The invite-only 2015 Endeavor Entrepreneur Retreat will take place May 6-8 in Westchester, NY. Three top-tier keynote speakers have been confirmed for the event: – Kenneth I. Chenault is Chairman and CEO of the American Express Company. He joined […]
Bunny Inc. co-founder and Endeavor Entrepreneur Alex Torrenegra recently authored an article for The Wall Street Journal’s Accelerators, a blog that features expert advice from successful entrepreneurs on business strategy and development. In his piece, Alex […]
From April 29th to May 2nd, the Milken Institute convened its 15th annual Global Conference in Los Angeles. Experts from various fields gathered to discuss ways of leveraging economic activity and policy to improve human welfare worldwide. Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg participated in several panels, including “Game-Changing Global Entrepreneurs” which featured Endeavor Entrepreneurs Mario Chady, Leila Velez, Vinny Lingham, and Amr Shady:
Reprinted from the author’s blog. See original post here.
By Alexander Torrenegra
If you follow my tweets, you may know that I was applying to become an Endeavor Entrepreneur. Endeavor Global is an organization that helps entrepreneurs unleash their potential by providing a network of seasoned business leaders. Endeavor Entrepreneurs get mentoring from members of the world’s top companies, educational and networking opportunities, and hands-on assistance with the most difficult challenges for startups.
We were invited to apply last year. The application process took hundreds of hours of paperwork, interviews, mentorships, and judging panels. Last week we flew to Cartagena, Colombia, for the Endeavor International Selection Panel (ISP). Finally, the last step of the process. We felt prepared and excited as tons of support and encouragement poured in, cheering us on. Sixteen companies were judged by an independent panel and after hours of deliberation, seven were rejected, including us. Honestly, it was heartbreaking. I failed at pitching my business properly. I let my team down, as well as the members of the Endeavor team that invested innumerable hours helping us. I’ve never dissapointed so many great people at once.
There is a positive side though: the experience was life changing. We got over a dozen VIPs (top-notch VCs and executives) analyzing every detail of our business. They criticized it and proposed improvements. We got raw, honest feedback— something quite uncommon since most VCs that don’t like your idea simply tell you “Interesting… we’ll get back to you.” We also met a lot of great people that want to help us.
Professionally speaking, I’m a new Alex today. Thanks to Endeavor, I’m now pitching better, hiring differently, executing faster, and more importantly, dreaming bigger. Or at least, I hope so.
Endeavor Enterpreneur Amr Shady of Egypt-based mobile value-added service provider company T.A. Telecom describes how he got his start pitching mobile advertising concepts, how an initial meeting with the CEO of Vodafone kickstarted their pivot into value-added services, and how having a bootstrapped approach to making profit helped him sell his first big clients.
They’ve been growing the company in terms of revenue 10 times every 5 years, Shady says, lately benefitting from assistance from Endeavor since T.A. Telecom was selected in 2011. He advises young entrepreneurs to test, test, test, and be open to feedback.
“It’s important not to [simply] take someone’s opinion on an idea. If you believe in a service, you need to really test. We’ve learned to double down once it’s generating cash and it’s a scalable project,” says Shady.
Raising money should be seen as a means to accomplish ambitious goals for your company, not an accomplishment on its own. Securing investment from a prestigious venture capital firm can make headlines, but there are many downsides to raising money for an early-stage company. Here are a few:
The earlier stage your company is in, the higher risk it’s perceived to have. This means lower valuation and ultimately, lower returns for you. Startups should aim to validate their idea and get as much traction as possible before raising money. From the investor’s perspective, there is much more risk associated with a company with an unproven idea. A company with no traction is less likely to get funded and if it is funded, it will be valued lower than a company with traction. More dilution means lower returns for founders.
You can get fired from your own company! It’s fairly common for venture capitalists to remove the founder from the CEO position and hire a new one. In addition you will have less voting power on business decisions.
Money can remove spending discipline. It’s nice to be able to take a salary after getting funded, but as Peter Theil believes, CEOs should be motivated by the long-term success of the company, not by the short-term benefits of a salary. Reid Hoffman took the minimum salary available while staying above the poverty line of $15,000 while serving as CEO of LinkedIn.
