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

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

December 18th, 2014 — by admin

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Endeavor Catalyst Invests in Argentina’s GoIntegro and Brazil’s ToLife Following New Rounds of Funding

Endeavor Catalyst recently announced co-investments in Argentina’s GoIntegro and Brazil’s ToLife following new rounds of financing raised by both companies. Led by Riverwood Capital and Kaszek Ventures, GoIntegro’s $5 million Series B round will help the growing software firm continue its expansion […]

April 1st, 2014 — by admin

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Endeavor network member shares thoughts on Investor Network event in London

Reprinted from Ahmad Takatkah’s blog. Original post here.

On my way to San Francisco to join Kauffman Fellows Program, I stopped in London as I was invited to become a member of Endeavor Global Investor Network, and participate in both: a round table discussion about the VC industry in the MENA Region, and in several speed dating sessions with global Endeavor Entrepreneurs to mentor and advise. The Investor Network event was held immediately following Endeavor’s International Selection Panel in London.

There were startups from: Brazil, Argentina, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, South Africa, and Indonesia. While investors were from USA, UK, Spain, Mexico, Turkey, Argentina, Morocco, Saudi, and Jordan.

From Jordan, there were only two investment firms participating: Oasis500 for Seed Stage, and Sinbad Ventures for Early Stage, while from Saudi there was a representative from Abraaj-KSA for High Growth and Late Stage investments.

The round table discussion was really great, the speakers gave insights about the VC and PE industries in the emerging markets they come from. Some of the investors shared with us their success and failure stories. I learned a lot.

Regarding the mentorship, actually this was not my first time to mentor global entrepreneurs. At SeedStartup, the seed accelerator of Dubai, I mentored entrepreneurs from Italy, UK, and even from Tanzania. The new thing about this experience is having growth stage global entrepreneurs not only seed/early stage ones. Mentorship is a two way learning experience, and I have to admit that I have learned new things from the high growth entrepreneurs I met — especially from Lebanon and Turkey. So I guess this is one more step towards becoming a global VC.

During this week, a few more startups were selected to join the Endeavor network as well. And I am happy for all of the Jordanian and Arab entrepreneurs who were selected this time: Curlstone, Altibbi, At7addak, and ElementN. Congratulations guys, you deserve it.

“The struggle”: words of advice on entrepreneurship’s “dark side”

Reprinted from Ben’s blog. See original article here.

By Ben Horowitz, cofounder and General Partner of the VC firm Andreessen Horowitz 

Don’t admit that your faith is weak
Don’t say that you feel like dying
Life’s hard then it feels like diamonds
Your home’s just far too gone
Much too late to even feel like trying
Can’t understand what I’m saying
Can’t figure out what I’m implying
If you feel you don’t wanna be alive
You feel just how I am
— Lupe Fiasco, “Beautiful Lasers”

Every entrepreneur starts her company with a clear vision for success. You will create an amazing environment and hire the smartest people to join you. Together you will build a beautiful product that delights customers and makes the world just a little bit better. It’s going to be absolutely awesome.

Then, after working night and day to make your vision reality, you wake up to find that things did not go as planned. Your company did not unfold like the Jack Dorsey keynote that you listened to when you started. Your product has issues that will be very hard to fix. The market isn’t quite where it was supposed to be. Your employees are losing confidence and some of them have quit. Some of the ones that quit were quite smart and have the remaining ones wondering if staying makes sense. You are running low on cash and your venture capitalist tells you that it will be difficult to raise money given the impending European catastrophe. You lose a competitive battle. You lose a loyal customer. You lose a great employee. The walls start closing in. Where did you go wrong? Why didn’t your company perform as envisioned? Are you good enough to do this? As your dreams turn into nightmares, you find yourself in The Struggle.

About The Struggle

“Life is struggle.” –Karl Marx

The Struggle is when you wonder why you started the company in the first place.

The Struggle is when people ask you why you don’t quit and you don’t know the answer.

The Struggle is when your employees think you are lying and you think they may be right.

The Struggle is when food loses its taste.

The Struggle is when you don’t believe you should be CEO of your company. The Struggle is when you know that you are in over your head and you know that you cannot be replaced. The Struggle is when everybody thinks you are an idiot, but nobody will fire you. The Struggle is where self-doubt becomes self-hatred.

