With this purchase, Endeavor Entrepreneurs Andrés Albán and Mauricio Hoyos demonstrate their commitment to bringing e-commerce to the base of the pyramid in Colombia. Andrés Albán and Mauricio Hoyos were selected to be Endeavor Entrepreneurs [...]
Reprinted from Pappas Post. Original article here. Haris Makryniotis is a budding entrepreneur’s dream come true in Greece. After spending the past seven years at McKinsey & Company in Athens where he advised senior management [...]
Roger Ehrenberg is the founder and Managing Partner of IA Ventures. Read Roger’s complete bio here.
This is a question I ask myself every day. “Am I REALLY helping my portfolio companies?” And if I am spending lots of time with my companies, does this necessarily translate into better returns for my Limited Partners? This is pretty biblical stuff if you are an investor, and strongly informs both the way you interact with portfolio companies as well as the shape of your portfolio. If I view venture investing as an exercise in asset allocation, e.g., if I assume I can’t add real value beyond my dollar investment, and therefore focus 100% of my efforts on investment selection and portfolio diversification, this would create one type of portfolio. Conversely, if I view myself as being able to have a material positive effect on my portfolio companies, then I’m less concerned with diversification and more focused on creating opportunities to build concentrated positions in companies with high expected returns. Either can be a rewarding path, but I think it is really important to know who you are, the covenant you establish with entrepreneurs and the implicit risks and rewards of your decision. Such decisions even impact the optimal staffing level for a venture firm. Let me tell you, balancing firm structure, philosophy and reputation isn’t easy.
In order to pull off the pure asset allocation play, a few things need to be working:
* Your firm has huge brand cache that generates awesome proprietary deal flow, where
* Deal flow is a function of (1) having superstar investors who are power-nodes and (2) outstanding historical performance, which indicates that
* Both the firm and the partners have built reputations over many years of being in the venture business and proven that they’ve go the goods.
In short, as a general rule I’d say that this points towards long-established, top-heavy firms that scale well because each investment isn’t especially time consuming. Further, it would indicate a larger portfolio as it is harder to ascertain which investments are likely to be big winners due to the gap in engagement between the firm and the start-up, rendering it important to have a broad array of potential big winners in the book. From where these big winners emerge, who knows. But does it really matter? If the curated deal flow is top-notch, it is likely that attractive returns will follow. But precious few firms to my knowledge could successfully pull off such a strategy, as the competition for the best deals gives currency to factors such as hustling, spending lots of time with founders and being deeply engaged with their growth plans. And as the environment for seed stage technology investing heats up, even greater weight is likely to be placed these factors by entrepreneurs.
Reprinted from SteveBlank.com. See the original post here.
By Steve Blank
(Steve Jobs and Robert Noyce in picture on left)
Foreign visitors to Silicon Valley continually mention how willing we are to help, network and connect strangers. We take it so for granted we never even to bother to talk about it. It’s the “Pay-It-Forward” culture.
We’re all in this together – The Chips are Down
In 1962 Walker’s Wagon Wheel Bar/Restaurant in Mountain View became the lunch hangout for employees at Fairchild Semiconductor. When the first spinouts began to leave Fairchild, they discovered that fabricating semiconductors reliably was a black art. At times you’d have the recipe and turn out chips, and the next week something would go wrong, and your fab couldn’t make anything that would work. Engineers in the very small world of silicon and semiconductors would meet at the Wagon Wheel and swap technical problems and solutions with co-workers and competitors.
We’re all in this together – A Computer in every Home
In 1975 a local set of hobbyists with the then crazy idea of a computer in every home formed the Homebrew Computer Club and met in Menlo Park at the Peninsula School then later at the Stanford AI Lab. The goal of the club was: “Give to help others.” Each meeting would begin with people sharing information, getting advice and discussing the latest innovation (one of which was the first computer from Apple.) The club became the center of the emerging personal computer industry.
We’re all in this together – Helping Our Own
Until the 1980’s Chinese and Indian engineers ran into a glass ceiling in large technology companies held back by the belief that “they make great engineers but can’t be the CEO.” Looking for a chance to run their own show, many of them left and founded startups. They also set up ethnic-centric networks like TIE (The Indus Entrepreneur) and the Chinese Software Professionals Association where they shared information about how the valley worked as well as job and investment opportunities. Over the next two decades, other groups — Russian, Israeli, etc. — followed with their own networks. (Anna Lee Saxenian has written extensively about this.)
