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Minha Vida Acquires TecnoNutri; Creates Dominant Player in Brazil’s Healthy Eating Market

Brazil’s Minha Vida Group, which manages a medical/health care website of the same name and a popular online diet program called Dieta e Saude, took a major step forward in its growth this week with […]

July 6th, 2015 — by admin

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Argentina’s Satellogic Featured at Wired UK Conference; Highlights the Potential of the Space Industry

Argentina’s Emiliano Kargieman, an Endeavor Entrepreneur selected at the 54th Endeavor ISP, recently spoke at the WIRED2014 conference about transforming the space industry with his company Satellogic. Seeking to make space accessible to all, Emiliano’s […]

October 28th, 2014 — by admin

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Startups: Stop trying to hire ninja-rockstar engineers

Reprinted from OnStartups.com. Original article here.

By Avi Flombaum. Avi is the Dean of The Flatiron School, an intensive program to learn Ruby on Rails in New York. He was formerly the co-founder and CTO at Designer Pages. You can follow him at @aviflombaum or @flatironschool.

Hiring technical talent is often cited as one of the most difficult parts of scaling a startup. Great companies are built by great teams so naturally, when it comes to technical talent, companies are competing harder than ever to entice the best of the best. The rationale you’ll typically hear is along the lines of “a great developer is 10x as productive as a mediocre one.” That might be true, but it is an impractical startup hiring strategy.

While companies fight tooth and nail over engineers with MIT or Stanford degrees with years of experience, as CTO of designer pages, my best hires were consistently entry-level developers that I developed on the job. Some companies, like Zendesk and GeneralThings have already realized this and are working with schools like Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco, The Flatiron School in New York (of which I’m a co-founder) and Code Academy in Chicago to hire their newly minted web development graduates. Aside from the fact that they’re significantly easier to attract, there are tremendous benefits to the company.

1. Cost– Starting salaries for senior developers have skyrocketed in the past few years. The average starting salary for a senior Ruby developer has climbed to $94,000 ($107,000 in Silicon Valley). Compare that with the average salary for a junior Ruby developer, $70,000, ($80,000 in Silicone Valley). At that rate, you can give a junior developer a 10% raise every year for 3 years at the end of which you’d have an experienced senior employee who’s been with you that long and is still costing less than a new senior hire.

2. Attitude– Anyone that gets courted the way a senior engineer does today is at risk of developing a sense of entitlement (to put it lightly). When I hired ‘rockstars’ at Designer Pages, the requests became increasingly ludicrous. Senior engineers had four-day weeks, required conference budgets, and refused to adhere to the language and technology standards the company had established. They always knew best and felt that we were lucky to have them. Junior devs on the other hand, are hungry. They want to prove themselves and are eager to learn. And assuming you’re fostering the right culture, are excited to be part of your team.

3. Turnover– High turnover is the easiest way to kill a product. In The Mythical Man-Month, Frederick Brooks discusses problems inherent in a system designed by a succession of leaders, each with his own style and ideas: “I will contend that conceptual integrity is the most important consideration in system design. It is better to have a system omit certain anomalous features and improvements, but to reflect one set of design ideas, than to have one that contains many good but independent and uncoordinated ideas.”

Great companies need great engineers who want to solve complex problems. But the majority of work being done on a typical web application does not require a team full of PhD’s with 10 years experience, making it no surprise that senior engineers quickly get bored and seek out other opportunities. By hiring junior developers and ensuring they’re getting the continual training and development that they need, you can ensure that they stay engaged and derive as much personal and professional value out of your company as your company derives from them.
4. Culture– A prerequisite for being a great programmer is a love of learning. Unfortunately, many senior engineers come with a lot of baggage; they want to work on specific problems, in specific languages, and have little patience for the inexperienced n00b. By hiring junior engineers, and giving them the training and development they need to flourish, not only can you align everyone’s technical styles under a cohesive vision, you can more easily create a culture wherein it is expected for the senior employees to mentor and coach new hires, just as they were coached when they first started.