The Struggle is when you are having a conversation with someone and you can’t hear a word that they are saying because all you can hear is The Struggle.

The Struggle is when you want the pain to stop. The Struggle is unhappiness.

The Struggle is when you go on vacation to feel better and you feel worse.

The Struggle is when you are surrounded by people and you are all alone. The Struggle has no mercy.

The Struggle is the land of broken promises and crushed dreams. The Struggle is a cold sweat. The Struggle is where your guts boil so much that you feel like you are going to spit blood.

The Struggle is not failure, but it causes failure. Especially if you are weak. Always if you are weak.

Most people are not strong enough.

Every great entrepreneur from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg went through The Struggle and struggle they did, so you are not alone. But that does not mean that you will make it. You may not make it. That is why it is The Struggle.

The Struggle is where greatness comes from.

Some stuff that may or may not help

There is no answer to The Struggle, but here are some things that helped me:

Don’t put it all on your shoulders – It is easy to think that the things that bother you will upset your people more. That’s not true. The opposite is true. Nobody takes the losses harder than the person most responsible. Nobody feels it more than you. You won’t be able to share every burden, but share every burden that you can. Get the maximum number of brains on the problems even if the problems represent existential threats. When I ran Opsware and we were losing too many competitive deals, I called an all-hands and told the whole company that we were getting our asses kicked, and if we didn’t stop the bleeding, we were going to die. Nobody blinked. The team rallied, built a winning product and saved my sorry ass.

This is not checkers; this is mutherfuckin’ chess – Technology businesses tend to be extremely complex. The underlying technology moves, the competition moves, the market moves, the people move. As a result, like playing three-dimensional chess on Star Trek, there is always a move. You think you have no moves? How about taking your company public with $2M in trailing revenue and 340 employees, with a plan to do $75M in revenue the next year? I made that move. I made it in 2001, widely regarded as the worst time ever for a technology company to go public. I made it with six weeks of cash left. There is always a move.

Focus on the road – When they teach you how to drive a racecar, they tell you to focus on the road when you go around a turn. They tell you that because if you focus on the wall, then you will drive straight into the wall. If you focus on how you might fail, then you will fail. Even if you only have one bullet left in the gun and you have to hit the target, focus on the target. You might not hit it, but you definitely won’t hit if you focus on other things.

Play long enough and you might get lucky – In the technology game, tomorrow looks nothing like today. If you survive long enough to see tomorrow, it may bring you the answer that seems so impossible today.

  • Don’t take it personally – The predicament that you are in is probably all your fault. You hired the people. You made the decisions. But you knew the job was dangerous when you took it. Everybody makes mistakes. Every CEO makes thousands of mistakes. Evaluating yourself and giving yourself an “F” doesn’t help.
  • Remember that this is what separates the women from the girls. If you want to be great, this is the challenge. If you don’t want to be great, then you never should have started a company.

The end

When you are in The Struggle, nothing is easy and nothing feels right. You have dropped into the abyss and you may never get out. In my own experience, but for some unexpected luck and help, I would have been lost.

So to all of you in it, may you find strength and may you find peace.

 

eMBA field report: mobile media in Monterrey; the right place at the right time

Nuno Neves studied business at ISCTE Business School in Lisbon, Portugal and New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. He is interning with Naranya in Monterrey, Mexico, through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

I am currently working at Naranya. It has the true entrepreneurship spirit that I was looking for! Everyone in the company lives intensely the moment and is always pushing forward in order to achieve excellence. The key for the incredible results at Naranya is the team spirit. Everyone is involved.

Naranya is in Mobile Media & Commerce company and it is developing new products/markets in order to build a mobile ecosystem for Latin American markets. Currently, it operates in seven countries and it plans to expand its market and extend its offerings to become the leader in Latin American Mobile Media & Commerce.

I am currently developing a strategy for new business and products to be marketed in Latin America. It is clearly a challenge and an opportunity. I feel that I’m at the right place at the right time. My days are fascinating. I spend them brainstorming with the CEO, Financial, Product, and Innovation managers in order to create a winning strategy.

