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Endeavor Hosts Retail, Food & Beverage Tour for Endeavor Entrepreneurs, Features Presentations from Top Industry Brands

Endeavor hosted a Retail, Food & Beverage Industry Tour for select entrepreneurs in its network, providing them with a rare look into the operations of  some top global brands in each industry. The two-day tour included a mix […]

November 19th, 2014 — by admin

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Endeavor Insight Report on What Entrepreneurs Want in a City Featured in Inc. Magazine and The Atlantic

A report by Endeavor Insight released in February examines the top qualities that American entrepreneurs look for when choosing a city to live and work. With research based on surveys and interviews with 150 founders of some […]

March 20th, 2014 — by admin

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eMBA field report: saving the world one industrial city at a time

Fabian Gonzalez at Imagen Dental in Monterrey, Mexico

Fabian Gonzalez is an MBA student at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is interning at Endeavor Entrepreneur company Imagen Dental in Monterrey, Mexico through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

I arrived in Monterrey three weeks ago, early on a Saturday morning. The first thing I noticed was that the city is surrounded by four beautiful, scenic mountains. Once you spend a few days here, you realize that this industrial city with 4 million inhabitants is actually terrific.

Unlike most of the industrial cities in the world, Monterrey has a wide range of activities and ecosystems. Here, you are in a big city, but, at the same time, you are just 20 minutes away from a picnic near a peaceful cabin in the mountains. If you like outdoor activities, like mountain biking and hiking, Monterrey is the place to be.

This summer, I am working at Imagen Dental as an eMBA intern. Imagen Dental is a one-stop health clinic that provides world-class dental, vision and hearing care to middle-class Mexicans. At the moment, it has more than 25 branch offices in Monterrey and employs more than 250 doctors. My job is to help the company to build a business plan for national expansion.

My experience with Imagen Dental has been amazing so far. I not only found people – at all levels – who are really working hard to improve Mexicans’ quality of life, but also have experienced the entrepreneurial environment that inspires them to change the world first-hand.

During my time at Imagen Dental, I have discovered that an eMBA internship is not only a summer business project, but also an opportunity to explore Endeavor’s network. Endeavor Entrepreneur Patricio Villarreal, one of Imagen Dental’s co-founders, has included me in all of Endeavor’s local activities. In addition to my experience with Imagen Dental, I met another Endeavor Entrepreneur a start-up social event. I also attended Endeavor’s National Selection Panel last weekend as an observer, where I heard three different pitches from entrepreneurs who want to become part of the Endeavor network.

My eMBA experience has already exceeded my expectations and it’s just getting started…

eMBA field report: taking an entrepreneurial risk to keep Mexican companies safe

Paul Marquard is an MBA student at Babson’s F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business. He is interning with ALTO with Endeavor Entrepreneur Jorge Nazer through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

Working in a company where the entrepreneurial mindset ubiquitous and new ideas are welcomed provides a ripe opportunity for an MBA like myself to test his entrepreneurial skills. This is exactly what I’ve found as an eMBA intern at ALTO. When I started working with the ALTO team, I was received with a warm welcome and I immediately felt that I was a part of the company.

ALTO provides strategic solutions to prevent or mitigate the theft of companies’ assets. In addition to generating revenue, ALTO also has a positive impact on crime reduction is Mexico. As I result, I feel that by helping ALTO I am also helping my country. It’s a great feeling.

The company is growing at a rapid pace and, as a result, the management team has decided to expand their operations in Mexico. This is where I come in: because of my MBA experience and knowledge of Mexico, I have been entrusted with a mission-critical project. I will help the company to create a strategic plan to expand to the whole of Mexico. It is an honor to work on a project that I know will have a direct impact at all levels of the company. I am inspired to work even harder to make this project a success because the entrepreneurs are so open and attentive to my ideas.

