High-Impact Entrepreneurship

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Endeavor Investor Network Convenes Over 120 Entrepreneurs and Investors in NYC

On May 5th, the Endeavor Investor Network convened growth market leaders in New York City for a day of networking and learning. The invitation-only event gathered over 120 participants including Endeavor Entrepreneurs and leading investors […]

May 13th, 2015 — by admin

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Lebanon’s Mosaic Marble Honored by the Preservation League of New York for Restoration Efforts

Lebanon’s Mosaic Marble, founded by Taline Assi, was recently honored by the Preservation League of New York for the company’s work in restoring the landmark Williamsburg Savings Bank in Brooklyn, NY. In 2010, Mosaic Marble was selected as the official […]

September 17th, 2014 — by admin

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How to be a VC: Being open

Reprinted from This is Going to be Big. Original article here.

By Charlie O’Donnell.

I always get asked how to get into VC and so I think a lot about what it takes to do the job well.  I’m way early in my career, so I won’t say I’ve perfected anything yet, but after 8 years on the investing side and 3 in startups, I’ve come up at least one thing:

Be open.

In venture capital, you say “no” a lot.  When you say no a lot, you get good at it.  It comes off the tongue fast and in lots of different ways.  It is your default response.

Practicing the word no as many times as a VC does means you have to fight not to have your mind close on you.  I fight it…and fight it hard.  I want your pitch to be the one I say yes to–and I want you to solve the inherent problems in your business model.  I want to figure out if I can help you get there.

I don’t think that every VC takes the approach that anyone can be successful–or that every problem is fixable, which is weird to me because their job is to make people successful and fund things that solve problems.  Yet, time and time again, I see well practiced dismissiveness.


How to use fifteen minutes a day to create a culture of accountability

Reprinted from Duct Tape Marketing. Original article here.

By John Jantsch

It’s great to have a plan. Even better to charge out and begin to execute the plan. But, to keep your plan alive day in and day out, you’ve got to have a routine that holds everyone accountable for all things big and small.

To keep commitment high and reinforce a culture based on your objectives you need to install a systematic approach to meetings that allows people to be heard, get help, pose ideas, participate, learn, grow, move projects forward, and stay connected.

This will include annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily planned sessions designed to accomplish specific tasks.

I can almost hear some collective groaning coming from my readers, but trust me on this. If you do this right, you’ll wonder how you ever succeeded without it. You may find that more gets done in terms of actual work and real team building in a month using this system than at any time in your business.

First off, have everyone in the organization sketch out their near term plans. The projects they need or intend to get done in the 30, 60, and 90 days based on your overall marketing or business plan. This should be an ongoing moving process and will be one of the tools used in your meeting system.

Daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly

Every organization, depending upon the number of employees and other logistics, will have slightly differing needs, but the basic framework should look something like this:

Quarterly meetings – These meetings should be used to give “state of the business updates” that will likely include financial data and reporting on goals and objectives for the year.

One of the ways that many organizations reinforce core values is to choose a quarterly theme that relates to one of your stated core values and plan activities and initiatives that highlight the chosen value. I’ll go into more detail about this specific tactic in a subsequent chapter on culture.

These meetings should be fun and celebrate achievements, milestones and accomplishments that may fall outside the realm of work.

Monthly meetings – These meetings may include financial and milestone reporting, but should also include teaching.

One of my favorite ways to include teaching in the monthly meeting is to select a member of the staff, regardless of department, and charge them with leading a session about their department or function’s specific initiatives, goals and achievements.

This can be a fun way to “get to know accounting” or “showcase the new advertising campaign.”

Weekly functional meetings – It gets a little trickier once you start breaking meetings down to functional teams or departments. This is where organizations with flat structures (everyone reports to one boss) start to choke. If you’re the boss and you manage everyone in the organization, this tactic will reveal why you can’t continue this practice.

The good news is that this process and the project planning process I wrote about recently are how you start to create a management structure in your organization where perhaps none existed previously.

In fact, many organizations find that the sheer act of planning creates its own logical team organization structure based on who can be and is responsible for projects.

The focus of the weekly meeting is project movement. If you have a very small staff this may be a weekly staff meeting, but the focus is still to get updates on projects. If you have a very organization you may logically conduct these in small groups around projects.