To be clear, this isn’t true in every case. I happen to know plenty of incredibly humble, loyal, and generous (though not cheap), senior engineers. And if you’re trying to build a better search engine, or solve the world’s most complex data problems, you probably do need to recruit from the top 1%. Most companies though just need great leaders who can help their teams think through the difficult questions, and team members who are wiling to work together to implement creative solutions. The bottom line is that for most products, seeking out rockstar senior engineers is like hiring Picasso to paint your apartment.
So what’s the best way to put this plan into action? Here are some things I found to be effective when developing junior engineers at Designer Pages:

1 – Deploy on Day One– Making engineers deploy code on their first day is the single best way to get them feeling great about their ability to acclimate and impact change in your organization. Companies like Etsy actually have a hard-and-fast rule that all engineers should deploy to production on day one.

2 – Assign Mentors– Lots of companies say they mentor their employees. I’ve found that unless this is systematized, senior employees get too busy to dedicate the necessary amount of time. Make sure every new hire has a mentor to pair with basically all-day for at least the first two weeks.

3 – Foster Productivity Early– The best way to sharpen a programmers skills is to write code. Junior engineers shouldn’t be trying to learn legacy systems when they first arrive- let them work in as fresh a codebase as possible so they can get cranking right away.

4 – Invest in Training– Nothing will give you a better ROI on your time than making sure your employees are well trained. Create a learning plan for each hire for the first 3-6 months, complete with recommended reading, that applies to the projects they are working on.

5 – Be patient.

At the end of the day, when you hire junior developers, you are investing in people. You are creating a culture of growth, promotion, and learning that will pay for itself multiple times over. And it will also help you recruit the Ninja-Rockstars when you actually need them.

Recruiting programmers to your startup

Reprinted from Chris Dixon. Original post here.

Here are some things I’ve learned over the years about recruiting programmers* to startups. This is a big topic: many of the points I make briefly here could warrant their own blog posts, and I’m sure I’ve omitted a lot.

– The most important thing to understand is what motivates programmers. This is where having been a programmer yourself can be very helpful. In my experience programmers care about 1) working on interesting technical problems, 2) working with other talented people, 3) working in a friendly, creative environment, 4) working on software that ends up getting used by lots of people. Like everyone, compensation matters, but for programmers it is often a “threshold variable”. They want enough to not have to spend time worrying about money, but once an offer passes their minimum compensation threshold they’ll decide based on other factors.

– Software development is a creative activity and needs to be treated as such. Sometimes a programmer can have an idea on, say, the subway that can save weeks of work or add some great new functionality. Business people who don’t understand this make the mistake of emphasizing mechanistic metrics like the number of hours in the office and the number of bugs fixed per week. This is demoralizing and counterproductive. Of course if you are running a company you need to have deadlines, but you can do so while also being very flexible about how people reach them.

It is sometimes helpful to think of recruiting as 3 phases: finding candidates, screening candidates, and convincing candidates to join you.

– Finding means making contact with good candidates. There are no shortcuts here. You need to show up to schools, hackathons, meetups – wherever great programmers hang out. If your existing employees love their jobs they will refer friends. Try to generate inbound contacts by creating buzz around your company. If you have trouble doing that (it’s hard), try simple things like blogging about topics that are interesting to programmers.

– Screening. Great programmers love to program and will have created lots of software that wasn’t for their jobs or school homework. Have candidates meet and (bidirectionally) interview everyone they’ll potentially be working with. If the candidate has enough free time try to do a trial project. There are also more procedural things that can be useful like code tests (although they need to be done in a respectful way and they are more about getting to know how each side thinks than actually testing whether the candidate knows how to program (hopefully you know that by this stage)).

– Convincing them to join you. This is the hardest part. Great programmers have tons of options, including cofounding their own company. The top thing you need to do is convince them what you hopefully already believe (and have been pitching investors, press etc): that your company is doing something important and impactful. The next thing you need to do is convince them that your company is one that values and takes care of employees. The best way to do this is to have a track record of treating people well and offer those past employees as references.

A few things not to do: you will never beat, say, Google on perks or job security so don’t even bother to pitch those. You’ll never beat Wall Street banks or rich big companies on cash salary so don’t pitch that either. You’ll never beat cofounding a company on the equity grant, but you can make a good case that, with the right equity grant, the risk/reward trade off of less equity with you is worth it.

Finally, I’ve long believed that early-stage, funded startups systematically under-grant equity to employees. Programmers shouldn’t have to choose between owning a fraction of a percent of an early-stage funded company and owning 50% of an unfunded company they’ve cofounded. Naval Ravikant recently wrote a great post about this:

Post-traction companies can use the old numbers – you can’t. Your first two engineers? They’re just late founders. Treat them as such. Expect as much.

