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The 2015 Endeavor Entrepreneur Retreat will take place May 6-8th in Westchester, NY. Three top-tier keynote speakers have been confirmed for the event: – Kenneth I. Chenault has served as Chairman and CEO of American Express Company since 2001. He […]
March 2nd, 2015 — by adminRead more
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Endeavor has worked with corporate partner EY to provide tailored business services to Endeavor Entrepreneurs through the EY Corporate Responsibility Fellows Program, which recently welcomed back its 2013 class from their time abroad. Through the program, EY dedicates […]
March 3rd, 2014 — by adminRead more
Latest Video(video) Endeavor Greece Celebrates Two Years and 3,500+ Jobs Created By Its Entrepreneurs
December 18th, 2014
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.
By Ben Horowitz
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?”
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?”
At Endeavor, we deeply regret the recent passing of Lidia María Riba.
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.
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.
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: Martín S. Frascaroli
Description: Founded in Córdoba in 2002, Aivo develops automated, chat-based customer service agents that intelligently recognize, interpret and respond to written client questions.
Entrepreneur: Cristian Schweizer
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.
Entrepreneur: Mariano Nuñez Di Croce, Victor Montero
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.
Entrepreneurs: Carlos Balma, Ricardo Buckup, Felipe Ribeiro
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.
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.
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.
Entrepreneur: Patricio Catalán & Gonzalo Santamarina
Description: Founded in 2007, Innovex is an aquaculture technology company dedicated to equipment and software development for fish farms.
Entrepreneur: Santiago Querol
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.
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.
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.
Entrepreneur: Arturo Galván Contreras
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.
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.
Entrepreneur: Sebastián Lateulade
Description: Founded in 2004, TodoTVMedia produces both print and online media covering the television industry in the Americas.
Entrepreneur: Álvaro García, Ariel Burschtin, Ruben Sosenke
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.
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.
By Paul Morin
Are you familiar with the concept of an elevator pitch (a/k/a elevator speech)? If you’re an entrepreneur, you really need to understand the idea of an elevator pitch and you need to formulate your own.
The name elevator pitch (or elevator speech) comes from the idea that when you get on an elevator and want to say something to someone you just met there, you don’t have very long to do it! How long you have depends on how many floors you’re going, how fast the elevator goes, and how soon after entering the elevator you start speaking to the other person.
It’s a great metaphor and a great idea, as it forces you to boil down your “pitch” to its very essence, so you can get your point across “before the elevator opens”. The concept of elevator pitches has been around for a long time. If you’ve not already formulated yours, I recommend you do so as soon as possible and begin using and refining it as you meet new people. Before you take it “prime time” with potentially important prospects, partners, investors, etc, I strongly advise you to try it out on several people you know.
So, how should you think about constructing your elevator pitch? How long should it be? What should it include? Think about the scenario of just entering an elevator and realizing that, by chance, a potential investor you had wanted to get in touch with is on the same elevator. You literally have an opportunity to give an elevator speech! Unless you were in a very tall building with lots of stops, you would likely have less than thirty seconds, potentially far less, to deliver your elevator speech. What would you want to get across to this very important prospect in such a short period of time? Let’s look at an example.
In this example, we’ll think along the lines of being the founder and CEO an early stage technology company, getting into the elevator with an important potential investor. We’ll look at a couple of elevator pitch examples for the same scenario, so you can see the good and the bad.
Elevator Pitch To Potential Investor – Example #1
Hello Mr. Investor. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I have been wanting to get in touch with you to tell you about the amazing technology we’ve developed. I think it may be a great investment for your venture capital fund. It’s based on nanotechnology and has the potential to help a lot of people and keep them from getting sicker. I’d love to be able to get some of your time and tell you more about it.
Elevator Pitch To Potential Investor – Example #2
Hello Mr. Investor. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I have been wanting to meet you to tell you about the amazing technology and business model we have created, which I think is very well aligned with the types of investments your fund focuses on. It’s based on our patented nanotechnology, which has been proven to reduce repeat heart attacks by 65%. The addressable market is $10 billion and our team of veteran entrepreneurs and award-winning physicians has been at the forefront of many advances in this market. Could we meet next week, so we can provide you with more details?
Ok, so which elevator pitch above do you believe is more likely to get the desired result – a meeting with the potential investor? I’d have to say it’s pitch #2. Do you agree? Why? Elevator speech #1 focuses on the entrepreneur and does not provide any specifics, particularly those specifics that would be of greatest interest to the potential investor. Elevator speech #2 immediately shows the investor that you are thinking about their needs and what they’re looking for. It says, “… which I think is very well aligned with the types of investments your fund focuses on…,” immediately proving to the prospective investor that you’ve done some research and are not just throwing out the same canned elevator pitch to everyone you run into. Elevator pitch #2 also quickly gets into key points that are very relevant to most every venture capitalist, such as: “patented technology,” “proven to reduce,” “addressable market,” and “team of veteran entrepreneurs”. With this second pitch, you are “talking their language,” as the saying goes. Such an approach greatly increases the odds that they will listen and grant you the meeting you are seeking.