These first few weeks, I have worked directly with the CEO of the company, who has great experience and ideas, and I have learned about the company’s business model and operations. I am finishing the research stage of my project, during which I gathered valuable data that will help me do a thorough analysis. The project is full of variables and there are a variety of possible methods to achieve the final goal. This is what makes this project challenging and exiting.

I have found the project to be a great learning experience because although I have been guided, I am not told what to do. This allows me to use my own entrepreneurial mindset to figure out the best methods to develop ALTO’s expansion strategy through research and analysis.

USA Today, CNBC Magazine spotlight Endeavor Entrepreneur company HDS

by David Rousseau

HDS (Health Digital Systems) is making headlines, and rightly so. The Mexican company was featured in a recent edition of USA Today, as well as CNBC Magazine. At the forefront of the movement to modernize healthcare in Mexico, “HDS is helping put 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. Indeed, according to Endeavor Entrepreneur and company CEO Jaime Cater, “most hospitals in the country still operate in papers with no electronic records.”

HDS’s digital systems are solving the problem of inefficiency and mismanagement, bringing Mexico’s health care providers up to speed to the 21st century. Through HDS software, doctors can perform basic services such as issuing prescriptions and ordering medical tests in a much faster and more efficient manner. In the process, HDS reduces operational costs by up to 30%. As a leader in the movement to reform the health-care industry, it is no wonder that HDS is turning heads. The company’s software platform is the winner of the National Merit Award for Technology by the CONACYT (National Council for Science and Technology). HDS was also ranked as a “top 10 entrepreneur” by CNN Expansion. HDS is currently opening an office in Silicon Valley, where it intends to sell its products to the US.

In his 30 years as an entrepreneur, Jaime Cater has founded numerous companies. Nevertheless, since 2008, Jaime has devoted himself entirely to HDS. He is hoping that this will be the one company to leave a mark on the Mexican people. And with the invaluable service HDS is providing and the amount of attention the company is generating, we are well inclined to believe him.

eMBA field report: tea and vision technology in enchanting Istanbul

Felwa AlBazie is an MBA student at Babson’s F.W. Olin Graduate School ofBusiness. She is interning at Vistek with Endeavor Entrepreneur Dr. Aytül Erçil through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

The fifth week of my internship with Vistek-ISRA Vision is approaching, and everyday matches the first’s excitement! I’m overwhelmed by what this internship has to offer, and I’m undeniably worried that time will pass me by before I absorb all I can from this rewarding experience.

A search for new markets

My task at Vistek has been well defined from the first day. In fact, it is pretty much what I discussed in the initial interview with Dr. Aytül Erçil, the entrepreneur who founded the company. I’m focusing on analyzing different markets and determining the potential for Vistek’s products within them. Every day at Vistek carries new challenges to be solved, and it’s hard to discipline myself to work on a single, isolated topic. As I learn more about Vistek and the potential of the products, my curiosity kicks in and I want to fly through this task and jump on to another and then maybe complete that next task and have a chance to tackle a third! The entrepreneurial spirit is captivating.

A team worth knowing

Dr. Erçil and every one of the 23 company employees has generously offered their time and support when requested to ensure that my project goes smoothly and is successful. They’ve been very tolerant of my lack of technical knowledge and managed to explain the products in terms that even I can understand! They also offered magnificent tourism tips for Istanbul and Turkey! I’m overwhelmed by the team’s generosity and kindness and I’m confident that the next six weeks at Vistek will bring more enjoyable times and even stronger friendships.

Istanbul and the çay

Living in Istanbul for 10 weeks is another magnificent opportunity this internship offers. This fascinating city keeps offering more to explore every day: a very rich culture to discover, amazing scenery alongside the Bosporus, delicious food, and tea on every corner. I used to think I was a tea addict until I came to Istanbul and saw how many cups of tea people drink around here! I believe in the four weeks I’ve been here, I’ve fallen in love with the city. I can’t wait to see what the next six have in store!

eMBA field report: endorsing public transportation at Chile’s fourth “great place to work”

Santiago Cordillera

Mariana Torres-Montoya is pursuing a Masters in City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley.   She is interning with Grupo Alto through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

