High-Impact Entrepreneurship

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Endeavor Jordan Hosts Second Annual “Catalyzing Conversations” Event with Top Members of the Global Network

Endeavor Jordan hosted the second annual ‘Catalyzing Conversations’ event in collaboration with the 59th Endeavor International Selection Panel in Amman. ‘Catalyzing Conversations’ is a multi-tiered event featuring a series of interactive and motivational discussions with business leaders, entrepreneurs […]

June 30th, 2015 — by admin

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Harvard Business Review Highlights the Power of Scale-Ups and The Global Scale Up Declaration

The Harvard Business Review recently featured an article co-authored by Endeavor President Fernando Fabre and Babson College professor Dan Isenberg that puts the spotlight on impact of scale-up organizations and the entrepreneurs behind them. The article takes […]

September 30th, 2014 — by admin

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eMBA field report: spreading innovative design from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia

A demonstration of Nada Debs’ hand-crafted design in the Nada Debs Gallery in Beirut during Beirut Design Week

Abulaziz Baroum is an MBA candidate at Babson College’s F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business. He is interning with Endeavor Entrepreneur Nada Debs in Lebanon through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

The Land of Entrepreneurs

Lebanon is a colorful country with resilient, highly independent, and self-made people.  I am working in Lebanon with an entrepreneur, Nada Debs, who employs an entrepreneur, who, himself, has an entrepreneur reporting to him (!).

Applying to Endeavor’s eMBA Program

I come from the Middle East with a corporate background from Procter & Gamble.  Given the challenges we are facing in the Middle East – a high unemployment rate and a young population – entrepreneurship stands out as the single greatest remedy to our region’s crisis.  Hence, my decision to join Babson, the number one school for entrepreneurship, where I learned about Endeavor and its efforts in supporting high impact entrepreneurs.  And it was at Babson where a colleague of mine brought the eMBA position at Nada Debs to my attention.

About Nada Debs

Nada Debs is an inspiring and creative entrepreneur.  She discovered that designs for modern, Middle Eastern furniture were almost non-existent and created her company, East and East, which concentrates on designing, manufacturing and selling her own furniture and home accessory lines.

My Project Scope

In light of the rapid business growth and brand awareness that Nada Debs has achieved, the management team has decided to increase the company’s global presence; and with the unprecedented development and real estate boom taking place in Saudi it was only natural to grow into the Saudi market.  My project is mainly focused on defining the Saudi Arabia market entry strategy.

A Venture from the Inside

My journey so far has been enlightening, to say the least.  I’ve been reading and learning about entrepreneurship and startups throughout my year at Babson.  What I’ve been taught has definitely come in handy, but nothing matches a view from the inside. Almost everything here is an opportunity-driven team effort, something you can’t really teach in a classroom.

In Lebanon, burning tires is a popular sign of protest, which has been banned recently. This picture was taken during Beirut Design Week (June 25-30, 2012). It was a creative display by a Lebanese fabric designer. The smoke was artificial of course; otherwise, wouldn’t have been so creative after all.

3 things that investors and entrepreneurs can do to avoid an eternal war

Reprinted from Wamda. Original article here.

By Ayman Abou Hend.

Apple is the most valuable company around the world. Google is the search titan and the innovative platform in the tech industry. Microsoft is the world biggest software company. Pinterest was recently valued at 1.5 billion. Instagram has been acquired by Facebook for an obnoxious sum, and now, Facebook has finally gone public.

When all these stories are mentioned, the first thing that comes up to my mind is the relationship between the entrepreneur, the investors involved, and how it all came together in the first place. I ask: Was it easy? Was it hard? How it can be done? Can these stories be repeated?

Often, the relationship between entrepreneurs and investors is filled with subtle tensions.

You might notice this in an entrepreneur’s article describing that VCs “never listened,” “were pushy,” or alleging that “all they care about is the money.” On the other hand, you will find some investors claiming that entrepreneurs “are stubborn” or “know nothing about the business world,” sniping, “we can’t always be leaving money on the table for them.”

Entrepreneurs might see investors as “vampires”, the rich nobles that suck the blood out of their victims (entrepreneurs!). And investors might deal with the Entrepreneurs as though they are “lycans,” creatures that have strong supernatural powers but use them savagely and waste the good and the green (the money!).

In old legends, they say that the war between the vampires and the lycans is eternal. They also said that any kind of truce between the two races is a figment of the imagination.

However, when it comes to entrepreneurs and investors, there are three things that both and entrepreneurs could do to understand each other better. This may help each party get to know the reasons why sometimes its counterpart acts in a manner that seems to frustrate.