We’re all in this together – Mentoring The Next Generation
While the idea of groups (chips, computers, ethnics) helping each other grew, something else happened. The first generation of executives who grew up getting help from others began to offer their advice to younger entrepreneurs. These experienced valley CEOs would take time out of their hectic schedule to have coffee or dinner with young entrepreneurs and asking for nothing in return.
They were the beginning of the Pay-It-Forward culture, the unspoken Valley culture that believes “I was helped when I started out and now it’s my turn to help others.”
By the early 1970’s, even the CEOs of the largest valley companies would take phone calls and meetings with interesting and passionate entrepreneurs. In 1975, a young unknown, wannabe entrepreneur called the Founder/CEO of Intel, Bob Noyce and asked for advice. Noyce liked the kid, and for the next few years, Noyce met with him and coached him as he founded his first company and went through the highs and lows of a startup that caught fire.
The entrepreneur was Steve Jobs. “Bob Noyce took me under his wing. I was young, in my twenties. He was in his early fifties. He tried to give me the lay of the land, give me a perspective that I could only partially understand,” Jobs said, “You can’t really understand what is going on now unless you understand what came before.”
What Are You Waiting For?
Last week in Helsinki Finland at a dinner with a roomful of large company CEO’s, one of them asked, ”What can we do to help build an ecosystem that will foster entrepreneurship?” My guess is they were expecting me talk about investing in startups or corporate partnerships. Instead, I told the Noyce/Jobs story and noted that, as a group, they had a body of knowledge that entrepreneurs and business angels would pay anything to learn. The best investment they could make to help a startup culture in Finland would be to share what they know with the next generation. Even more, this culture could be created by a handful of CEO’s and board members who led by example. I suggested they ought to be the ones to do it.
We’ll see if they do.
Over the last half a century in Silicon Valley, the short life cycle of startups reinforced the idea that – the long term relationships that lasted was with a network of people – much larger than those in your current company. Today, in spite of the fact that the valley is crawling with IP lawyers, the tradition of helping and sharing continues. The restaurants and locations may have changed, moving from Rickey’s Garden Cafe, Chez Yvonne, Lion and Compass and Hsi-Nan to Bucks, Coupa Café and Café Borrone, but the notion of competitors getting together and helping each other and experienced business execs offering contacts and advice has continued for the last 50 years.
It’s the “Pay-It-Forward” culture.
• Entrepreneurs in successful clusters build support networks outside of existing companies
• These networks can be around any area of interest (technology, ethnic groups, etc.)
• These were mutually beneficial – you learned and contributed to help others
• Over time experienced executives “pay-back” the help they got by mentoring others
• The Pay-It-Forward culture makes the ecosystem smarter
Steve Blank is a retired serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur who developed the Customer Development process and teaches it at Stanford, Berkeley and Columbia, among others. He blogs about entrepreneurship frequenly at SteveBlank.com.
Stories build commitment. They allow us to go on journeys in search of our best self. They entertain, simplify, and inspire. They are easy to share. Great leaders are often great storytellers.
The power of story as a business building and marketing tool is undeniable. A simple story can draw upon our emotional desires in ways that reams and reams of logical data never will.
While an uplifting story or even a tragic story can capture the listener’s interest, the real power of storytelling in business is that it permits a business to illustrate values and beliefs in action.
It’s one thing to say we’re trustworthy and quite another to share a story about the day your employees went without a paycheck because they so believed in what you were building and trusted you would make things right when you recovered from this unforeseen challenge.
I believe that every business must find and tell their core stories over and over again and then they must invite their employees, customers and networks to help build these stories into journeys worth taking over and over again.
Below are four core stories that must live in every business
The Passion Story
This is often the owner’s story, a tale of why they started the business, how the business serves their own personal mission or purpose in life. Why they get up and go to work, why they love what they do or what happened in life that set them on their current path.
The interior of the Grand Jury hearing room was anything but grand. It consisted of a handful of plastic chairs arranged in a way that made the jurists feel more like an audience than a court appointed arm of the United States Justice Department. Although I distinctly remember the lights, maybe it was me, but they seemed awfully bright.
What could I possibly have to offer as a witness in a hearing determined to bring federal charges upon one of my clients? As it turned out I was very boring witness with nothing to offer the case, but it was a turning point in my business and perhaps my life.
