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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 Research Featured in Top Outlets Including The Atlantic, Inc. Magazine and The New York Times

Recent research released by the Endeavor network was featured in top news publications including The Atlantic, Inc. Magazine and The New York Times, highlighting a growing public interest in global entrepreneurship and the efforts of […]

April 1st, 2014 — by admin

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eMBA field report: in Egypt, change is in the air

Nate Wong is an MBA student at Yale University’s School of Management. He is interning with Hindawi in Egypt through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

As I disembarked the aircraft in Cairo, I was not fully prepared for the mix of excitement and frenzy that would take place over the next few weeks. I arrived at the peak of Egypt’s runoff elections – an historic time for Egyptians and a culmination of the infamous 18-day revolution that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak last February. For the first time in history, Egyptians would usher in a democratically-elected president. For much of the younger generation, it would be the second president they had ever witnessed. The next couple weeks were an emotional roller coaster. Tensions rose over the election results and rumors sparked of Mubarak’s impending death. They proved to be false. “Shafik or Morsi?” seemed to be the dominant question in the streets as everyone eagerly tried to learn which candidate others had voted for.

Tahrir Square, the famous location of Egypt’s historic revolution, was again full of protests, which I was able to experience firsthand. Tahrir is separated into two or three “stages” where different protesters state their claims and rally the crowd. One night, there was a large demonstration of Morsi supporters. The massive crowd became denser as I walked toward it. It was still relatively small in comparison to the revolution crowds last January and February. Vendors were interspersed among the protesters. The smell of freshly grilled corn wafted through the air. Supplying a host of items from flags and lights to corn, candy, and even clubs, these vendors were very entrepreneurial in their business endeavors: they had mobilized quickly to accommodate the swarms of assembled people.

This entrepreneurial attitude pervades Egypt as a whole, perhaps as a result of its changing political landscape. The Arab Spring has brought with it numerous challenges both political and financial. For examples, the revolution created a sharp decline in tourism, which was a major source of revenue for the country. These challenges have pushed Egyptian companies to innovate and think beyond country borders to capitalize on opportunities.

This summer, I have been given the opportunity to work for Hindawi Publishing Company, a company which has taken the entrepreneurial mantra to heart and created a new model for “open access” in the publishing world. The company has grown exponentially over the past few years, tripling its revenues and expanding its operations to over 500 employees, with further plans for expansion underway. Largely based on lessons learned from the publishing world, in 2008, Hindawi created a new division called uFollow, a website that allows users to follow their favorite bloggers and columnists, no matter where they publish, all in one place. uFollow’s author-centric model flips the conventional blog search on its head by expanding search criteria from content and sources to authors and citations. uFollow currently tracks more than 150,000 bloggers and columnists from over 4,800 leading blogs, magazines, and newspapers. It is the brainchild of Endeavor Entrepreneur Ahmed Hindawi, along with Paul Peters. They anticipated the increasing trend towards electronic publications and blogs and the need to develop a highly-parsed and clean database for the blogosphere. After four years, uFollow has developed into a robust blog search engine and a resource for users to follow their favorite topics, authors, and sources.

In my role this summer, I am helping Ahmed and Paul to launch uFollow’s Top 100 Author and Sources site, which is one of the first sites to calculate top authors. Its algorithm is based on the number of citations that a given author receives from other articles in the uFollow system, excluding any internal references from the same source or self-citations.

Aside from my time in the office, I have taken full advantage of being in Cairo during this monumental time. Nestled on a small island in Cairo, I am staying in Zamalek, which is about a 10-minute drive to Tahrir Square, with great views of the Nile. Despite the traffic, I have been able to explore Cairo and other sites in Egypt, including the famous Giza pyramids; Khan el-Khalili, one of the oldest markets or souks in Egypt; the Egyptian Museum, which houses King Tut’s mummy and a myriad of other artifacts from Egypt’s great past; and even experienced Faluka sailboat ride on the Nile. The food in Egypt, despite the high prices of wine – only found in certain restaurants and expatriate communities – has been another highlight. From traditional Egyptian dishes such as Molokheyya, Koshari, Taameya (falafel), and Foul, to the fresh guava, peach, mango, and watermelon juices, my foodie palette has been very well rewarded. But one of the most unique experiences within Cairo by far is the ability to order just about anything from food to medicine – it’s just a quick phone call or, in many cases, click away! I am looking forward to my remaining weeks here in Egypt, especially with Ramadan quickly approaching. I am excited to continue to work with the team at Hindawi and uFollow and am hoping to explore sites beyond Cairo, including Alexandria, Luxor, Sharm!