These few last weeks have been amazing. I have attended Endeavor’s local events and met local business people. Monterrey has an atmosphere of entrepreneurship that fascinates me. Above all, this has been an opportunity to fully experience the local culture.

Endeavor Entrepreneur shares tips on using 2.0 tools to foster government-citizen collaboration

Reprinted from Opinno. Original article here.

By Jorge Soto, an Endeavor Entrepreneur since 2011

Interaction between governments and citizens through digital media and tools like mobiles and social networks create opportunities for transparency, accountability, participation and collaboration. With these, people are understanding democracy beyond voting every once in a while and are becoming citizens involved in their communities in a local and global way.

Just as Facebook and Twitter create ecosystems, each government has the opportunity to become a platform that encourages citizens to connect and engage to its community, collaborate and find innovative solutions.

The impact these kinds of initiatives have is not yet understood by governments, nor by citizens. In a broad view, a government that embraces and encourages transparency and accountability will involve citizens in the governance process, building the foundation for innovation. New technologies provides a space where these interactions can happen and a real time dialogue is established. The data obtained will be current and will reflect real needs. In this way, governments can make more effective and efficient decisions.

Data by itself and without context does not tell a complete story and provides little actionable insight. The more data a city or a decision maker has does not necessarily lead to more knowledge nor an accurate vision of real needs. In order to separate noise from signal, information must be meaningful. We should not focus on just aggregating data, but in curating it so it can be useful.

That is why data becomes information when put into context, which, when acted upon, brings the identification of patterns that will tell us what, where and when problems occur. Once this happens, it will lead to predictions to better allocate resources in a more efficient way, execute effectively and result in the satisfaction of real needs. Report and information management, two-way communication, real-time visual and relative analysis, transparency and open data makes governments more effective and efficient.

The true power of these types of initiatives may be its effect on the public imagination. With the combination of the wisdom of the crowds, data visualization and real-time information, every citizen becomes a sensor and governments are capable of evolving while making accurate and informed decisions thus providing citizens with what they really need.

For technology to be used by citizens, simplicity is key. Most don’t feel the need or have incentives to participate with their government and engage with their community; but if the correct tools are available, and citizens feel there is someone on the other side of the line, it will encourage them to participate.

The internet has a democratizing effect. New tools and media have made the expression of individuals and their interaction with their governments easier, as well as allowing governments to use that information to address real needs. It is no longer a technology problem, but an anthropological one.

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

Three crucial steps to innovation: tips from Skillshare’s CEO

Reprinted from Forbes.com. Original article here.

By Alex Taub

Scaling Up, Without Screwing Up: A Conversation With Skillshare’s CEO

There are three distinct stages when disrupting any industry. The first phase is finding your company’s product market fit, penetrating a market that is open for potential money-making ventures with a product that has demand. The second phase is scaling your business. There are various sub-stages in scaling your business which I like to refer to as early-stage and later-stage. The third and final phase is continued innovation. Once you have properly disrupted an industry, you need to make sure to keep your foot on the gas and keep innovating.

Two months ago I sat down with Mike Karnjanaprakorn, co-founder and CEO of Skillshare, to chat about his business. Our conversation moved to the topic of disrupting the education industry (something Skillshare is looking to do) and Karnj — as he is called by his friends — told me about a blog post he wrote, entitled “The Three Big Decisions Your Startup Will Make”.

The first decision is deciding what to build. Karnj describes how you should think about what to build at your startup:

Most startups (99%) fail in this stage because they build the wrong product for the wrong market. Are you building something of value that people will use and care about? Are you building the right product for the right market? A lot is written about what to build and how to reach ‘product/market fit’ as fast as possible.

Karnj stresses the importance of goal-oriented companies. Once you have figured out what to build it is crucial to think about the larger picture and whether there is a market for your ‘product.’ Ask yourself, “Can I get one dollar?” If you can get one dollar, start thinking bigger: “Can I get ten dollars? One hundred dollars? One thousand dollars?” And so on. Thinking in terms of key metrics can also put the scope into perspective. If you are a disruptive company like New York-based Birchbox, a subscription service that delivers beauty product samples to users on a monthly basis, you need think in terms of how many boxes you can sell. If you are Eventbrite, a San Francisco-based company that gives you all the tools to put together events, you need to think about how many tickets you can sell.
The Four Golden Rules Of Partnerships Alexander Taub Alexander Taub Contributor
What It Takes To Raise Seed-Stage Funding In 2012 Alexander Taub Alexander Taub Contributor

The next decision in the post: hiring. Karnj describes the biggest pitfall that startups may come up against once they have found their product/market fit.