In the effort to build my business I had taken on a client that I knew was doing things I couldn’t support, that were counter to my own values, and I knew also in that moment that I would never again do business with a customer I didn’t respect.
And that’s part of my passion story. (To get the rest you need to buy the tell all book. Well, not really.)
According to a survey by the Conference Board, a global market research firm, most of today’s employees in the workplace dislike their jobs. In addition, a survey conducted by Right Management, a division of Manpower, illustrated that 60% of employees intend to leave their jobs when the economy improves. It’s no secret that the majority of today’s employees are unmotivated and disengaged in the workplace and their disengagement according the Gallup organization costs employers roughly $300 billion annually.
What can organizations, managers and leaders do to create a workplace environment where employees are inspired to perform? Based on my experience of training thousands of supervisors, managers and senior level leaders across the country, I have concluded that workplace leaders must focus on being at least four things to their employees which display specific qualities that inspire, motivate, develop and empower employees to want to perform.
4 Things Leaders Must be to Bring the Best Out of People:
1. Be a Coach:
A coach is one who teaches, develops and helps employees identify obstacles that prevent top performance. Coaching is about strategically and tactfully asking your employees the right questions so they can learn to ultimately see things for themselves. Asking questions guides a person’s thinking. For example, instead of solving your employees problems and just giving them answers, a coach will ask a series of questions that probe the employee to solve the problem. This takes time, but if deliberately practiced, the employee will soon get in the habit of asking himself or herself the same questions and will ultimately develop a problem solving mentality just like the manager or leader who acted as the coach. Coaches are also energetic, passionate and lead by example. The coaching style is very attractive to employees who become receptive to the coach’s suggestions of new ways of working to improve performance.
2. Be a Sergeant:
A sergeant, just like a drill sergeant in the U.S. Army is one who pushes, challenges and transforms an individual to prepare them to succeed. As a sergeant, you must ultimately be ready to make decisions in times of crisis, emergencies and deadlines and stand by your decisions as your employees execute your demands without question. Keep in mind, many managers and leaders make the mistake of applying this style frequently, which results in employees who are only performing out of fear or they are intimidated by the manager or leader acting as the sergeant. While the manager or leader who frequently uses this style may still get results, he or she must understand that employees are more than likely only performing at half of their true capacity. They are indeed only performing just enough to keep from being fired. The sergeant must also knew when to apply pressure and stress to particular employees and teams so that they do not become too comfortable, complacent and content. The sergeant serves to remind them that in today’s competitive economy and workplace, there is no comfort zone!
3. Be an Encourager:
An encourager is one who supports, empathizes and listens to employees who may be experiencing personal issues, low morale, burned out or simply frustrated at work. So many managers and leaders continue to fail to understand that they must connect with their employees on a personal level. They believe that employees should just do what they are paid to do and that it is not necessary to get to know them personally. This is one of the biggest mistakes managers and leaders make and what they continually fail to realize is that an employee’s personal issues will eventually impact their professional performance. You do not have to become best friends with your employees, but you should know their hobbies, interest, personal goals, and birthdays. Remember, people don’t care how much you know and they won’t work as hard for you, until they truly know how much you care about them.
4. Be a Leader:
A leader is one who inspires people to pursue a greater purpose and ultimately a vision. Remember, the majority of employees in this nation dislike their jobs and since they are doing something they dislike on average 40 hours per week (160 hours per month), of course they are going to get burned out, lose sight of the goals and the vision. Being a leader means you must be a source of inspiration for your employees. You must sense when morale is low and do something that revitalizes them. Mahatma Gandhi said “be the change you wish you see,” so if you want upbeat, take initiative type employees, it starts with you setting the pace for your team to adjust and run instead of walk.
If you are not passionate and energetic about the work of your team and the organization, why should they be? Being a leader means living your vision and mission statement everyday with energy and reminding your employees that they are not just performing tasks and duties, but ultimately working for some greater purpose. Why do people volunteer for nonprofit organizations like Habitat for Humanity or Big Brothers Big Sisters? It’s because they receive invisible compensation called making a difference. If you act as a leader your employees will take on extra work without asking for extra pay because they understand their purpose. People will work for a paycheck, we know that, but people will also die for a cause, we know that as well.
Finally, it’s important to understand that none of the leadership styles above is better than the other, they all have their strengths and weaknesses. They key is learning when to apply the styles in specific situations and to specific employees. Stay focused and keep Grinding for Greatness!
