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

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

June 30th, 2015 — by admin

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Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg Discusses Her Entrepreneurial Journey in Business Insider

Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg was recently interviewed by OneWire‘s Skiddy von Stade about the Endeavor story and her own entrepreneurial path. The interview was featured in Business Insider, highlighting Linda’s journey from law school to Latin America […]

July 10th, 2014 — by admin

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Andre Ferreira on Brazil’s economic prospects [Transcript]

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: Andre Ferreira (Ernst & Young, Brazil) describes the economic prospects of Brazil in an intimate Q&A session. Andre Ferreira works in strategic growth markets for Ernst and Young in Brazil.


Andre: Today the objective is to understand what you guys are looking for with Brazil and Latin America. So would you like to know a little about Brazil? The size? The issues?

Question: Issues and culture and how you perceive foreigners.

Andre: Recently we had a great newspaper, a financial newspaper. In the first page we saw that Brazil is issuing visas for foreigners working in Brazil at a higher level than ever before. Nowadays we have few resources in terms of human capital. This has become a challenge nowadays so foreigners are very welcome. In Brazil, one of the challenges is the government. They do not provide enough resources for our population. In the last 8 years, we faced a huge change. More than 40 million people went from the poor to the middle class. And they are looking for health assistance, for education, so those kinds of businesses became very huge businesses. As a result, there are a lot of people we need to prepare to work. This is good for education and in the coming years we will have better prepared people. In the last five years, three or four or five private university companies became listed companies. We have an issue, which is education, but we also have opportunity for the companies that are looking to fill those positions. It is the same in the health field.

This is a picture of Brazil. We have the regulation, but it is not so clear. The rules are references, not to be fully in compliance with. We used to say that we pay taxes as the richest country, but we receive as a poor country. This is why there are a lot of opportunities for private companies that fulfill those needs. Nowadays, Brazil is experiencing a boom due to the transition and change of power. More than that, we have those sporting events in 2014 and 2016 and we need more infrastructure facilities. This is also a challenge because we need some investment from the government. When we look at Brazil 10 years ago and we look at Brazil now, we notice a dramatic change and many opportunities. In the beginning of any company and any business, there are few resources, few management resources, few human resources, but nowadays everyone is looking for ways to invest in Brazil. There are a lot of opportunities. My suggestion depends on your business. You can have different ways to get there. You have to evaluate very well and try to find a reliable company to invest in. (more…)

On being a leader

Reprinted from informationarbitrage.com. See original post here.

By Roger Ehrenberg

I’m a Midwestern guy and I was raised to be polite. And while 18 years in the markets put some dents in the veneer, I will say that being blunt, straight-forward and honest is a quality I appreciate in others. There was a very good post titled On Honesty in Startupland, where this notion of being able to receive tough feedback (hopefully delivered in a respectful way) versus hearing sugarcoated BS is important for growth. I firmly agree. This post was largely written from the perspective of an outsider giving feedback to an insider, e.g., an investor, consumer or another tech entrepreneur offering feedback to a founder. However, equally as important is the dynamic working in the other direction, from the founder out towards investors and others. And this is where I’ve seen some mistakes made that are a direct function of inexperience and/or a latent desire to please rather than to lead.

For instance, there are times when a founder just needs to tell their investors “This is the way I want it done.” It can relate to business strategy, financing dynamics or any other issue that impacts the company and where a clear decision is required. This is not to say that input shouldn’t be solicited and feedback taken: it absolutely should be. But the buck ultimately has to stop with the CEO, and if the CEO cedes effective leadership to the Board it will create both an unhealthy dynamic and an untenable situation as more real-time decisions need to be made. And truth be told, what the CEO thinks is right may not agree with what the Board thinks is right. And this is ok, as long as people are heard and their views are respected. But the CEO needs to lead. Period.

I have found that many first-time entrepreneurs grapple with this issue. They’ve never taken angel or venture money. They have a huge sense of obligation to leverage the syndicate they’ve assembled. They also are somewhat cowed by the amount of experience and force of personality sitting around the table. It requires a high degree of self-confidence and esteem to really lead in the face of people with years more experience than you. However, they invested in you because of your vision and your capacity to drive the business. They want to see you step up and lead. But there are times when they can’t help themselves and become overly controlling (which is in the DNA of many successful people) unless actively managed by the CEO.

