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31 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 15 Countries Join the Endeavor Network at the 54th Selection Panel in New York City

New York, NY – August 14th – Endeavor selected 31 high-impact entrepreneurs leading 21 companies in 15 countries at its 54th International Selection Panel. Endeavor now supports 948 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 606 companies across 20 […]

August 14th, 2014 — by admin

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Egyptian Entrepreneur Amr Shady profiled in UK’s Entrepreneur Country magazine

Endeavor Entrepreneur Amr Shady, founder and CEO of T.A. Telecom, was recently profiled in Entrepreneur Country, a British magazine that identifies successful global entrepreneurship success stories.  Author Jonathan Simnet, a senior advisor at Ariadne Capital, […]

June 4th, 2013 — by admin

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Gaming site Jawaker, started by two Jordanian Endeavor Entrepreneurs, attracts investment

Reprinted from Wamda.com

Arabic content fund twofour54 Ibtikar recently announced investment in social gaming sites Jawaker and Tahadi, marking the latest in a slew of investments in the gaming sector since January.

Jawaker is a social gaming company that was started as a pet project by partners Mohamad Haj Hasan and Yousef Shamoun, the Endeavor Entrepreneurs behind Akhtaboot, a Middle Eastern online career network. Jawaker is a multiplayer card gaming website has thus far generated a large online gaming community of over 500,000 registered users. The company has succeeded in targeting the largely under-served gaming market of the Arabic world, which is increasingly demanding high-quality, culturally relevant games.

Haj Hasan said: “twofour54 ibtikar’s investment in Jawaker will enable the company to capitalise on the rapidly expanding popularity of online gaming regionally. With the region’s extremely high percentage of young people combined with increased broadband penetration, we will look to work with twofour54 ibtikar to expand our current offering and develop and publish a wide range of Arabic card games for the region’s burgeoning online audience.”

The investment marks continued growth for the Arabic gaming market centered out of Abu Dhabi, which is now being branded as a “the Middle East’s leading gaming hub.”

Video (The 99 Percent conference): Linda Rottenberg offers advice to entrepreneurs in creative industries

In this talk at Behance’s 99% conference, Endeavor co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg addresses some of the key challenges facing creative startups. She urges entrepreneurs to push their “crazy” ideas, think big, and engage in peer mentorship. Click here to view the video on the 99% website.

Next Web features Chilean “Gringas” Julie McPherson and Anette Krohn

Endeavor Entrepreneur Julie McPherson, and Anette Krohn, Operations Manager at Endeavor Chile, have been featured in a recent Next Web article, Latin American Startups: Eight “Gringas” to Watch Out For. The article profiles eight women who have moved to Latin America to work in entrepreneurship, finding great success.

The two women are highlighted as follows:

Julie McPherson

Earlier this year, we listed Julie McPherson as one of Ten Women to Watch in the Latin American tech space. Indeed, regardless of nationality, Julie is a key figure in the Chilean tech ecosystem. She describes the company she co-founded, Tiaxa, as “a one-stop-shop for the Latin American telecom industry.” Launched in 2002 to provide services such as WAP portals, the company pivoted a few years ago; its core business is now to help telcos with their data service infrastructure.

An American, Julie met her Chilean husband in 1996 while working at an investment bank in Santiago. She then returned to the US, where Tiaxa was created in 2000, before moving back to Chile where the company has been headquartered since 2002. Julie is committed to developing the local business ecosystem; she’s supporting other female entrepreneurs thanks to the Impakta program she co-initiated in Chile with fellow women entrepreneurs from the Endeavor network.

Anette Krohn

Anette Krohn is the Operations Manager at Endeavor in Chile. As you may already know, Endeavor is a non-profit organization that supports entrepreneurs around the world, with a particular focus on emerging countries. It started operating in Chile in 1998 where it currently supports around 50 ventures, “after screening more than 3,000 candidate companies.” Besides its offices in Santiago, Endeavor Chile launched operations in 2010 in the city of Temuco, 670 km south of the Chilean capital.

Anette, who studied at the universities of Gothenburg and Uppsala in Sweden, joined Endeavor Chile in 2004. Before joining the organization, she worked at Swedish companies in Europe and South America. She then went on to work at Trade Chile, a company whose mission is to “facilitate investment and trade to and from Chile”. The country seems like a perfect fit for her: this mother of two lists “hiking, skiing and sailing” as her favorite hobbies.

IrisGuard says future of security is in eye of beholder

Reprinted from The National. See the original post here.

By Farrah Halime

Lights flash in unison on a row of black boxes at passport control at Jordan’s Queen Alia International Airport, on standby for the next batch of visitors.

The devices have a key job; to scan irises, the coloured part of the eye, so that newcomers are added to a government database and criminals are kept at bay.