As panelists duked it out over which entrepreneurs deserved to become Endeavor mentees at the International Selection Panel this past week, some clear winners emerged. Those who were selected, including two dubbed the “Sephora of Chile” and the future “Staples of Egypt,” managed to convince the panelists that they understood their customer, understood their market, structured their business well, and could have a wide-reaching impact. But that doesn’t mean they were perfect. On Wamda TV, we asked panelists who inspired them, and what room they saw for improvement.
Susan Lyne, Chair of U.S.-based luxury retail site Gilt Groupe, describes how Chilean beauty company DBS inspired her, and why entrepreneurs need to focus on their governance.
Osman Ünsal of Turkish investment firm Atlas Corporate Finance describes the Chilean woman entrepreneur and Egyptian family business that impressed him the most, and the biggest mistakes that he saw entrepreneurs making.
Fawaz Zu’bi, founder of Jordanian venture capital firm Accelerator Technology Holdings, describes why entrepreneurs need a confidence boost, and what it means for Jordan to host entrepreneurs from other emerging markets.
Endeavor selected 28 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from seven countries (Chile, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey) at its 40th International Selection Panel. Endeavor now supports 632 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 399 companies in 12 emerging growth countries. The entrepreneurs were chosen at a Panel held from October 17–19 in Amman, Jordan.
“This panel in Amman is proof that despite the economic challenges around the world, entrepreneurs continue to innovate, create new jobs and build high-growth companies,” said Endeavor Co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg. “We continue to be impressed by the caliber of entrepreneurs we’re seeing. By the time they arrive at an International Selection Panel, these entrepreneurs have already passed through a rigorous 12-18 month screening process including numerous local panels. Thousands of entrepreneurs participate each year, and throughout the process they receive concrete feedback that helps them build their businesses.”
Endeavor’s next scheduled International Selection Panel will be held in Uruguay in December, followed by Panels in Dubai in March 2012 and London in June 2012. Post-selection, Endeavor provides entrepreneurs with customized services provided by local business mentors and volunteers from Fortune 500 consulting firms and top U.S. business schools. Endeavor Entrepreneurs have had a significant track record of creating thousands of jobs and building sustainable growth models in their home countries.
During the ISP, Endeavor also held its inaugural Global Acceleration Panel (GAP), whereby existing Endeavor Entrepreneurs are able to “re-live” the ISP experience through interviews with expert panelists — with the key difference of being able to join the final “deliberation” and interact with the full panel. Marcelo Romcy and Carlos Pessoa from Brazilian tech firm Proteus, an Endeavor company, were the first GAP participants, gaining feedback on key challenges from panelists Jason Green, Samih Toukan, Chris Schroeder, Fawaz Zu’bi, Vuslat Doğan Sabancı and Jorge Errázuriz. Specific feedback from the panel included commentary on Proteus’ expansion plans, service vs. product offerings, and human resources. Enthusiastic about the GAP, Marcelo encouraged Endeavor Entrepreneurs to inquire about the program, and expressed interest in participating again in the future.
Note: scroll to the bottom to view an entertaining video of the Jordan ISP, produced by Endeavor Turkey.
Entrepreneur(s)/Companies selected at the ISP:
Entrepreneur: Dominique Rosenberg
Company: DBS Chile
Description: DBS Chile is an innovative makeup and beauty supply retailer that operates concessions inside major department stores and, more recently, a free standing boutique.
Entrepreneurs: Tarek Sryo and Alaa Sryo
Description: One of Egypt’s largest manufacturers of stationery supplies (pens, notebooks, etc.), SASCO is rapidly expanding throughout the region through a new e-commerce platform and plans to expand to five to six new markets each year.
Entrepreneur: Ammar Sajdi
Description: RealSoft makes turnkey national statistics solutions capable of managing the collection process of data for general censuses and national indicators like the Consumer Price Index (CPI). As the first mover in this niche market, RealSoft services governments in eight countries and has established offices in the UAE and Oman.
Entrepreneurs: Hussam Hammo, Sohaib Thiab, Afif Toukan
Company: Wizards Productions
Description: Wizards is a leader in the regional online gaming market, having localized three online games and developed ten games of its own, serving more than 700,000 registered users. It is the first MMO (massively multiplayer online) browser-based game development company in the Middle East.