Some mid-sized organizations hold weekly all hands meetings in addition to functional staff meetings in an effort to highlight their most important initiatives.

VML, a digital marketing agency located in Kansas City, holds an all staff meeting every Tuesday morning with the primary purpose of highlighting the organization’s community, non-profit and charitable activities. The brief meeting is also frequently used as a way to recognize staff members who exemplified core values during the coarse of the week.

Daily functional huddle

The concept of the daily huddle has been used in large business for years and has had a huge impact on organizations such as Ritz Carlton, Johnson & Johnson and 3M. Verne Harnish, author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits did a great deal to popularize the notion in small business circles. Harnish contends that this was one of Rockefeller’s core concepts used while building Standard Oil.

While some may view this tactic purely in terms of efficiency I think it’s one of the greatest ways to build team commitment and spirit and once again reinforce purpose.

Wamda.com on Endeavor’s launch in Saudi Arabia

By Nina Curley

Reprinted from Wamda.com. See origina article here

Endeavor has announced the launch of a new office in Saudi Arabia that will bring its global support for high-impact entrepreneurs to the Gulf region.

The office will be Endeavor’s fifth in the Middle East and North Africa, after Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt, expanding the non-profit’s ability not only to mentor high-impact entrepreneurs in the Gulf, but also to increase opportunities for existing Endeavor Entrepreneurs.

The move was a natural fit for Endeavor, says Joanna Harries, the company’s International Expansion Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “We’ve had a lot of success in the region since launching in Turkey in 2006. We opened in Jordan and Egypt in 2008, and then Lebanon in 2011, finding great entrepreneurs to support in all three markets. In the past year, we wanted to enhance our presence in the Gulf, and Saudi Arabia presented the biggest opportunity, in terms of market size, potential capital for entrepreneurs, and supportive strategic partners such as Abraaj,” she says.

As the youth population in Saudi Arabia continues to grow and the economy diversifies from its petroleum industry base, supporting high-impact entrepreneurs will be essential for sustainable growth. Endeavor Saudi Arabia is further supported by a local board of directors made up of the country’s top business professionals. Board Chairman Rami Alturki said in the press release, “Entrepreneurship is one of the keys to addressing the need for tens of thousands of new and innovative jobs in the Kingdom.

Rakan Al Eidi will serve as the Managing Director of Endeavor KSA, working to recruit the first high-impact Endeavor Entrepreneurs in the Kingdom. Al Eidi previously founded the Saudi Entrepreneurs Club and has served as an Ambassador at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

Endeavor’s regional office in Dubai will continue to facilitate connections between Endeavor Entrepreneurs throughout the region. “Our first priority is to support entrepreneurs within the country, yet we also want to provide support to our entrepreneurs that have regional aspirations,” says Harries.

By working both nationally and regionally, Endeavor aspires to boost the country’s fledgling entrepreneurship ecosystem. “We’re very excited by the enormous opportunities to build entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia,” said Endeavor Co-founder & CEO Linda Rottenberg.

Introduced by Endeavor, Silicon Valley fund 500 Startups invests in Jeeran

Editor’s note: Endeavor was pleased to play a role in introducing Jeeran to their new investor.

By Nina Curley

Reprinted from wamda.com. See original article here.

Silicon Valley-based seed fund and accelerator 500 Startupshas today announced investment in Jeeran, the popular Amman-based user review platform.

For Jeeran, which launched as a Yahoo-style Arabic user-generated content portal in 2000, and then pivoted in 2010 to focus on locally relevant place reviews in English and Arabic, the investment is a great validation. 500 Startups has investments in over 20 countries, and its investment in Jeeran marks its first in the Arab World.

David Mcclure, the founder of 500 Startups, said in a statement, “We’re super excited about Jeeran and its proposition to the emerging world, We’re ready to blow up startups in the MENA region.”

Beginning with Jeeran makes sense; both co-founder Omar Koudsi and Laith Zraikat (who has since left) stand as leaders in Jordan’s technology entrepreneurship scene and are Endeavor Jordan entrepreneurs. The startup has already taken on funding from leading investment vehicles Accelerator Technology Holdings, Intel Capital, and Seedcamp. Also joining in the current round are Fadi Ghandour, founder of Aramex, and Rabea Ataya, the founder of job search platform Bayt.com.