[Endeavor Entrepreneur] Imad Malhas, the chief executive and a co-founder of IrisGuard, the Amman-based technology company behind the iris scanners at Jordan’s airports, says the machines may not look pretty but “they do the job”.

When IrisGuard first pioneered its iris recognition software for the UAE’s airports in 2001, Mr Malhas says the country was trying to stop banned workers trying to return to the Emirates to obtain work illegally. Since then, he says the software has caught 600,000 people attempting to enter the UAE illegally.

He is a staunch advocate of iris scans as the best form of identification. Fingerprints, he says, wear over time or can be damaged.

“One iris is as good as 10 fingerprints. So if you are working with an adverse government or you are a drug lord and have three different passports with three different identities, if we tie the eyes to you, you won’t be able to do that.”

The high level of security related to the iris recognition system – imitating an iris is said to be impossible – has led various governments to team up with IrisGuard.

Some maximum security prisons in the US are using the system to prevent impersonations and mistaken releases and in South Africa the system is being used by parents to help to protect their children against child trafficking.

The company is also in the process of enrolling 1.4 billion Indians on to the New Delhi government’s software to help to keep track of the subcontinent’s huge population.

Although some critics have questioned the morality of the system, saying some governments are digging too deep into the identity of individuals, Mr Malhas dismisses such criticism.

“Ultimately, what is it the government wants? It wants to help you and make sure you are secure and you really don’t want certain types of people coming into your country.”

There is a softer side to the business, however. Mr Malhas has big ambitions for the retail use of the iris recognition system.

He has been talking to two major retail banks in the UAE about rolling out a system that would allow customers to use iris scanning technology to withdraw cash at ATMs or to identify themselves to tellers. Cairo Amman Bank, a retail lender in Jordan, has been offering this service since 2008.

Mr Malhas also expects to launch a small, sleek offshoot of the iris scanner, the EyeSign, which resembles an iPhone, next year. It will allow users to access banks and other encrypted websites securely from home or from their laptop, and “order pizza with their eye, shop online with their eye, bank with their eye”, he says.

“We’re trying to revolutionise the way people regard security, and banking and shopping. Soon it’ll be like the cellphone: what did we do before?”

Q&A: Iris scanners

How does it work? The iris recognition software scans the iris, the coloured part in the middle of the eye just in front of the lens. Mr Malhas wants to make the scanning system the preferred method of security for accessing websites and online banking.

How secure is it? The company bases its promise of high-level security on the fact that a person’s iris is unique.

What comes next? Mr Malhas is talking to more banks in the Middle East to allow customers to withdraw cash by merely scanning their iris. He regards the security system as a reliable method for accessing online.

Join us as we celebrate High-Impact Entrepreneurship at the 2011 Endeavor Gala

We hope you will join us at what promises to be a memorable evening. Seats are limited, so email gala@endeavor.org to reserve your table today!

Why do investors walk away from deals? 5 tips on how to pitch successfully

Reprinted from Wamda.com. You can find the original article here.

Assad Hamzeh is the founder and CEO of Sharakeh (www.sharakeh.net), a Jordanian company that connects entrepreneurs and business owners to venture capitalists and angel investors and provides advisory services.

I am in the business of introducing entrepreneurs seeking funding to investors. Being based in Amman, I have met many highly motivated young Jordanian entrepreneurs who have great ideas. Unfortunately, many of their products fail to launch simply because they lack knowledge about pitching to an investor and negotiating deals.

Entrepreneurs and investors here tend to the look at the project from two very different angles. Entrepreneurs tend to be emotionally attached to their projects, and want to protect them from being taken advantage of. Investors tend to look at projects as risky ventures that could threaten their assets. If there are no formal shields in place to guard against the potential risks, they will not invest.

Doubt can be a healthy factor driving negotiations. But when one or both sides walk out on a lucrative business opportunity due to unrealistic fears, it’s unproductive. Unfortunately a lack of mutual understanding is a primary obstacle that I see in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Jordan. Entrepreneurs think that investors are out to steal their projects, and investors think that entrepreneurs are out to rob them.

So here, I will offer tips explaining how to rely on formal structures rather than allow unfounded suspicions to rule the day.

Here are my top five tips for entrepreneurs:

1. Create a good business plan summary.

Even if your business model is great, it won’t matter if the investor cannot easily understand it. Often when entrepreneurs come to pitch to me, I read business plans that are too short and incomplete, or too long and too technical.

An ideal business plan write-up should be 10-15 pages long, and should have an executive summary that explains the concept in one to two pages. Investors don’t want to read 80 pages of details to understand if they like the idea or not. Give them just enough material to get interested, so that your summary is a good foot in the door to future discussions.