Tips to help you team up with high profile mentors

Reprinted from Under30CEO. Original article here.

By Laurel House

“Pick their brain until it bleeds.” Hollywood’s Michael Ovitz, my mentor since I was 19 years old, advised me to do just that when I find someone whose career I want to emulate. Of course, you’ve got to have a little more tact than simply that, but you get the picture.

The best way to get a leg up and put your success on the fast track is to find and secure a high profile mentor in your field. A mentor will show you the ropes, teach you the insider tricks, and tell you where they screwed up and wasted time as well as what worked most effectively and efficiently.

Looking the Part

More than letting you in and giving you an industry blueprint, a mentor can help mold you, giving you tips on everything from a proper handshake, to how to act in certain business social situations, or what to say in an email response to a potential new client. That might sound petty and trite, but it often truly is the littlest things that make the biggest difference. If your mentor is going to help you get a foot in the door, you sure better be presentable when you make your entrance.

It Is What You Make It

Every mentor/mentee relationship is what you make it. You will get more out of it if you put more into it. By putting more in, that often means giving up your free time and asking if you can shadow him in meetings, if you can sit in the corner and listen at his speaking engagements, if you can read the books that most influenced him, if you can take a look at contracts that he is working on or deals that he has closed. Offer to help on any projects that he is working on- for free. It’s doing your diligence. Ask questions- always be prepared with questions. If he ever says “do you have any questions about this?” Ask one. He is giving you an opening to learn more. Showing interest will get you far. But don’t be too aggressive or too needy. Remember that even if he has taken you under his wing and even seems chummy with you, you are still just his mentee and you need to respect his time and the unnecessary energy that he is investing into you. Remember: his time is very valuable. Be appreciative of any bones you get. Even if they are few and far between.

You’ve Been Vetted

Sure, you can learn a lot from your mentor, but what does a mentor say about you? Another executive or CEO will see that you have already been vetted. Your mentor invested in you, believes in you enough to have put time and energy into you, maybe even introduced you to key players and connections. If they believe in you, someone else will too.

How to Score a High Profile Mentor

There are many ways to get a mentor, but regardless of the route, you have to have the Gumption and Grace to ask for it. I did. When I was 19 years old I contacted the then most powerful man in the entertainment industry to be my mentor- Michael Ovitz. And it worked. You would be amazed how few people have the guts to get up and ask. Show a little interest and you already have an advantage. So you have the Gumption and Grace, but now you need the 3rd- “G”- Guidance…

Internship Job Boards: Internships are a great way to start working with someone who could end up being your mentor. It may be free work, but you will be getting paid in the form advice, insight, experience, and relationships. Look on campus job boards, on craigslist, or on internship websites. Once you have a lead, compose an email that is smart, grammatically correct, brief, and eye catching.

Pinpoint, then Email: If there is a certain industry leader who you specifically want to be your mentor, see if you can find their personal (or their personal assistant’s) email address. How? Look on their company website. No email to that specific person? Call their office and ask for his/her email address. You can also mail a letter- Yes, in the mail. It may have been several years ago, but that’s how I contacted Ovitz to be my mentor. A well-written, thought out letter. Include your phone number, email address, printed and signed name so that it doesn’t appear to be a form, mass letter to any number of potential mentors.

Broaden Your Reach- Contact a Company: Not sure exactly who you want to intern for, but you know the type of industry, or even a target company that you would like to find a mentor from? Oftentimes companies will post internships on their website. No listing on the company website? Call the company and ask if they are taking interns or if any of the executives are looking to mentor. You may have to submit your enquiry without even knowing exactly to whom it’s going, but that’s ok. It is going to someone, and that someone will look at your email and read it (or else they wouldn’t have taken the time to post the listing).