I was originally a venture capitalist, so I have lived the tension of this “war” myself. Yet when I tried to found a company, I tried the life of an entrepreneur and from here I began to sense the pressure on both sides.

First, the Investors: Here are three points that may aid you when dealing with The Entrepreneurs:

1. Understand the feelings of an entrepreneur

First, you need to understand that this company or venture in which you are investing is everything to the entrepreneur. It is his or her dream, hope, target and future. The entrepreneur senses that this company is his own child. He or she has likely risked most of his or her capital, career, and even personal life to make it succeed. So don’t be surprised if they acted aggressively sometimes, if they feel the investor is trying to take control.

2. Communicate Positive and Healthy Vibes

As business professionals, you need to exhibit leadership, communicating to the entrepreneur that you both have common point of interests. You will sometimes need to give him his space and allow him to make the decisions. I have known venture capitalists that interfere in every single decision the entrepreneur takes and this is not right. In the end, the investor’s role is to monitor the results, audit, give assistance and interfere when required or when necessary if the venture is off-track or an action might jeopardize the investment.

3. Remember: it’s all about the human capital

In the end, you should remember that your main investment is in the entrepreneur, not the venture. Only the entrepreneur will be the shareholder most invested in making the venture succeed because originally it was his or her main idea and investment. So it’s best to encourage his or her enthusiasm, rather than considering it as a threat.

Now, the Entrepreneurs. I consider myself blessed because most of my life I have been surrounded by entrepreneurs. I have learned a lot from them, and they make life less boring and give me the sense that something about tomorrow is going to be exciting. They are always active, thoughtful and hungry for more.

Entrepreneurs, Here are three points that may help you deal with investors, specifically venture capitalists:

1. Understand the life of a venture capitalist.

Being a venture capitalist is demanding. From the moment we construct the fund to the moment we close a deal, we are subject to intense pressure. We conduct road shows, present strategies, follow on legalities, source opportunities and try to raise capital from Limited Partners. We have to justify every penny we burn in each new venture, calculate the risk and return, and decide how much are we going to invest and what the average lifetime of our investment is. So don’t be surprised when we act pressured.

2. If you fail, we fail too!

As investors, we don’t doubt your abilities as entrepreneurs, but you should know that the most critical part of the life cycle of any venture is its early stage. Any wrong move during this period will lead to the failure of the company, and only one or two out of ten start ups survive. We want to support you and help the company evolve and succeed.

3. It is not only you, nothing personal…Just business!

Take into consideration that each venture capitalist doesn’t only follow your company but rather tracks up to five companies at the same time. The error margin for any venture capitalist is very low. Imagine yourself justifying to the limited partners why you have “pulled the plug and written down a company.” So, yes, sometimes we interfere, not because we want to seize control over the venture, but because we are simply trying to add value to the company.

In the end, we all know that the market has become more aggressive, more swift, and merciless. Our error margin is nearly null and we need cooperation between both sides to make start ups succeed. But with these tips, perhaps the “vampires” and the “lycans” can find a truce.

Ayman is entrepreneurial capitalist, and Member of Venture Capital and Private Equity investing in Canada, acting as a MENA Representative. He is involved on finding, deciding on new investment opportunities and exciting current ones. He is also responsible for following the business side of and managing a number of Cartel Ventures portfolio companies. Ayman’s investment track record over the last years includes the execution of successful transactions in technology, biomedical, Real estate, Pharmaceuticals and financial services. He has been through all stages in Venture Capital cycle: fundraising, investing, value creation and exit realization. He earned his BS in communication and electronics engineering from the Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University, and became Chartered from the CFA institute at 2011.

Endeavor Catalyst invests in AirTies as first MENA region company

Please see the original press release below.

Endeavor Catalyst Invests in Turkey’s Airties; First Catalyst Investment in MENA region

NEW YORK, July 18, 2012 — Endeavor, the world-wide leader in selecting, mentoring and accelerating high-impact entrepreneurs, announced that it has closed an investment round with AirTies, an innovative Turkish developer of wireless networking equipment with worldwide sales, as the third investment of Endeavor Catalyst.

Endeavor Catalyst is a revolutionary and high-impact initiative that uses donated capital to allow the organization to co-invest in Endeavor Entrepreneurs in a neutral, unbiased way. The main goal of this program is to use the returns of the investment both to support Endeavor’s operations and to be reinvested into Catalyst to provide funding for other Endeavor Entrepreneurs.