2. Don’t be afraid to share your idea.

Often entrepreneurs are afraid of presenting their business plan because they are concerned that the investor will steal the idea and create the company himself. But refusing to show an investor a business plan is like going to a doctor and saying “I feel bad somewhere in my body, but I can’t tell you where.”

If you have a good idea, go and register for a patent, and do whatever it takes legally to protect your idea. But don’t withhold a business plan, and don’t ask for a nondisclosure agreement either- mistrust will kill a deal.

Believe me- ideas are a dime a dozen. And in reality, it’s difficult for someone else to take your idea and implement it. If you’re worried about sharing an idea because you think anyone can do it, perhaps it’s not that great.

3. Give investors a specific plan for partnership.

Often I see entrepreneurs that don’t know what they need from an investor. They will ask for a vague investment anywhere from $50,000-500,000, and won’t include shareholder or partnership agreements.

It’s best to create a plan for the partnership. Explain whether the investor will be an active member in the board of directors, and what his or her voting rights will be. Offer a specific amount of equity. If you say, for instance, I will give you 30% equity and put you on the board of directors, then you can negotiate whether he or she votes, and on which decisions. This will put the investor at ease.

4. Don’t overestimate the value of your company.

Often here, entrepreneurs will overestimate their market. They will begin with the population of Jordan- six million- and determine the size of their market based on too large a slice of that population.

Or instead aiming first for a local market, they will aim to scale up right away without taking into account the costs of new staff, new facilities, and new management structures.

Another mistake is underestimating the competition and undervaluing the risk. It’s important to do good market research across the board and accurately predict the impact of these factors and the size of your market.

5. Be ready for a real partnership with your investor.

Finally, I often see that many business owners are not ready and willing to work with investors as true partners. They tend to present themselves to the investor as though they do not want to be questioned. They would simply like to take a monetary investment and then work to deliver a profit.

Again, this fear of partnership stems from entrepreneurs’ misperception that if they bring investors in as partners, the investors will somehow kick them out and run the business themselves. But investors don’t want to run a business. And a formal business agreement will set clear guidelines for the partnership.

In general, investors will see right through you if you try to sideline them from the start or obscure information. It’s best to engage investors as the powerful mentors and facilitators that they can be. When you walk into a meeting with an investor, bring your confidence and research to the table but leave your suspicion at door.

Next Web features Osker Hjertonsson as “Gringo” entrepreneur in Latin America

Swedish Endeavor Entrepreneur Oskar Hjertonsson was featured in a recent Next Web article, Latin American Startups: Nine ‘Gringos’ You Should Know. The article profiles nine successful European and American entrepreneurs who have chosen to make Latin America home to their startup companies, in hopes of taking advantage of the growing number of economic opportunities in that region.

Oskar’s story is highlighted as follows:

Oskar Hjertonsson, as you may guess from his name, is a Swedish entrepreneur. Oskar is based in Santiago, Chile. Currently Groupon‘s General Manager for Latin America, he helped building out the daily deals website in the region. Indeed, Groupon entered the local market in June 2010 by acquiring Clandescuento.com, the daily discount site he had created a few months earlier. It wasn’t Oskar’s first company in Chile as he had already co-founded the classifieds website Needish in 2007.

Besides his role at Groupon, Oskar is also a private investor in startups. According to his AngelList profile, he “invests in 5 startups at US$25k a year.” One of these companies is the event planning service Welcu, the only Chilean company that participated in 500 Startups’ acceleration cycle this summer (see our previous story).

The full article can be found here.

Wences Casares launches new endeavor, Lemon

Endeavor Entrepreneur and Global Board Member Wences Casares has already created numerous successful companies including (Patagon.com, MECK, and Wanako Games) and been an influential mentor and angel investor.

Wences latest endeavor is the launch of Lemon, a free cloud-based receipt organizer and spending tracker. The service lets users store and organize email and paper receipts in the cloud to help them keep track of purchases, eliminate clutter and start spending smarter. To upload paper receipts, people can download a mobile app and simply snap a picture of the receipt. Lemon will subsequently digitize and store the data. Digital receipts – from any retailer, the company claims – can be sent directly to one’s Lemon account (which comes with a personal @lemon.com email address).

Additionally, Lemon squeezes out all the juicy details receipts contain to help you stay organized, see where your money goes and save some cash along the way. Lemon extracts data from each receipt down to the product-level detail to generate insightful reports and graphs that illustrate spending trends, make it
easy to prepare for tax time or submit expense reports.

Over time, Lemon will also offer users targeted discounts and promotions from relevant brands and retailers based on their spending habits, giving users access to exclusive deals, future discounts on products they purchase often and personalized offers from their favorite brands.

Panel: CEO best practices for scaling fast-growth companies [Video, Transcript]

Endeavor is pleased to make public the following transcript and video 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.