Bottom line: Ask! The worst thing they can say is no. Once you get the internship or secure a mentor, treat that relationship like a job. They are not your friend, even though they may talk to you in a friendly tone and on off business hours. Respect their time. Be diligent. Show them how hard working and dedicated you are. LISTEN to everything they say. Ask questions. Take notes. Then, as Ovitz told me: “Pick their brain until it bleeds.”

House is an entrepreneur who has transformed her 7 million views  on YouTube into a lifestyle brand called QuickieChick, with her 4th book- “QuickieChick’s Cheat Sheet to Life, Love, Food, Fitness, Fashion and Finance on a Less than Fabulous Budget” (St. Martin’s, May 2012), now available everywhere books are sold.

“Life-moving connections”: Endeavor Entrepreneur Marcelo Sales shares his story in “Endeavor Day 1″ presentation [with video]

By David Rousseau, Endeavor summer intern

“Connections are what moves our lives,” proclaimed Endeavor Entrepreneur Marcelo Sales, founding partner of 21212 and former CEO of Moviles, at the beginning of his “Endeavor Day 1” presentation (summarized below).  As the story of Marcelo’s life illustrates, the direction of our lives and careers is very much dependent on the relationships we make and the obstacles we face.

Marcelo met his first  “life-moving connection” at the age of 14, when a family friend accepted to teach him how to program a computer. Every Sunday for 4 years, Marcelo would come to his home, eager to learn. In this instance, as in many others, life changing “connections” didn’t just appear to Marcelo. Rather, he pursued them, forged them, and nurtured them.

Marcelo’s next life-changing relationship came in the form of his first business mentor, Roger Duek. When a young Marcelo decided to found his own company, “Ntime,” he lacked credibility. Although telephone companies were interested in his mobile apps and games, they were wary of doing business with “kids.” Roger Duek was then the vice-president of GVT (Global Village Telecom). Roger saw potential in the start-up and wanted to invest in the company and be a mentor to the young entrepreneurs. He turned out to be a life-changing connection, teaching the young men the discipline they lacked. Thanks to Roger, Marcelo and his team began adopting more diligent business practices, holding agenda meetings every Saturday, checking cash flows, and establishing tangible goals.

When Roger died, Marcelo made another key connection by joining the Endeavor network. Under the guidance of a new mentor, Patrick Morin, Marcelo’s company grew and generated millions more in revenue each year. Nevertheless, the revenue stream reached a stagnant point and Marcelo realized he was in a rut. “I expected more from you, Marcelo,” Patrick confessed one day.

That was Marcelo’s “day 1.” Eager to expand his business, he found a businessman in the same sector with whom he merged businesses to create “Comperantime.”  After a few years, Marcelo had finally succeeded as an executive but noticed that he had lost all sense of excitement in his job. He then made another life-changing connection that came in the form of a realization: that he had once again become too comfortable. One day, at the beginning of a stockholder’s meeting, he decided to quit his company.

Marcelo went on to launch a company accelerator  named “21212,” after the areas codes of Rio and New York. The company’s objective was to help entrepreneurs with small capital investment, and to mentor them, offer them legal advice, give them technical know-how, and put them in touch with investors.

According to Marcelo, there is “no linear path to success.” Life is like a gam of Pac-Man. You start with a tangible goal and reach for it while avoiding the obstacles and “ghosts” (people who don’t believe in you) that come your way. The connections you make are what get you from one point to another.

After selling his company for $220M, Wilson Poit reflects on the power of Endeavor (with video)

Recently, Endeavor Entrepreneur Wilson Poit visited Endeavor Global’s New York headquarters to speak about the impact of Endeavor on his Brazilian energy company, Poit Energia. Recently, Poit sold the company to the Scottish temporary power group Aggreko for US$220 million.

The following is a video interview with him about the evolution of his company, followed by a transcript of his separate presentation to Endeavor staff.

I wanted to come here today to personally thank all of you at Endeavor. Endeavor truly helped to transform my life and my business these last 10 years.

Poit Energia was my fifth company. Previously, I started four small companies that were good but didn’t scale. When I was 40 years old, I had the idea to rent silent energy generators to events in Brazil. I sold everything I had at the moment in order to buy generators to rent. Soon, I expanded my customer base beyond events, renting to markets like oil, gas, and mining companies. I also introduced add-on services.