You can see how this concept of “talking their language” is relevant for any kind of elevator pitch, whether it’s to a potential customer, partner, investor, or any other important constituent. Everyone is busy. Everyone has a natural filter to help them ignore or “pay lip service” to those things that really are not relevant to them. In order to get through this filter, you must be able to put your elevator speech in terms that really matter to the person with whom you are speaking. If you do not take the time and effort to do this, you probably shouldn’t bother giving the elevator pitch, as you’ll only end up sounding irrelevant and confused.
When you are thinking about how to construct your elevator pitch, think about it the same way you would think about any marketing or sales pitch; it must be focused on the benefits you offer that solve specific problems the target is facing. Elsewhere I’ve written about why most marketing does not work because it is focused on features and not benefits. Every prospect with whom you have a “conversation,” regardless of the medium through which that communication occurs, has one thing first and foremost on their mind. What is that one thing? It is solving their issues and problems, particularly the most pressing ones. That’s what we as human beings focus on all day long. If you show up on the scene with your marketing message or elevator pitch and it is not relevant to me, my problems and issues, or my future aspirations, you get filtered out. Period. End of story.
Make sure your elevator pitch quickly gets to the point, which should be how what you have to offer is highly relevant to helping the person with whom you’re speaking solve their issues, problems and aspirations. Keep it under thirty seconds. Have a couple of versions prepared, so you can change it up a bit, based on relevancy to the particular person with whom you’re speaking. Keep refining your pitch based on feedback you receive and results you achieve. Remember, you’re not giving your whole pitch in the elevator; you’re just trying to “open the door,” so they’ll be intrigued enough to be willing to listen to a more detailed version of your pitch. If you do those few things, you should end up with an elevator pitch, or really, a repertoire of elevator pitches, that allow you get your message across to key constituencies quickly and effectively.
By Alex Pirouz (reprinted from Under30CEO).
Co-Founder Janine Allis started Boost Juice in her garage in 2000 out of frustration that she could not find healthy takeaway products for her three children.
Since starting their first store in Adelaide back in year 2000, 11 years later Boost Juice now boasts more than 180 outlets in Australia and 50 overseas (mainly in Britain, Singapore and South Africa). Boost was ranked seventh on BRW‘s list of fastest growing businesses in 2010 and Ms Allis is said to be worth $36 million on the magazine’s Young Rich List.
We spoke with Janine regarding the importance of work culture and how that has attributed to the success of what is now the largest juice and smoothie bar in the southern hemisphere.
Janine, you attribute the success of your business to the fresh, young and dynamic culture that pervades all aspects of the company. Why is that?
The success of every business is based on the quality of people who are hired, that have the right attitude and on the path that you want them to be on. If you haven’t got the right culture or working environment you won’t attract the right people.
When creating a compelling culture at work, what’s most important?
Working with integrity and honesty is the top two most important things when it comes to building a culture.
Do you have a specific formula, criteria or approach when designing a culture?
I think it is just intuitive given that the culture is a moving target all the time. As you know when you work with people you like it’s a lot more enjoyable so we try and find people who are best suited to work with each other to make work that much more enjoyable.
What were some of the challenges you faced in creating such a compelling culture and how did you overcome them?
Oh, we face challenges all the time and the main challenge we find is that if you hire the wrong person in your business they can quickly bring down the culture of the business to the ground, and it’s about recognizing it as quickly as possible and if you can recognize it fix it ASAP.
How do you evaluate if a new candidate you are looking to employ is a good fit for the culture of your organization?
Intuitively you can get a good feeling whether or not they are right for the position. How they answer questions, what they say, recommendations and attitude. We hire on attitude not skill, unless you are applying for a position that requires a certain skill like an accountant or lawyer.
How do you determine if an employee you have hired is no longer a good fit for your company?
In business you need to be very clear on your expectations and all that starts with yourself. We set the expectations from the start, then we work with them to meet it and if they don’t we sit down and figure out why.
Do you recommend companies have an ongoing assessment, maybe once every 6 months or so to evaluate their current culture at work?
I think that every single company out there needs to have a very strong communication strategy. This communication needs to be in written form and for people to know clearly that it exists and that it needs to be followed. I think communication is extremely important.
How do you maintain and uphold a culture once you have developed it?
Treating people with respect, rewarding them and giving them a salary that is appropriate is how you maintain a culture. Have a bit of a laugh and make things fun.
What are some things that can damage or harm cultures at work?
The biggest thing that can kill the culture at work is getting the wrong CEO in the business. By getting the wrong management, you kill the culture of any company.
How do you replace an existing work culture with a new one?
You change the CEO and leadership team because it all starts with them. The CEO hires the managers and the managers then hire the staff so you work your way from the top to the bottom of the chain.
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