Making those first engineers “late cofounders” will dramatically increase your chances of recruiting great people. This is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for getting the recruiting flywheel spinning where great people beget more great people.

* As someone who personally programmed for 20 years including about 10 years professionally, I preferred to call myself a “programmer.” Some people prefer other words like “hacker” “developer”, “engineer” etc. I think the difference is just uninteresting nomenclature but others seem to disagree.

What’s your definition of entrepreneurship?

they have a pretty nice website

By Sarah Sykora, Chief Marketing Officer at Babson College

Before Endeavor, the word entrepreneurship did not exist in certain languages like Portuguese. Endeavor Entrepreneurs did not know they were entrepreneurs until they entered the Endeavor Search & Selection process. We’ve come far in 15 years since the Argentine taxi cab driver with a PhD asked Endeavor co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg, “How can I possibly start my own company when I don’t even have a garage?”

There has been a long-held notion about entrepreneurs that they begin their path to superstardom by tinkering in garages, coding in coffee shops, and networking in Silicon Valley. While this is an accurate definition of some entrepreneurs, we know that you don’t need to do these things to be defined as an entrepreneur.

In the U.S., we currently face economic uncertainty and a rapidly changing global job market where the need for and existence of entrepreneurs absolutely shatters this former notion. Have you defied the status quo and created positive change in your organization? If so, you’re an entrepreneur. Have you ever navigated through bureaucracy to create and act on new opportunities to make a difference? Then, you’re an entrepreneur. Have you marshaled resources in constrained environments to take action on an idea? You too are an entrepreneur.

Babson College also believes in entrepreneurship as a method, not a job description, and that it’s applicable to people everywhere who create economic and social value in all types of contexts. To empower these entrepreneurs of all kinds, they’ve created a movement to redefine entrepreneurship, inviting people to share their definitions of the word at define.babson.edu.

Since January, more than 100,000 people from more than 140 countries have visited define.babson.edu, and they have amassed more than 2,000 definitions from entrepreneurs in all types of occupations—from lawyers to shoe designers to UX developers and stay-at-home moms. It is clear that people everywhere agree that entrepreneurship is more than its dictionary definition, and, the more that we practice it in all contexts—taking action to create positive change—the better our world will be.

How do your actions prove that you’re an entrepreneur? Join the movement to tell the world that entrepreneurship is more than a job title, and share what it means to you at define.babson.edu.


Andy Freire of Endeavor Argentina talks local entrepreneurship

ohh drupal extensions!Reprinted from Americas Society/Council of the Americas Blog. Original article here.

By Magdalena Day

Having founded successful ventures such as OfficenetAxialentRestorando, and currently board chairman of Endeavor Argentina [in addition to being an Endeavor Entrepreneur], Andy Freire is known as a serial entrepreneur in his native Argentina. Magdalena Day spoke to Freire about Argentine entrepreneurs’ versatility and endurance, as well as Endeavor’s role in promoting a productive relationship between the public sector and SMEs.

Based to your experience as president of Endeavor Argentina and as a serial entrepeneur and investor, what would you say are the main characteristics of Argentine entrepreneurs?

These would be undoubtedly their extraordinary capacity to adapt to different changing scenarios derived from the political and economic reality of the country, and being able to find opportunities in them.

The difficulties that arises through external factors—such as economic crises or commercial lockouts—seems to have trained Argentine entrepreneurs to find creative answers to enhance their business strategies and ideas.

This ability to face instability also generates additional virtues in our entrepreneurs. One of them is being persistent in finding better paths to develop their projects. Argentine entrepreneurs are stubborn almost like no other and simply move, try, and knock doors until they find a “Yes.” The other virtue is their passionate profile. They usually have an uncontrollable impulse, which could also explain their resilience and perseverance.

Could you discuss recent initiatives and institutional efforts aimed at giving entrepreneurs the right environment to aid their development.

We usually think about how institutions or the government can generate proper conditions to promote an entrepreneur friendly environment, but the main effort should be aimed at starting to change that perspective to one in which the main question should be how entrepreneurs can create a favorable environment for the development of their country.

This is not a “chicken or the egg” dilemma. I believe that without the first the second is impossible, but thinking about it in this way may allow us to be more strategic when deciding the best initiatives to promote a better entrepreneurial environment. It aims not only at the development of entrepreneurship unto itself, but also to the development of entrepreneurship in a context and with a specific responsibility.