Entrepreneur: Labib Shalak
Description: Founded in 2003, MobiNetS enables mobile phone operators to make better informed business decisions by providing them with a dynamic, end-to-end view of their networks.
Entrepreneur: Jad Khoury
Company: Print Works
Description: With offices in Beirut and Dubai, Print Works is the leading diversified printing shop and production company for marketing campaigns in the MENA region.
Entrepreneurs: Gabriel Manjarrez and Pedro Zayas
Description: This Mexico City-based company acts as an intermediary between cell phone service providers and the unbanked, offering post-paid cell phone plans to people who otherwise would not have access because they lack a credit card.
Entrepreneurs: Diego Creel and Oswaldo Trava
Company: Lo Mio es TUYO
Description: TUYO buys small household goods and electronics from customers or third-party businesses and re-sells them in 10 stores in and around Mexico City. The two entrepreneurs are professionalizing the purchase and sale of pre-owned goods in Mexico, an industry that historically has been limited to pawn shops and outdoor markets.
Entrepreneurs: Luvuyo Rani and Lonwabo Rani
Description: Silulo has grown from a single internet café to a company that offers computer training courses, internet café and business center services, and IT retail and repair. In the process, the Rani brothers have matured from two township kids selling refurbished computers out of their truck, to nationally recognized businessmen and role models.
Entrepreneur: Ersan Ozer
Company: Magnet Digital
Description: Founded in 2005, Magnet Digital is a digital media holding company with a suite of sites that collectively attracts 11 million monthly unique visitors.
Entrepreneurs: Sidar Sahin and Hakan Bas
Company: Peak Games
Description: Founded in October 2010 by one of Turkey’s top internet entrepreneurs (Sidar Sahin) and a former Endeavor intern (Hakan Bas), Peak Games is bringing top quality Facebook games to emerging markets. Until recently Peak has only targeted the Turkish market and it is already among the top ten gaming companies globally, with 4 million Daily Active Users (DAU). Recently the firm launched games in Arabic and Spanish.
Entrepreneurs: Deniz Oktar, Selcuk Atli, Baris Can Daylik
Description: By layering data from Facebook’s Open Graph over data used in traditional recommendation engines, SocialWire matches online retailers’ clients with products that match their specific tastes. SocialWire has created a unique Facebook ad optimization product.
The moment Egypt toppled Mubarak was thrilling. Yet what has come after has been less so. Against a background of violence between Christian Copts and the military, a once-fertile climate for small business and foreign investment has turned arid. According to the Economist, Egyptian GDP has fallen, its stock market is hamstrung, manufacturing is in decline, and tourism has dissipated. The government now faces “an external-financing gap of about $11 billion in the second half of this year and the first half of next.”
Not all are pessimistic, however. Looking at Turkey, some believe that if Egypt’s government works to support the growth of small and medium businesses, it “could be Turkey in ten years.” Entrepreneurship, they say, as many in crisis situations do, is the answer. Yet it’s not just the government that will have to support them. Since the revolution, Egypt’s entrepreneurs found themselves the target of public ire and blame.
Hind and Nadia Wassef, the sisters behind Diwan Bookstore, are concerned about their country’s start-up landscape. Understandably, they are also worried about their own enterprise, which they founded in 2002 with one bookstore. Today, Diwan is a budding local brand with 10 shops throughout Egypt that celebrate Arab literature and culture.
“I’m sure the revolution looked lovely as it played out in the media, but its aftermath is the real test of success,” says Hind. The sisters say that Mubarak’s fall, followed by the arrest of several business figures on charges of corruption, has cast big business as the enemy, making it difficult to be an entrepreneur. “There is a sense that ‘we must take revenge on big business,’” says Hind. “The opposition against big business is so huge it has driven people into the perceived refuge of the all-encompassing father-state that will solve all of their problems.”
The sisters say that they’re not worried about Islamism or the social agendas of their leadership. “We’re not worried about who is going to be in power and what kinds of laws they’ll pass. The economic orientation of the leadership that is to come is what will affect the investment climate of the country,” they say.
Currently, it is not favorable. Foreign direct investment is down and consumers are staying at home. That has meant decreased sales for Diwan. “There is an increased interest in reading about politics,” says Hind, “but Diwan depends on recreation and disposable income.” Currently there is little appetite for either. “Consumption is linked to people’s perception of the country’s stability,” she attests. “If they feel secure enough, they browse in bookstores, dine out, window shop and gallery hop. But if there is unrest, people stay at home.”
