High-Impact Entrepreneurship

Join the global conversation

Entrepreneurs

Endeavor and Linda Rottenberg Profiled in The Christian Science Monitor

The Christian Science Monitor, a U.S.-based international news publication, recently profiled Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg and the story of Endeavor, spotlighting the organization’s journey and its rapidly growing global impact. In particular, the article calls […]

April 16th, 2014 — by admin

Read more

In the news

Endeavor Brazil hosts Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Rio de Janeiro

Last week, Endeavor Brazil welcomed non-profit executives, entrepreneurs, and policy makers from over 100 countries to the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Rio de Janeiro. The GEC is the main planning event for Global Entrepreneurship Week, […]

March 29th, 2013 — by admin

Read more
Get RSS Feed

Failure: what is it good for?

Reprinted from www.wamda.com. See the original post here.

By Alaa Rady

Failure is perhaps the most important teacher for any entrepreneur. Although failure is often treated as a taboo in school and university, where repeating a year or having to re-do courses causes our parents to look down on us, once we graduate and join the real-life work-force, failure becomes one of the main aspects of hands-on learning.

Often, entrepreneurs who failed before have a higher chance of success in their new start-ups, thanks to the learning they accumulated from prior failures. No successful businessman that I know has known success only without failure; most successful entrepreneurs have failed more times than they have succeeded. But the successes they achieved eventually compensated for all their prior failures. So, in my opinion, failure is one of the most important metrics by which an entrepreneur can gauge his progress.

Even investment vehicles structure their models by taking failure rates into account- so why shouldn’t we? A typical venture capital investment model estimates that 8 out of 10 portfolio ventures will fail or stagnate, while the other 2 will produce returns that compensate for the rest.

Over the past 10 years, I have had a similar return rate: I’ve been a part of seven new ventures, four of which failed at different stages, two stagnated, and one succeeded, compensating me for all the prior failures and more. Here I will share with you my failures, and the lessons I learned with each.

1. The Bogus Business Plan

I started my first entrepreneurial venture in 2002, with my friend Mina Guirguis, who had the idea to start Zambaleta, an arts, music and entertainment resort in Egypt. We drew up the idea, gathered market data, and created a business model, and then entered the MIT Arab business plan competition. After reaching the semi-final round and receiving encouraging feedback, we wanted to launch the company and seek investment. After a lot of effort, we convinced a major Egyptian businessman in tourism and entertainment to take a look at our business plan during a car ride. As he sifted through the papers, he was initially impressed by the idea, until he reached the part that discussed our salaries and the percentage of equity we wanted to retain… at which point he opened the car window and threw the business plan out!

In the ened, my partner Mina ended up moving back to the US and starting the project as an NGO based in San Francisco, and we learned- powerfully- how to present better in the future.

2. Trying to Get a Free Lunch

Another failure of mine was my attempt to build a company to manufacture and distribute food products. I started the venture with a partner and booked “free” government land, in an area of Cairo called Maidoum in Bani Sweif, Egypt. We prepared the initial business plans and drafted potential financing partners… but what we forgot to look at were the conditions associated with this “free” land. As we reviewed our paperwork nine months later, we realized that the “free” land had operational conditions linked to it, such that the land would be taken away from us three months later! We eventually succeeded in returning the land, and unblocking the credit guarantees we had submitted to book the land, although not without with some financial losses. Fortunately our losses were not too heavy. Since then I have not missed looking at one single clause in any contract I sign, and I take contracts very seriously.

3. Not Enough Flow

When I lived in Algeria in 2005-2006, I supported a friend of mine in starting up her own advertising and PR agency, VectorGraphics. The venture rose quickly, becoming one of the largest ten PR and advertising agencies in Algeria in less than a year. We made a critical mistake, however, in forgetting that the venture’s growth depends upon cash flow. We never bothered to look at the cash flow statement, ended up running short on working capital, and had to file for bankruptcy despite having signed a contract for $1million.

The second mistake we made was over-working my partner. She took on almost all of the sales and management duties, even though we had more than 10 other employees. Once she got married and went on maternity leave, none of the other employees came close to filling 10% of her role. There I learned the importance of building up an institution, rather than a company based on a single person.