The investment is the first for Endeavor Catalyst in an Endeavor Entrepreneur in the MENA region and is part of a larger financing round led by international investment firm Invus which has headquarters in New York.  It follows closely on investments in Argentine IT outsourcing leader Globant and Brazil’s Minha Vida health advisory website. Today, Catalyst investments total nearly $3.5 million.

The pioneering supporters of Endeavor Catalyst have each pledged $1MM to the investment vehicle, citing it as an innovative new model of philanthropy. The founding members of this Entrepreneurs’ Circle include Michael Ahearn, Chairman of True North Venture Partners; Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Former Chairman of Warner Music Group; Michael Cline, Managing Partner of Accretive LLC; Reid Hoffman, Partner of Greylock Partners and Co-Founder of LinkedIn; Arif Naqvi, Founder and Group CEO of Abraaj Capital; Pierre Omidyar, Founding Partner of Omidyar Network, Founder and Chairman of eBay.

“With this investment in AirTies, Catalyst becomes a truly global investment vehicle as we move beyond Latin America and into the Middle East, where we see significant opportunity,” says Linda Rottenberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Endeavor Global. “We are thrilled to align Endeavor more closely with AirTies’ success. AirTies’ Founder & CEO Bulent Celebi is an extraordinary Endeavor Entrepreneur and role model in the region, who also serves as an Endeavor Turkey board member and mentor to other entrepreneurs.”

Endeavor is leading the global high-impact movement to catalyze long-term economic growth around the world. With operations in 15 countries throughout Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, Endeavor has screened more than 30,000 entrepreneurs and selected 708 individuals leading over 443 high-impact companies. These Entrepreneurs have created over 180,000 jobs, generated over $5 billion in revenues in 2011 and inspire future generations to innovate and take risks.

“Endeavor supported AirTies in its early stages, by helping me secure financing in Turkey and through providing strategic introductions to world-class leaders,” says Bulent Celebi. “Catalyst further aligns AirTies with an organization I care about. Through Catalyst and my role on the Endeavor Turkey board, I am proud to give back to Endeavor and support the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

After a 20-year career in Silicon Valley, Celebi co-founded AirTies in 2004 to provide wireless solutions for the residential and small business market in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. Developing, producing and marketing network and wireless routers, set top boxes and accessories, AirTies is the leading company to wirelessly distribute multiple HD video streams to multiple TVs with its innovative MESH networking technology.

About Endeavor:

Hailed by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman as “the best anti-poverty program of all,” Endeavor is leading the global movement to catalyze long-term economic growth by selecting, mentoring, and accelerating the best high-impact entrepreneurs around the world. To date, Endeavor has screened more than 30,000 entrepreneurs and selected 708 individuals leading 443 high-impact companies, who then inspire future generations to innovate and take risks. Headquartered in New York City, Endeavor currently operates in 15 countries throughout Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. As the high-impact movement expands globally, Endeavor will continue to prove that anyone with a big idea can succeed, from Silicon Valley to Latin America, the Middle East, and beyond.

About AirTies:

AirTies Wireless Networks, the innovative wireless home networking & Set-Top-developer to the digital TV industry. AirTies designs and develops its own hardware and the embedded firmware. Technology innovations include award winning wireless video distribution to multiple TV’s, wireless coverage range extension, and network setup at a touch of a button. Through its comprehensive product range, including 4 fundamental services (high speed internet access/xDSL, Wireless LANs, internet based telephony/VoIP, and internet based television/IPTV/OTT & DVB C, S & T STB’s).

AirTies was founded in February 2004 by a senior management and technical team from the Silicon Valley, USA, with the strategic intent to become the market leader in wireless distribution within the connected home. AirTies has thus far more than 8 million installed base world-wide. More information is available on their website at www.airties.com.

About Invus:

Since 1985, Invus has been an equity investor in companies who seek to transform their industries. Invus partners with owner-managers of private and public companies to help them achieve extraordinary business performance. Over its 20+ year history, Invus has achieved both cash on cash multiples and annual internal rates of return that are at the very top of the private equity industry. Today Invus manages assets over $4 billion through an evergreen fund structure and has offices in New York, London, Paris and Hong Kong. Invus has invested in companies across a wide range of industries including consumer products and services, food, specialty retail, software, biotech, medical devices and products and services to professionals. To learn more about Invus, please visit www.invus.com.

Endeavor to launch a new country affiliate in Saudi Arabia

Full press release below.

Endeavor to launch a new country affiliate in Saudi Arabia focused on High-Impact Entrepreneurship

New York, July 18, 2012 – Endeavor announced today that it will launch a new affiliate office in Saudi Arabia, expanding its efforts to select and service high-impact entrepreneurs in the Middle East.

