current entrepreneurs, and was led by a key industry player such as Laura Di Carlo, Mauricio Oppenheimer, Carolina Moreira, and Santiago Cat. Endeavor Entrepreneurs were also on hand at the event. Another Experiencia Endeavor event will be held in Uruguay this June.

Recently, Endeavor Uruguay also organized the Women Entrepreneurs Breaking Barriers program, which presents workshops and roundtable sessions to Uruguayan women entrepreneurs. The latest event had more than 80 attendees and included a workshop led by Endeavor mentor Mariela Marenco on how to make effective business decisions. The next Women Entrepreneurs Breaking Barriers event will take place in May. More than 200 women are expected to participate.

Insights on talent and HR, from Sal Giambanco

Endeavor is pleased to make public the following transcript from a presentation at the 2011 Endeavor Entrepreneur Summit in San Francisco. The event, which assembled over 450 entrepreneurs and global business leaders, featured dozens of entrepreneurship-related presentations by top CEOs and industry experts.

Overview: Sal Giambanco, Partner at the Omidyar Network, discusses the importance of conducting talent reviews and the proper way to conduct them.

Bio: Sal leads the Human Capital and Operations functions of Omidyar Network. In this role, he works to develop and scale the talent at Omidyar Network and its portfolio organizations. Sal brings a wealth of executive experience in human resources management to his role as a partner at Omidyar Network.From 2000-2009, Sal served as the Vice President of Human Resources and Administration for PayPal and eBay. Prior to joining PayPal, Sal worked for KPMG as the National Recruiting Manager for the information, communications, high-tech, and entertainment consulting practices, while also leading KPMG’s collegiate and MBA recruiting programs. Previously, Sal directed Human Resources at Tech One, Inc. and held positions at Ernst & Young and ESS Technology, Inc. Sal began his career working in the public sector in a variety of roles, primarily in education and hospital ministries. Sal holds an MA in philosophy from Fordham University, a Masters of Divinity from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and an AB in economics and political science from Columbia University.

From the presentation:

Sal: All entrepreneurs, all organizations have a business strategy. There are various things that we will call new capital strategy. You can have financial capital, you can have a great idea, but unless you have the people that can execute on that idea, you don’t really get anything. You actually have to have people who are driving and doing things. These are all the things we talk about — whether it is human capital or human capital strategies.

How do you think about all the systems, all the processes, management structures, decision making, rewards, all those things that actually drive execution? This is the basic thesis, that nine out of ten organizations fail to execute strategy. One of the things we talk about is that there is a disconnect between what an entrepreneur wants to do. The exercise I had the entrepreneurs do yesterday is to close their eyes and ask the question, “Does everyone in your organization know your strategy?” If they don’t, why not? That’s the issue. Does everyone know the strategy of your organization? Why? Because what we find in research is that very few workforces actually know their strategy. The founder does, the entrepreneur does, the senior team does, but they don’t actually drive this down into their talent. The people strategy with the business strategy is really important. (more…)

Mobile money penetrates Africa through Facebook: spotlight on Endeavor Entrepreneur company ZunguZ

Reprinted from IT News Africa.

The concept of using Facebook as a premier secure channel to exchange mobile money between friends will grow in significance and quickly – so claim the business leaders behind ZunguZ, a multi-tiered platform that integrates deeply into the social graph and a host of financial services to empower the consumer. ZunguZ is the flagship product of ZunguZ Inc. a Delaware USA company with a presence in the heart of Palo Alto, Silicon Valley, not far from Facebook, and a footprint in Cape Town, South Africa.

The founder of ZunguZ, high impact serial entrepreneurs, Robert Sussman and Lance Fanaroff, have been quick to position the offering clearly within a competitive marketplace. Although listed amongst the likes of Google Wallet, PayPal Wallet, Facebook Credits, Square and M-Pesa, management stress that ZunguZ is not a competitor offering to various P2P, P2B and B2B payment systems. Sussman refers to the multi-tier structure of ZunguZ with embedded intelligence behind the recently launched “Z-button” as a unique differentiator, and the core of the ZunguZ business model. It provides the functionality to facilitate automated, immediate online transactions without any hassle or delay.

This positions the offering at the forefront of a burgeoning area of technology and e-retail. He points to a Social Impact Study 2012* which claims, based on a survey of 1088 online shoppers who use Facebook about the impact of social sharing (exchanging information about products with friends), that 75% of users who read these comments click through to the relevant retailer. The offering and solution has complied with beta testing regulation. The first release (version 1.0) has been upgraded with consistent development and enhancement, developed and released to Facebook, and is now available in version 1.3.5.1.

ZunguZ is housed in a PCI compliance datacentre in Germany and incorporates security such as Thawte certification, SSL, and HTTPS, as well as second factor authentication, which are all prerequisites for integration with the platform. Both Sussman and Fanaroff emphasise that the concept is based on using ones Facebook profile as a token of identification to activate a ZunguZ profile and thereby interact with friends. This is a person-to-person payment solution that works off interaction between associates that are linked via a network.