In my fifth year, in 2002, I met Marília Rocca and Linda Rottenberg. Endeavor arrived in my life in that moment. From the first moment I was selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur, I felt like all the doors were open. Endeavor mentors helped me to scale, and soon I traveled to Atlanta to sign an agreement with GE to sell the company for US$8 million. However, due to some internal changes at GE, the deal never officially closed.

The next year, another company, Aggreko, offered to buy the company. But at that point I realized I was sitting on a gold mine. With the help of Endeavor, I started a board in 2005 and received ongoing support, mentorship, advice, and introductions. I also learned how to build a team and delegate, putting people smarter than me in each area of the business. In fact, one of my Endeavor Brazil’s first employees is now the CEO of my company.

In 2002, as I mentioned, GE offered me $8 million for the business. In 2012, I sold the company to Aggreko for $220 million. Over nine years, Aggreko had offered to buy the business four times; the fifth time was the charm.

I really believe in the power of your services at Endeavor. I believe a lot that Endeavor can transform, can change entrepreneurs, and help people think big. These days, many entrepreneurs and investors are arriving in Brazil, and I think Endeavor had something to do with that.

I’m planning to start another business next year, but in a way, Endeavor is now my life cause and I want to help other people believe in it like I do. My give back to Endeavor will be not only money but also my time and my story. Thank you, Linda Rottenberg, and thank you to everyone at Endeavor.

Endeavor featured in 16-page report in a top Mexico business magazine

By David Rousseau, Endeavor summer intern

As a highlight of Endeavor Mexico‘s 10th anniversary celebration, a 16-page report on Endeavor entitled the “The Entrepreneur Club” was featured in the June edition of CNN Expansion, one of Mexico’s most influential business magazines. The report offered an inside look on seven influential members of the Endeavor network. CLICK HERE to view the article (in Spanish) as a PDF.

Below is a brief summary in English…

1. Linda Rottenberg: the “crazy girl”

The year was 1996, and in the back of an Argentinian taxi cab, a powerful idea was born. While conversing with the taxi driver, Linda Rottenberg, a young Yale graduate still uncertain of her career path, was struck with the realization that the word “entrepreneur” did not exist in Spanish. At the root of this semantic peculiarity was a more pervasive problem: developing countries lacked the entrepreneurial culture necessary for talented individuals and businesses to reach their full potential. Without access to capital or mentors, these individuals could not become entrepreneurs and scale their business. Linda wanted to address this problem by creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem that would nurture small and medium enterprises and help them grow. She launched Endeavor in 1997.

2. Pedro Aspe: the patron

Endeavor would be nothing without its network.The organization prides itself on its extensive web of seasoned business experts, entrepreneurs, and investors. The company’s success in a given country depends much on its ability to develop a viable network for its entrepreneurs. In Mexico, Endeavor struck gold. Pedro Aspe, the well-respected and well-connected business leader, teamed up with seven fellow business leaders to provide the financing and network necessary to launch Endeavor Mexico.

Endeavor Mexico, whose office has selected the most entrepreneurs of any country, is striving to reach ambitious goals for the coming decade. For instance, by 2020, the office intends to increase the number of entrepreneurs selected every year from 13 to 20.

3. Fernando Fabre: the innovator

Fernando Fabre’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit revolutionized Endeavor’s business practices in his years as president of Endeavor Mexico. In his 6 years as head of the Mexico office, Fernando tripled the number of entrepreneurs in the network (from 15 to 45) and increased the number of mentors ten-fold, from 30 to 300. His innovative business practices were replicated in 14 regional offices. Linda paid very close attention to Mexico’s success and wanted the office’s results to be replicated at the global level. As a result, she invited Fernando to become president of Endeavor in 2010. Today, as Endeavor’s president, Fernando is striving to translate his success in Mexico at a global level.

4. Pilar Aguilar: the strategist

A day after resigning from her position as the HR director of Bain & Company to dedicate herself to philanthropic work, Pilar received a call from Fernando, who was about to move to New York as president of Endeavor. A former director of the “Commercial Intelligence” division  of Telefonica Moviles in Mexico who had  worked as a consultant in transport and energy for McKinsey and Company and guided the corporate development of Mexican satellite cities, Pilar Aguilar was the ideal candidate to head Mexico’s regional office. Today, Pilar is reaching for an ambitious objective: for Endeavor firms to account for 1% of Mexico’s GDP.