Since its pivot, Jeeran’s overall userbase has decreased, but with a far more focused product, it has tapped into a new niche and likely more sustainable model, bringing over 250,000 offline businesses online. It’s useful in poorly mapped markets like Jordan, where accurate maps and local phone numbers add critical value for consumers. The site also focuses in Saudi Arabia, and offers review in 17 cities throughout the region, yet scaling will be key to its ultimate success.

That’s exactly what it hopes to do the help of 500 Startups’s 160 mentors around the world. Co-founder Omar Koudsi said, “Jeeran is looking forward to collaborating with 500 Startups to help develop its internal capabilities, and will be sending some of our team members to train in Silicon Valley, where 500 Startups is based.” The press release also stated that the round comes as part of preparing Jeeran for an aggressive expansion strategy across the Arab World and Asia in the coming year.

eMBA field report: research and teamwork in Egypt

Nate Wong at the Pyramids

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

This is a follow-up to Nate’s previous blog post.


The feedback session with the uFollow team was a great way for me to meet my colleagues and has resulted in some great friendships and bonds. The team was eager to try Chinese food, so I treated them to a Chinese feast the day before Ramadan started for everyone to try. For many, it was their first foray into Chinese food and eating with chopsticks – yes, we had lessons prior to eating! I am excited for an aftar, or break fast, feast that my co-workers invited me to during Ramadan, which will be a great way to experience Egyptian culture and more Egyptian food firsthand.

While I only have a couple more weeks left in my internship, I am excited to see the fruits of my labor come to fruition already.

Of course, the eMBA experience would not be complete without stories of excursions outside of the office as well. I ventured outside of Cairo and explored Luxor, the place of the famed Valley of the Kings; Aswan along the Nile; and all the way down to Abu Simbel in the “Nubian” region close to the border of Sudan. Some of my highlights have included a hot air balloon ride in Luxor, a sunset Nile cruise, and negotiating at a spice market in Aswan. With only two more weeks left, I still have a couple more sights on my to-do list, and am excited to see what traction we can gain with on the acquirer front now that we have documentation and a defined strategy and list of potential buyers to contact!

eMBA field report: improving Latin American tourism options online in Argentina

Mohamed Thoraia is an MBA candidate at IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. He is interning with Endeavor Entrepreneur company Evolution Group through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

Flying for more than 25 hours — all the way from Cairo to Buenos Aires — was not enough to keep me from going to the office on the day I arrived.  My excitement about being in Argentina and my curiosity about doing business in Latin America gave me enough energy to get through the day.

Founded by Diego Noriega, one of the most accomplished internet entrepreneurs in Argentina, Visiting.net is about changing the way that tourism businesses reach consumers. It is a Vacation Rentals Portal that aims to consolidate the fragmented online and offline rental offerings in Latin America and provide the travelers with a truly local experience.

Working on the market entry strategy and brand development for Visiting.net has offered me a golden opportunity to learn about the travel and tourism market in Latin America and understand the dynamics and the drivers of this vital industry.  It was also rewarding to be a part of the entrepreneurial community through various interactions with Endeavor local office staff or by spending time with fellow MBA alumni who are persistently working on their start-ups in a truly inspirational environment.

Ultimately, being surrounded by the passionate and motivated team at Visiting.net, indulging in the unique taste of Argentine food, and hopping between the barrios of the stunning Palermo Soho district have certainly been some of the key highlights of the past few weeks.



How High-Impact Entrepreneurs are helping create a middle class in Mexico

Despite the global recession, Mexico’s middle class has significantly increased over the past few decades. According to a recent article in the Washington Post and International Monetary Fund data, “GDP per capita has increased from $7,357 in 1990 to $13,928 in 2010 [in Mexico], accounting for inflation.” In addition, according to Mexican government data, the percentage of Mexicans living in poverty have dropped from 80 percent in 1960 to 48 percent today. Endeavor believes that high-impact entrepreneurs have helped create this increase in GDP, growth in middle class and decrease in poverty levels in Mexico. High-impact entrepreneurs make outsized contributions to revenue growth. For example, Endeavor’s high-impact entrepreneurs generate revenue 3.3 times faster than comparable companies in Mexico, as seen in Endeavor’s Impact Dashboard.  In turn, this outsized contribution to revenue creation generates GDP growth within a country. Most importantly, GDP growth helps individuals escape poverty and move into the middle class.