Entrepreneurship can be and should be one of the most important engines of national development and we must create environments suitable for enhancing and multiplying entrepreneurship capacity, always focusing on the diffusion of an ethical corporate culture that generates employment, wealth, and innovation for the country.

In this sense, at Endeavor we work on generating activities to disseminate successful models that follow these principles, while generating supportive ecosystems throughout different programs within both the public and private sectors.

What are the most attractive reasons to invest in Argentine entrepreneurs?

There are two main reasons to invest in Argentine entrepreneurs.

Argentines are historically considered versatile when it comes to developing projects with a capacity to expand regionally. Patagon, Officenet, Restorando, and MercadoLibre are only some examples of that potential.

Second, because the region itself is undergoing a period of growth and development, there are many opportunities that have not yet been exploited, and local entrepreneurs are in the process of identifying those with higher growing margins that in the rest of the world.

Interview with Endeavor Entrepreneur Rapelang Rabana (Yeigo)

alliterative namingReprinted from Ventures. Original article here.

[Endeavor Entrepreneur] Rapelang Rabana has been listed on Oprah’s 2012 ‘O’ Power List, mentioned by CNN and is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, all before the age of 30. A founding partner of Yeigo Communications, developer of some of the earliest mobile phone VoIP applications, shared her experiences and insights with Ventures Woman in an interview. Here’s what she had to say:

VW: Could you start by telling us a bit about yourself?

RR: I have been able to have live in 3 cities thus far in my life and seen very, very different ways of life. I lived in Gaborone, Botswana, then Johannesburg and now Cape Town. I did most of primary school at Thornhill Primary School in Gaborone, and then proceeded to Roedean School in Johannesburg to complete my primary and secondary schooling. I matriculated in 2001. Cape Town became my home when I came to study at the University of Cape Town and I never left. I studied at the University of Cape Town for four years, where I completed a Bachelor of Business Science with Honours in Computer Science. While programming was very difficult for me, I ultimately chose to stick with it, because I believed unlike finance, accounting, marketing, psychology and various other industries, you didn’t have to spend so much time analyzing, reviewing, auditing and evaluating something someone else did, in the hope of adding some marginal value. With Computer Science, you could create actually create something, from the figment of your imagination, from nothing – there seemed to be real power there to create tremendous value. 


Got cultural intelligence? Why it matters for your business success abroad

Reprinted from Under30CEO. Original article here.

By Lindsay McMahon

Are you getting ready to form a partnership overseas or expand your target market to work with clients abroad?

You know that you need to learn the local language so you have probably purchased a phrase book or taken some language classes. You have even brushed up on some of the different customs, traditions and food that you will encounter when you get there. All set to go, right? Not so fast!

If you believe that this is the extent of the preparation that you need to do, you are about to make a mistake- a mistake that could result in a missed opportunity for your business.

The factor that will determine your success or failure overseas is your ability to navigate cultural differences. These are norms, values and communication styles that run deeply and influence every aspect of business from marketing, to negotiating, to partnering, to public speaking. Gain some basic skills and awareness around these five common stumbling points and you will have a much better chance of success.

Time: How many times have you used the phrase, “My time is worth $___”? For Americans, Scandinavians, Japanese and other mono-chronic cultures, time is a commodity. We “waste time”, “save time” and place a value on our time. We often place a higher priority on completing tasks than building relationships. For us, time is linear. It will eventually run out.

Try using the phrase “Please respect my time” in some cultures and your business partnership might be over before it even begins. If you plan on doing business in Latin America, Mediterranean Europe or India, you will hit a wall if you don’t recognize that your clients use time in a very different way. For these “poly-chronic”  cultures, time is circular, not linear. A block of time can be used to accomplish numerous things instead of completing one task and moving to the next. A deadline is an approximation, not a promise. This is not just about punctuality. Different cultures conceptualize and make use of time in completely different ways. Do your best to observe the differences and stay flexible with your attitude toward time.

Nonverbal Communication: If a business partner failed to make direct eye contact with you, what conclusions would you make? Would you consider the person dishonest? Lacking in confidence? Scratch your assumptions when you board your flight. In many cultures, including Japan, it is often considered a sign of respect to avoid eye contact. But it doesn’t stop there! As a woman, do you think it’s polite to cross your legs in a meeting? In Tokyo, make the switch to crossing your ankles instead of your legs and you will avoid upsetting your Japanese colleagues. Since you might not be fluent in the target language, your nonverbal communication skills will become even more crucial.  Take some time to study common nonverbal cues in your target country. Doing this could help you establish rapport more quickly with your new partners or clients overseas.