5. Eric Descombes: the mentor

Mentors are key drivers in helping Endeavor entrepreneurs bring their company to the next level. Individuals such as Eric Descombes, president of the ad agency Young & Rubicam Mexico and founder of Interfax 401, are a crucial part of the network. As impartial advisors that are not compensated for their time, they provide valuable business insight to entrepreneurs who lack the guidance necessary to take their business to the next level. “Mentors are the true heroes of our time,” proclaims Pilar Aguilar, president of Endeavor Mexico.

6. Jaime Cater: the inspirer

At the forefront of the movement to modernize healthcare in Mexico, Endeavor Entrepreneur and his company HDS are helping to bring the health-care sector out of the dark ages.” Its web-based software helps hospitals, clinics, state departments, and health insurance companies deal with the serious problem of clinical mismanagement. Most health entities in Mexico operate with outdated technologies, to the detriment of the patient. Since being selected in 2009, HDS has multiplied sales tenfold, grown revenues by over 1,200%, and entered new markets such as Colombia and Venezuela.

7. Sergio Garcia de Alba: the civil servant

In every country in which it operates, Endeavor “must encourage the creation of public policies that help entrepreneurs,” asserts Linda Rottenberg. Endeavor Mexico’s success in working with the public sector illustrates the importance of such an approach. When Pedro Aspe and Fernando Fabre walked into the office of Garcia de Alva, the undersecretary of  Mexico’s Small and Medium Enterprises (Spyme), they went in with a concrete objective: obtain government funds to finance Endeavor’s business accelerator program. Garcia de Alba, who saw in their endeavor the opportunity to boost the economy, accepted the proposal and drafted a new article in the statutes of the PME (Spyme) funds. The article stipulated that strategic high impact projects could obtain up to 85% of the investments needed. Thanks to Garcia’s help, Fernando acquired enough resources to work on special projects such as improving the offices, opening an information portal for businesses, and printing a book to promote entrepreneurship.

Nevertheless, some dissident voices criticize the model behind Endeavor’s selection process in Mexico and abroad–saying its growth is limited by the fact its process is so selective. However, as Pilar Aguilar explains, “The business people and mentors that make up the board of directors need to feel that their donations have an impact. That is why we have to be so strict in our selection process.”

Perform acquires majority stake in Endeavor Entrepreneur company Mackolik

Endeavor Entrepreneur Erdem Yurdanur is the considered by many to be the godfather of the growing software development community in Istanbul. He runs Kokteyl, a software incubator that develops web-based businesses and backend software. Erdem is also the CEO of Mackolik Internet Hizmetleri Ltd.Şti., an amalgamation of the different sports related websites developed by Kokteyl and its partner, Coretech.

The following are excerpts from a recent press release detailing the acquisition of Mackolik by “Perform”. See original release here.

Perform Group plc (“Perform”), the global market leader in the distribution and commercialisation of sports content across connected digital platforms, announces that it has acquired a majority stake in Mackolik Internet Hizmetleri Ticaret A.S. (“Mackolik”) which owns and operates a number of Turkey’s leading independent sports websites including mackolik.com and sahadan.com

Perform is acquiring an initial 51% stake in the business for cash consideration of [USD$22.6 million] 40.8 million Turkish Lira (TRY) (£14.6 million).

Erdem Yurdanur, CEO of Mackolik, commented: “The internet initiative we started in Turkey 13 years ago has achieved significant local success. We are extremely happy that we completed an acquisition process, which will expand our success to a global scale. We understood the importance of being global better when we were selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur in 2010 and now the future looks more promising for us. This acqusition proves the importance of producing quality content and we hope that it will serve as an example to other entrepreneurs in Turkey as well. Needless to say, I am look forward to hearing about further succes stories from Turkey in the future.”

Mackolik is the market leader in digital sports media in Turkey, operating 10 sports websites. These include Turkey’s top two most visited sports sites – mackolik.com and sahadan.com, which averaged over 7.8 million and 8.5 million monthly unique users across the 5 months ending May 2012, up from 5.7 million and 6.9 million for the same period in 2011, representing growth of 37% and 23% respectively.