Khaled Ismail, the founder of wireless technology company SySDSoft, hopes that the energy that motivated Egyptians out onto Tahrir Square will help solve the problem by “trickling down” into entrepreneurship. “We need more than a new ruler and a new regime,” he says.
Ismail believes that change should begin with the media, which he notes has fed the negative image of business overall. “Good business people create jobs and opportunity,” he says. “They are the role models the media should be talking about.” His own company is one such example; earlier this year, SySDSoft was acquired by Intel, which has opened Ismail’s operations, and therein Egyptian technology, to a global market.
Role models are something Egypt has historically lacked, says Ismail; it’s one of the reasons that Egyptian youths “don’t dream big.” Mentors and training are other crucial needs. Although many Egyptians who lack employment and educational opportunities start businesses, the majority fails. One of the reasons for that, he explains, is that everyone, understandably, is chasing profit. “But entrepreneurship is harder than that,” he says. Its success depends on the value that the product or service generates. “That may not happen for 2-3 years.”
The dividends of Egypt’s revolution may take longer. Elections have to be held. The constitution needs to be re-written. A new government must be formed. None can be done without the assurance of stability and prosperity. Entrepreneurs have a big role to play in Egypt’s future. How they contribute to Egypt’s growth will be critical. How the country allows them to do so will be even more so.
Endeavor is proud to make public the following transcript and video from a panel at the 2011 Endeavor Entrepreneur Summit in San Francisco. The event, which assembled over 450 entrepreneurs and global business leaders, featured dozens of entrepreneurship-related presentations by top CEOs and industry experts.
Overview: This panel features leaders who have led and managed international expasion at their respective companies. The panelists discuss both the challenges and opportunities in going global, and their experience and advice with the Endeavor Entrepreneurs.
Moderator: Juan Pablo Cappello, Partner, Breenberg Traurig LLC
Diego Piacentini, SVP, International Retail, Amazon
Sal Giambanco, Director, Omidyar, Former SVP, Human Resources, PayPal & eBay
Claudia Fan Munce, Managing Director, IBM Venture Capital Group and Vice President, IBM Corporate Strategy
William Holtzman, Former Vice President, International, Handspring
Juan Pablo: Often when companies fail, it’s for the same reasons and sometimes the beginning of the failure has to do with misguided expansion strategies, so hopefully we’ll help you avoid all of that failure.
Juan Pablo: Lets start with Diego, my long time friend. Amazon was founded in 1994, and you guys have expanded into at least eight countries. In terms of that expansion, what makes you choose where you’re going to expand? What are your considerations before you get there? How does Amazon think through these strategies? (more…)
Endeavor is pleased to make public the following transcript and video from a presentation at the 2011 Endeavor Entrepreneur Summit in San Francisco. The event, which assembled over 450 entrepreneurs and global business leaders, featured dozens of entrepreneurship-related presentations by top CEOs and industry experts.
Overview: Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg and President Fernando Fabre concluded the Summit with their ideas, goals and dreams for Endeavor and the Endeavor Entrepreneurs who make it all possible.
Fernando Fabre (President, Endeavor Global)
We want to talk about what we define as the Endeavor Experience. Four months ago I joined Endeavor Global, after serving as the Managing Director of Endeavor Mexico. A lot of people have asked, “What do you do in your position?” Let me tell you what I’ve been doing. It’s something I really believe in.
First off, we’ve been in operation for almost 14 years. We have operations—meaning full-time, hired staff—in over 30 offices in 15 countries around the world. We have 200 staff members, we’re supporting over 600 entrepreneurs from about 400 companies, with revenues of over $4 billion and 150,000 jobs. With the magic of compounding, in the next five years we’re going to double that so we’re going to have 60 offices in 25 or 26 countries actually around the world, we’re going to have another 400 Endeavor Entrepreneur firms within the next five years, with revenues of $12 or $13 billion, and 400,000 jobs. I can tell you that that is going to happen. With certainty that’s going to happen because it has happened in the last 14 years. It’s going to happen because we have the most outstanding team of Managing Directors (MD).
We have an extraordinary team here in the U.S. In the US alone we have 34 staff members—including Dave Geary (Partnerships), David Wachtel (Marketing & Communications), and Larry Brooks (Finance). Make no mistake: in the next five years, we’re going to double the impact we’ve made in the last 14 years. It’s going to happen.
