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Endeavor Investor Network Convenes Over 120 Entrepreneurs and Investors in NYC

On May 5th, the Endeavor Investor Network convened growth market leaders in New York City for a day of networking and learning. The invitation-only event gathered over 120 participants including Endeavor Entrepreneurs and leading investors […]

May 13th, 2015 — by admin

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South Africa’s wiGroup Wins 2014 PwC Vision to Reality Award

South Africa’s wiGroup was recently honored with the 2014 PwC Vision to Reality Award, which celebrates dynamic companies in the technology sector that have demonstrated growth and innovation. wiGroup’s mobile transactions application is leading the region’s point-of-sale sector […]

September 23rd, 2014 — by admin

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15 things I wish I’d known before starting my first company

Reprinted from QuickSprout. Original article here.

By Neil Patel.

From a very young age I loved the idea of starting a business. It helps that I grew up in a family full of entrepreneurs, so there’s no surprise that I launched my first company while I was in high school.

Since then I’ve launched several businesses…some succeeded, but most failed. While I made and lost a lot of money, each success or failure always led me to learn something new. So, looking back over my career here are the 15 things I wish I’d known before I started my first business.

Lesson #1 – Swing for the fence

Here’s the deal…it takes as much effort to create a small company as it does to create a large one, so you might as well swing for the fences.

What does that look like? Well, the first question you have to ask is this: are you are a slugger or a base hitter? In other words, what is your tolerance for risk versus reward?

Employees are base hitters. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, can be sluggers. While CEOs can make big money, most of the millionaires in America are entrepreneurs.

So the question is, where do you want to be? If my business partner and I focused all of our energy on our first business and tried to swing for the fences instead of creating a lifestyle business, we would have made much more money than we both currently have. (more…)

Endeavor Entrepreneur Andy Freire: “The mechanics behind the expectation of some great enlightenment can be dangerous”

Taken from vimeo!Reprinted from Pulso Social. Original article here

by Emily Stewart

For Andy Freire, entrepreneurship is a fundamental fact of life. At the age of 40, Freire is a highly-successful social and business entrepreneur. After beginning his career at Procter & Gamble, he co-founded and headed Officenet. The company, which was acquired by Staples in 2004, revolutionized the office supply distribution industry in Latin America and has been used as a principal case study for business schools around the world.

In addition, Freire co-founded Axialent, where he served as Chairman and CEO until December of 2011. He founded Restorando.com and, in his youth, the Fundación Iniciativa (Initiative Foundation), an NGO focused on promoting leadership among Argentine youth. Today, he is the President of Endeavor in Argentina and a member of the Latin American Global Committee of the World Economic Forum. Freire formerly served as President of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) in Argentina. He is a well-known entrepreneurial reference around the world.

PulsoSocial’s Clarisa Herrera spoke with Freire about the obstacles faced by entrepreneurs, business models and the stigma of failure.

Clarisa Herrera: Do you agree that the main problem for an entrepreneur is sitting face-to-face with an investor?

Andy Freire: It’s always dangerous to generalize. That said, I do think that’s the case. It is a challenge that is usually confronted from a standpoint of weakness. However, it is important to remember that investment seeking is a mutually-beneficial process for entrepreneurs and investors. With this in mind, we don’t need to face investors with fear but instead with respect and the conviction necessary to sustain a strong stance. Entrepreneurs may need investors, but it also works the other way around.

CH: You are in contact with entrepreneurs every single day. What do you see as the principal shortcomings of today’s entrepreneurs, and what are their greatest strengths? 

AF: You’ve got to do your homework before approaching an investor in order to present a project in a way that leaves no room for doubts. Creating a business plan is a vital process for all startups, and for some entrepreneurs, this doesn’t seem to be all that clear. On the other hand, if I have to point to one strength, it would be that Argentine entrepreneurs have an extraordinary capacity to adapt to the country’s every-changing political and economic reality and seek out opportunities within it. The difficulties imposed by external situations – an economic crisis or a commercial lock-out – seem to have trained our entrepreneurs to come up with creative answers to enhance their ideas and strategies.

CH: What do you recommend for seeking financing? What variables should be kept in mind? 

AF: In figuring out how to get financing, it’s important to know where to look. One has to keep in mind that there are various sources of capital in existence that can make a project happen. In general, there are three main approaches: getting your suppliers to finance you through purchases with long-term payment options, finding a capitalist partner who will take a part of the business in exchange for his or her investment, or going in with a partner who works for and invests in the company.