“I created, in collaboration with other entrepreneurs, the Association of Chilean Entrepreneurs (ASECH). Today we are 1,000 entrepreneurs. I am sure we can reach 100,000 by 2014.” These were the words of Endeavor Entrepreneur Jorge Nazer, the brain behind Grupo Alto and one of the leading entrepreneurs in Chile, as we walked toward the first annual meeting of ASECH. The drive and ambition reflected in his comment is the same one that envelops Grupo Alto, a company dedicated to the protection of organizations’ assets from fraud and robbery through an integrated model focused on education, dissuasion, and legal action. Jorge and his team have taken Alto from a small, provincial business to a holding of five companies that, combined, make the Alto model robust and replicable abroad. The company now has a presence in Colombia and Mexico in addition to its Chilean headquarters. As the company evolves and shapes its identity, it continues to innovate by creating new products and entering to new markets in order to stay relevant. The Santiago office is a young crowd, all entrepreneurs in their own way, and the sense of contentment and camaraderie amongst them is truly unique. It’s no surprise that Grupo Alto was voted one of the best places to work in Chile last year.

As an eMBA intern, I came to Alto to help Jorge realize his next ambitious goal: breaking into the public transport market as the leading company to help bus operators reduce Transantiago’s high level of fare evasion. During my time at Alto I have been absorbing as much as possible of the enthusiasm and entrepreneurial skills that Jorge and his team display while informing the project with my knowledge of the transportation sector. The project is not short on challenges. On one hand, there is the complex nature of a highly regulated business whose success hinges on the government and a series of other actors doing their part. On the other hand, the project involves changing the mindset of a population deeply scarred by an inefficient, expensive, and slow-to-improve public transportation service. This past week, we made our pitch to a couple potential clients as we continue to strengthen our value proposition.

Chile has far exceeded my expectations, offering the best of the developed world and the warmth and joy of the Latin American character. I am constantly amazed by Santiago’s high-frequency metro system, its automated urban highway tolls, and its sophisticated retail sector. The city enjoys a level of safety unknown to its Latin American peers and provides great pockets of culture and open space. In a very interesting way, Santiago feels like a small town despite its respectable size. My new set of Chilean friends inside and outside Alto are proof of Chileans´ friendliness and their interest in showing foreigners a good time in their country. The nonstop nightlife entertainment in Santiago, be it after-office parties in hidden parking lots or the famous “asados” at friends’ places, demonstrates just how much Chileans like to enjoy themselves. Of course, I am constantly aware that I am seeing just one side of the city. There is much work to be done to lessen the city’s income disparities, a problem which plagues all Latin American metropolises, and improve the quality of life of the majority of its residents.  Through their commitment to innovation, progress and social responsibility, I am confident that Grupo Alto and the rest of Chile’s entrepreneurial community will be invaluable contributors to the sustained development of this beautiful country.

17 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from Brazil, Colombia, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, and Uruguay Join the Endeavor Network

CANARY WHARF – LONDON, UK – Endeavor invited 17 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from Brazil, Colombia, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, and Uruguay at its 44th International Selection Panel. Endeavor now supports 708 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 443 companies in 13 growth market countries. The entrepreneurs were chosen at a Panel held from June 25 – 27 in London, UK. The Panel was followed by a full-day Investor Network event, engaging 18 leading investment firms and more than two dozen early- and growth-stage companies that Endeavor invited from 12 growth markets including Brazil, Argentina, Jordan, Turkey, South Africa, and Indonesia.

“High-Impact Entrepreneurship has become a global movement. By holding this judging panel and Investor Network event in the world’s global financial center, we were able to attract panelists from 12 countries,” said Endeavor co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg. “Panelists included high-level executives from companies including Amazon, Bain, Barclays, Ernst & Young, and Microsoft. We also welcomed venture capital experts from Silicon Valley to Amman and Dubai.”