They key take-away is as follows: don’t confuse the desire to please with the obligation to listen. A good CEO takes in lots of feedback from smart people, is a keen listener and extracts the best insights from each. But just because feedback was offered doesn’t mean it needs to be taken. Be respectful but be firm. And by all means, be a leader.

Roger Ehrenberg is the founder and Managing Partner of IA Ventures. Roger currently sits on the boards of BankSimple, Kinetic Global Markets, Metamarkets, Recorded Future, and The Trade Desk, and is a Board observer of SavingStar. Formerly, he served on the boards of Alphacet, Buddy Media, Global Bay Mobile Technologies, Magnetic, Selerity and Stocktwits. For his complete bio, click here.

The multiplier effect: an op-ed by Mariano Amartino

Reprinted from Mariano Amartino’s blog, Denken Über.

Original post here; translation appears below, followed by the original version in Spanish.

By Mariano Amartino

Translated by Jack Connor

The people at Endeavor just released this video which is a collection of more than 200 interviews with selected entrepreneurs asking the question “How can a country where everything seems to be going bad have such a thriving Technology community?” And it’s interesting to see that the numbers show this sector is still growing.

Now it’s interesting to see a detail that many people miss, which is the constant back and forth that exists in every healthy ecosystem in existence; for example, mentoring and strategic advice form a part of the individuals and the network which the video mentions.

In the video they name several entrepreneurs who have been successful in their time and who are now more generous than anyone could’ve hoped; some examples from the video include Wences Casares, Marcos Galperin, and Andy Freire (it would be impossible to mention all of them without forgetting someone). But something which particularly caught my attention is how they map out Argentine tech companies created since 1999 until today (within their range of influence, not 100% of them), and how they measure the influence of each one based on three parameters:

– Were mentors for other entrepreneurs
– Invested in other business
– New businesses created by ex-employees

Which is coherent enough to understand the relationships which exist in this market. Looking close up you’ll see that the world is smaller than could’ve been imagined, and that the relationship between influential businesses (based on these three parameters) with other less influential enterprises is gigantic.

Now this leaves me thinking that if in this complicated, competitive, and jealous business environment we have been capable of creating more than 81,000 employees and more than $1.5 billion in revenue…What would we be capable of doing if we amplified the spectrum of influence over small and innovative businesses?. Putting forth an example: looking strictly at the numbers from Patagon’s exit its weight is incomparable relative to that of Digital Ventures, but looking at the video you’ll see that the positive, multiplicative influence on this ecosystem makes its importance come closer thanks to constant investing activity (un example of two people who always surprise me by their generosity: Casares y Voltes, who are always available to give advice or respond to an email.)

Backtracking a little, if in this time period there were no accelerators or incubators (now there are two), and no specialized funds (now there are also two), if big business has a presence in this market (from MSFT to Google), and now there is a technology district and a National Agency of Science and Technology, why can’t we make this effect even bigger?

Where I’m going with this is that in order to sustain the success of these businesses (beyond just financial exit strategy) and ensure that there is an inspirational environment, an analysis is necessary of who are the successful nodes, how these nodes inspire others (because inspiration is invaluable when it’s real) and what makes these nodes successful to society so that we know what we should replicate and what we should not.

I don’t know if the phrase “multiplier effect” is correct or not, but we should, as an industry, see if we can really measure the influence of the people in our market so that we can learn from these parameters to compete better and more often…against others who may have a better infrastructure, but not the same spirit.


Original Spanish version

El efecto multiplicador: o como una red de emprendedores crea un ecosistema

La gente de Endeavor acaba de liberar este video que es un resúmen de más de 200 entrevistas a emprendedores de los seleccionados por ellos y preguntando ¿como puede ser que un país donde todo parece estar mal puede tener una comunidad tecnológica tan grande? Y es interesante ver que los números muestran que el sector sigue creciendo casi sin parar.

Ahora es interesante ver un detalle que muchos pasan por alto que es el constante ida y vuelta que se fomenta en cualquier ecosistema sano que exista, por ejemplo el mentoring o los consejos estratégicos forman parte de la cultura de algunas personas y de esa red que se menciona.