Though banks constitute an important source of funding for entrepreneurs, they are not usually relevant in the early stages but instead once a project is already well on its way and looking to grow and expand. This happens because banks require applicants to have assets to back the loans taken out, thus reducing risk. New startups don’t generally meet these requirements. Banks see startups as a risky investment. There is nothing available to show the evolution of a project, and results are difficult to predict.

CH: How does one go about reaching investors who are more willing to take a risk? 

AF: Investors have to trust in the vision and abilities of an entrepreneur – without that trust, they won’t put in even one cent. They understand the priorities of early-stage businesses and are patient with respect to results. Nevertheless, getting an investor requires a great amount of work, preparation and planning. You have to show that you are the right person to take a project forward and be able to answer the big question: Why is this entrepreneurial team going to be successful?

CH: Are you more inclined towards copycats or market-revolutionizing ideas? 

AF: Studies show that 90% of ideas come from something an entrepreneur has been working on previously. Only 10% emerge from a so-called flash of inspiration. What do we do when we decide to undertake a project? We search for a great idea – that wonderful, unique and brilliant idea – that no one has ever had, that disrupts the market entirely. I think that the mechanics behind the expectation of some great enlightenment can be dangerous if they lead us to a dynamic of think, think, think instead of do, do, do. I think that everyone who wants a startup should set off with a deductive process of action instead of contemplation. This is a methodical process for understanding competitive advantages, motivating passions and the sectors where one can really shine in putting something on the market that doesn’t currently exist. With this perspective, it’s best to consider ideas for their potential to exploit particular contexts, not having to do with whether they are copycats or new.

CH: Does a copycat imply less risk if the original is successful?

AF: It’s best to escape dichotomies and get to the root of issues. If you ask me whether it’s better to bet on copycats or market-disrupting ideas, my answer is that it’s best to bet on ideas that have some degree of originality (this does not exclude copycats), that exploit opportunity, that are backed by teams that can demonstrate a potential for success, that can grow in the future and that are oriented towards the market. It doesn’t matter what model they’re following.

It’s not entirely true that a copycat implies less risk if it has been successful somewhere else. There are numerous cases of startups that are hugely successful in one place and fail in another. That’s why it’s important to analyze how adequate an idea is in a specific environment, whether it’s an adaptation or an original concept.

CH: How does one escape a culture that stigmatizes failure?

AF: Failure must be learned – there’s no other healthy way to live with it. It’s normal to come across cases in which entrepreneurs are frustrated and embarrassed, thus losing the confidence needed to keep trying. Among Argentine entrepreneurs, and in Argentine society in general, there is a certain stigma when it comes to failure. Dealing with it is a skill entrepreneurs must acquire, imitating other parts of the world. In the United States, for example, there is a completely different philosophy surrounding the issue. There, when entrepreneurs fail, they don’t hide it. Instead, they highlight it on their resumes because it is considered a value-adding experience. The challenge isn’t explaining what has been learned from failure – that depends on each individual case – but instead understanding that failure is part of the process for those willing to take risks and try.

This text has been adapted into English from its original Spanish publication.


Help get Endeavor Entrepreneurs a panel at SXSW Interactive!

Hope the roosterteeth guys are there!Endeavor has proposed a panel for next year’s SXSW Interactive festival, and we need your help to get our entrepreneurs onstage! 

The panel will showcase emerging market tech companies and discuss opportunities for cross-country collaboration. Namely, panelists will attempt to unveil how emerging market tech startups look for cofounders and high-level executives abroad, especially those with strong technical backgrounds. In so doing, panelists will highlight opportunities that exist in said markets for experienced tech professionals and discuss what channels exist for collaboration.

Do you want to see this panel at SXSW? Here’s how to make it happen:

Step 1: SIGN UP. Go to https://auth.sxsw.com/users/sign_in and click “SIGN UP” under the “SIGN IN” button. Follow the prompts on the next page. Then look for the confirmation email and use the link to get back to the site.

Step 2: VOTE. Go to http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/2706. In the upper left corner of the screen, under “CAST YOUR VOTE,” click on the thumb’s up symbol (the one on the left.)

Step 3: Bask in Endeavor’s greatness at SXSW next year!

Endeavor entrepreneur Rodrigo Jordan climbs Everest for second time

whooo, this gut sounds like fun. He also must have wrote his own wikipedia page.

Rodrigo Jordan was the first Latin American to ever scale Mount Everest. Now he has recreated his initial feat 20 years later. Endeavor has partnered with Rodrigo on his company, Vertical, which offers educational and team-building expeditions to schools and businesses. Here he is at Everest’s summit showing off his Endeavor pride.