(more…)

Inc. spotlights Endeavor Entrepreneur Wences Casares, and his $750 million “mistake”

One of the first Endeavor Entrepreneurs selected in Argentina and Endeavor Global Board member Wences Casares said in a recent interview in Inc. that after selling his first company, Patagon, for $750 million and having several other successful exits, he “is not embarrassed by being a serial entrepreneur, but I am not proud of having sold so many companies.”

Wences explains that he “would have much preferred to build one company and take it to its full potential…I think that being a serial entrepreneur should be at best something that happens, but not something you strive to be. You want to build the best company possible.”

While Wences believes selling “ultimately represents a failure” he understands that “sometimes there’s just not many options. Sometimes you have investors and you have a really attractive offer on the table, and that’s what happened to me. The offer on the table was so attractive that the investors didn’t want to take the risk of not accepting. You knew that could happen when you accepted their money, so you have to go with them. There are different ways to do it, though. You can take the company public, or sometimes you can replace VC investors with private equity investors.”

Along with investors, entrepreneurs must also consider employees. “When you have an offer to be acquired, you as a founder may be willing to take on that risk because you believe it can be a stand-alone company and make it much bigger. But it’s also fair that when some of your key people may say ‘Hey, this equity would change my life, and it would make me very uncomfortable to put it all at risk for a few more years.’”

As a global board member of Endeavor and a founding partner of MECK, a private investment firm, Wences tells entrepreneurs that they need to get stuff done to impress investors. “Being an entrepreneur, after all, is really just being a do-er. It’s impossible to judge your capacity to get things done by a PowerPoint or how articulate you are as a talker or how polished your pitch is. The only thing that hints to how you are as a do-er is by looking at what you’ve actually done.”

Wences admires a “real entrepreneur who is driven by a driven by market need and by some passion and vision” rather than what he calls “entrepreneurship groupies” who aspire to be serial entrepreneurs. Wences hopes to see less focus on raising funds and more focus on building “the best company possible.”

Endeavor December 2011 newsletter

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

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

Seven entrepreneurial lessons learned on the Serengeti

Reprinted with permission from Smallbiztrends.com. See the original post here.

By Jon Gelberg

A recent safari in the Serengeti was supposed to get my mind off of work. I figured that being thousands of miles away from the office, with no connectivity or even a phone, I would be able to completely detach myself from any thoughts relating to business.

Instead, as I was watching wildebeests, lion, elephants and zebras in their natural habitat, I couldn’t help but be struck by how much of their behavior reflects the competitive nature of an entrepreneurial business.

I know this probably sounds crazy, but hear me out.

Watching these animals fighting for survival, I was struck by how they were able to not just survive, but thrive by using many of the same tactics that are used by successful businesses. Whether it was watching lions stalking their prey, zebras and wildebeests co-existing to each other’s benefit, or even watching a vulture patiently waiting for a zebra to die, there were strategies in place that would work for almost any business in the world.

Let me give you a few examples:

1. Strong and Decisive Leadership Is Essential to Success

In virtually every species I observed, leadership was in the hands (hooves, paws?) of an alpha male or group of alpha males.

This kind of leadership resulted in efficient and orderly behaviors that benefited the group as a whole. When it was time to move to new territory, when it was time to rest, when it was time to eat were all determined by the alpha male. The rewards of leadership? The alpha was always the first to eat recently killed prey and, of course, the first to mate.

While I am not advocating this kind of autocratic leadership in business, I saw compelling evidence of how strong, decisive leadership can work to the benefit of the whole team. Forgive the pun, but there’s a reason why CEOs get the lion’s share of the profits.

2. When Opportunity Presents Itself, Jump In

I had a chance to see a zebra that had survived a lion attack, but just barely. As it bled from a wound on its left rear quarters, a vulture dropped in and crouched on the ground, barely 10 feet from the zebra. The vulture waited patiently for the zebra to die, just sitting and staring. I didn’t see the end of this drama, but I have the distinct feeling that the vulture did not go home hungry.

While I’m not saying that entrepreneurs should be vultures, they should be ready to pounce on opportunities when they arise. Keep your eyes open, stay on top of your competition, and jump right in when you see a weakness to exploit.