After you build something of value, the next major decision to make is on who to hire and what they’ll be doing. The number one cause of death for a startup in this stage is not scaling properly (prematurely) and hiring the wrong people to work on the wrong things. It’s an extremely tricky thing to balance as you’ll be hiring people before your company becomes sustainable (if you have VC funding).

This decision exemplifies the second phase of disrupting an industry: scaling a company. Scaling is not easy; for a majority of startups, it is the most difficult phase. Karnj believes that the first fifteen hires that a company makes are the most critical for its success. The first employees determine the tone, message and drive of the company. Companies often have to reorganize early in their development stages for these reasons.

There are two distinct but broadly-defined stages of the scaling phase: early-stage and late-stage. Early-stage scaling is when a startup has found their product/market fit and have received enough traction to convince the team and outside capital to make a big bet on them (usually ranging from $7 to $15 million). Taskrabbit and Zaarly, community marketplaces for an assortment of general products and services, are reimagining what a modern marketplace should look like. Uber, a San Francisco-based technology startup that allows people to call private cars from their cell phones, has expanded to other cities including New York and Toronto. Votizen, a consumer technology company that harnesses social networks to create a connected electorate of voters, recently closed a round of celebrity funding. This will allow them to scale up as election season comes around. All of these companies are doing great things are I would watch out for them as they make the jump from early-stage to late-stage scaling.

Late-stage scaling usually happens once a company has mainstream attention. You are either taking the world by storm (full features in The New York Times, cover of the print Forbes, etc.) or in the midst of dethroning various stodgy leaders in your space. You haven’t become a household name, but you are well on your way. You’ve also probably raised over $50 million in venture capital. Some companies in this stage include Foursquare, a geographical location-based social network that helps users explore the world around them, Kickstarter, a microfunding platform for artists and entrepreneurs to find support for their projects, and Airbnb, a global network of accommodations offered by locals that is disrupting the global hospitality industry. These companies and others, in the late-stage of scaling, could make the jump to the third phase at any moment — if they haven’t already.

The final decision is where to innovate. Karnj discusses what happens after you have properly disrupted an industry and are one of its leaders.

This is the biggest and hardest decision you’ll ever have to make as a startup. If you look throughout history, most companies become irrelevant because they aren’t innovating properly. Apple and Facebook have done a great job but companies like Yahoo, AOL, Myspace (I would even argue Google) have not innovated successfully to stay relevant in society.

It is crucial to remain a dominant player once you have successfully penetrated a market, and there is a good shortlist of companies in this position. Facebook has one of the most aggressive approaches when dealing with continued innovation. The newsfeed and profile revamp, coupled with Timeline, are a few examples that highlight Facebook’s desire to constantly update itself.

Apple is a classic example of a company that disrupted and defined its industry and has continued to innovate in countless others, including personal computers, music, videos, and more. They are continuing to put their feet on the pedal, potentially eyeing TV as its next target.

There are many others straddling the boundary between the end of late-stage scaling and widespread, continued innovation. Those companies include the likes of Zynga and Twitter. Zynga has clearly disrupted the traditional gaming companies such as Atari and EA with games like CityVille, Farmville, Words With Friends. Recently Zynga purchased OMGPOP for $180 million, which forebodes a potential environment for Zynga where they are buying hot and upcoming apps, as opposed to having successes internally. This does not sit well for innovation.

Twitter is at the tail end of the scaling phase and could be thrown into the third stage as they have disrupted the entire news vertical. At this point, breaking news happens on Twitter. While great things have been done, they have to keep pushing ahead and not be afraid to completely revamp how people use and interact with their product. As long as Twitter can continue to build something that users will love, they shouldn’t be afraid to flip it on its head.

5 steps to get your startup the funding it deserves

Reprinted from Under30CEO. Original article here.