Dentro del video se nombra a algunos tipos que marcaron hitos en su momento y que hoy son bastante más generosos de lo que uno puede esperar; algunos ejemplos del video: Wenceslao Casares, Marcos Galperin o Andy Freire (y otros que sería imposible mencionar sin olvidar a alguno) pero si algo me llamó la atención es como mapearon las empresas de tecnología creadas en Argentina desde 1999 hasta hoy en día (dentro de su rango de influencia no el 100% de ellas) y como miden la influencia de cada una en base a tres parámetros:

– Fueron mentores de otros emprendedores

– Invirtieron en otras empresas

– Nuevas empresas creadas por ex empleados

Lo cual es bastante coherente para entender la relación que existe en este mercado, si uno mira de cerca va a ver que el mundo es más chico de lo que imagina y que la relación de empresas influyentes (basadas en estos tres parámetros) con otras menos influyentes es gigante.

Ahora, esto me deja pensando que si en este ambiente complicado, mercado competitivo y celoso, somos capaces de haber generado más de 81.000 empleos y más de u$s1.500 millones en ingresos en 2010… ¿que seríamos capaces de hacer si logramos ampliar el espectro de influencia de las empresas más chicas e innovadoras? Pongo un ejemplo: si uno mira los números fríos del exit de Patagon el peso relativo sobre Digital Ventures es incomparable pero si uno mira los parámetros del video va a ver que la influencia positiva o multiplicadora sobre el ecosistema se acerca un poco gracias a la acción constante de los fundadores (ej de dos personas que siempre me sorprenden por su generosidad: Casares y Voltes que están siempre dispuestos a dar un consejo o responder un mail).

Entonces vuelvo un poco atrás ¿si en este tiempo no había ni aceleradoras/incubadoras (ya hay dos), ni había fondos especializados (ya hay dos), si toda empresa grande tiene presencia en el mercado (desde MSFT hasta Google) y ahora hay hasta un distrito tecnológico y una agencia nacional de ciencia y tecnología porque no podemos hacer que este efecto sea más grande aún?

A que voy con esto a que así como sostengo que las cosas hay que hacerlas bien (más allá del éxito financiero) o que hay modas inspiracionales (“hu hu hurra.. da todo de vos!”) es necesario un análisis de quienes son los nodos exitosos, de como estos nodos inspiran a otros (porque la inspiración es valiosa cuando es real) y de que es lo que hace que estos nodos sean útiles a la sociedad para saber que cosas replicar y que cosas no.

No sé si la frase “efecto multiplicador” es correcta o no, pero deberíamos (como industria) ver si realmente se puede medir la influencia o no de las personas en nuestro mercado y que podemos aprender de esta parametrización para poder mejorar y así competir más y mejor… frente a otros que tienen mejores infraestructuras pero no sé si tanto espíritu.

5 steps to start and fund a social good enterprise

Reprinted from startupweekend.org. See original post here.

By Lior Levin

Many people find it attractive to start projects that work toward the good of the less fortunate. Social good enterprises raise money to help others, and you can become involved with your own efforts to build and fund an enterprise. Here are 5 things you can do in order to be more effective in your efforts:

1. Start with Your Passions

When starting a social good enterprise, you need to look for something that interests you. Find a cause that resonates with you and your values. You want to be able to bring your passion to your work. Otherwise, you might not be able to keep things moving. Any start up requires hard work, long days and even longer nights. If you aren’t involved with something that you are interested in, chances are that you won’t stick with it, and it will peter out.

Plus, your enthusiasm is obvious when you are involved with something you are passionate about. If you want to raise funds for your social good enterprise, you need to be emotionally invested. Donors can sense your dedication, and they’ll be more willing to give.

2. Start Small

Don’t expect to bring in $1 million over the course of a single weekend. Think about what you can accomplish now, and build on that. Ask for small donations to accomplish one small task. Even if it’s asking for $10 from your friends and family to help you put together hygiene kits, that small action can get you started in your enterprise. As you accomplish the small tasks, you will find yourself able to raise more money, and your visible efforts will bring in more donations from others so that you can start accomplishing loftier goals.

