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Miami’s Kairos Acquires Emotion Analysis Firm IMRSV, Expands Product Offerings

The Miami-based facial recognition software company Kairos, founded by Endeavor Entrepreneur Brian Brackeen, announced that it has acquired the emotion analysis company IMRSV for $2.7 million. A New York-based startup, IMRSV will be folded into Kairos’ business structure […]

April 14th, 2015 — by admin

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Mexico’s Naranya Labs Partners with NXTP Labs to Form New Latin America-Focused Seed Fund

Mexico-based seed fund and accelerator Naranya Labs, founded by Endeavor Entrepreneur Arturo Galvan, recently announced a partnership with accelerator NXTP Labs to form a new early-stage capital fund that will invest at least $8 million in Mexico’s […]

May 23rd, 2014 — by admin

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Lessons learned from women entrepreneurs, including Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg, at Milken Conference

This article was reprinted from The Huffington Post. See original article here.

by Angella Nazarian

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.


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.

Setting your business free through the practice of systematic delegation

This article was written by John Jantsch and published at Duct Tape Marketing. You can find the original article 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.

Turkey’s “Internet Spring”: A tech boom for the ages

By Stephanie Sher

“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.”

Endeavor Entrepreneur Rodrigo Jordan prepares for second Mount Everest venture

Reprinted with permission from Knowledge@Wharton. View the original article here.

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.


Spotlight on Endeavor Uruguay: “Experiencia Endeavor” and “Women Entrepreneurs” events

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.

Insights on talent and HR, from Sal Giambanco

Endeavor is pleased to make public the following transcript from a presentation at the 2011 Endeavor Entrepreneur Summit in San Francisco. The event, which assembled over 450 entrepreneurs and global business leaders, featured dozens of entrepreneurship-related presentations by top CEOs and industry experts.

Overview: Sal Giambanco, Partner at the Omidyar Network, discusses the importance of conducting talent reviews and the proper way to conduct them.

Bio: Sal leads the Human Capital and Operations functions of Omidyar Network. In this role, he works to develop and scale the talent at Omidyar Network and its portfolio organizations. Sal brings a wealth of executive experience in human resources management to his role as a partner at Omidyar Network.From 2000-2009, Sal served as the Vice President of Human Resources and Administration for PayPal and eBay. Prior to joining PayPal, Sal worked for KPMG as the National Recruiting Manager for the information, communications, high-tech, and entertainment consulting practices, while also leading KPMG’s collegiate and MBA recruiting programs. Previously, Sal directed Human Resources at Tech One, Inc. and held positions at Ernst & Young and ESS Technology, Inc. Sal began his career working in the public sector in a variety of roles, primarily in education and hospital ministries. Sal holds an MA in philosophy from Fordham University, a Masters of Divinity from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and an AB in economics and political science from Columbia University.

From the presentation:

Sal: All entrepreneurs, all organizations have a business strategy. There are various things that we will call new capital strategy. You can have financial capital, you can have a great idea, but unless you have the people that can execute on that idea, you don’t really get anything. You actually have to have people who are driving and doing things. These are all the things we talk about — whether it is human capital or human capital strategies.

How do you think about all the systems, all the processes, management structures, decision making, rewards, all those things that actually drive execution? This is the basic thesis, that nine out of ten organizations fail to execute strategy. One of the things we talk about is that there is a disconnect between what an entrepreneur wants to do. The exercise I had the entrepreneurs do yesterday is to close their eyes and ask the question, “Does everyone in your organization know your strategy?” If they don’t, why not? That’s the issue. Does everyone know the strategy of your organization? Why? Because what we find in research is that very few workforces actually know their strategy. The founder does, the entrepreneur does, the senior team does, but they don’t actually drive this down into their talent. The people strategy with the business strategy is really important. (more…)

Mobile money penetrates Africa through Facebook: spotlight on Endeavor Entrepreneur company ZunguZ

Reprinted from IT News Africa.

The concept of using Facebook as a premier secure channel to exchange mobile money between friends will grow in significance and quickly – so claim the business leaders behind ZunguZ, a multi-tiered platform that integrates deeply into the social graph and a host of financial services to empower the consumer. ZunguZ is the flagship product of ZunguZ Inc. a Delaware USA company with a presence in the heart of Palo Alto, Silicon Valley, not far from Facebook, and a footprint in Cape Town, South Africa.

The founder of ZunguZ, high impact serial entrepreneurs, Robert Sussman and Lance Fanaroff, have been quick to position the offering clearly within a competitive marketplace. Although listed amongst the likes of Google Wallet, PayPal Wallet, Facebook Credits, Square and M-Pesa, management stress that ZunguZ is not a competitor offering to various P2P, P2B and B2B payment systems. Sussman refers to the multi-tier structure of ZunguZ with embedded intelligence behind the recently launched “Z-button” as a unique differentiator, and the core of the ZunguZ business model. It provides the functionality to facilitate automated, immediate online transactions without any hassle or delay.