But beyond that, what we’ve been saying over the last year is, “Let’s look at Endeavor differently. What is the promise, the value proposition that we’re making to Endeavor Entrepreneurs? What’s the ‘Endeavor Experience’ we’re offering them from the first time a staff member or MD talks to or recruits them to Endeavor, the moment they’re in the selection process and receiving services? We are making a promise of certain standardized elements, including access to a network of the smartest, brightest business minds in the world. Right now we’re working harder on developing a standardized platform for providing this access. (more…)
Last September I wrote a post outlining my view of the venture capital industry: increasingly evolving like the beer industry as it continues to mature. Large VC firms resemble Budweiser-type macrobrews, competing based on scale and brand with a standardized product across multiple geographies, sectors, and stages. And much like the emergence of microbreweries specializing in craft beer, new Micro VCs (disclosure: like my own firm NextView Ventures) are thriving by specializing along at least one or more of these three dimensions (geo, sector, stage) with a unique offering for a specific subset of entrepreneurs.
It’s interesting to take step back and look what’s transpired in the year since that post. I hypothesized that, “Perhaps a contrarian statement in this environment: but even though there’s been a dip in fund size due to broad economic factors and LP appetite, it wouldn’t surprise me if the truly top firms raise even larger funds over the coming decade.” And it’s already happening… heritage firms have indeed raised even larger funds. Within the past twelve months, we’ve seen Bessemer raise a $1.6B fund, Greylock expand its fund to $1B, and Accel raise $1.35B across two funds. Hardly sounds like the death of the VC industry predicted by so many. But these are indeed multi sector, multi-geo, and multi-stage firms with long-standing LPs who are confident in their abilities as an enduring franchise to sustain elite performance.
I believe that we’re only the beginning of the new wave of emerging firms (and those existing ones retrenching and repositioning towards) taking a specialized offering approach. Those venture firms firms caught in the middle without the scale of a large firm and without the focused strategy of a Micro will continue to wane.
But if the VC market is really resembling the beer market, what does that mean for the customers, entrepreneurs?
More brewers = more sources of capital. Especially at the seed stage, because there are lower barriers to entry for a new firm with a seed stage strategy (because of capital requirements to raise mid-/late- stage specialized fund), a plethora of new firms will continue to be founded. All of that choice becomes a double-edged sword for entrepreneurs, but in the end is of course net positive. Founders benefit of having more funding options is certainly preferable, but there is a substantial onus on entrepreneurs to navigate an increasingly crowded and clouded landscape. While social media has brought greater transparency to many aspects of the VC business, it’s still a relationship-driven and moderately opaque industry.
Local brewers = geography matters. As macrobrew VCs are increasingly spending time in multiple geographies (separate from their HQs) there is real potential to differentiate along knowing that you can actually sit down and see your VC face to face. For some that’s important, but for some that’s a negative. Just as some people here in Boston prefer drinking Cambridge Brewing Company ale; others could care less it was brewed locally.
Specialized brewers = increasingly specialized sectors will cut beyond just a broad domain focus. Big Data, mobile, cloud-only are all dedicated sub-sector funds examples I know of in the IT space. Think of it as a hoppy IPA brewery vs. one which focuses on American Ales. How much of a benefit is it to have your mobile company backed by a firm which only does mobile? They’ll certainly know the ecosystem and be able to share learnings and network across the portfolio.
What’s pouring = individual partners matter. Each brewery has its own brews, and each firm has its own people. Individuals will matter just as much as the firms themselves because of their efforts to make a distinction from the often faceless macrobrews. Personality fit has always been important, and this dimension will become increasingly a factor on where the best entrepreneurs turn to for their capital.
Can’t try every beer = paradoxically, reputation and word-of-mouth will matter more. Even with greater transparency in online, with the abundance of choice, people will look to referrals. Discovery of the right potential venture firm that will serve as a good fit becomes a harder problem because of the sheer number of options available. When you only had a few beer choices, you tried them all; now you’ll ask your friends (with similar preferences) what they like.
Whether buying a whole keg or just a single draft beer – raising a large round or only a seed round, the VC landscape is definitely changing dramatically for entrepreneurs. However, the difference is that with a beer you can always select another next time, but your VC you’re stuck with for a quite a while.