The below infographic further demonstrates the power of high-impact entrepreneurs to alleviate poverty and grow the middle class via GDP growth.

eMBA field report: taking charge and finding adventure in Santiago

Anthony Campbell and friends in Chile

Anthony Campbell is an MBA candidate at IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. He is interning at EMAN through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

When I first spoke to Endeavor Chile staff and Iván Báez, the Endeavor Entrepreneur who founded EMAN, from Barcelona, I was immediately sold on the idea of working in a new country and new language to directly shape and implement a growing company’s strategy. Four weeks in, I can honestly say that the role has offered much more than I was expecting. It has evolved from “simply” developing a marketing strategy for a new product line to a fundamental review of the company’s strategy and prioritizing investment opportunities between the portfolio companies. Having worked in consulting before my MBA, this is a golden opportunity to apply all that I have learned and actually see things through to implementation rather than just leaving behind a nicely formatted PowerPoint. Knowing that what you recommend will actually become a reality obviously means you feel a greater sense of responsibility, but is also an opportunity. I think it is unique to an Endeavor internship and is the one thing from which I am learning the most.

Aside from the day job, Chile offers pretty good weekend opportunities. With the other eMBAs in Santiago, I managed to make it to the ski slopes and the beach in just one weekend. On another I took a trip to the Elqui Valley. Writing this on the plane to San Pedro, I have little doubt that, for me, this internship is the best combination of professional development and personal adventure.

Hire today or gone tomorrow: How your startup is getting lapped by companies who know how to hire

Reprinted from This is Going to be Big. Original post here.

By Charlie O’Donnell.

There will always be an excess of bad ideas and dumb money in the market–so we’ll always be complaining about a lack of talent, no matter how many developers there are.

Still, I contend that most companies have no idea how to hire, and in the last week, my theory got proved to me several times over.

In February, I got contacted by a former management consultant who was now working in an operations role for a high profile startup.  He was ready for his next big thing and offered to help me out with the fund.  I wasn’t hiring, but I agreed to meet him due to his generous offer.  We met up and I was super impressed.  In March, I introduced him to two startups that needed some operations help.

The first company responded right away, but offered to meet the candidate ten days later.  Four weeks went by and the other company still hadn’t responded at all–not until I nudged them.

Luckily, he wasn’t in that much of a rush, so the timing still worked out for meetings.  Both companies were impressed and one wanted to make an offer.  The other one didn’t really follow up at all, and I got a note from the candidate:

“btw, any idea what could have happened on the [Company #2] front?  I thought the entire process went as well as it possibly could and I even walked out of there (after meeting [the founder] and the entire team in two sessions) w/ what I thought was a soft offer.  and then radio silence.  I’ve followed up as non-annoyingly as possible via email but I don’t want to be pushy.  any thoughts?”

And the company that wanted to make an offer to him?  He sent me this note about the founder:

“have you heard anything from him?  I thought the conversation last monday went well but I’d love to hear more about what he specifically needs/is looking for.  he seems to be a hard guy to pin down.”

So I ping the founder and they have another meeting.  The candidate was psyched:

Hey there, I had a great convo w/ [the founder] this morning.  I may have finally met someone who has the same (possibly more, though I find it hard to believe now that I’m writing it down) amount of energy that I do.

Still no offer, though.  Another two weeks go by.  By then, the market catches on that he’s looking, and another startup, one that was bigger and more mature, starts the recruiting machine.  The candidate meets the team first thing in the morning one day, has four interviews with the right folks, and gets an offer literally at the end of the day.  He was overwhelmed by their interest after getting the runaround from the other companies over weeks, if not months, and chose to accept.


Endeavor Entrepreneur Laith Zraikat (from Jordanian tech firm Jeeran) ventures into product reviews

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

By Nina Curley. This article focused on Laith Zraikat, who, along with Omar Koudsi, became an Endeavor Entrepreneur after founding Jeeran.