(more…)

Wisdom from a top VC: “There’s no silver bullet…only lead bullets”

By Ben Horowitz

Horowitz is cofounder and General Partner (along with Marc Andreessen) of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz based in Menlo Park.

Reprinted from bhorowitz.com. See the original article here.

Yet our best trained, best educated, best equipped, best prepared troops refuse to fight. As a matter of fact, it’s safe to say that they would rather switch than fight.
—Public Enemy (sampled from Thomas Todd), Fight the Power

Early in my tenure as product manager for the web servers at Netscape, we faced a terrible crisis. We just got our hands on Microsoft’s new web server, Internet Information Server (IIS), and benchmarked against our product. Microsoft’s IIS had every feature that we had, was five times faster and we knew that they were going to give it away for free. This might not sound so bad, but we had just gone public three months earlier with a story to Wall Street that said, “Don’t worry about Microsoft giving away the browser because we will make money selling servers.” Oh snap.

I immediately went to work trying to move the playing field and pivot the server product line to something that we could sell for money. The late, great Mike Homer and I worked furiously on a set of partnerships and acquisitions that would broaden the product line and surround the web server with enough functionality that we would be able survive the attack.

As I excitedly reviewed the plan with my engineering counterpart, Bill Turpin, he looked at me as though I was a little kid who had much to learn. Bill was a long-time veteran of battling Microsoft from his time at Borland and understood what I was trying to do, but remained unconvinced. He said: “Ben, those silver bullets that you and Mike are looking for are fine and good, but our web server is five times slower. There is no silver bullet that’s going to fix that. No, we are going to have to use a lot of lead bullets.” Oh snap.

As a result of Bill’s words, we focused our engineering team on fixing the performance issues while working the other things in the background. We eventually beat Microsoft’s performance and grew the server line to become a $400M business and we would never have done it without those lead bullets.

I carried that lesson with me for many years. Six years later, when I was CEO of Opsware, our toughest competitor Bladelogic started to consistently beat us in large deals. We were a public company and the losses were all too visible. To make matters worse, we needed to win those deals in order to beat the Wall Street projections, so the company felt tremendous pressure. Many of the smartest people in my company came to me with ideas for avoiding the battle:

-“Let’s build a light-weight version of the product and go down market.”
-“Let’s acquire a company with a simpler architecture.”
-“Let’s focus on service providers.”

The issue with their ideas was that we weren’t facing a market problem. The customers were buying; they just weren’t buying our product. This was not a time to pivot. So I said the same thing to every one of them: “There are no silver bullets for this, only lead bullets.” They did not want to hear that, but it made things clear: we had to build a better product. There was no other way out. No window, no hole, no escape hatch, no backdoor. We had to go through the front door and deal with the big, ugly guy blocking it. Lead bullets.

After nine months of hard work on an extremely rugged product cycle, we regained our product lead and eventually built a company that was worth $1.6B. Without the lead bullets, I suspect we would have ended at about 1/10th that value.

There may be nothing scarier in business than facing an existential threat. So scary that many in the organization will do anything to avoid it. They will look for any alternative, any way out, any excuse not to live or die in a single battle. I see this often in start up pitches. The conversations go something like this:

Entrepreneur: “We have the best product in the market by far. All the customers love it and prefer it to competitor X.”
Me: “Why does competitor X have five times your revenue?”
Entrepreneur: “We are using partners and OEMs, because we can’t build a direct channel like competitor X.”
Me: “Why not? If you have the better product, why not knuckle up and go to war?”
Entrepreneur: “Ummm.”
Me: “Stop looking for the silver bullet.”

There comes a time in every company’s life where it must fight for its life. If you find yourself running when you should be fighting, you need to ask yourself: “If our company isn’t good enough to win, then do we need to exist at all?”

Endeavor remembers Lidia María Riba

At Endeavor, we deeply regret the recent passing of Lidia María Riba.

Together with her business partner, Trinidad Vergara, Lidia was selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur in 2003 for her Argentinian publishing house V&R Editoras.

The enterprise focuses on a genre of books previously unseen in Latin America: gift books with a message. With locations in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico, V&R publishes books in both Spanish and Portuguese and continues to expand.