Panelists:

Leo Tilman: President, L.M. Tilman & Co, Faculty at Columbia University and author of Financial Darwinism

Jeff Housenbold: President and CEO, Shutterfly; former eBay Executive

Gina Bianchini: Former CEO, Ning; has been listed in Fortune’s “40 under 40″

Tricia Tomlinson: SVP, Human Resources, Genomic Health

Full transcript:

Leo: At this panel, “CEO Best Practices for Scaling Fast Growth Companies,” we wanted to talk about the challenges facing CEOs of fast growth companies, compare and contrast that with challenges that face leaders of large and complex organizations, and leverage the lessons learned, so that we can anticipate and prepare as your companies change and also as environments change. And we wanted to take as holistic a view of these topics as possible and talk about strategic vision of these firms, organizational alignment and culture, and even touch on some of the topics that are not particularly common in these discussions, such as risk management. And we know that when it all comes together, not only do your organizations get excited as people get countless problems to solve, and get very exciting and engaging jobs, but contribute to economic growth, and last but not least, it presents all of you with amazing opportunities for self-discovery.

On that note, I am very privileged to moderate a panel of truly visionary executives and entrepreneurs. Each one of us will take five minutes to talk broadly about the challenge at hand and then we’ll turn it into the Q&A. (more…)

Egypt 2.0: The investor perspective

Reprinted from Wamda.com. See the original post here.

By Nina Curley

Spring’s fervent revolution has given way to a dry summer in Egypt. As demonstrators streamed back into Cairo’s Tahrir Square last week to protest the prime minister’s new cabinet, benchmark index EGX 30 ebbed to a two-month low, only 20 points above its March nadir. With the World Bank predicting that the country’s economic growth will sink to 1% this year, given hits to vital tourism and industry sectors, the pace of recovery threatens to emulate a Cairene rush hour.

Yet, as Walid Bakr of Abraaj Capital’s small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) investment fund, Riyada Enterprise Development (RED), attests, there is no time like the present for investing in scaling small businesses in Egypt. Last year, SMEs provided an estimated 80% of Egypt’s employment while producing only 25% of GDP, demonstrating a clear productivity gap and opportunity for growth. 

Now, Bakr sees SME investment opportunities accelerating over the next few years, as post-revolution spirit fuels public interest in entrepreneurship while short-term economic downturn drives small businesses to approach global markets more quickly.

Wamda spoke to Bakr about how an investor approaches the tumultuous Egyptian market, and what the government can do, aside from extending import and export license validity, to entice investors to rebuild the Land of the Nile.

Is now a good time to think about investing in Egypt?

Yes. While the revolution has brought about significant reforms, order has been restored much faster than anyone expected.

There has been short-term adverse impact on the economy, yet because, as a private equity firm, we invest in long-term growth opportunities, I don’t forsee long-term negative impact on our operations, for the following reasons:

Firstly, more companies will be looking to diversify and scale, due to cash flow pressures and the realization of new markets opening up. Thus we will be able to access more opportunities in the market.

Secondly, I predict a general rise in entrepreneurial activity. For the first time in Egypt, we have a young labor force that is highly motivated for a better future. Sixty per cent of the population is under the age of 30, and for many years, this labor force had few options for growth. Yet today, people are repainting the streets and looking to rebuild businesses here.

Are any sectors a better bet for investment than any others?

While Egypt has large advantages in certain sectors, such as tourism- due to the fact that it holds two-thirds of the world’s monuments- we look for sectors that are less saturated so that we can invest in a few winners. There are certain sectors we prefer, but these days it pays to be sector-agnostic in this region, because many sectors are still developing and there are attractive opportunities across the board.

How have the revolutions affected SMEs?

Of the two Egyptian companies that RED has invested in, commodity trading company AgroCorp and IT services and consulting firm OMS, Agrocorp has fared slightly better, as it exports 100% of its products and was able to manage any operational disruptions in Egypt.

OMS, which conducts 50-60% of its business in Egypt, was more affected by local banking closures and clients delaying payment. Ironically however, both benefitted from the situation due to the devaluation of the Egyptian pound.

In general, businesses that address a purely local market have been affected the most. Many local companies that were in the lead are coming back to the drawing board and realizing they should diversify their market and seek investment in order to scale.

Will the current economic climate push Egyptian companies towards exporting?

Yes. I think that companies are assessing the bigger picture and increasingly looking to export their products and knowledge.

For a company selling physical products and goods, a natural first step is towards regional expansion, because companies can take advantage of fewer tariffs between Arab countries. North Africa is also a natural gateway to the larger, swiftly growing African market.

In the tech space, it makes more sense to go global, as the barriers to entry are much lower. The Levant and Egypt together are becoming a global hub of tech development that is competitive with India. I think we won’t have to wait long to see another big global company emerge from Egypt.

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