4.) Exit opportunities
If you decide you want to sell the company early at low price and move to the beach, you won’t be able to because of a term called a liquidation preference. This grants investors a minimum amount of the exit price before founders receive any.
Raising money is extremely time-consuming. It requires a lot of networking and meetings. For someone without much knowledge of how to raise money, it can also be very time consuming to prepare for fundraising. It’s time that could be better spent building the business or networking for partnership or distribution opportunities.
Technological advancement has made it cheaper and easier for a technology to launch and start getting traction and has thus raised investors’ expectations. I recommend startups use Lean Startup Methodology to validate their idea and get traction in a time and capital efficient manner. I agree with Niki Scevak: “Instead of raising money, writing code and then proving the business, do the complete reverse.”
Mike Fishbein helps startups through mid-size companies with capital raising, mergers and acquisitions and strategy. He also teaches a Skillshare class on capital raising and can be reached at twitter.com/mfishbein.
Cartagena, Colombia, May 14, 2012 – Endeavor invited 15 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico at its 43rd annual International Selection Panel. Endeavor now supports 691 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 431 companies in 13 emerging market countries. The entrepreneurs were chosen at a Panel held from May 8 – 10 in Cartagena.
“I’m incredibly impressed with the quality of the companies we are seeing at our panels this year,” said Endeavor co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg. “In particular, we’re seeing a whole new generation of fast-growing technology oriented companies emerging in growth markets that are equal to what we see coming out of US tech hubs.”
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 three more International Selection Panels this year in London (June); Istanbul (October) and Miami (December).
Entrepreneurs: Pablo Orlando, Daniel Jejcic
Company: Good People
Description: Founded in 2008, Good People is building a global community for action sports fans both online via its social e-commerce site, and offline through its 12 brick-and-mortar stores and partnerships with industry leaders including Disney’s X-Games.
Entrepreneurs: Wagner Furtado, Marcio Furtado
Company: Cash Monitor
Description: Wagner Furtado and Marcio Furtado, both from the financial services sector, founded Cash Monitor to help companies manage accounts payable and receivable, which often arrive from different parties at different times in different formats/currencies. Cash Monitor’s two solutions—conciliator credit cards for retailers/service providers and consolidated financial statements for large companies—reduce costs, improve security, and empower CFOs. Cash Monitor targets clients in industries with tight margins (e.g. retail, aviation, and diagnostic laboratories).
Entrepreneurs: Rogério Gabriel
Company: Prepara Cursos
Description: Prepara Cursos offers young, middle class Brazilians more than 70 computer-based vocational and language courses at affordable prices, providing them with the knowledge and skills required to secure their first job. The company serves more than 200,000 students in 350 branches throughout Brazil.
Entrepreneurs: Paolo Escobar, Eduardo Donoso
Description: Bionativa develops, produces and sells natural pesticides to fruit growers in Chile. Founded in 2002, Bionativa is now riding the wave of demand for organic produce and growing quickly. The company has a six-person R&D team. Currently selling to Chile’s fruit exporters, the entrepreneurs have plans for regional expansion.
Entrepreneurs: Victor Devia
Description: OpenDat develops and sells software that enables mining companies to on-board and manage employees more efficiently and cheaply than they currently do. HR management is a major pain point in the mining industry due to the highly regulated workflow of miners. The company sells its product to the major copper mines in Chile and it plans to move into the Peruvian and Colombian markets this year.
Entrepreneurs: Alfredo Gomez, Patricio Rojas
Description: Based in Chile’s mining centre of Antofagasta, Scrum provides copper and gold mining companies with software that allows them to monitor the quality and track the production process of their products from start of production to client delivery.
Entrepreneurs: Andres Alban, Mauricio Hoyos
Description: Conexred brings financial services and products to Colombia’s lower class population. The company has a network of terminals that facilitate the third-party sale of products such as pre-paid cell phone minutes and financial transfers. Conexred places terminals in neighborhood cafes, drugstores, and convenience shops, giving Colombian microentrepreneurs the opportunity to supplement their income.