This positions the offering at the forefront of a burgeoning area of technology and e-retail. He points to a Social Impact Study 2012* which claims, based on a survey of 1088 online shoppers who use Facebook about the impact of social sharing (exchanging information about products with friends), that 75% of users who read these comments click through to the relevant retailer. The offering and solution has complied with beta testing regulation. The first release (version 1.0) has been upgraded with consistent development and enhancement, developed and released to Facebook, and is now available in version

ZunguZ is housed in a PCI compliance datacentre in Germany and incorporates security such as Thawte certification, SSL, and HTTPS, as well as second factor authentication, which are all prerequisites for integration with the platform. Both Sussman and Fanaroff emphasise that the concept is based on using ones Facebook profile as a token of identification to activate a ZunguZ profile and thereby interact with friends. This is a person-to-person payment solution that works off interaction between associates that are linked via a network.

“Money can be exchanged between registered users without any banking information required. ZunguZ and Facebook do not have access to theusers funds as this sits in local bank accounts. This is all handled by the banks, together with their standard level of banking security, regulation and compliance. ZunguZ is therefore not a bank, does not touch the money and there is no intention of it ever becoming a bank. We work with banks to bring their services to the social networks,” says Sussman.

Management at ZunguZ believe there is a great deal of truth in a quote by Seth Godin (sourced from Saucy Social Media): “”Build it, and they will come” only works in the movies. Social Media is a “build it, nurture it, engage them, and they may come and stay.”

Going forward Sussman and Fanaroff believe the principles of risk management and that which governs effective strategies to make initiatives work domestically, will pay dividends.

“Innovative entrepreneurs can drive initiatives forward. There has to be a careful and strategic balance between capital outlay and risk mitigation. We have considered the risk factor in building this initiative up locally and we believe we have the resources, expertise and knowledge of this environment to make this work,” adds Sussman.

10 lessons Seth Godin can teach you about blogging

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

By Neil Patel

Ever since I started in business, I’ve always loved Seth Godin. He’s a brilliant marketer and a great writer. In fact, he runs one of the most popular blogs.

Over the years I’ve read many of Seth’s books, listened to his interviews and have even seen him speak on a number of occasions…

And while many people view him as “America’s greatest marketer,” there is a lot to learn from him about blogging.

Let’s explore 10 of those lessons:

Lesson #1: Blog, prune, experiment, repeat

When it comes to creating content for your blog, the conventional method is to analyze the trends, see what your competitors are doing, develop hybrid ideas and, more importantly, give your readers what they want.

Seth doesn’t do any of that.

Instead, over time he’s developed a voice that attracts people. He’s trained himself to write a lot, see what resonates, experiment, prune, and write some more until something grabs people.

He repeats that process endlessly, which takes time.

Lesson #2: Blog once a day

In an interview on Ad Age last year Seth explained his blogging ritual.

Seth blogs once a day and each blog post is an insight into the world of business, productivity or creativity.

It could be a paragraph long or two pages long. That’s a lot of blogging, and an incredible pace to keep up.

So how does he do it?

He writes once a day…but within that day he could write one blog post or fifteen. He then queues up those other posts. What the queuing allows him to do is replace posts he doesn’t love with ones that he does love.

Lesson #3: Avoid comments and Twitter

If you could say one thing about a blogger like Seth Godin is that he is productive.

What is his secret?

Two things: he doesn’t allow comments on his blog and he doesn’t use Twitter.

He avoids Twitter because he knows he would be very bad at it. The power users of Twitter spend an enormous amount of time cultivating a following, researching quality content to share and promoting others.

Seth says he can’t do that very well…or won’t do it.

The thing about the comments is he wants to avoid the rabbit holes that comments can turn into. Rants and arguments can only turn into a downward spiral that distract and burden him.

He does admit that comments are good to help you clarify your thoughts and sharpen your ideas. But for Seth, it turns out to be a waste of time. Or as Seth put it, “An opportunity to stay busy while not actually doing anything, I wonder if that’s a good choice.”


Seven competition crushing value propositions

This article was written by John Jantsch and published at Duct Tape Marketing. You can find the original article here.

One of the biggest challenges that any small business faces in the area of marketing is standing out from everyone else that say it’s doing what you’re doing. Until you can firmly offer a solid reason for why you should buy from or hire us over everyone else, you’ll compete on price.

As you develop a marketing strategy for your business you must proactively create the value proposition of “why us” and build all of your marketing messages, products, services, processes and follow-up communication around supporting that proposition. This is how you use strategy to dominate your market. This is how you define value in terms that matter to those you are trying to attract.

Below are seven ways to think about defining and refining your core value proposition.