3. Define Your Purpose

Your social good enterprise should be identifiable. There should be a purpose to your efforts. Figure out what you want to accomplish, and then articulate it to others. Your efforts should focus on that purpose. Don’t just brand yourself as a “non-profit” organization. Instead, use active language to define your purpose, and to help guide your actions. Not only will your purpose keep you on track, but it will also let others see what you are doing. Being able to clearly define what you do will encourage others to donate, and will aid in fundraising efforts.

4. Be Involved in Your Community

Don’t forget to be involved in your community. You can raise grassroots support in your local community, as well as provide help to others in your community. Starting with a solid base is important, and it will help you meet others. People are interested in donating their time and their money to social good enterprises when they can see the effects. Show some effect in your community first, and then branch out to other geographic areas.

5. Leverage Your Networks

One of the best ways to get the word out about your social good enterprise is to leverage your networks. Use Facebook, Twitter and other online social media to make connections and spread the word. You can also use your offline networks as well. Look for ways to involve your networks in fundraising, and you see things start to take off and snow ball. The power of networking can also put you in touch with advisers and others who can help your effort succeed.

Bottom Line

If you want to do good by starting an enterprise designed to help people, you have to start small and leverage your network. It’s hard work, but if you focus on something that’s important to you, define your purpose and recognize that you will have better success if you start small, you will find yourself growing at a fine pace and doing a great deal of good.

This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for a css company and, who also consults for a company that provides to do list applications for businesses and individuals.

What successful investors teach us about investing in startups

Reprinted from startupweekend.org. See original post here.

By Lior Levin

Investing is never a sure thing according to those who have succeeded. If you can’t find a sure thing, the next best bet is to learn from the best practices of successful investors. Here are tips from active angel investors who have enjoyed success with some of today’s leading technology companies:

Investors Rely on Networks

Networking has always been a critical part for investing, especially for angels taking on high risk wagers in startup companies that are unknown quantities. Alan Deutschman writes in Fortune Magazine, “Angels rely on informal networks of friends, past or present colleagues, lawyers, and accountants. They tend to invest in small packs, with inexperienced souls following the lead of seasoned ex-entrepreneurs.”

Since investors live all over the world, online networks are becoming increasingly important for investors to network together. A group such as LinkedIn’s Deal Flow Network has over 11,000 members and provides a simple way for investors to share tips about strategies and upcoming opportunities. Online startup communities, such as Go Big Network and Fundingpost, also make it possible for investors to search for new opportunities.

Look for a Strong Team

While it may be hard to figure out whether the public will catch on to a new product, investors have found that it’s much easier to evaluate the quality of the team in a company. In fact, the leadership is the only known quantity in a startup.

Ron Conway, who is most famous for investing in Google, shares that a company’s team is most important to him. “We start with the people first. We think the ideas that entrepreneurs start with evolve and change dramatically from the beginning and sometimes end up unrecognizable, so we believe in investing in the people,” he says.

Investors Stay Involved

Investors know that they can’t get a good sense for the direction of a startup without becoming involved in the startup and asking hard questions. While some prefer to spread their funds in small amounts among a large number of startups, those who want to know which companies are worth additional investments will often become involved as a consultant or advisor.

Chris Sacca, a former Google employee turned investor, places a high priority on remaining involved with his investments. “He plays an active role in the companies in which he invests by becoming an advisor, further ensuring the brands continue their successful trajectories.”

Investors Look at Salaries

Launching a business often involves dips in revenue, and a startup will only survive if it can manage expenses during this fragile time. Salaries are one item on a company’s balance sheet that catches the attention of some investors.

Peter Thiel, an investor in Facebook and LinkedIn, suggests that salaries tell us more than we would expect. “The best predictor of a startup’s success is how much the CEO is paid. The larger his salary, the more likely everyone else is paid high, and therefore, the faster you’ll burn through money. If the CEO is paid less than average, it more likely his interest will line up with the equity shareholders.”

Investors Seed Multiple Ventures

Risk and failure are inevitable aspects of investing in startup companies. While the rewards can be tremendous, there is no guarantee that an investor will see that money ever again. In light of this reality, many investors explore a wide range of opportunities rather than placing all of their capital on a few companies.