This will be Endeavor’s fifth Middle East regional affiliate, following successful launches over the past six years in Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. Endeavor has already selected 90 entrepreneurs representing 59 companies in the MENA region and provides a range of services including mentoring, providing access to key networks and introductions to sources of smart capital.

All Endeavor affiliates are spearheaded by a local board of leading businesspeople each of who share the organization’s vision for screening and selecting entrepreneurs and then providing them guidance to scale their businesses.

The Endeavor Saudi Arabia founding board will be chaired by Rami K. Alturki, President of Khalid Ali Alturki & Sons. He will be joined on the board by HRH Princess Banderi A.R. Al Faisal, Director General, King Khalid Foundation, Mohammed A. Hafiz, CEO, Al-Sawani, Musaab S. Al Muhaidib, CEO, Al Muhaidib Technical Supplies, Abdulaziz A. Al Omran, VP, Khalid & Abdulaziz Al Omran Co., Hossam Radwan, CEO of Abraaj Saudi Arabia, Faisal Tamer, Managing Partner at The Tamer Group, and Abdulla Al Zamil, CEO of Zamil Industrial.

The board has recruited Rakan Al Eidi to serve as the first Managing Director, overseeing day-to-day operations for Endeavor KSA. His initial responsibilities include recruiting the first Endeavor Entrepreneur candidates in the Kingdom and building a staff to support them.

“We’re very excited to bring Endeavor’s proven model to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said board Chairman Rami Alturki. “Entrepreneurship is one of the keys to addressing the need for tens of thousands of new and innovative jobs in the Kingdom.”

“Through our work with high-impact entrepreneurs in the MENA region, we hope to inspire a culture of entrepreneurship, leading to innovation as well as job and wealth generation.” said Endeavor Co-founder & CEO Linda Rottenberg. “We’re very excited by the enormous opportunities to build entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia.”

The launch of Endeavor in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would not have been possible without the strategic guidance of our regional board members and key partners. Endeavor Global would like to thank Abraaj Capital for their commitment and ongoing support to accelerate Endeavor’s expansion and impact within the Middle East and North Africa.

About Endeavor

Endeavor breaks down barriers that prevent emerging-market entrepreneurs from reaching their high-impact potential. Hailed by NYT columnist Thomas Friedman as the “mentor capitalist” model and “the best anti-poverty program of all,” Endeavor identifies entrepreneurs leading high-growth innovative companies in emerging markets. These entrepreneurs are given world-class strategic advice, access to key networks and other tools that will catapult them to success. With Endeavor’s guidance they become “high-impact” – expanding employment, generating wealth and inspiring others to innovate. Often overlooked, these local entrepreneurs are now jumpstarting private sector development in their countries.

At year-end 2010, Endeavor Entrepreneurs throughout Latin America, South Africa, Turkey, Egypt and Jordan had created more than 150,000 jobs and generated over $4 .5 billion in revenues. For more information, visit www.endeavor.org

Further Information:

For more information on Endeavor Saudi Arabia, please contact Rakan Eidi, rakan.eidi@endeavor.org. For further details on Endeavor Global and Endeavor’s entire portfolio of High-Impact Entrepreneurs please contact david.wachtel@endeavor.org or Joanna.harries@endeavor.org

Endeavor Entrepreneur Omar Koudsi: creating relevant Arabic content is Jeeran’s recipe for success

Reprinted from mediaME.com. See original article here.


mediaME speaks to [Endeavor Entrepreneur] Omar Koudsico-founder of Jeeran.com. Omar shares his views on Jeeran’s“Reviews & Places” business strategy, growth of user-generated content in the MENA region, digital media expenditures and much more.

Q. As one of the first Arab online communities, you have witnessed the development of the Arab Internet landscape over the past decade. Tell us about your journey as a portal, and how you got to where you are today.

My business partner and I started developing websites during our university years. Jeeran emerged and we tried several business ideas as part of it. Some of them were more successful than others.

We started as a blog network which was being used, but not by enough people. Our work wasn’t reaching too many people and we were not seeing growth rates that were satisfying. So we asked ourselves what we could do that would be unique to our site, and how it would differ from the other platforms that had been developed. So we thought of this ‘reviews and places’ concept and thought it would be useful in the Arab World.

This next evolution of Jeeran aims to create something relevant to our community. This is where the concept came from. The search for something useful and relevant to our society made us develop the new Jeeran.com.

We knew it would be a challenge to develop the site. It was not something that could be developed by a programmer who lived thousands of miles away. It took a lot of time and effort, but we were drawn to the challenge because it meant we were really going to create something of relevance.