While the panelists deliberated, the candidates enjoyed a day-long educational program at the UK headquarters of Facebook, where they heard from several top executives.

At the Investor Network event, attendees participated in workshops, several customized “speed-networking” rounds, and informal networking.

Endeavor Entrepreneurs have had a significant track record of creating thousands of jobs and building sustainable growth models in their home countries. The International Selection Panel is the culmination of a rigorous multi-step Search & Selection process where top local and international business leaders interview and then offer guidance to entrepreneur candidates. Post-selection, Endeavor provides entrepreneurs with customized services provided by local business mentors and volunteers from Fortune 500 companies, consulting firms and top U.S. business schools. Additionally, Endeavor’s Catalyst program co-invests in Endeavor Entrepreneurs’ professional funding rounds.
Endeavor will host two more International Selection Panels this year in Istanbul (October) and Miami (December).

Entrepreneur(s)/Companies selected:

Brazil

Entrepreneur: Leonardo Lima de Carvalho
Company: ToLife
Description: ToLife makes the patient intake and care processes safer and more efficient through products that reduce the average wait time for treatment, assist in determining how to triage patients, and lower the risk of error in generating patient records.

Entrepreneurs: Luiz Noronha, Marco Ferras
Company: Britec
Description: Britec offers an innovative solution for construction demolition followed by the crushing and recycling of rock into gravel. With highly mobile machinery, Britec provides an on-site solution for construction companies, which helps them reduce the cost and time required to remove rubble and bring in gravel.

Colombia

Entrepreneur: Diego Saez-Gil
Company: WeHostels
Description: WeHostels is building the first social-mobile accommodation booking service, initially targeted at young backpackers. The service offers a simple yet powerful set of social features: users can not only browse and book different hostels around the world but can also see who else will be staying in each accommodation, allowing them to find travelers with shared interests, friends, or travel destinations. Through WeHostels, travelers can connect, interact, share tips, and plan activities together within the platform, even before arriving at their destination. The products are designed mobile-first for the “post-pc” era, considering that travelers are increasingly planning their trips from mobile devices.

Jordan

Entrepreneurs: Fadi Bargouti & Majdy Abo Mathkoor
Company: Curlstone
Description: Curlstone is an animation studio that creates original IP for 2D and 3D content (such as video and games) on a variety of platforms, including TV, film, and mobile and web-based channels. The studio is aiming to become a regional player through a Middle Eastern cultural focus in some of their projects while simultaneously establishing an international body of work.

Entrepreneurs: Jalil Allabadi
Company: Altibbi
Description: Altibbi provides Arabic-speakers across the world with a comprehensive online medical health portal entirely in Arabic. Altibbi’s users enjoy free access to a medical dictionary of over 65,000 terms, a “symptom checker”, health-related news and videos, Q&A opportunities with qualified doctors, and a directory of medical institutions in the Middle East and abroad.

Lebanon

Entrepreneur: Brahms Chouity
Company: At7addak
Description: At7addak (“I challenge you” in Arabic) is the first gaming community catering to the Arab world. The company hosts in-person game tournaments sponsored by the likes of EA and Activision and has a website where gamers in the region can find English and Arabic game reviews, videos, and chat rooms. The website also enables registered users to challenge each other to their favorite titles on existing platforms (console, PC, mobile) and At7addak’s “Automated Scoring software” uploads their scores to their At7addak profiles.

Entrepreneur: Rabih Nassar
Company: ElementN
Description: ElementN consists of two separate business divisions, the first a highly customized enterprise software solution for telco operators and the second a highly scalable back-end solution for mobile developers.

Entrepreneur: Taline Assi
Company: Mosaic Marble
Description: Mosaic Marble is the leading mosaic producer in the Middle East. The company’s mosaics are featured in over 15,000 homes across 13 different countries, including the residences of the King of Congo, Queen Alia of Jordan, and Oprah Winfrey herself. Employing 400 artisans across Lebanon and Syria, Taline is a role model for female entrepreneurs in the region.