Its websites contain a mix of original sports editorial content, live scores and social features including forums and moderated chat. The sites are available in desktop formats and via a range of smartphones and tablet platforms.

Oliver Slipper, joint CEO of Perform commented: “We continue to execute our strategy of augmenting our strong organic growth with selective acquisitions and are delighted to have announced the acquisition of Mackolik.

“Turkey is a hugely exciting opportunity for Perform, given the rapid growth in online advertising and internet usage and its young and growing population. Within this important geography, Mackolik is the clear market leader with a fantastic portfolio of websites and content. We are delighted to be able to welcome Mackolik to the Perform Group.”

Endeavor July 2012 newsletter

To view Endeavor’s June newsletter, a recap of all the top news stories from the previous month, please CLICK HERE.

Reminder: To receive our monthly newsletters by email, please enter your email address in the sign-up box at the bottom of our homepage.

Train anyone to do anything: a conversation with Endeavor Entrepreneur Ryan Falkenberg about how to make everyone “Clevva”

Reprinted from businesstrade.org. Original article here.

By Keith van der Linde

Endeavor Entrepreneur Ryan Falkenberg knows that most school leavers have little hope of getting formally employed. That’s why he developed Clevva, the software system that gives ordinary people the decision-making prowess of experts.

What motivated you to start Clevva?

My whole career has been dedicated to solving the riddle of, “How can someone who lacks knowledge or experience but who has the right attitude and aptitude, be empowered to perform effectively without having to endure boring training sessions?” I decided to find a way to enable a person with the right attitude and aptitude, but who may lack knowledge and experience, to become highly employable. Not only would this help businesses grow, but it would make thousands of young people social assets (as opposed to social liabilities).

What exactly does Clevva do?

Clevva allows companies to capture the logic that experts use in making predictable decisions and performing predictable activities. For example, you can now get a sales person to successfully sell hundreds of complex products as if they were a product expert. This is because Clevva guides them through the client discussion, analyses the client need, recommends the right products, and then automates the quote while they talk to their client. It allows them to focus more on their interpersonal skills without worrying about making a basic error.

What do you regard as the biggest success of Clevva?

Our biggest success has been that off one platform, we have managed to enable an inexperienced sales person to effectively sell 12 000 products with limited product knowledge.

The biggest challenge?

As a new brand, operating in a new category of technology, it takes longer than I would like to get companies to understand exactly what Clevva is (and is not), and what it can potentially do for their business.

How would you describe your personal journey with the company?

My journey really began 18 years ago as a change management consultant. It was there that I realised that people were really struggling to keep up with the rate of business change, and the complexity of the environment they were asked to operate in. I then turned my attention to finding ways of helping people thrive in complex, changing environments. This led me down the path of workplace learning and smart performance support technologies. Clevva is the culmination of over 15 years of blood, sweat and tears.

What role has Endeavor played in your personal development?

My relationship with Endeavor stretches over 8 years, as an Endeavor entrepreneur, as a panelist, and as a mentor. What has been most satisfying is the privilege to interact with top corporate leaders and to build friendships with some of the most passionate, talented entrepreneurs on the planet. This incredible network both inspires and teaches. It places you in the company of greats, and thereby asks great things of you in return.

Do you consider yourself a born entrepreneur?

I really don’t know. I have always been very clear about what makes me happy and what I want to achieve in my life. That clarity and self-belief has helped me make certain decisions without necessarily being that clear on exactly how things would pan out. As long as I felt passionate enough about what I wanted to do, and was clear that it would be valued by the market, I trusted that it would work out OK. So far I have been lucky.

Do you have any expansion plans for the future?

You betcha. We have every intention of being a global business within the next 3-years.

If you could advise the entrepreneurs of tomorrow one thing, what would it be?

Once you are clear about what it is that makes you happy, what you value, and what your personal goals are, you can then start exploring the best way to achieve these goals (and whether this matches what the market wants). If any of your goals refer to security or making money, rather consider a corporate career. If your goals refer to making a difference in the world or leaving a personal legacy, then maybe your own business is the right answer for you. Surround yourself with people who share your dream, refuse to ever give up, and before you know it, your collective dreams may just become reality.

Endeavor Entrepreneur duo brings affordable regenerative medicine to Africa

The following article was reprinted from businesstrade.com. See original article here.