We agreed on what the main concept would be, and decided we would create a site that would list places and services, and would allow people to review them. The concept was to create a place where you people could review places in a meaningful manner. We started in Amman, Jordan, and have since rolled out in nine other cities.

This concept has been successful from the get-go because people saw the value in it. The value is within the framework of the site. We help people find what they are looking for, whether it be a restaurant, a lawyer, a real estate agent, or a car dealership. Other people’s reviews are open to the public, and help people determine what businesses to interact with.

Q. Tell us about the growth you are seeing in user-generated local content in the MENA region. Are we still suffering from a low percentage of Arabic content on the Internet?

The situation is much better percentage-wise when compared to 3 years ago, thanks to mobile and social media. The biggest change is that people around the world started to consider social media content as user generated content. Usage of Facebook and Twitter in our region is quite strong, so the total is much larger. However, I still think there is a lack of creative, innovative content in Arabic, with the exception of video.

Q. You have recently hired a specialized media representative to handle all your advertising sales. Tell us more about the thinking behind this decision.

We are very happy with our decision to outsource our brand advertising to the Choueiri Group. Jeeran has always been a products company and not a media company. Our relationship with Choueiri Group will allow us to focus on products, while they handle the agency world.

Q. Digital media expenditures are growing in the Middle East. What in your opinion are the main challenges or obstacles for faster growth?

What we still lack in this region that is hindering digital spend growth is transparency and being performance driven as opposed to being relationship driven (the relationship between the site and buying agency).

The relationship driven model works for traditional media such as billboards, TV, and radio because it is very hard to measure the returns. However for online, you can measure results and know what you get out of your spend. Unfortunately, I still don’t see enough emphasis given to the return on spend for online, but I am confident that is changing.

Q. What is your projection for percentage of growth in online spending in 2012 for the industry as a whole, and for Jeeran specifically?

2012 has had a slow start for many advertising sectors, but I am confident that the numbers will be compensated in the months to come. With the challenging political and economical situation in our part of the world, I think it would be good if we see 20% Year-On-Year growth in the digital world.

Q. Where does Jeeran go from here in terms of expansion and technological developments?

We have just released Jeeran.com iPhone and Android applications. Through the applications, one is provided with a list of places, whether it be restaurants, clinics or any other service-providers. In addition, one has access to the places’ telephone numbers and directions through Google maps. The results will appear according to your priorities and based on reviews made by the city’s residents. The applications are available free of charge.

Q. What, in your opinion, is Jeeran’s legacy as such a long term player in the digital media scene, and what advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

I would say my advice to digital media entrepreneurs is to never give up. I would advise them to not go for the easy solutions. Find something you feel passionate about and something you feel is of relevance, and really give it your best shot. It might take you several years to achieve your goals. It took us close to ten years to establish our business, but we never gave up and it paid off.

CEO of newly selected Wehostels shares thoughts on Endeavor and his new start-up

Reprinted from PulsoSocial. Original article here.

By Aleyda Rodríguez (translated from Spanish by David Rousseau)

Diego Saez-Gil, Wehostels: “My objective as an entrepreneur is to give back 10 times the amount I’ve received.”

Last week, we announced that Wehostels would be participating in Endeavor’s ISP.  This week, we bring you two more headlines about the popular start-up, one of which was granted in exclusivity to PulsoSocial. First, the company has just opened its new offices in Bogotá, in the HubBog co-working spaces. Second, Lucas Lain has just joined the Wehostels team as the new CTO. I recently sat down with Diego Saez-Gil, co-founder and CEO of Wehostels, to discuss his experience as an Endeavor Entrepreneur and his involvement in the young start-up.

Diego Saez-Gil and his team at the Wehostels offices, in the HubBog.

Aleyda Rodríguez: You are an Endeavor Entrepreneur. What has this experience meant to you in terms of learning and personal growth?

Diego Saez-Gil: Yes, I was lucky  enough to have been recently selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur. The whole process has turned out be an extremely enriching experience.  Endeavor forces you to question every aspect of your business, from the macro all the way down to the micro. This introspective procedure is instrumental to any company’s growth. But more importantly, Endeavor puts you in touch with high-level people who give you their full attention and provide you with an invaluable service, analyzing your business, asking you questions, and offering you feedback. I was fortunate enough to receive feedback from people such as David Kidder, a serial entrepreneur in New York, Diego Piaccentini, VP of Amazon.com, as well as many other entrepreneurs and executives of the same caliber. You learn a great deal from such experienced people. I also like how Endeavor  inspires you at a more personal level to be a better person and realize that your responsibility as an entrepreneur is much broader that you might think: a good entrepreneur is also one who  generates a positive impact on society. I was amazed at how all these people with really busy schedules were so generous in giving up some of their precious time just to help entrepreneurs like me. Inspired by their generosity, I have decided to dedicate one hour of every day to other entrepreneurs. My goals is to give back 10 times what I’ve received.