Bill Clark of MicroAngel Capital Partners suggests the following pespective: “Given the high rate at which startups fail, it’s wise to spread your risk by investing in more than one. The goal is for a few successful startups to more than pay for the ones that fail.”

Understand the Exit Strategy

Bill Clark suggests that investors should understand the possible scenarios that may unfold in the life of a company and how failure or success relate to your investment. For example, if the company is successful and is bought, make sure you have planned for that scenario. He writes, “Every startup should have a clear exit strategy that they can share with investors. They should have a list of competitors who might be interested in an acquisition or the plan could be to go public”

Investing in a startup will involve high stakes. Even experienced investors admit they sometimes miss opportunities or lose bets they’ve made. If you’re considering a venture that involves an unknown startup company, seasoned investors have many tips to share that can cut down the potential risks you’ll face.

Endeavor company Yola listed a “Top 20 Tech Startup in Africa” by Forbes

Founded by Endeavor Entrepreneur Vinny Lingham, the South African tech company Yola has just been listed by Forbes Africa (a licensed affiliate of Forbes magazine) as one of the “Top 20 Startups in Africa”: “Founded by South African-born internet entrepreneur Vinny Lingham in 2007, Yola (formerly known as Synthasite) is a website builder which lets you create your own website with easy-to-use drag and drop multimedia features.” Check out the Forbes.com blog post about the list.

Yola has become a valuable resource for small businesses looking for affordable, easy-to-use website solutions. Vinny currently resides in the San Francisco area where he works on growing their North American business as well as angel investing and sitting on the boards of several tech companies. Along with being selected by Endeavor for another venture, Incubeta, he was named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader in 2009.

Yola plays an important role in Africa as internet penetration continues to grow exponentially. Currently there are over 110 million users on the continent, a 2,300% increase over the last ten years, and having an online presence is becoming increasingly important for businesses and entrepreneurs on the continent.

New Endeavor research and video: the “multiplier effect” in Argentina

Over the last decade, entrepreneurs in Argentina have created a thriving tech sector in a country that Inc. magazine calls “one of the toughest business climates on earth.” For years people have wondered how this has happened. Our research group, Endeavor Insight, has just completed six months of research and interviewed more than 200 entrepreneurs to figure out the answer.

The secret to Argentina’s success is something we call the “multiplier effect” and we’ve created a video that shares the important lessons they learned. You can find the video on our YouTube channel.

“We are very excited to share this video of our research on Argentina,” says Rhett Morris, director of Endeavor Insight. “It really shows how things like mentoring, investing in and inspiring other entrepreneurs are critical for creating communities of entrepreneurship.”

Trust us. You don’t want to miss this video.

7 tips for organizing your marketing efforts

Reprinted from womenentrepreneursecrets.blogspot.com. See original post here.

By Sydni Craig-Hart

Joseph Ghabi once said: “Your life will begin changing the moment you decide that you want it to.”

I’ve found that the same is true for growing your business. If you want to see different results than what you’ve seen in the past, you must make a heartfelt decision to do things differently. You need to start with making over your mindset.

Mental blocks can hold you back and keep you from achieving your goals. When you sit down to work on your business are you clear and focused, or is your mind cluttered with ideas, client requests, overdue items and more?

The FIRST step to achieving your goals is de-cluttering and organizing your mind. When you do this, you’ll be able to clearly define what you want to accomplish and start taking the necessary action to achieve your goals.

If a never ending to do list, too many ideas for marketing your business, missed opportunities and a constant state of overwhelm are running your life, it’s time to clear out the old and get organized. When you do this, you’ll find that it’s easier to focus on marketing your business consistently and effectively.

Here are seven simple practices that you can use NOW to do just that:

Document EVERYTHING! – When your brain is busy trying to keep track of the many details that are floating around your head, you begin to feel stressed out and overwhelmed. Write down everything! For years, my husband told me to do this but I ignored him – until I finally started to see that there was too much for me to manage on my own. Once I started taking his advice, EVERYTHING changed. The same can be true for you. Get a notebook if you prefer the pen and paper type of note taking, or use Evernote. No matter how you do it – start documenting every aspect of how you run and market your business. Getting it all out of your head and onto paper is going to relieve a tremendous amount of stress.