Entrepreneurs: Jesús Saro Boardman
Description: Fagro develops, produces and sells organic fertilizers to Mexican farmers. Fagro’s products allow farmers to export from Mexico to markets with stringent organic certification requirements and environmental regulations.
Entrepreneurs: Luis Pernia, Luis Martinez
Description: Proa builds personalized safety and security solutions for new construction projects undertaken by contractors and architecture firms. The company both consults with clients on their structures’ specific needs in the context of international safety standards and partners with vendors to supply installations such as doors and alarm systems.
Capturing the Visionary Spirit: Milken Institute’s Global Conference Brings Together Brightest Visionary Women Entrepreneurs to Share Keys to Success
Today Milken Institute’s Global Conference was launched in Los Angeles bringing together over 3,000 of the world’s brightest minds in business, finance, policy, education, health, energy and philanthropy for prestigious two day event off educational lectures, panels and interviews on various topics affecting our world today.
I had the privilege of interviewing three visionary women entrepreneurs that have made tremendous contributions in their fields. These, like the visionary women in my book Pioneers of the Possible: Celebrating Visionary Women of the World (Assouline) have learned valuable lessons about success that we can all benefit from. Here I’ve compiled a short list of the lessons learned from these powerhouses… but first, let me introduce my panelists…
Georgette Moschbacher is the CEO and president of Borghese, a worldwide cosmetic company, who has now partnered with the Costco brand Kirkland retailing nationwide. She is also the author of two books Feminine Force and It Takes Money Honey.
Linda Rottenberg is the CEO and co-founder of Endeavor — she has pioneered the field of high-impact entrepreneurship, the global phenomenon of using high-growth business to transform economies. Endeavor entrepreneurs have created 150,000 high-value jobs and generate annual revenues of 5 billion. She has been named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report and one of 100 “Innovators for the 21st Century” by Time magazine.
Leila Valez is the co-founder and CEO of Beleza Natural, a chain of Brazilian beauty institutes and provider of hair-care products which is taking Brazil by storm… Her institutes to serve up to 1,000 clients per day and women have been known to stand in line for over 4 hours for treatments… The company boosts an impressive yearly revenue growth 30% and Leila Valez is an Endeavor Entrepreneur. She was recently listed in Voce SA magazine as one of its “Entrepreneurs of New Brazil.” In 2007 she was recognized as one of Brazil’s most influential women. She is also the co-author of the book Success Stories From the Small and Medium Enterprises.
KEY LESSONS LEARNED:
1) Believe That Anything Is Possible
Both Leila and Georgette came from very humble backgrounds. Georgette was raised as the eldest of four children, and lost her father at tender age of seven. From that point forward she was raised my her mother and lived at the edge of poverty. Leila Valez grew up in the falevas of Brazil and at one point worked at a McDonald’s. It is impressive that these women were able to build such formidable companies considering their backgrounds. Both attribute a portion of their success the fact that early on they were taught to believe in themselves and that it was possible to achieve even the biggest of dreams. Georgette mentioned how her mother had instilled this belief in her early on, and how it paved the way for perseverance towards her goals.
2) Think Big
Linda Rottenberg said that having a big vision is very important in entrepreneurship. It’s better to have a vision that is giant sized than one that is too small. The BIGNESS of the vision often attracts other like-minded individuals who can see into the possibilities, and therefore this type of thinking attracts opportunities for growth.
3) Always Develop a Strategy, Measure Your Goals, and Readjust
Along with thinking big, it is important to have strategy and plan. Georgette shared about the importance of being able to measure results and use them to grow and adapt as you move forward in your plans. A real strategy is a living breathing document or game plan , it is something both directional yet flexible, and gives life and captures the vision of your organization. A good strategy adapts to real needs and is able to seize new opportunities as they become available.
4) Don’t Let the Word “No” Discourage You From Moving Forward — Keep Knocking
Leila Valez said she learned early on not to take “No” personally. The other panelists agreed. Linda’s early success was due to her tenacity and knack for not letting “no” discourage her from pressing forward. Sometimes “no” is the best news one can hear — it offers closure. It protects entrepreneurs from creating partnerships with dissimilar goals and expectations, and leaves room for the right person or organization to say “Yes,” and to fulfill their important role. Georgette Mosbacher mentioned that this is true for fundraising for philanthropic causes as well as is for venture capital. The lesson to be learned is to keep knocking on doors until the right door opens before you, and not to be discouraged by hearing “no.”