Ever since co-founder Laith Zraikat left Jeeran earlier this year, the Jordanian tech scene has been curious what he’ll do next. He’s not one to rest; his martial arts background speaks to a calm intensity that he also brings to coding and building apps. It’s unclear if the man ever goes off duty.

After 12 years of building Jeeran, which just secured funding from seed fund 500 Startups, Zraikat is ready to bring that focus to something new. Since March, he’s been crafting Olgot, a mobile application that will allow users to say they “like,” “want,” or “got” items around them. In contrast to Jeeran, which now focuses on local place reviews, Olgot, which means “to grab” or “catch” in Arabic, delves into the product layer, allowing consumers to share and comment on individual products – chocolate cake at Café Strada, an iPod at electronics store Smart Buy, or a piece of art or t-shirt that they want.

The idea is to make a place’s offerings more transparent, allow consumers to discover new products, and help companies receive customer feedback by item- information that often gets lost in the long list of reviews on place-review platforms like Yelp and Jeeran. “I believe that there needs to be a company that is encouraging people to share and discover more of the products that they see,” says Zraikat.

Also, similar to the way Foursquare’s checkins encourage re-engagement with a venue, Olgot would encourage users not just to read reviews, make a choice, and then close the app, but to continue to post about what they are enjoying, he says. “I’m hoping to have multiple engagements at each location per visit.”

The app prototype that I saw was sleek, with good user experience and a very simple tessellated wall that looked like Pinterest meets Flipboard. The social strategy also seems sound: the app will integrate with Foursquare for venues in Amman, where it’s being tested, and will allow users to share items on Facebook and Twitter. The tricky part will be the basic issue all social apps face: can it get enough traction for the social element to take off? Will enough users want to rate, price, and share elements of their daily lives? Will it be fun enough?

Do Users Like Reviewing Products?

When it comes to answers, Zraikat is not the first to come up with the idea. Silicon Valley-based Hollrr, which sprung up in February 2010, let users share products and services on Facebook and Twitter, using badges, Foursquare-style, to turn sharing into a game. Yet the app went dead quickly, posting its last tweet in June 2010. Checkpoints, which launched in the U.S. later that year (with a name that wouldn’t work well in this region), offered users the ability to check-in to products and gain coupons by scanning them. It received almost 100,000 Likes on Facebook, yet is restricted to items with a barcode.

Another recent example includes Stamped, which was founded by ex-Google employees last November and allows users to simply give a restaurant, book, movie, or song (all aggregated from online sources) their “stamp” of approval. As Zraikat pointed out, it doesn’t allow users to rate a variety of products in those restaurants, and it’s limited to online content.

Olgot is perhaps most like Oink, which Digg founder Kevin Rose launched last November. The app allowed users to rate individual products and categorize them using hashtags. It saw 10,000 downloads in two and a half weeks, most likely thanks to Rose’s brand recognition, TechCrunch points out. It was an experiment, explained Rose, “first we have to prove that there’s value in seeing a bunch of people help curate what the best stuff is in a given place.” Yet by March 31st, the site closed.

Zraikat has heard that the experiment was a success, in that the answer was yes- people do want to rate products and share them. Google acquired the Milk team, including Rose, and may try to leverage the idea in a future product, he guesses, especially after their acquisition of Zagat last year.

Building a Global Product

Yet Zraikat has built Olgot to stand apart from these other apps with one critical differentiator: he plans to encourage users to post the price of each item, to eventually build in a mobile payment mechanism. The app will also include wishlists, will get smarter at predicting what you like and don’t like, and will incorporate privacy controls so that users can “like” or “want” items to one friend group but not another- an aspect that I brought up as a concern.

If Zraikat can test and discover what’s truly sticky among Olgot’s multiple functions, it will have global potential. There’s no need, he points out, to only focus on the local or regional market. “Barriers to global entry have been shattered by Foursquare. Thanks to their platform, the local recommendations space has gone global.”

He’s looking to leapfrog from Jordan to the U.S., where mobile payment integration and uptake will likely be easier. Yet in the Middle East, Olgot will have the advantage of being a first mover in the space, especially if it integrates mobile payments. For now, the app is in invite-only beta- there’s no URL, but you can look for evidence of testers’ shares on Twitter and Facebook.

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