By Erik Zamkoff. Zamkoff is the co-founder and CEO of personal media platform provider MiMedia. Prior to founding MiMedia, Erik was a Senior Analyst following the communications services and technology sector for Empire Capital a $600MM long/short technology hedge fund.

Whether early-stage, late-stage or development state, financing is the lifeblood of every startup, yet raising capital can often be quite challenging for entrepreneurs. The funding process is a long, windy road and without direction, you could easily lose your way. Here are a few tips I’ve learned from my personal experience on how to best attract investment dollars and commercialize your startup idea.

Perfect Your Finance Pitch

The key to a successful pitch is the ability to communicate your market opportunity, product, go-to-market strategy and differentiators in less than 20 minutes and in fewer than 15 slides. Know your pitch backwards and forwards so that when you’re thrown a curveball, you’re prepared to answer any question that comes your way. Understand that a potential investor’s time is precious, and never beat around the bush on your answers. Short and sweet is the trick.

Make sure you know your audience too. You must speak the language of the folks on the other side of the table so that they can understand your idea at its fullest potential. Yes, your pitch should convey your passion, knowledge and leadership skills, but above all, you must make clear how your product fulfills a market need. It often helps to bring a prototype so that investors can see how your product works and really get excited about the idea.

If the money is there, take it

One of the biggest mistakes an entrepreneur can make is overestimating his or her market value and thinking that money will always be available. This is never the case. No matter how innovative or different your idea is, there is always a chance someone else will come along and perfect it or even displace it entirely.

As a former institutional investor, I have seen many public companies fail to complete an exit for their investors via acquisition and end up selling at a fraction of the price a short term later. In the private market, this price is much more severe. I have seen teams take less money because they believe the road ahead is always smooth with endless capital available, only to hit a pothole and run out of road.

On the flip side, companies that understand their window of opportunity can make vast returns at just the right time. A great example of this is Instagram. The company experienced a $1 billion exit based on extraordinary user growth and no revenues.

Know When to Tighten Your Belt

One of the hardest lessons to learn when it comes to funding is knowing when to be reserved and when to be aggressive with your spending. There are appropriate times to tighten your belt and appropriate times to loosen it. Ultimately, you should be conservative with your estimates and growth projections and leave room for the ability to pivot your strategy when the unexpected happens.

Learn the Humble Lesson of Sacrifice

In the words of Sir Winston Churchill, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” This doesn’t ring more true than for an entrepreneur. You should always be willing to offer up personal sacrifices for the good of your company. Sometimes that means putting up your personal capital to make sure your company makes it to the next level of financing. In the past I’ve given up my salary for six to nine months at a time, but the end, it was always well worth it.

I’ve also spent my fair share of time flying coach from city to city and sharing cheap hotel rooms with my business partner, chasing down the next investor meeting. You need to believe in your idea so much that you will do whatever it takes to get the capital you need to execute your vision.

Have a Plan B. And a Plan C. And D, E, F….

The venture capital landscape is very complicated. While the ideal situation includes a VC partnership in which money is thrown at you for every new idea, more often than not, this is not the case. Particularly in a stagnant economy where funding is in short supply, VC’s can also drive a hard bargain. You can’t expect to pitch only ten VC’s and then get backed 100%. Sometimes it will take four rounds of angel investing before a VC becomes interested.

Be open to other ideas for funding. There is more than one way to succeed and no business gets off the ground with no capital at all. Therefore, find the path of least resistance and take it.  If the VC route isn’t receptive, look into angel funding, or private funding from your friends and family. At MiMedia, our initial capital came from investments from friends and family. That capital along with angel funding enabled us to build a company that now has more than 200,000 accounts.

You can also look to crowdfunding options like Kickstarter and WeFunder. The recently passed Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act has opened up a world of opportunities for startups seeking funding. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that crowdfunding means you will have multiple stakeholders in your business, which requires a great deal of transparency and open conversation about your strategic growth goals.

Ultimately, funding is just a numbers game. You only need one person—if it’s the right person—to buy into your idea. It’s your responsibility to find the right person.

Endeavor Entrepreneur Jorge Soto among winners of Mexico’s first TR35 awards

By Esther Paniagua

 Reprinted from Opinno. Original article here. 