“Money can be exchanged between registered users without any banking information required. ZunguZ and Facebook do not have access to theusers funds as this sits in local bank accounts. This is all handled by the banks, together with their standard level of banking security, regulation and compliance. ZunguZ is therefore not a bank, does not touch the money and there is no intention of it ever becoming a bank. We work with banks to bring their services to the social networks,” says Sussman.

Management at ZunguZ believe there is a great deal of truth in a quote by Seth Godin (sourced from Saucy Social Media): “”Build it, and they will come” only works in the movies. Social Media is a “build it, nurture it, engage them, and they may come and stay.”

Going forward Sussman and Fanaroff believe the principles of risk management and that which governs effective strategies to make initiatives work domestically, will pay dividends.

“Innovative entrepreneurs can drive initiatives forward. There has to be a careful and strategic balance between capital outlay and risk mitigation. We have considered the risk factor in building this initiative up locally and we believe we have the resources, expertise and knowledge of this environment to make this work,” adds Sussman.

10 lessons Seth Godin can teach you about blogging

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

By Neil Patel

Ever since I started in business, I’ve always loved Seth Godin. He’s a brilliant marketer and a great writer. In fact, he runs one of the most popular blogs.

Over the years I’ve read many of Seth’s books, listened to his interviews and have even seen him speak on a number of occasions…

And while many people view him as “America’s greatest marketer,” there is a lot to learn from him about blogging.

Let’s explore 10 of those lessons:

Lesson #1: Blog, prune, experiment, repeat

When it comes to creating content for your blog, the conventional method is to analyze the trends, see what your competitors are doing, develop hybrid ideas and, more importantly, give your readers what they want.

Seth doesn’t do any of that.

Instead, over time he’s developed a voice that attracts people. He’s trained himself to write a lot, see what resonates, experiment, prune, and write some more until something grabs people.

He repeats that process endlessly, which takes time.

Lesson #2: Blog once a day

In an interview on Ad Age last year Seth explained his blogging ritual.

Seth blogs once a day and each blog post is an insight into the world of business, productivity or creativity.

It could be a paragraph long or two pages long. That’s a lot of blogging, and an incredible pace to keep up.

So how does he do it?

He writes once a day…but within that day he could write one blog post or fifteen. He then queues up those other posts. What the queuing allows him to do is replace posts he doesn’t love with ones that he does love.

Lesson #3: Avoid comments and Twitter

If you could say one thing about a blogger like Seth Godin is that he is productive.

What is his secret?

Two things: he doesn’t allow comments on his blog and he doesn’t use Twitter.

He avoids Twitter because he knows he would be very bad at it. The power users of Twitter spend an enormous amount of time cultivating a following, researching quality content to share and promoting others.

Seth says he can’t do that very well…or won’t do it.

The thing about the comments is he wants to avoid the rabbit holes that comments can turn into. Rants and arguments can only turn into a downward spiral that distract and burden him.

He does admit that comments are good to help you clarify your thoughts and sharpen your ideas. But for Seth, it turns out to be a waste of time. Or as Seth put it, “An opportunity to stay busy while not actually doing anything, I wonder if that’s a good choice.”

(more…)

Seven competition crushing value propositions


This article was written by John Jantsch and published at Duct Tape Marketing. You can find the original article here.

One of the biggest challenges that any small business faces in the area of marketing is standing out from everyone else that say it’s doing what you’re doing. Until you can firmly offer a solid reason for why you should buy from or hire us over everyone else, you’ll compete on price.

As you develop a marketing strategy for your business you must proactively create the value proposition of “why us” and build all of your marketing messages, products, services, processes and follow-up communication around supporting that proposition. This is how you use strategy to dominate your market. This is how you define value in terms that matter to those you are trying to attract.

Below are seven ways to think about defining and refining your core value proposition.

1) We know you – So many companies try to serve mass audiences. This is tough for any organization, but can be next to impossible for a small business just getting started. One very powerful way to create a point of differentiation is to carve out a narrow segment of a market and explain through every communication that you are the experts in serving that market.

Divorce attorneys that specialize in representing men are an example of this type of approach. Obviously, you won’t attract female clients, but a man going through a divorce might feel you have specialized knowledge and experience that other, more generic divorce attorneys, don’t possess.

2) A better way – Creating a product, service or approach that clearly offers a better way to get a result, particularly a result I desperately need to get, is another strong way to demonstrate value and promote a business.

Pretty much everyone struggles with processing too much information. Many have developed all kinds of systems to remember things, track things and keep to do lists under control. Evernote created a better way to do this and made the process simple, accessible and manageable on the devices that millions already used, so it’s value proposition offered a very recognizable way to do something better and the company has grown measurably because of it.

3) One of a kind – Some segment of just about every market craves things that are custom made. The more markets are inundated with mass produced items, the more opportunity exists for things that are made to order or made by hand.

I believe the popularity of a platform like Etsy is due in part to this need for some to find and possess things that are one of a kind or made just for them. If you can find a segment of your market that values this approach it can be a highly profitable proposition. I asked the owner of a men’s clothing shop I frequent about the market for suits these days and he said there are really only two segments left. The low end off the rack suit and the very high end custom tailored suit.

(more…)

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.

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