By Keith van der Linde

African biotech entrepreneurs put themselves on the map

Altis Biologics competes with the world’s leading biotech players at a fraction of the cost. I caught up with [Endeavor Entrepreneurs] Nuno Pires and Nic Duneas, the bright minds behind South Africa’s innovative bone tissue provider.

What exactly does Altis Biologics do?

We are a regenerative medicine company focused on developing and bringing regenerative biological products to market, with an emphasis on orthopedic and dental tissue regeneration. Indications include severe fractures, non-healing bone fractures and and spinal fusion.

Do you regard your company as a pioneer in this field?

We hold international patent protection for our novel high BMP extraction process. Our technology was first proven using human donor bone, but human donor bone is scarce. Our technology is licensed in SA to a human tissue bank, that Altis helped set up, and which has since become a leading tissue bank in the Southern hemisphere. Our human derived BMP product is also the very first injectable BMP-based product in the world. Our Altis-OBM range of porcine derived BMP products are also injectable, which makes it ideal for operating room conditions, as well as harsh conditions like military field applications.

Is the company in a positive state of growth?

Surgeons have been using the product with fantastic results. We recently received approval from One Military Hospital for the reimbursement of the product, and last week Discovery approved the reimbursement of our dental/periodontal range. We also just moved our facility from a very small and cramped area at the Tshwane University of Technology, to a larger facility at The Innovation Hub (TIH).

What do you regard as the biggest success of Altis Biologics? The biggest challenge?

Success: Successfully developing Altis OBM, and seeing it work in patients.
Challenge: Raising capital in SA for a medical tech company like us. Our competitors spent $600m and $200m to get to market, and to date we have managed to get to where we are with around $2m!

What role does Altis Biologics play in the continent’s development?

We are a world leader in our technologies, and have developed technologies/products that provide African surgeons an affordable equivalent to what our competitors charge $5,000/device. Because of this price tag, the technologies offered by our competitors are only essentially available in first world countries like the USA and Europe. We change that.

How would you describe your personal journey with the company?

The challenge of being a bio entrepreneur is SA has been tough, but somehow we have always managed to overcome the barriers that we have been faced with. There have been many hardships, but there have also been many successes, many of which looked impossible to achieve. Some people regard us as a “flagship” of SA biotech entrepreneurship and admire our achievements, and that alone makes us extremely proud of what we have achieved.

What role has Endeavor played in the company’s development? How has the Mentor Capital Program helped you?

Endeavor has linked us up with people who understand our difficulties and are able to provide solid EXPERT advice. They have also given us access to highly motivated MBA students who provide a professional but different perspective to our company. Our greatest shortfall is that we ran out of funds just as we joined Endeavor, as there is no doubt that if we had the financial resources to travel we would have been able to conclude an international deal by now. Endeavor plugs you in to the people you would not normally gain access to and opens doors that would normally be locked to us.

Do you consider yourself a born entrepreneur?

I don’t think I would use the words born entrepreneur. It would be more accurate in my case to say, a “self-made entrepreneur.” I guess in my case it’s a combination of personality, education, and solid work experience all coming together under the personal ambition to create something myself.

Do you have any expansion plans for the future?

Yes, we are in the middle of a capital raise which we hope will bring in sufficient funds for us to gain international approvals as the two largest target markets are the USA and Europe. We may therefore also need to set up operations in those two continents. So the future still holds many challenges for us, but with the right support (like Endeavor), we have no doubt we can succeed.

If you could advise the entrepreneurs of tomorrow one thing, what would it be?

In terms of business strategy: If there is an obstacle that is preventing your progress, then always remember if you can’t go through it, then you can always go around it, over it, or under it, or just change the obstacle (change your strategy).

In terms of brokering an international deal: When you have positive momentum, throw all your efforts behind closing the deal NOW! Momentum disappears over time, as do deals that aren’t concluded when things are looking good. Don’t forget that ‘awe’ only lasts so long, so capitalise on it. People also move on so all your efforts can be wiped out in a single day with the departure of a critical champion.

In terms of funding: Always raise more capital than you need (if you can), and always start raising capital at least 1 year before you run out. SA is just too small if you have high ambitions. So start looking internationally as soon as you are up and going.