5) Hire the Best and the Brightest
This is very important in building a company. A good team is essential to having success. Georgette spoke about the importance of having or being a part of the right team. Human capital is the cornerstone of successful companies that last — a statement that all three panelists agreed on.
6) Mentorship and Building a Network of Supportive People
Another common theme in the panel was mentorship. Leila spoke about how difficult it was for her to find the right mentors — and how this is something that endeavor does very well. Having a good mentor can help direct our efforts in the right way and gives us the necessary support and networks that are needed in building companies. However, Georgette noted poignantly that sometimes we find ourselves alone with no one there to mentor us — and that’s okay too. In that situation if you can’t find a good mentor, sometimes, you need to be your own role model and “mentor yourself”.
Interviewing these pioneering women in their various fields was both tremendously fun and enlightening. Women today are not only changing the world in homes and communities, but in business, politics, and philanthropy, on a global scale. Each one of us has the power to transform the world.
For videos of Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg at the Milken Global Conference click here.
After owning a business for over twenty years now, here’s something I firmly believe. Your business is worthless until it can operate without you.
Now that may seem a bit harsh to some, but until you’ve created a system that allows others to bring in the business and provide the products and services without the need for you to make it happen, you’re stuck in a job. It may even be a well paying job, but it’s probably not one that you could convince someone else to come in a buy some day. In many ways, your business is stuck to the degree you can successfully delegate the work you do today to others. Others may mean key employees or it may mean other companies or virtual support staff, but your goal as the owner of the business should be to actually rise to the level of CEO.
We could all argue about what CEO work is, but I’m guessing you spend large parts of your day not doing it. I get that, the printer gets jammed, the package needs to be shipped, the copy must be proofread, and then it’s time to go home. One of keys to growing your business to the point where you can rise to the level of CEO, the place where you can focus on the highest payoff work, is to adopt a mindset of systematic delegation. The first step in creating this mindset is to analyze the work you currently do each day and assign a value to it in a way that creates priority.
The value matrix
I like to do this little exercise with people because is assigns a fictitious monetary value to work that helps with delegation thinking. To me there are four kinds of work we do each day – $5, $50, $500, $5,000. (The actual numbers you use for this don’t matter as much as the concept of differing values.) The idea here is that some work you do has great value and is likely the work you should attempt to focus on and some work has little value and is certainly the work you should delegate if you are to ever get to the high payoff work.
$5 is stuff you can easily delegate such as proofreading, link checking or many kinds of basic research.
$50 includes stuff that you’re probably not that good at and should pay someone that’s likely better to do, such as getting your site to run faster, creating PPC campaigns or most of your bookkeeping functions.
$500 is the trickiest one of all. This is usually stuff that’s important, expensive to delegate and that you may indeed be pretty good at, but that will keep you from truly getting free. This includes things like writing sales copy, creating key PowerPoint presentations, delivering your services or even making sales calls.
$5,000 is the high payoff work, but it’s also the hardest to accept because the payoff may indeed be off in the distance, so sometimes it doesn’t feel like the most important work. Spending more time in the $5,000 box should be your goal if you’re ever to set your business free to create value. This is innovation work, strategic partner creation, product and service development, masterminding, documenting and delegating your success systems. The items left in this box should be things you enjoy doing, that serve your passion and purpose and that tap your core abilities or you might need to rethink your business entirely.
Draw a box and create four squares, placing one of the above numbers in each box. Now, go through you typical work week and think about the tasks you’ve done or do routinely and put them in one of the boxes according to what you think they are actually worth. For most people the easy delegation starting point is the $5 and $50 boxes. Right now, commit to documenting how to successfully get that work done by others and start looking for ways to stop doing anything that keeps you in these boxes. Look at your $500 box and start thinking about items in that quadrant that you could delegate. This will be the hardest one because this box almost always contains things that you enjoy doing or that you don’t think you can ever get anyone else to do as well as you, but this is where the real progress comes from.