Mexico

Entrepreneur: Gabriela León
Company: Gresmex
Description: Gresmex produces a line of surgical and medical disinfectants that features Virufin, its proprietary, bioselective active ingredient that is effective against almost all pathogens and safer for healthy cells than other disinfectants. Gresmex also has a private label business that produces products for Walmart and other similar retailers to resell using their brands.

Entrepreneurs: Diego Solórzano Cervantes & Jimena Pardo Díaz
Company: Carrot
Description: As Mexico’s first car sharing service, Carrot seeks to make it as easy and convenient as possible for individuals to get around Mexico City—a metropolis of over 20 million people—by allowing its customers to rent cars by the hour or day at key locations around the city.

Entrepreneurs: Hector Sepulveda, Luis de Yturbe
Company: Litebuilt
Description: Serial entrepreneurs Hector Sepulveda and Luis de Yturbe never believed there needed to be a tradeoff between environmental impact and bottom line results. In 2008 they developed a LEGO shaped cement block that is both environmentally friendly and up to 30% less expensive than traditional bricklaying practices. Since then Litebuilt’s construction materials have become a favorite of construction companies across Mexico.

Uruguay

Entrepreneurs: Daniel Armand-Ugon & Nicolas Batlle
Company: ConectaGames
Description: Since 2009, Uruguay-based ConectaGames has been creating multiplayer online and mobile versions of the most popular board and card games of each of the eleven countries in which it operates, including Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, Chile, Spain and Uruguay.

Peak Games rockets to third most popular social gaming platform in world eight months after becoming Endeavor Entrepreneur

By Sam Weyrauch, Endeavor summer intern

A Turkish gaming company that specializes in multiplayer games for MENA region countries is now the third largest social gaming platform in the world. Peak Games was selected to join the Endeavor network in October 2011 after being founded one year prior, and in this calendar year alone has seen its revenue grow 600 percent. It reached 10 million daily users in 270 days, marking a significantly faster time to that mark than both Twitter (780 days) and Facebook (850 days). With a portfolio that includes 20 Facebook, browser-based, and mobile games based on popular offline card and board games native to the region and tailored to local peoples, Peak has tapped into an emerging market that is flocking to the Internet in droves. Turkey has the seventh most Facebook users of any nation in the world, and over half of them are actively involved with Peak’s online adaptation of Okey, a traditional tile game.

Peak Games is bringing in more daily revenue per user than its American competitors, thanks in large part to how “they leveraged an underserved area, tapped into its passions, and created an incendiary growth rate without having to do much heavy lifting,” according to Gamezebo.com. The company recently brought on board the former CEO of two multi-billion dollar companies and the former VP of global sales and business development of one of its biggest rivals, and is looking to bring its offerings to southeast Asia in the coming months, and Latin America after that.

Endeavor Entrepreneur Sidar Sahin, the company’s CEO, said, “Peak Games understands the importance of tailoring games for people in emerging markets and is already continuing this approach across additional high-growth areas around the world.”

For Peak Games’ official press release, click here. The story was also featured on TechCrunch, Yahoo Finance, VentureBeat, The Next Web, GigaOM, and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Dynamo entrepreneurs help pass film law in Colombian Congress

 By Rodrigo Guerrero and Melissa Tran

Producers to receive a 40% subsidy to cover the cost of movies filmed in Colombia

On June 20, the Colombian Government passed Draft Bill No. 220, better known as Film Law 2, a government policy which will serve as a powerful resource for the Colombian film industry.

Andres Calderon and Rodrigo Guerrero, Endeavor Entrepreneurs and among the four co-founders of Dynamo, were crucial in shaping this law since its inception and advocating for its passage. The Dynamo team has been working hand-in-hand with the Colombian Ministry of Culture, the Film Office, Proimagenes Colombia, the Colombian Film Commission, and the Ministry of Finance, up until the passage of this landmark law during the 4th Plenary Debate in the House of Representatives. After President Santos signs this piece of legislation, Film Law 2 will take effect in January 2013.