Create a login file – In this day and age, the number of accounts you need to log into on a daily basis seems to be growing each week! Keeping track of all that information in your head is a surefire recipe for disaster. Have ONE spreadsheet where you keep all of this information. Be sure to write down everything – your blog dashboard, social media profiles, email marketing system, etc. You’ll be able to save time looking for what you need.

Use a notebook to capture all of your ideas – Apart from your procedures and to do list notebook, you should create a space where you can write down all of your new ideas. Entrepreneurs have no problem generating great new ideas – but it’s far too easy to forget about them or allow them to distract you from your profit plan. Keeping your ideas in one spot will make it easy for you to refer back to those ideas often so you can actually implement them. Imagine how you can increase your profits when you start taking action on your great ideas?

Use just ONE to-do list – If your daily task list is in 7 different spots, you’re going to feel distracted and scattered. Keep everything in one list – there are countless options, so just choose one and stick with it! Once you’ve picked the best option for you, commit to using this one system for your tasks and projects. Using a web based system will make it easy to delegate tasks to other people.

Plan ahead with your content – Many entrepreneurs feel stuck with marketing because they aren’t sure what to do. Just start with one month – plan out what you’ll be doing in the upcoming month. Pick a date to publish each piece, plan out the theme for your content and jot down some ideas for your newsletter, blog posts or social media updates. When you sit down to write your marketing materials you’ll crank out your content quickly and easily.

Create a Master Schedule Template – If you find yourself looking back at the end of the week and wondering where the time went, you need to implement this right away! Using a weekly calendar, you can designate blocks of time where you’ll work on certain aspects of your business. For example, reserve Monday from 9 am to 12 pm for marketing, 1 pm to 3 pm for writing, 3 pm to 5 pm for email management and so on. Start by inserting recurring tasks (like client meetings, marketing times, meeting with your coach, etc) and then designate other blocks of time for your other activities. Don’t leave your essential tasks to chance! Make a plan for when you’ll do them and you’ll boost your productivity.

Set clear boundaries – Once you get this support system into place, you need to follow through and stick with it! Commit to yourself that you’ll honor what you’ve set out to do. Turn off email notifications and other distractions. Make sure that friends and family know when you’re available to chat. You can also create accountability for yourself by working with a coach or mentor to help you.

Marketing and growing your business isn’t impossible – but it does require planning and consistency to work. When you de-clutter your mind and organize your materials, you will be able to see the results you’ve been looking for and fully enjoy a successful business.

Which tip will you implement first? Please share your thoughts with me on the blog!


Plan a “brain dump” – Take time this week to get everything out on paper – all of your “to dos,” all of your big ideas for growing your business, all of your client projects – everything. When you write it all down you’ll be able to get it off your mind and develop a plan for getting things done.

Get organized – Create a file for all of your logins and commit to using one to do list. You’ll save time each day and boost your productivity.

Master your schedule – Set time aside each week in hourly blocks for all of the things you need to do – including marketing your business. You’ll be more productive, waste less time and get more done.

Plan ahead – Write down your content focus for the next month and brainstorm ideas for blog topics, social media conversations and newsletter articles. Then sit down to write at your designated time and get your content into the hands of the people who need you!

Set boundaries with yourself and others – Let friends and family know when you’ll be available to chat and commit to sticking with your master schedule. You’ll eliminate distractions and increase your profitability.

Sydni Craig-Hart, The Smart Simple Marketing Coach, is founder of SmartSimpleMarketing.com. Known for her easy, strategic and results-focused approach to marketing, she also has the unique ability to find untapped profit centers in her client’s businesses so they can create mo.ney NOW. Visit www.SmartSimpleMarketing.com for your FREE training course, “5 Simple Steps to More Clients, More Visibility and More Freedom” and apply for a FREE “Profit Breakthrough” session with Sydni!

Tough love: insights from an investor

Reprinted from informationarbitrage.com. See original post here.