Levels of Directness: Remember what we just said about nonverbal communication? This is where you’ll need those intercultural nonverbal skills as you take them to the next level. In the United States, we tend to communicate our entire message in the words that we say. We like things to be upfront and out there. “Just tell it like it is”, we demand. Do you think you will get the same style of communication from your colleagues overseas? Not if you are working in Southern Europe, Latin America, East Asia, Southeast Asia or India. In these cultures, the message is not in the words that are said. Instead, it is in the tone, the accompanying hand gestures, the posture, a turn of the head or the use of a smile. I am talking about serious nuances! Be perceptive and realize that communication will be happening, even if it’s not in the words that are used.

Negotiation Style:  When it comes to intercultural negotiations, the biggest liability for the American entrepreneur might be her impatience and constant awareness of the ticking clock. Professionals from other cultures know this about Americans, and they can and will capitalize on it. When you select someone from your team to carry out a negotiation, consider how your partners overseas will view your choice. In our egalitarian culture, we like to believe that a young professional can serve the role of head negotiator as well as any seasoned manager can if he has the knowledge and skills. In places like Indonesia, where age is a key indicator of expertise and status within the company, this strategy won’t lead to any successful deals. Also, pay special attention to your choice of attire for the negotiation. In the U.S., casual business attire brings colleagues together.  Overseas, it could work against you by insulting your partners and it could even make them unwilling to proceed.

Group vs. Individual Orientation: If you grew up in the U.S., as a child, you might have been applauded by adults for finally learning to tie your shoes “all by yourself!” The lessons we learn as kids contribute to the people we become as young entrepreneurs; what’s more, if you are starting your own company, you are probably even more of a “rugged individualist” than the average American. If you plan to form a team with cultures that function with a more group-oriented mentality, expect to be challenged. In group-oriented cultures, professionals have less autonomy to make creative decisions on their own. It might take longer to get a new idea or strategy approved since many people have to agree on it.  Group harmony and “saving face” (avoiding embarrassing someone in front of the group) is crucial in business situations in China and Japan. Do not call anyone out individually or expect people to “speak their mind” if they disagree with their manager or someone higher up in the company.

You have an exciting adventure ahead and tons of opportunities for personal and professional growth through your overseas venture. But don’t expect things to function as they do in the United States. We have only skimmed the surface of what you need to consider when you pencil overseas deals into your business plan. Prepare yourself! Hone your observation skills, read up on your target culture, stay flexible, maintain a sense of humor and you will be on the right track to successful business communication abroad.

Lindsay McMahon is the founder of English and Culture. She helps professionals reach their goals through better communication across cultures. Her company provides cultural competence training and English language tutoring for international professionals in Boston and New York.

Tips on recruiting and HR, by Susan Loh (Head of Talent at Foursquare)

Reprinted from AVC. Original article here

By Fred Wilson, a VC and principal of Union Square Ventures, and Susan Loh.

When I introduced this series on People, I stated that it was going to have a bunch of guest posts because there are many people who know a lot more about the people side of business than I do. One of them is Susan Loh who is Head of Talent at Foursquare.

I asked Susan to write a guest post explaining how they manage both recruiting and HR at Foursquare. And she has done just that.


Foursquare’s approach to Recruiting & HR

In Fred’s previous post, he described the importance of having a tight relationship between culture and hiring. I agree 100%, which is why I’ve always struggled with HR and recruiting being separate teams. At my previous companies, Google and Yelp, there was always a swift hand-off from recruiting to HR on the new hire’s first day. It made life easy for each party, but was it the best for the employees? For this post, I’ll describe the challenges I experienced with having split teams and how I’m trying something different at foursquare.

Recruiting vs HR

As a recruiter, the most important part of the job is to close offers. This often means setting high expectations for how wonderful the new opportunity will be. Whatever it takes – always be closing. But what if we over-promised? At previous companies, it was tough to keep tabs on my new hires because I was so focused on the next set of recruits. Sometimes I didn’t know what team they landed on. Often, I didn’t know if they were happy and engaged. There was no feedback loop for me to know that what I was selling to my candidates was actually true. This is risky and has potential to cause serious turnover.