The Dynamo team noted that the work of four MIT Sloan MBA students was crucial in supporting its advocacy for this law before the Colombian Government. These students worked with Dynamo during the Fall/Winter of 2009-10 through the MIT G-LAB program, a key Endeavor Global service on which Dynamo has made full use.

While researching strategies for Dynamo to bring Colombian films to the U.S. market, the MBA students realized that the Colombian government was lacking incentives for attracting movie producers to film within the country. Utilizing this key insight, the Dynamo team has been working since then to develop and push for Draft Bill No. 220, which will encourage national and international filmmakers alike to choose Colombia as a filming location.

Nine years after the passage of the first Film Law in 2003, Film Law 2 represents a fundamental step in the development and promotion of Colombian cinema. Specifically, this law allocates 25 billion pesos from the government budget, or approximately US$14 million, to create a National Film Fund in order to receive donations and contributions domestically and abroad towards Colombian filmmaking.

In addition, Film Law 2 will offer a subsidy to cover 40% of total expenditures on services and personnel for both national and international producers who choose to film in Colombia. The government will also cover 20% of the value of expenditures related to room, board, and transportation during filming within the country.

Dynamo is proud to have taken an active role in the design and passage of this landmark piece of legislation and looks forward to this new phase in Colombian cinema.

U.S. venture capitalists, CEOs and techies taking recent interest in Mexico

By Sam Weyrauch, Endeavor summer intern

In the ever-continuing search to find the newest markets and unrealized investment opportunities around the world, U.S. venture capitalists have recently intensified their interest in Mexico. With a newfound attention brought upon by three events–Geeks on a Plane, an Endeavor Mexico CEO Summit, and Startup Weekend — the country is looking more and more like the latest hotbed of entrepreneurial talent.

Geeks on a Plane (#GOAP) is a collection of 50 executives, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs who travel across the world to the biggest tech startup cities “with the sole mission of uniting geeks and exploring cross-border tech opportunities,” according to its website. Founded by Dave McClure, the self-proclaimed “Sith Lord” for business-accelerating investment fund 500 Startups, with help from Endeavor Entrepreneur and Global Board member Wences Casares, GOAP leads discussions about tech innovation. A subset of 500 Startups, GOAP has already completed nine trips in three years and is touring Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East in 2012. This is the third stop in Mexico City for GOAP, but this year other Mexican localities also organized smaller events, along with tours of local cities headed by local tech startups.

“Our fundamental mission, besides having fun, is getting to know all the human potential, evaluate the business environment and explore the possibility to start investing in a good pace in their start-ups,” said McClure. “To establish cultural comparisons that help us understand the differences between markets, their priorities and needs, and of course, to get in touch with all the human potential from the cities we’ll visit, beyond the figures, that in any case look very promising.”

The Geeks on a Plane participated in Startup Weekend while in Mexico City, where they networked with and advised entrepreneurs to learn more about the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and how they can help it expand moving forward. At Startup Weekend, participants worked to build entire businesses in just 54 hours. They brought ideas to the table about new business plans, teamed up to collaborate on the most viable projects, develop the ideas, and were judged on the products of their labor. Endeavor’s own Allen Taylor was joined by McClure and Bedy Yang from 500 Startups, Hernán Fernández from Angel Ventures Mexico, David Weekly from MexicanVC, and Adriana Tortajada from NAFIN as investor judges.

The final event was the CEO Summit, entitled “Speed of Light Growth,” a stepping stone for entrepreneurs to catapult their companies to the next level. Over 180 entrepreneurs met with investors and business leaders to network and discuss business strategies over breakfast before attending a series of success story presentations and keynote speakers. Four representatives from the Endeavor Investor Network took part in the event—Eliza Erikson (Omidyar Network), Luis Trevino (Beamonte Investments), Jaime Sanchez Cortina (Sun Mountain Capital), and Felipe Ortiz (Aureos)—as well as business coach and author John Hamm, venture capitalist Joanna Rees, and veteran entrepreneur Juan Pablo Cappello, all Endeavor Global affiliates.