Lidia was a treasured member of the Endeavor family who participated actively in the Endeavor Argentina network and donated time to mentoring fellow entrepreneurs. She will be deeply missed.

Financial Times highlights Endeavor

The Financial Times mentioned Endeavor in an article on “Social Entrepreneurship in Latin America.” The article quotes Rhett Morris, director of Endeavor’s Center for High-Impact Entrepreneurship (C-HIE), who “believes that, in given the relatively underdeveloped state of philanthropy in many Latin American countries, as well as the limitations of government social programmes, entrepreneurs will play an increasingly important part in delivering essential services.”

The article also spotlights Endeavor company Enova. Based in Mexico, Enova “designs, builds and operates small educational centres called the RIA – Red de Innovación y Aprendizaje (Learning and Education Network). Based on e-learning, the centres target low-income urban communities. Since May 2009, Enova has opened centres in 42 locations and more than 14,000 students have completed its courses. It aims to improve the education of 5m poor Mexicans by 2013.”

See the original post here; note that it is paywall-protected.

Linda Rottenberg selected for Forbes list of “Top 30 Social Entrepreneurs”

For the first time, Forbes has selected 30 individuals who they consider to be the “world’s leading entrepreneurs,” and has included Endeavor Co-Founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg. Click here to see the profile of Linda and Endeavor.

24 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay Join the Endeavor Network

Endeavor invited 24 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay to join its network at its 41st International Selection Panel.  Endeavor now supports 656 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 413 companies in 12 emerging market countries.  The entrepreneurs were chosen at a Panel held from December 7 through 9 in Punta del Este, Uruguay.

“This panel highlights two clear trends in the kinds of entrepreneurs we are finding in Latin America,” said Endeavor co-founder and CEO Linda Rotenberg.  “First are Diamonds, relatively young companies, often in the tech area, that have the potential to scale dramatically, expand globally and are increasingly magnets for venture capital and foreign investment to the region.  The second are Growth Engines, companies that have the potential to add hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs.  Endeavor’s success in selecting and mentoring these types of high-impact companies is what contributes to building a true entrepreneurial eco-system in the region.”

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 feedback and guidance to entrepreneur candidates.  Endeavor’s next scheduled International Selection Panel will be held in Dubai in March.  Post-selection, Endeavor provides entrepreneurs with customized services provided by local business mentors and volunteers from Fortune 500 consulting firms and top U.S. business schools.  Endeavor Entrepreneurs have had a significant track record of creating thousands of jobs and building sustainable growth models in their home countries.

Entrepreneur(s)/Companies selected:

Argentina

Entrepreneur: Martín S. Frascaroli
Company: Aivo
Description: Founded in Córdoba in 2002, Aivo develops automated, chat-based customer service agents that intelligently recognize, interpret and respond to written client questions.

Argentina

Entrepreneur: Cristian Schweizer
Company: Axeso5
Description: Axeso5 is an Argentinean online game company that publishes free to play online games for the Latin American market. Cristian Schweizer (46) founded Axeso5 in 2008 and today is one of the largest online game communities in Latin America with 4.2M registered users across 20 countries. Axeso5’s revenue comes from the purchase of in-game virtual goods.

Argentina

Entrepreneur: Mariano Nuñez Di Croce, Victor Montero
Company: Onapsis
Description: Founded in late 2009, Onapsis is a software development firm that performs automated SAP security assessments that help clients reduce their risk of losing critical data, better enforce compliance and reduce auditing costs.

Brazil

Entrepreneurs: Carlos Balma, Ricardo Buckup, Felipe Ribeiro
Company: B2
Description: Founded in 2002, B2 organizes premium graduation events for Brazil’s universities and serves as a marketing platform for brands and advertisers to access Brazil’s burgeoning youth market.

Brazil

Entrepreneur: Carlos and Noeli Bazanella (husband & wife team)
Company: Doce D’ocê
Description: Founded in 2000 by husband-and-wife team Carlos and Noeli Bazanella, Doce D’ocê provides bakery outsourcing services to suppliers of all sizes—from corner bakeries to large supermarket chains—throughout southern Brazil.