 Aleyda Rodríguez: What is the most ambitious goal you’ver ever undertaken in all your time at Wehostels?

Diego Saez Gil: Wehostels has only existed for a short period of time, so we are currently taking on quite a number of goals and challenges. One of our  main goals is to develop the best possible products and adapt them to the actual needs and desires of our users. Another one of our top objectives is to capture and connect the market of travelers with that of hostels. We need to attract both markets simultaneously, and until we attain a critical mass, our service won’t be optimal. Finally, we have to deal head on with the challenge of competing with big-companies and swiping them of their market quotas. However, I am very confident in my team, and I know that together we will triumph over all of these obstacles.

Aleyda Rodríguez: How did this idea come about?

Diego Saez-Gil: A few years ago, I was lucky enough to move to Europe to complete my Master’s degree.  Once there, I fully took advantage of my stay and backpacked all throughout the continent. During the course of my travels, I started to take notice of many business opportunities. As a traveler, I felt that backpacker community was being underserved by the Internet travel industry. The web’s technological advances, reflected for instance in the growth of social networks and in the increase of  smart phones, were not being used to their full potential. I spent a lot of time researching the internet travel industry and discovered that the market opportunity there was very great. The idea behind our start-up continues to evolve but our passion for the internet travel industry remains the same.

Aleyda Rodríguez:  What is the current number of actual users on Wehostels?

Diego Saez-Gil: We’d rather not release that information for now, but our number of users is growing every day, and we are very excited about the traction we’ve attained on all fronts.

Aleyda Rodríguez: Describe your experience at the Endeavor ISP.

Diego Saez-Gil: The ISP was amazing. I was in Canary Wharf, in London’s Financial District, where many investment banks and corporations have their HQs. The most valuable part of the whole experience was the feedback I received from the panelists reviewing my application. I was lucky enough to deal with heavyweights such as Nicolas Szekazy, of Kazek Ventures, Matt Harris of Bain Capital, as well as other impressive panelists. I also had the opportunity to meet  other entrepreneurs from around the world who were also attending the event. It was an incredible experience. I came back full of energy and enthusiasm for what tomorrow will bring.

Aleyda Rodríguez: What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned working with Wehostels?

Diego Saez-Gil: There are thousands of things I’m still learning every day. In one of my more recent learning experiences, I was taught the importance of having a focus point: we entrepreneurs have a lot of ideas and we try to cover too many at a time when we really should be focusing on a few things we want to be good at. Another important lesson I learned is that having the right team is essential; everything else is secondary. In order to keep attracting the most talented people to our team, I want to make Wehostels the most appealing company there is to work for.  We are actively trying to create a great work environment in our offices. Our employee benefits, for instance, are hard to match.

Aleyda Rodríguez: You succeeded at being selected at the Endeavor ISP. What’s next for Wehostels?

Diego Saez-Gil: First and foremost, it is with great pleasure that I announce the addition of a new and very important member to our team:  Lucas Lain, a serial entrepreneur who has built a number of companies (one of them was acquired by Argentina’s Grupo Clarin) has come on board as CTO. His addition to our team couldn’t come at a better time. Lucas’s extensive experience in the development of cell phone technology will prove invaluable as we narrow our focus on mobile phones. Our co-founder and first CTO, Alex Torrenegra, is now our Technical Advisor.

We are also very excited about the launching of our first mobile app for the Iphone. We are very proud of our application and are confident that it is at least 10 times better than the competing applications out on the market, both in terms of design and user experience.  We hope it will be available on the App store by the end of the month (We’ll keep you posted on this!).

Endeavor Entrepreneur Luis Chicani speaks to 7,500 Nigerians at The Platform 10.0

By Sam Weyrauch, Endeavor summer intern

On the western coast of Africa lies Nigeria, its most populous country. It has the continent’s second largest economy, yet faces many challenges, and has one of the highest population densities. It also includes an eager and budding horde of entrepreneurs ready to take the next step with their companies.

Endeavor Entrepreneur Luis Alexandre Chicani traveled across the Atlantic from Brazil to Nigeria recently to participate in the entrepreneurship-focused Platform 10.0, a biannual Cultural Innovation Conference. After Endeavor’s Allen Taylor heard from Silicon Valley friend Sarah Lacy about Pastor ‘Poju Oyemade, who runs the event, he encouraged Chicani to attend. Lacy, the author of Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky, a book promoting worldwide entrepreneurism, had spoken at the event last spring.