1) We know you – So many companies try to serve mass audiences. This is tough for any organization, but can be next to impossible for a small business just getting started. One very powerful way to create a point of differentiation is to carve out a narrow segment of a market and explain through every communication that you are the experts in serving that market.

Divorce attorneys that specialize in representing men are an example of this type of approach. Obviously, you won’t attract female clients, but a man going through a divorce might feel you have specialized knowledge and experience that other, more generic divorce attorneys, don’t possess.

2) A better way – Creating a product, service or approach that clearly offers a better way to get a result, particularly a result I desperately need to get, is another strong way to demonstrate value and promote a business.

Pretty much everyone struggles with processing too much information. Many have developed all kinds of systems to remember things, track things and keep to do lists under control. Evernote created a better way to do this and made the process simple, accessible and manageable on the devices that millions already used, so it’s value proposition offered a very recognizable way to do something better and the company has grown measurably because of it.

3) One of a kind – Some segment of just about every market craves things that are custom made. The more markets are inundated with mass produced items, the more opportunity exists for things that are made to order or made by hand.

I believe the popularity of a platform like Etsy is due in part to this need for some to find and possess things that are one of a kind or made just for them. If you can find a segment of your market that values this approach it can be a highly profitable proposition. I asked the owner of a men’s clothing shop I frequent about the market for suits these days and he said there are really only two segments left. The low end off the rack suit and the very high end custom tailored suit.


Four most common myths entrepreneurs believe about raising capital

Reprinted from under30ceo.com. See the original article here.

By Adam Hoeksema

I work at a technology-based business incubator, and one of my roles is to help our clients raise capital. Whether these companies are trying to raise capital through debt or equity, the entrepreneurs tend to have some pretty interesting assumptions about the process of raising capital. I hate to be a “dream-crusher”, but I often have to break the news that the capital raising process just doesn’t work that way. Here are 4 of the most common myths that entrepreneurs believe about raising capital:

1. I Won’t Have to Give Up Equity

Entrepreneurs commonly say, “There must be investors out there willing to give me a loan if I can pay them back with 15% interest, I shouldn’t have to give up any equity in my company.” The problem is that startups and small businesses are the riskiest investments out there. If an investor wanted to earn 15% interest, there are still much safer ways than investing in a startup. The risk of investing in a startup is too great for a 15% maximum reward. If you need funding, you need to be willing to give up equity.

2. Investors Value a Company Based on Future Potential

This is a myth that you can see every single week if you watch the TV show “Shark Tank.” A common example is an entrepreneur who has created a product that might have a potential market of $100 million, but they have only sold $100,000 worth of product to date. The entrepreneur might want to value the company at $50 million because the market is huge, but an investor is only going to value the company at a couple hundred thousand. Why? Because investors don’t base the value of your company on how big your market is, they base the value of your company on current results. Your company still needs to have a huge potential market to attract investors, but you just won’t find a savvy investor who values your company based on a dream.

3. 100% Potential Return is Enough

Entrepreneurs falsely believe that the potential for investors to double their money is enough to attract investment. The problem is that a common rule of thumb for an angel investor might be:

% of investments are a total loss
% of investments breakeven
% of investments make money

In order to earn a respectable return on their investment, investors need to be looking for businesses with the potential to provide 10x returns. Let’s say an investor doubles the investment in all 3 of the investments that make money, at the end of the 5 or 7 years that it would take to cash out of all 9 investments, the investor would breakeven. The 3 investments that provided a 100% return would merely cover the losses of the bottom 3 investments. A 100% return is good, but entrepreneurs need to understand that investors are looking for companies that have the potential to provide much greater returns.

4. Investors Like Companies With No Competition

When I ask entrepreneurs why someone should invest in their company I often here this response, “Because we have no competition, no one is doing what we can do.” Then, I have to break the news to them that in 99% of cases this is going to be a major turn off to investors. If you have no competition at all, the question is why not? Maybe others have tried to implement this idea and it did not work. Maybe the challenges are too great for you to succeed. Additionally, competition can actually be really helpful, because it gives management someone to learn from, and compete against. Competition can help keep the management accountable. If customers are choosing your competitor consistently, investors know it is time to change management. Without a competitor to benchmark against, an investor is left in unknown territory. There are some investors that love to take huge risks in unproven industries and with unproven business models, but those kind of investors are rare. If you don’t have competition, you must be prepared with a really good reason to the question “why not?”

If you can keep these 4 myths in mind as you work to raise capital for your company, you will better understand the mind of a potential investor, and ultimately be able to present a compelling case to an investor.

Adam Hoeksema is the Founder of ExecuitvePlan which helps entrepreneurs write powerful business plan executive summaries in order to raise capital. Adam is also the creator of the ExecutivePlan Executive Summary Template, which has been downloaded and used by over 5,000 business owners seeking to raise funding.

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