On the flip side, as an HR manager, your ultimate goal is to retain great talent. You build compensation structures, learning & development programs, performance management systems, and rewards programs to help you achieve this goal. But to succeed, you have to gather feedback from employees and know what they need. You have to be accessible and provide a safe haven for employees to come vent to you. You have to have a pulse on the entire organization.

But in reality, think about how often the average employee interacts with HR. Based on my experience, I only saw HR on my first day and on my last day. If I had a question, I emailed a ticketing system and they got back to me a couple days later. There is no feedback channel or safe haven. For so many reasons that could warrant a separate post, traditional HR departments have a tendency to be pushed to the side, disconnected from the organization, and as a result, ineffective at having a positive impact. And this is a huge bummer because every HR manager I’ve met wants to do so much more.

A new approach

When the time came to figure out how to scale HR & Recruiting at foursquare, I felt that I could solve the above issues by merging the two organizations into one unified Talent Team. I view the Talent Team as a full service organization that is with you from the day you apply to the company to the day you leave the company. We are responsible for recruiting, onboarding, training, developing, and retaining great people. Our performance is measured by the performance of the people we hire, not by the sheer number of people we hire.

In practice, this means recruiters need to be so much more than just recruiters. My team meets monthly to find ways to tweak and refine the onboarding experience for new hires. We schedule regular check-ins with each person we hired to see how they are doing and figure out how we can better support their career growth. We come up with innovative programs to develop and motivate employees. We escalate feedback we’re hearing to the executive and management teams. Above all, we provide one trusted point of contact for all candidates and employees to turn to when they need something.

The Talent Team in action

Here are just a couple of examples of where I’ve noticed the advantage of a Talent team over Recruiting/HR.

1) Fulfilling promises – When recruiters have to play the role of HR, they are held accountable for fulfilling the promises they made during the closing process. For example, many of our candidates have strong entrepreneurial spirits and talk of founding their own company. To close them, I sell them on how much they will benefit from being part of the foursquare story, helping us get from small startup to big successful company. It’s these ambitious, entrepreneurial employees that become the stars of your company, so the more you make good on this promise, the longer you’ll retain them. So how do you do it? The company has to be transparent on everything – company decisions, user growth metrics, competitive threats, etc. It’s ultimately up to senior management to lead by example but the Talent Team serves as a gut check. If we notice the culture changing, or morale dropping, or frustrations building, we have a vested interest to inform management immediately and help them troubleshoot the situation.

2) Compensation reviews – In the traditional model, recruiting determines the starting compensation package, usually working within bands provided by HR. When review time comes, HR works with management to determine performance-based raises. Some companies have standard percentage-based raises for ‘meets expectations’ and ‘exceeds expectations’ but there’s a key piece of information missing. How hard did the employee negotiate their initial offer? Some candidates accept on the spot while others push their recruiter so close to the edge that the recruiter almost gives up and walks away from the negotiation table. If HR works purely off a compensation analysis spreadsheet and assigns standard raises, the candidates that accepted on the spot will always be paid less than their tough-negotiating peers. This is unfair. Recruiters have to be part of these conversations and with the Talent Team model, they are.

3) The little details – During the traditional hand-off between recruiting and HR, you are at risk for dropping the ball on something. There are just too many moving pieces in the onboarding process – start date, offer paperwork, relocation, immigration, IT preferences, team allocation, and more. With the Talent Team model, you have fewer cooks in the kitchen. The recruiter should know everything the new hire needs so it’s more efficient and reliable for the recruiter to be responsible for the onboarding process. First impressions do matter – do everything possible to ensure your new hire’s first week goes smoothly.

Upcoming challenge

The Talent Team model is still new and we haven’t figured everything out yet. So far, what I love most about this model is we have such a strong pulse on the organization. If employees are unhappy about something, we are usually one of the first to know, and employees look to us for help.  And the best part? We can help. Information and feedback from all directions flow through the Talent Team, and we are uniquely positioned to take everything we are hearing and turn it into constructive action.

Our biggest challenge is staying small and lean, while the larger organization continues to grow at a quick pace. The only way we can keep up is if we do a good job of building the foundation. Off the top of my head, I think that means a culture based on open feedback, strong hiring values that sync with company values, and a well-trained management team that we can leverage for help. But I’m sure I’m missing pieces of the puzzle and I look forward to continuing the conversation with you. Thanks for reading!

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!

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