Chicani spoke to an audience group of over 7,500 people—as well as thousands more online and on TV—at The Platform before presenting at a smaller Q&A workshop for about 2,000 Nigerians alongside speakers from the U.S., China, India, and Nigeria.

“I talked to people hungry for knowledge,” he said in an interview. “I got very excited to contribute something, and decided to talk about Do’s and Don’ts that drove my life as an entrepreneur in Brazil. As one of Endeavor’s commitments is giving back to communities that need this kind of help, I felt very happy to participate at Platform 10.0 and of course, talked a lot about Endeavor.

Luis continued: “The idea was to tell my history with DentalCorp, BenCorp, TourisMed Brazil and Club Saúde, pointing out difficulties and achievements and always trying to make some comparison with Brazilian and Nigerian realities. I had an opportunity with 21 DentalCorp offices in different urbanized areas of Brazil, but also in the Northeast and Amazon Area where the conditions and needs were much more like those in Nigeria.”

Among the countless entrepreneurs he met, Chicani highlighted two that particularly struck a chord with him. The first was Dr. Edwin Ndubuisi, who founded New Dimension to mentor young African leaders and entrepreneurs to develop their communities and to showcase positive role models to inspire the next generation, in a similar manner to Endeavor. The second was Fifehanmi Bankole, a life coach and senior strategist with Harval Nigeria Limited.

“It was really an honor to give a message about how wonderful it is to develop a culture of entrepreneurship, and that the main fuel is your dream and resilience to go, day after day, facing similar challenges and opportunities,” Luis said. “I wanted to make as many people as I could excited about becoming an entrepreneur (or continuing as one) as a positive force in Nigeria.”


eMBA field report: breaking down barriers, both physical and psychological, in South Africa

Elizabeth McKenna is an MBA candidate at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. She is interning with Stoned Cherrie in South Africa through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

Arriving in Johannesburg, I was immediately struck by the unrelenting fences and dividers in the city. Gates, walls, electric wiring, and other barriers to entry served as obstacles at every turn and every step. Given this pervasive element, I expected a corresponding wariness from the city’s denizens. My experience could not be more contrary. Nkhensani Nkosi, the Endeavor Entrepreneur for whom I am working, has welcomed me with open arms as have her staff, the local Endeavor team, and even her family and friends. Nkhensani has treated me like an equal in discussing business ventures and like a friend, including me in family activities and weekend events.

Nkhensani’s company, Stoned Cherrie, is a fashion house that embraces an Afro-Urban aesthetic. Nkhensani strives to bring a modern African product to the local and international marketplace. Like many South African entrepreneurs, she faces many barriers to entry in her native country. The predominant marketplace in South Africa is the shopping mall due to its security and its convenience. The owners of this real estate ultimately dictate market access and pricing. Unfortunately, these decision makers cater to large department stores and international brands. My project at Stoned Cherrie is to find unique solutions around these barriers to entry. We are looking at innovative retail methods and new ways to market and sell Stoned Cherrie merchandise.

Our primary solution is e-commerce. This has been an intriguing challenge as no other South African fashion designer has yet to establish an e-commerce platform. At first, my project overwhelmed me as we discussed warehousing, courier services, sales forecasting and website design. As I thought about the many components to the project, my anxiety only multiplied. Working directly with Nkhensani has been a remarkable experience. She believes in making the impossible happen. As we have chipped away at all of the project’s variables, our vision is slowly becoming a reality. With its challenges come great rewards. In my mind, e-commerce, m(mobile)-commerce, and s(social)-commerce are not only the most cost-effective and efficient methods of selling but also the future of retail. I believe that the establishment of an online platform for Stoned Cherrie will create global access and ultimately lead to a new set of global customers. I am thrilled to be working with Nkhensani on such a valuable asset to her long-term business development.

Working and living in Johannesburg, I have faced overt barriers to entry. However, in my short time here, I have learned that beyond these barriers lies a wealth of opportunity, creativity, and an incredible future for South Africa.

eMBA field report: courting car dealerships and changing career trajectories in São Paulo

Anthony Muljadi is a recent graduate of Harvard Business School. He is interning with iCarros, founded by Endeavor Entrepreneur Fernando Ortenblad, through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.


My name is Tony and I recently graduated from Harvard Business School. I grew up in Colorado and worked as a consultant in New York prior to my MBA. During business school, I was actively involved in activities surrounding Social Enterprise, Volunteer Consulting, and International Business. These three passions eventually led me to seek out an internship with Endeavor.