The to-delegate list
As you start to adopt this thinking make it a daily habit by combing over your daily to-do list. Write it down and then break it into two tiers – to-do and to-delegate. Identifying the things you’ve come to realize you can and should delegate, but still do on a daily basis, will train you to focus on getting them off your to-do list.
“Markafoni, the second most-visited members-only shopping network in the world, is a frontrunner in an industry that grew almost 60 percent in Turkey last year and has attracted investment from EBay Inc. (EBAY), Amazon.com Inc., Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Naspers Ltd. (NPN) and Tiger Global.”
So begins the Bloomberg article about Markafoni, a Turkish e-commerce website that is one of several entrepreneurial ventures leading a transformation of Turkey from a low-cost manufacturing country to one of Europe’s digital frontrunners. Endeavor Turkey network member Sina Afra, the Chairman of Markafoni, was formerly an eBay manager in Berlin. In 2008, Afra “settled in Turkey in 2008 and three years later sold 71 percent of Markafoni to Cape Town-based Naspers for about $200 million. It was one of the biggest foreign commitments to an industry that Deloitte & Touche says will help drive Turkish acquisitions in 2012.”
His presence in the Turkish digital marketplace was impeccable: ”Turkish e-commerce transactions increased 57 percent to 22 billion liras ($12.3 billion) in 2011 from a year earlier, according to the Interbank Card Center, which monitors transactions. Forrester Research Inc (FORR) says e-commerce will grow just 12 percent annually in Europe over the next five years.” Afra has good competition in Demet Mutlu, a Harvard Business School dropout whose website, Trendyol.com, reached $100 million in revenue less than 18 months after going online. “Mutlu wants Trendyol to be Turkey’s first tech company to go public on the Nasdaq Stock Market in New York.”
Put into perspective for a U.S. observer, “the largest U.S. private shopping site, Gilt Groupe Inc., gets fewer than one-third of the unique visits that Markafoni and Trendyol receive, according to Idil Kesten at Comscore. Gilt Groupe is valued at $1 billion on SharesPost Inc., which allows investors to trade in venture-backed private companies.” Burak Buyukdemir, who earned an MBA in Berlin and founded the e-Tohum startup camp in Turkey, suggests that Turkish-Americans are beginning to see opportunity in Turkey – and want to go back.
Afra and Mutlu are both good examples of the reverse talent migration that’s spurring innovation. Entrepreneurs who lived in United States for a few years are starting to return to Turkey, which is fast becoming one of the world’s largest internet markets. “Its $735 billion economy, the largest in eastern Europe and the Middle East, grew 9.6 percent in the first three quarters of 2011, trailing only China in the Group of 20. Half the population is under 30.”
Says Roland Manger, a partner at Munich-based Early Bird Venture Capital, which invested about $4.5 million in Istanbul-based games developer and Endeavor Entrepreneur company Peak Games, “We see a dynamic in Turkey of young entrepreneurs with great training, lots of talents, who often worked abroad and are returning… what we saw eight years ago in China and India when the best and the brightest started to come back to build companies, is happening there.”
Another Turkish success story is Yemeksepeti.com, an online food delivery portal founded by Endeavor Entrepreneur Nevzat Aydin. Aydin “co-founded food delivery portal Yemeksepeti.com in 2000 after dropping out of a master’s program at the University of San Francisco. He expects two or three e-commerce investments of $200 million or more in Turkey this year and a “serious increase” in the $50 million to $100 million range.
Yemeksepeti has expanded to Russia and Dubai, and is in the process of starting operations in three more countries, illustrating what Manger of Early Bird says is Turkey’s opportunity to become a regional e-commerce hub. “Turkish companies are very eager to expand into markets that the West is less familiar with,” Manger said. “Add in the Middle East and Central Asia and you’re adding in hundreds of millions of potential new customers.”
Says Nevzat: “Turkey’s geographical location, proximity to Europe and the Middle East, good Internet penetration and young population present a big opportunity. We’ll have this ‘Internet spring’ for some years to come.”