Editor’s Note: This profile was originally published in Technology Review en español in a series featuring the winners of Mexico’s first TR35 Awards. The awards are given to the top ten innovators and entrepreneurs under the age of 35 as chosen by a panel of judges. For more information on TR35 Mexico, click here.

How can citizens use technology to change society? This is the question that [Endeavor Entrepreneur] Jorge Soto, an electronics engineer from the Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico has been asking since 2009 when he created his first open data project for citizen participation: Cuidemoselvoto.org.

Thanks to this election-monitoring tool, citizens and nongovernmental organizations could be informed about electoral fraud through Twitter, text messages and emails during a given year’s elections. “We received nearly 11,000 reports and 200 of them proceeded to court,” said Soto, in who also studied business administration at Columbia Business School.

Cuidemoselvoto.org was followed by Internetnecesario.org, which was created by Soto and other colleagues following an additional 3% Internet-usage tax proposed by the Mexican government in late 2009. “There was a lot of criticism and so we launched the site to channel this by monitoring the actions it caused,” he said. Among other things, the system turned Twitter activity into an email for members of Congress. As a result, part of the Internetnecesario.org creative team was invited to present its position during discussion of the tax in the Senate.

Not content with this, Soto launched the company Citivox in 2010. Although he has continued to promote new initiatives, today this is his flagship project. The goal, according to Soto, is “to help citizens, civil society organizations and governments and institutions to work together to improve their communities.”

According to the engineer, the idea behind Citivox is that “Governments today, to have more power, don’t need more control, more weapons or control over the press, but rather greater legitimacy.” For citizens, Soto explains, Citivox is a technological tool with which they can “identify and share information about community problems,” while for leaders it is a service and technology platform to “understand, manage and analyze these reports and meet real needs.”

The system’s model rests on four pillars. The first is the report or complaints from citizens through mobile technology. The second is the government’s management, which starts and allocates resources. The result of this, through maps, graphs and statistics that are generated, enables measurement. Finally, there is communication and publication of data for tracking complaints.

All this is made possible by software based on a mobile platform that brings together individual stories and analyzes real-time information in order to identify patterns, trends and correlations. So Citivox “actually reflects what is and is not a structural problem,” said Soto. “Every citizen becomes a sensor and governments and institutions are able to evolve while making informed decisions in real-time, managing their resources better,” he added. This is empowering, as “both citizens and governments” can carry out their work in a “more effective and efficient manner.”

Soto notes that “being a simple and easy to use technology, it’s highly scalable and replicable.” Not surprisingly, the team already has Citivox projects in six countries. “It’s a great opportunity to rejuvenate governments and institutions by using networks rather than hierarchies,” he said.

According to Carlos Viniegra, director of the Digital Government Unit at the Ministry of Public Administration in Mexico City and a member of TR35 Mexico awards jury, the impact that Citivox’s activities have generated are already very visible in the Mexican environment and even internationally. In addition, their business “relates to new type of organization that beneficially integrates social, environmental and business” and “certainly is a good example of an innovative advance in technology to build a type of relationship with society and also one that builds new organizations for the country, “concluded Viniegra.

Success stands still for no one

Reprinted from GrowVC. Original article here.

By Markus Lampinen

Success is not a given for any type of company, yet when one reaches success in a larger extent, it may be hard to remember to strive for greatness and not accept success as a right that’s earned. Accept success as your norm, and you’ll definitely wake up one morning far behind your competition.

Entrepreneurs and people building businesses (or any business division or unit for that matter), face an endless and hurdle-filled struggle to get up on top of challenges and conquer their part of the market. It’s this concept of a constant beta, that makes the environment uncertain and dynamic, to say the least. Looking for the light at the end of the tunnel may be a natural reaction and survival instinct, but for entrepreneurs, it’s really all about learning to see in the dark and enjoy the calamity that is being an entrepreneur.

After trudging through this dark tunnel looking at all glimpses of hope, it’s only natural to bathe in the light once you reach it. No sane person would look for the next cumbersome, near-death experience, right? Well, that’s exactly what the entrepreneur should be after. Like being allergic to the sun, the entrepreneur should be running for the next big thing, whether its an improved addition to the past success or diversification of assets to make sure success is continued. There is no stop.