I am currently an eMBA working at iCarros, an internet startup in São Paulo that sells classified ads and online products to car dealers across Brazil. I am working closely with Endeavor Entrepreneur Fernando Ortenblad, the Superintendent of Operations, on a number of marketing and sales initiatives at iCarros. I was initially drawn to working with iCarros because I wanted to gain experience in an entrepreneurial environment, work in an emerging market, and better understand the function of marketing.

My experience at iCarros has far exceeded my expectations. The people here have been incredibly welcoming and helpful. I am constantly learning new things as I gain exposure to diverse projects, ranging from CRM implementation, to new product development, to measuring sales effectiveness. My favorite part of the internship has actually been learning how to work in a different language and culture. Picking up Portuguese has become easier as I attend meetings and go to lunch with my Brazilian coworkers.

A few passions of mine have been solidified during my time here at iCarros. The first is that I want to continue working internationally, regardless of where my career takes me. What I love about international business is that it forces you to adapt to a different environment, understand other people’s perspectives, and find common ground. Entrepreneurship is another passion of mine that has grown here in Brazil. I know that someday I will want to start my own business, because I have realized that when you are your own boss working toward something you believe in, your job becomes infinitely easier. That is not to say that being an entrepreneur is easy in itself, but rather the challenges you face become that much more important to overcome.

I only have three more weeks here at iCarros and I am feeling quite sad about leaving. I have had such a great experience here at the company as well as in Brazil as a whole and I really hope to come back some day. I feel so lucky to have been given this opportunity by Endeavor, and I know that many of the lessons I have learned here will be incredibly valuable later on in my career.

eMBA field report: scaling businesses and mountains in Monterrey

Marjorie Camporini, Maria Fernanda Brockman and Mariya Krasteva at Grutas de García, Mexico

2012 eMBAs Marjorie Camporini and Mariya Krasteva and Rocío Díaz González of Endeavor Mexico at La Bandera in Monterrey

Mariya Krasteva is an MBA and MPA candidate at MIT Sloan and Harvard, concurrently. She is interning with Inmobiliaria Enexa and Vialux through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

My first month in Monterrey, Mexico has given me everything I was hoping for and more!

The Mountain King

Monterrey in Mexico has two r’s and is therefore spelled differently than Monterey, California. While its homophonic, American brother is situated on a waterfront, Monterrey is cuddled amongst the magnificent hills of Sierra Madre. Thus, the city stays very true to its own name – el rey del monte means “the king of the mountain.”

Monterrey is also another type of a king – one that dominates Mexican business. It is the third largest Mexican city and the home of the biggest and most profitable companies in Mexico, such as Pemex, Cemex, OXXO, etc. and the headquarters of many multinational corporations. Entrepreneurship and innovation are the most powerful engines driving the city’s progress.

Helping Build a New Business

This summer I am interning at a startup real estate investment company called Inmobiliaria Enexa, which was founded by a parent company, Endeavor Entrepreneur firm Vialux. Vialux builds cell phone towers and leases them to telephone operators. The land underneath the towers is usually rented, posing large operating expenses. Purchasing and owning certain lands can be financially beneficial in the long run due to minimizing renting expenses.

Which properties should be owned versus rented? What are the additional costs associated with ownership? How profitable will the business be in 10 years? What is its best strategy over the next 5 years? These are all questions that I am helping answer through building complex financial models to understand and project real estate profitability. I quickly realized that sitting in a conference room and challenging various assumptions together with the Enexa team and the CEO himself, Oscar Odriozola, is quite the real world business experience!

The Global Endeavor Family

There are five Endeavor eMBAs here in Monterrey representing four countries – Brazil, Bulgaria, Mexico, and Portugal and five different business schools. In between discussing our internships and how to bring the most value to the entrepreneurs, raving over the delicious Mexican food (La Nacional and La Mejico are excellent traditional restaurants) and sightseeing (Grutas de García is the most amazing cave I have ever seen), we have gotten to know one another and have become friends. The Endeavor staff here has been extremely welcoming and has ensured that we have both productive and fulfilling summer experiences. In addition to helping us with structuring out internships, they have been introducing us to Endeavor mentors and entrepreneurs through one-on-one meetings and social events, such as start-up drink gatherings.

On a personal note, my summer experience so far has helped me grow significantly through getting me out of my comfort zone both intellectually and physically! I have for the first time built a real estate profitability model, led a business meeting solely in Spanish and rock-climbed the tall dry walls of el Cañón de la Huasteca!

Mariya Krasteva rock-climbing at Huasteca

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