In cooperation with Endeavor, Stanford launches first SEED program for entrepreneurs scaling business in developing economies

PRESS RELEASE reprinted from Business Wire. Original post here.

A new program on scaling fast-growth companies will gather 61 entrepreneurs from around the world at the Stanford Graduate School of Business Aug. 26-31. The course is the first educational program to be offered by the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED). The institute’s aim is to stimulate innovation through research, education, and on-the-ground action that enables entrepreneurs, managers, and leaders to stimulate growth in developing economies. SEED’s work is based on the belief that a critical route for economic growth is through the creation of new entrepreneurial ventures and by growing existing enterprises.

In cooperation with Endeavor Global, a nonprofit organization that selects, supports and mentors high-impact entrepreneurs around the world, the new Stanford – Endeavor Leadership Program is designed specifically for entrepreneurs from developing economies. Endeavor selected the 61 high-impact entrepreneurs from among its global networks. The program will include representatives from a bakery in Egypt, a retailer in Mexico, and a growing electronic restaurant-ordering business based in Turkey.

The weeklong program will draw on the world-class faculty and network at the Stanford Graduate School of Business to help Endeavor entrepreneurs build growth companies in a competitive global marketplace. In addition to faculty, Silicon Valley-based business school alumni with expertise in operations will return to Stanford to coach working groups during the program. “Increased management know-how is a critical tool that empowers entrepreneurs to scale businesses and create employment opportunities in emerging economies,” said Hau Lee, faculty director of SEED and the Thoma Professor of Operations, Information and Technology. “This course represents our first major interaction with on-the-ground entrepreneurs who will return to their respective countries to change people’s lives by creating both jobs and products that solve problems in a sustained way.”

Led by George Foster, the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, the program will allow participants to develop core competencies to grow companies, present frameworks to manage growth and tools to drive a vibrant corporate culture, develop leadership skills to operate in a competitive global economy, and address the special opportunities and challenges involved in scaling global companies. “We’re thrilled to be working with Stanford to provide our Endeavor Entrepreneurs with such a unique opportunity,” said Endeavor cofounder and CEO Linda Rottenberg. “Access to programs like this can make the difference in helping enterprises scale and reach their high-impact potential.”

While entrepreneurs contribute to program costs, the effort, including housing on the Stanford campus, is subsidized through a generous grant from SEED.

SEED Executive Director Named

Also this month, Stanford Graduate School of Business Dean Garth Saloner named Tralance Addy as SEED’s first executive director. Working with faculty director Hau Lee, Addy will assume both strategic and operational leadership of SEED as the institute pursues its mission to accelerate entrepreneurship and innovation in developing economies. He will also work closely with faculty members Jesper Sørensen, who leads the SEED education and dissemination area and is the Robert A. and Elizabeth R. Jeffe Professor of Organizational Behavior, and Jim Patell, who leads SEED’s on-the-ground area and is the Herbert Hoover Professor of Public and Private Management.

Addy brings to SEED a distinguished professional career marked by innovation and entrepreneurship in corporate and start-up environments, spanning multiple sectors. He founded and has served as chief executive of Plebys International LLC, an enterprise development company targeting underserved markets worldwide. Plebys was founded to serve as a vehicle to spur new enterprise formation and sustainable growth in developing markets. Until 2009 he also served as president and CEO of WaterHealth International Inc., the first Plebys venture, which develops and provides water purification systems and facilities; it currently provides access to affordable clean water to more than 5 million people in rural and urban communities in developing economies.

Prior to Plebys, Addy was an international vice president at Johnson & Johnson, where during a 21-year career he also held senior executive responsibilities including worldwide president of a leading global subsidiary, and vice president of R&D and a member of the global management committee for Johnson & Johnson Medical Inc.

He earned BA and BS degrees in chemistry and engineering from Swarthmore College, and MS and PhD degrees in engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. A technology innovator, Addy is credited with a number of patents and is a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. He has served on many business and civic boards, including the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College and the Advisory Board of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina.


Why your brand is dead in the water

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seth Godin: Feet on the street

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

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

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

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

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

Endeavor highlighted on The Economist blog: the other Arab spring

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


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

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

Thirteen Endeavor Entrepreneurs are growing as fast as Inc 500 Companies

intern thinks title is lame

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

To leave or not to leave as your startup grows

Reprinted from NextView Ventures. Original article here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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