According to Pilar Aguilar, CEO of Endeavor Mexico, “The CEO Summit is Endeavor Mexico’s most important event, in terms of content, for entrepreneurs. We believe that entrepreneurs are the country’s engine of economic development, so this effort to bring together such important businesses and organizations benefits Mexico.”

Having the country experience these three events within just one week is a great step in the right direction for the Mexican and overall Latin American markets, and there is sure to be more attention paid by venture capitalists, business leaders, and techie geeks in the near future.

Related links:
Bloomberg Businessweek article on McClure and the events
Interview with McClure

eMBA field report: inventive flowers and food in fast-growing Istanbul

Elizabeth Gulliver is an MBA student at Columbia Business School. She is interning with Ciceksepeti.com and Endeavor Entrepreneur Emre Aydin in Istanbul through the Endeavor eMBA Program.

I was breathless and sweaty, dragging three months of luggage up a narrow staircase, but I stopped dreading living so many floors up when I opened the door to my new apartment. The late afternoon sun on the Bosphorus is undeniably magical and I was somehow lucky enough to have a spectacular view of it all. I was already enchanted with the city before I had even begun to truly explore.

Istanbul is an astonishingly large city with a diverse mixture of neighborhoods. On the European side alone, the city ranges from the historic Sultanahmet area to older charming neighborhoods like Cihangir and Galata, to the newer developments stretching north of the city that are constantly expanding. The rapid growth and economic potential are palpable in the intense energy felt throughout the city. As observers often write, Turkey is clearly experiencing strong economic expansion and currently benefiting from its unique position between Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Thus far, from what my co-workers and people I have met outside of the office tell me, Istanbul appears to be thriving as a result of its ambitious, young, and hard-working population.

This summer I am working at one of the many new e-commerce companies in Turkey. Among other industries, e-commerce has exploded in Turkey with the dramatic increase in the number of internet users and a growing middle class that is ready to consume more and is increasingly comfortable with online shopping. The company that I am working for, Ciceksepeti, currently has four websites and is in the process of finishing several others to launch in the next few months. Emre Aydin, the CEO and Endeavor Entrepreneur for whom I am working, had no e-commerce experience prior to launching the first website, Ciceksepeti.com (and online flower retailer). The website started when Emre’s brother, who lives in the US, called and asked him to send flowers to his mother and mother-in-law, living in two difference cities in Turkey. Finding this nearly impossible to do, Emre saw an opportunity and started building the website that night. Ciceksepeti.com is one of the fastest growing e-commerce sites in the country, and in addition to selling flowers, the company now sells gourmet gifts, jewelry, other small gifts, and experiential gifts.

In my role this summer, I am helping Emre and the staff to expand and develop their corporate structure. The company has grown so quickly that they have had little time to establish a structure that will allow them to continue to expand and launch new sites. Together, we are working to build these systems and structures. This unique position has provided me the opportunity to work closely with employees in every department of the company. The ability to learn and discuss how all the different aspects of the company, from the 24/7 call center, to the operations department, marketing teams, IT, HR and business development groups work together has been extremely interesting and valuable. I am only a few weeks into my internship, but I am eager to keep working with the team here to maximize their growth potential.

In addition to time in the office, I have been spending time exploring Istanbul and several other destinations in Turkey. Despite not speaking the language, the country has been relatively easy to travel around and people have been unfailingly helpful and patient. By far the best part of exploring so far has been the food. The food in Turkey goes well beyond the traditional mezzes that most people think of. While these are truly delicious, there are a multitude of restaurants offering newer, modern takes on traditional dishes that are simply delicious. And with the economic boom has come a broad expansion in Turkish wine production – I can safely say that this has benefited the country’s economy as I know I have already supported several vineyards myself! Looking towards the next few months, I am excited to continue exploring this vibrant country and working with the dynamic team at Ciceksepeti.

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