Brazil

Entrepreneur: Diego Martins and Paulo Alencastro
Company: Acesso Digital
Description: São Paulo-based Acesso Digital has been providing Brazilian businesses with a comprehensive electronic document management solution since 2007. The company’s offering has allowed more than 800 small, medium and large enterprises to quickly, conveniently and safely digitize documents needed to run their businesses.

Chile

Entrepreneur: Patricio Catalán & Gonzalo Santamarina
Company: Innovex
Description: Founded in 2007, Innovex is an aquaculture technology company dedicated to equipment and software development for fish farms.

Chile

Entrepreneur: Santiago Querol
Company: Laserpack
Description: Based in Arauco, Chile, Laserpack applies laser-cutting technology to medium-density fiberboard to produce premium packaging that is biodegradable, splinterless and easily assembled without nails or staples.

Chile

Entrepreneur: Valentina and Paula Valverde (sisters)
Company: Valverde Norambuena
Description: Founded in 1985, family-run Valverde Norambuena designs and sells innovative, fun and fashionable children’s clothing throughout Chile under three brands: Limonada, Maite, and Black and Blue.

Colombia

Entrepreneur: Alberto Lederman, Jorge Andrés Osorio
Company: Aranda Software
Description: Founded in 2002, Aranda Software is an IT infrastructure and services management company with offices in 11 countries in Latin America.

Mexico

Entrepreneur: Arturo Galván Contreras
Company: Naranya
Description: Founded in 2002, Naranya is the leading provider of mobile content in Latin America, a market of 530 million mobile users. Naranya is a pioneer in developing mobile entertainment content services for Latin America and has more recently branched into the mobile marketing and applications markets.

Mexico

Entrepreneur: Jesus Manuel Jimenez Garcia
Company: Mister Tennis
Description: Founded in Puebla in 1987, Mister Tennis is now a chain of 106 retail stores across 14 Mexican states that sells athletic footwear, clothing and accessories.

Uruguay

Entrepreneur: Sebastián Lateulade
Company: TodoTVMedia
Description: Founded in 2004, TodoTVMedia produces both print and online media covering the television industry in the Americas.

Uruguay

Entrepreneur: Álvaro García, Ariel Burschtin, Ruben Sosenke
Company: PedidosYa
Description: Founded in 2009 by three recent college graduates, PedidosYa offers an online solution for ordering food delivery, bringing together restaurants and users in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Puerto Rico and Uruguay.

Should you have a board of advisors?

Reprinted from www.companyfounder.com. See the original post here.

By Paul Morin

In the small business world, there is a lot of talk about whether a company should have a Board of Advisors (a/k/a Advisory Board), and if yes, what the composition of such a group should be. In my time in the small and medium enterprise (SME) world, I have been exposed to and worked with thousands of companies, a small percentage of which have had a Board of Advisors. Whether having such an advisory group makes sense depends a lot on the business and more importantly, the CEO and senior management team of the business.

First, let’s talk about the key ways a Board of Advisors differs from a Board of Directors. The most important difference is that having a Board of Directors is a legal requirement, whereas having a Board of Advisors is completely optional. A related point is that the members of the Board of Directors have fiduciary duties to the shareholders of the corporation, whereas the members of the Advisory Board do not have those duties. I won’t go into the distinction between a Board of Directors (Corporation) and a Board of Managers (LLC) here, but if LLC structure is relevant to you, it’s something you should go over with your attorney. My discussion here will focus on the Board of Advisors, with some references to what differentiates it from a Board of Directors.

So, if a Board of Advisors has no fiduciary duties to the shareholders, what is its purpose and who does it “serve”? The Board of Advisors typically is put in place to provide guidance and support to the CEO and the remainder of the senior management team of a company. In contrast to the Board of Directors that has responsibility for and major focus on “corporate governance,” the Advisory Board often supports the senior management team as it tries to navigate through functional and technical business issues. For example, if a company is trying to grow from $5 million in sales to $25 million in sales, it can be useful to the CEO and other senior management team members to have an Advisory Board at least in part comprised of people, including entrepreneurs and business functional area professionals, who have already “made that journey”. Such guidance can help to understand “best practices” and avoid major pitfalls en route.
(more…)

Contact us

Press center

Community

Newsletter Sign Up