Michael Useem, director of Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management, tells the story of Chilean adventurer [and Endeavor Entrepreneur] Rodrigo Jordan, who climbed Mt. Everest in 1992 and is gearing up for a second climb in May. This time, however, Jordan will be adding two novel twists, both of them reflecting his lifelong passion for exploration and leadership.
On May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay took the final step onto the top of Mt. Everest, the world’s loftiest summit at 29,035 feet. Hillary snapped a photo of Tenzing at the apex, ice axe raised in triumph, a defining symbol, not only for climbing and summiting, but also for aspiring and succeeding in any hard endeavor.
The route that Hillary, Tenzing and other members of the British expedition had pioneered that year was — and is — difficult and dangerous. British parties had been seeking to reach the summit by another route for 30 years, all falling short. The new route opened a better way, but it still required navigating around gigantic ice-blocks and massive avalanches. Even today, with far superior equipment and provisions, those who follow the 1953 way require weeks in the extreme. Some come back with frostbite or snow blindness, and a few not at all, as readers of Jon Krakauer’s account, Into Thin Air, will recall. Krakauer’s book describes the events surrounding the loss of five climbers on this route in a single day in 1996.
A Mountaineering Tradition
Despite the extraordinary hazards and deprivations, Rodrigo Jordan, a Chilean adventurer, set out to climb the mountain in 1986 by an even more difficult and dangerous route up the East face of the mountain. The Kangshung face is nearly two vertical miles of jagged rock and black ice, a colossal challenge for surviving, let alone ascending at high altitude. His team fell short in 1986, tried again in 1989 and finally summited in 1992. Three Chileans, including Jordan himself, were the first of their country to reach the summit, making it a matter of pride and prominence in a nation already steeped in mountaineering tradition with the Andes and Patagonia in its backyard.
Fast forward two decades. Jordan decided that a 20th anniversary celebration of his country’s first ascent of Mt. Everest would be welcome. Like veterans of foreign wars, veterans of Himalayan expeditions sometimes commemorate their achievements with reunions, but Jordan would add two novel twists, both of them reflecting his lifelong compassion for exploration, leadership and learning.
With a PhD in organizational administration from Oxford University, Jordan returned from his triumph in the Himalayas to create Foundation Vertical, a non-profit organization to give inner-city youth an experience in the wilderness; Vertical SA, a company to take company managers and others into experiential learning; and even an institute to run college-degree programs. The Wharton Leadership Program has long partnered with Vertical for its MBA Leadership Ventures in the Atacama, Patagonia, and even Antarctica.
Endeavor Uruguay recently gave aspiring entrepreneurs an exceptional chance to bring their dreams into focus with two successful events.
The Experiencia Endeavor (Endeavor Experience) program has been held intermittently since 2011. Four events will be held in 2012, each with a different theme and a high mentor-to-attendee ratio. Experiencia Endeavor events are conducted in a relaxed atmosphere and present budding entrepreneurs with the opportunity to mingle with each other and join roundtable conversations with Endeavor mentors. The March 2012 gathering was sponsored by Commercial Bank, Costa East, Antel, among others, and had over 120 attendees. Marcelo Lombardi, the Chairman of the National Chamber of Commerce and Services of Uruguay, began the conference by talking about what makes a business successful today.
Participants had the unique opportunity to make contact with more than 20 thriving mentor-entrepreneurs during 12 roundtable sessions. Each group had its own area of focus, including human resources, sales and marketing advice for potential and current entrepreneurs, and was led by a key industry player such as Laura Di Carlo, Mauricio Oppenheimer, Carolina Moreira, and Santiago Cat. Endeavor Entrepreneurs were also on hand at the event. Another Experiencia Endeavor event will be held in Uruguay this June.
Recently, Endeavor Uruguay also organized the Women Entrepreneurs Breaking Barriers program, which presents workshops and roundtable sessions to Uruguayan women entrepreneurs. The latest event had more than 80 attendees and included a workshop led by Endeavor mentor Mariela Marenco on how to make effective business decisions. The next Women Entrepreneurs Breaking Barriers event will take place in May. More than 200 women are expected to participate.