You see accepting success as a given in so many companies that are fledgling after years of basking in the glory. For an entrepreneur, taking anything for granted should be an oxymoron that just doesn’t make sense. Blinking for even a second to enjoy the earned success, may indeed cause the collapse of an empire. Sure, that’s a bit dramatic, but so are the consequences of thinking ‘you’ve made it’. The truth is, that in any competitive industry (read, industry worth being in), you’re never finished. And it means, you are really never finished.

Several entrepreneurs that do make it to large scale success, then jump ship when the company reaches a certain level of establishment. This is also a natural instinct for those that learn to thrive in constant beta, which makes the established environment unbearable to them. It’s not to say that it’s not a natural progression in the life of the company, but it doesn’t need to be a progression that the initial founder or entrepreneur needs to take part in. It’s part of knowing ones strengths, which may not include running an already successful company or division, but rather building one from scratch or re-building one in distress.

Success is part of any entrepreneurs sought after path, yet success may not be attainable as a static, given right. Success may be part of the process itself, of finding and creating value through uncertainty and hurdles. In fact it’s really not about getting to the end of the tunnel, but rather the process itself of creating value, that defines entrepreneurship in it’s fundamental form.

Ready to sell? Here’s how to make the most of your transaction

Reprinted from Under30CEO. Original article here.

By Chris J. Snook. Snook has worked over 12 years as an author, entrepreneur, and venture catalyst and has spent the last 5 years in the investment community incubating media startups as the Managing Partner of TLEC Ventures. He co-authored three international best-selling books entitled WealthMatters 2007and 2011 (2nd Edition) and Burnout: How to Transform Frustration to Fortune in 2005.

In today’s business world, acquisitions occur on a regular basis. At times, it’s a miserable situation for the company acquired. However, in many cases, the smaller company might seek a buyout to broaden their company or turn a profit on a desirable innovation. Whatever the scenario, it’s important that the process revolves around clear communication, realistic expectations, and positive resolution. With these considerations, the stress of the unknown can be relieved.

Clear Communication

Unfortunately, many problems involving buyouts stem from unclear communication between the sellers and buyers. From the sellers’ perspective, it is important to clarify why – or if – they need to be acquired. What is the motivation? The potential buyer, at some point, will uncover the true need or desire, so it’s in the sellers’ best interest to state their goals from the outset. Hidden or buried agendas create tension and do not contribute to a successful transaction. The acquired company must also be clear in defining what it needs from an acquirer in terms of strategy, culture, and finance before a deal can be brokered.

Likewise, a potential buyer needs to clarify their vision for the acquired company. Client cross-marketing potential, service synchronicity, and shared business goals should be discussed as part of the acquisition. How much of the present staff will be retained by the acquirer? What will be the compensation (if any) for the staff that’s not retained? Of course, this will occur on a case-by-case basis.  In many acquisitions, the staff is considered a commodity that can be replaced by the parent company. However, exceptions do exist. If the acquired company is part of a service industry, then the business relies on established relationships and intangible assets. These qualities need to be considered if success and loyalty are priorities for the acquirer.

Realistic Expectations

Acquisitions inherently create a lot of change. Absorbing them in the early stages can take time. Strategic initiatives and priorities for the transition should be mapped out. Uncertainty is the enemy. The chain of command needs to be informed about strategies to keep key players and clients. Again, this is dependent on the goals communicated by both the acquirer and the acquired. The handling of a company’s employees is crucial. Expectations concerning stock options, incentivized earnouts, and bonus compensation should be consistent and fair. The newly acquired company will be far more productive and experience less disruption and uncertainty if everyone knows where they stand.

The reality of acquisitions is that investors and acquirers are investing money in order to make money. They’re in a position to make long-lasting choices for their benefit.  If they can envision their financial goal being achieved with the existing team, then that’s a mutually beneficial situation for the acquired company’s employees. However, it is not necessarily a given. For an acquirer, it is beneficial to state how these tough decisions will be made. With honesty and clear expectations, a successful relationship between the organizations can begin.

Positive Relationships

The most important thing for both sides to consider before approaching an acquisition is to understand each other and work to build a relationship. Based on personal interactions and research, each company should become infinitely more familiar with the other one. An acquirer should learn as much as possible about the lead entrepreneur and his management team. By taking into consideration what the company values personally and professionally, a smoother transition can take place.