Wallet overstuffed with receipts? Can’t find your insurance card at the doctor? Endeavor Entrepreneur digitizes your wallet

This article was reprinted from the Venture Capital Dispatch Blog on the Wall Street Journal. See original article here.

By Lora Kolodny

Lemon Aims to Squeeze More Juice from E-Wallets

Putting a new “twist” on digital wallet technology, Lemon Inc. has raised $8 million in a Series A round led by Maveron.

Joining in the financing were Lightspeed Venture Partners, CampVentures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and the Social+Capital Partnership, a fund launched by former Facebook Vice President Chamath Palihapitiya.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based start-up makes a “Smarter Wallet” app that its founder wants to see on every smartphone’s home screen. The company is the latest venture from serial entrepreneur Wences Casares [an Endeavor Entrepreneur and Endeavor Global board member], whose previous financial services and tech ventures include Bling Nation, MECK and Banco Limon.

Most companies offering mobile “e-wallet” technology today, including Google Inc., Visa Inc., PayPal Inc., Square Inc. and Venmo Inc., focus on payments via mobile phones, especially at point of sales. Others like Belly Inc., Stampt Inc. or Punchd (now owned by Google) digitize loyalty programs, so people don’t have to carry a paper punch card to get something like a “buy ten, get one free” deal from a favorite shop.

Lemon focuses on all the other sensitive stuff in your wallet, too.

The Lemon app lets users snap images of debit, credit, loyalty, health insurance and ID cards, as well as receipts, tickets and coupons, then upload these to a secure account in the cloud. The accounts store information associated with each card or slip of paper so that they are accessible from any web-connected device. It can even associate “in case of theft” phone numbers with different card types, a handy bit of info for a traveler in a panicked state of mind.

Mr. Casares reports that 1.5 million people already use the free, iOS version of the Lemon app, which launched in the last quarter of 2011. Alongside dialer, messenger and map apps, he believes a secure digital wallet could become essential to the world’s billions of smartphone users.

“I remember playing around with computers before there was a graphical interface,” he said. “Everyone said it was coming. You could not imagine what that world would look like. That’s where we are with mobile. The digital wallet will be as ubiquitous as the spreadsheet became in an earlier time. We want to establish early leadership.”

A diligent, savvy tech consumer with a Dropbox, Google Drive or similar data storage app could of course snap pictures and store images of their wallet’s seam-splitting contents, Mr. Casares admits. But Lemon is an easier user experience for that kind of thing, also providing organizational features like letting users view balances, manage expenditures, and receive deal offers from top retailers via their Smart Wallets.

Lemon just launched a more feature-rich version of its app, Lemon Pro, for $9.99 per month. Lemon Pro users will eventually be able to automatically notify credit and governement agencies, and various service providers to be on fraud alert, and suspend services should they lose their phones or wallets. He also said they may be able to purchase something like wallet insurance via Lemon Pro.

A partner with Maveron in San Francisco, Amy Errett, said Lemon’s focus, near-term, is “to create a secure foundation for a digital wallet” and solve a consumer pain point that is here today for consumers, not just sellers. She believes Lemon’s addressable market is “tremendous, encompassing anyone who currently uses both a wallet and a smartphone, globally on any platform.”

Competitors to Lemon, including Visa, Mastercard, Google and Isis (a joint venture between mobile carriers Verizon, AT&T and T-mobile), are thinking more about the payments piece, she said.

It appears that Apple is getting into the fray now as well. At the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, the smartphone giant revealed Passbook, an app that should ship with all iOS 6 devices. Passbook scans QR codes to get information about tickets for travel and events, then keeps it updated in real time, notifying users, for example, if their train is delayed or a concert is rained out.

Ms. Errett sees Apple’s move as a positive for Lemon. “The Passbook news from Apple validates the ticketing and couponing ‘compartments’ of Lemon’s Smarter Wallet,” she said. “In addition, it should dramatically speed up adoption of QR codes by brands and merchants wanting to reach consumers via their phones.”

Lemon launched on iOS but has Android and Windows phone apps on the way.

With 21 full-time employees today, Lemon plans to use its $8 million in venture funds to grow its marketing and engineering team, and create and test new features and services for its e-wallet apps.

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