By Roger Ehrenberg

For me, investing in seed stage companies has never been about making money: it has been about passion. Passion for the mission. Passion for the founders. Passion for those in and around the company. Yes, making money is always the hope but not the objective function I’m solving for. In my experience if I get the passion right, the money often (but not always) follows. I can honestly say that I haven’t invested in a company for which I did not have passion. “This founder’s great and it’s sure to be a money-maker but I hate what they do” are not words that have ever passed through my mind or over my lips. Being partnered with founders and helping them build their businesses is simply too difficult and too emotional for it to be a clinical exercise. Without passion, being a venture capitalist would an absolute nightmare, at least for this investor.

But one of the hardest things I have to do is to distinguish between passion and performance, and to provide real guidance and support when it is required. It is a very fine line between being helpful and being domineering, and it is also important to balance the company’s needs with the skills, abilities and interests of its founders and employees. This is particularly challenging as companies scale. Sometimes founders can rise to the challenge of ramping an organization and all it entails, while other times they are better suited to narrower roles that play better to their strengths. Even while this might be the right thing for the company, it is still often an emotional transition and one that needs to be handled with thought and care by the founders, other members of senior management and the Board. Falling in love with a company and its founders can be dangerous if challenging, honest conversations can’t be had and difficult but necessary management changes can’t be made. The most important thing for a fiduciary to remember – be they outside investors, independent Board members or founders – is the focus on doing the best thing for all shareholders. Bringing everything back to this core principle helps focus everyone’s attention while making the difficult decisions a little bit more straight-forward.

That all said, it is still hard as hell to provide painful feedback to people whom you care deeply about but who simply need to do better job or else shift roles. Just because it may be the right thing to do doesn’t make it any easier, and passion for both the people and the companies makes this important task even more challenging. But as a partner to management I owe it to the founders and to other shareholders to step up and have the necessary “tough love” conversations. Because if not me, then who?

6 key ingredients of startup morale

Reprinted from GrowVC. See original post here.

By Scott Hersh

Working in a start up is one of the most exciting things in the business world today; it is also one of the most challenging. Whereas keeping morale high in any business is important, in startups, it is do or die. There are two steps to creating and maintaining high morale, which I refer to as ‘defining’ and ‘encouraging.’ Defining means establishing clear goals for the company and the individual in order to focus every individual productively. Once goals are clearly defined and each individual understands their role in accomplishing those goals, the next step is to fan the flame which I refer to as ‘encouraging.’ These two aspects of defining and encouraging are broken down into 6 key ingredients of creating and maintaining morale.

Aspects of ‘Defining’

1) Have a Mission that Inspires
An office with a mission is a much different environment than an office without a mission. Make sure that everyone knows, understands and ascribes to the mission that your business has set out to accomplish. Working together towards a higher purpose is much more gratifying than working just to make money. It’s also a crucial ingredient to being profitable.

2) Define Individual Expectations
When people don’t know what performance is expected of them they are not able to gauge their level of success. Defining expectations means creating the opportunity to succeed and feelings of success breed morale.

Aspects of ‘Encouraging’

3) Make Business a Pleasure
What does a normal workweek in your startup consist of? I would say that it’s rare for anyone in a startup to put in less than 60 hours a week. With such demanding work weeks, precious little time is left available for being social. Therefore, it’s extra important to include an element of fun in the office by making sure to take time to celebrate together. Here are some reasons to have a short office party…
• Birthdays
• Any business success
• Hiring a new worker
• Just as a pleasant surprise

4) Have a Collective Company Brain
Everyone in the startup should have an idea of how the entire operation is being run, and they should all be encouraged to give feedback. Keep lines of communication open between all facets of the company in order to encourage growing as one successful and healthy organism.

5) Hire Powerhouse Employees
Did you ever notice that some people have a personality that engages and inspires everyone else around them? Every great company has a few of them, make sure that you do too.

6) Get Personal
Take an interest in your employees and coworkers personal lives. By being there for them through the difficult times and celebrating with them during the good times, the workplace will develop into an extended family unit, which is great for loyalty.

This advice in this article is not just for upper-echelon individuals in the start up, it’s for everybody. The most successful businesses are ones where everyone collectively adopts a leadership mindset and feels personally responsible for the welfare of the business as a whole, and the individuals that they work

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