Hostile takeovers don’t work on a practical level in the emerging enterprise space. Without the lead entrepreneur, the acquiring company takes on several jobs that overextend and complicate their own management team. Assessing the market potential and opportunity for the company’s offering or technology is only half the equation. More importantly, the relationship potential is paramount. An acquiring organization should seek to maximize the raw power and talent of its investment without squeezing the life out of it. It is a delicate balance to attain and sustain.

The process of acquisition does not have to be painful. With clear communication and expectations from the outset, the acquirer and acquired can avoid surprises and inconsistencies in future endeavors. A solid and positive relationship can be built during the transition that is vital for continued success. With the changes that occur during an acquisition, each organization can reflect upon, and solidify, the visions they hold.

Endeavor Entrepreneur José Vélez, winner of Colombia’s TR35 awards

By Esther Paniagua

 Reprinted from Opinno. Original article here. 

Editor’s Note: This profile was originally published in Technology Review en español in a series featuring the winners of Colombia’s first TR35 Awards. The awards are given to the top ten innovators and entrepreneurs under the age of 35 as chosen by a panel of judges. For more information on TR35 Colombia, click here.

In countries like Colombia, and in general in Latin America, the percentage of those with banking service is much lower than in highly-developed countries. This is where a payment system that allows people access to e-commerce without having a credit card can make a difference.

Until recently, PayPal and MercadoPago reigned supreme in this market, but in 2002 the Colombian economist [and Endeavor Entrepreneur] Jose Fernando Vélez, winner of the TR35 Colombia award, came in to change this. He and his partner [and Endeavor Entrepreneur], Martin Schrimpff, realized there was demand for a service that would bring together the best of both while adding other integrated services. Thus, they began working on what today is a solid company that is competing head-to-head with the giants in the Latin American market.

PagosOnline differs from PayPal, as Vélez explained, in that it offers alternative payment methods (such as payments with checking accounts or savings accounts and cash payments) and that its service follows a “more personalized” customer support that is integrated into the platform. According to Vélez, this is a necessary addition in Latin America where people are not so used as elsewhere to downloading a manual and doing it all by themselves.

Another peculiarity of PagosOnline is that they offer their payment processing service via the Internet in two modes: gateway and aggregator. The first is aimed at large companies that already have collection agreements with financial institutions and are charged a flat fee per transaction and deal directly with banks. With the aggregator model, however, the customers are individuals and small businesses that do not have direct agreements and could have difficulty obtaining the necessary permits to sell online. In this case, PagosOnline has agreements with financial institutions that provide volume to small businesses. The economic benefit they get comes from the difference between the rate they charge their customers and what the bank charges them. “Having many customers [over 6,000] brings much better commissions than I could have for each of them.  That allows us to be very competitive,” said Velez.

In addition, PagosOnline is “the only company in Latin America that offers the service aggregator, similar to PayPal or MercadoPago, the gateway model, similar to Braspag in Brazil and a fraud module, similar to Cybersource” said Velez. “Given that electronic commerce is still in its early stages of development in Colombia, we had to expand our portfolio of services.” By offering three modes, PagosOnline is in an advantageous position against the competition because it can cater to various customer segments. “In Colombia, almost all airlines and department stores are our customers in the gateway model, which MercadoPago cannot,” claimed Vélez.

“We also differ from PayPal and MercadoPago in that we do not require user registration to make payments, which for certain customers is more convenient because no registration is required both in e-commerce website and in the payment system, ” said Velez.

According to Vélez, his payment platform is also the only one certified in Colombia with the PCI DSS global standard that handles credit cards securely over the Internet. Finally, Vélez highlighted another differentiating factor, “We are the only ones offering a fraud guarantee to businesses that assumes losses up to a certain amount.”

All these services have made PagosOnline “a well-known company in Colombia,” according Constanza Nieto, CEO of Globaltech Bridge and TR35 Colombia judge. In 2010, PagosOnline recieved “one of the most important investments in the Colombian Internet sector, generating significant economic returns for our shareholders and preparing the company for its internationalization”, said Vélez, who was also recently listed as one of the 100 most successful managers of 2011 by the Colombian magazine Gerente.

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