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Mexico’s Ver De Verdad Launches First Mobile Eyecare Network in Mexico

Ver de Verdad, founded by Endeavor Entrepreneur Hugo Moreno González, is a retailer of  affordable, high- quality and stylish eyeglasses and accessories primarily serving low-income Mexican consumers. The retailer recently announced that it is introducing […]

October 31st, 2014 — by admin

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Endeavor Entrepreneurs Star at Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Conference

Endeavor Partner Ernst & Young hosted their annual World Entrepreneur Conference and World Entrepreneur of the Year Awards program in Monte Carlo June 5 – 7 and a number of Endeavor Entrepreneurs were highlighted during […]

June 11th, 2013 — by admin

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Huffington Post on Endeavor, “Geeks on a Plane,” and entrepreneurship in Chile

In an article today on The Huffington Post, “Chile Edging Up to America as Startup Haven,” Francine Hardaway describes Endeavor and it’s participation in the Geeks on a Plane program:

“On a Chilean freeway, being transported by bus from Santiago to Santa Cruz, a group of traveling technology entrepreneurs and investors hears startup pitches from companies being accelerated by Endeavor, a global nonprofit accelerator for entrepreneurs with a social purpose. These entrepreneurs are trying to turn Chile solar; purify water and design solar cars. Endeavor is active throughout Latin America; in Brazil, I met an Endeavor-sponsored entrepreneur whose company brings copper wire broadband solutions to small communities.”

The article goes on to discuss the Chilean government’s efforts (e.g., starting an accelerator called Startup Chile to “boost high potential”) to foster entrepreneurship in the country: “President Pinera told his audience this morning that Chile may have been late to the industrial revolution, but it won’t be late to the information revolution. He plans to do everything in his power to change the culture to one tolerant of risk, not afraid to fail and learn from mistakes. He told us Adam and Eve may have been the first entrepreneurs when they ate the forbidden fruit.”

London (May 17): Panel discussion on entrepreneurship in Latin America

On May 17 (11:00am – 1:30pm) in London, Endeavor and Canning House have organized a panel discussion, “Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Latin America.” The event is free and open to the public. For more information and to RSVP, email events@canninghouse.org or call 0207 235 2303 x 221.

Panellists will include Alejandro Mashad, Managing Director of Endeavor Argentina, Guibert Englebienne of Globant, Marcelo Romcy of Proteus, Professor Errko Autio of Imperial Business School, a senior member of UKTI and a UK-based representative of a Latin American bank.

Highlight from Brazil Trek: Insights from a top venture capitalist in Brazil

Over the course of three days, Endeavor held its inaugural Investor Network event, Brazil Trek, gathering Endeavor’s high-impact entrepreneurs, U.S. venture investors, and other key members of the entrepreneurship ecosystem that make Brazil such a thriving emerging market. The Endeavor Brazil Trek event was geared toward making meaningful introductions and initiating communication between entrepreneurs and investors.

During a unique session, Eric Acher, founder of Monashees Capital and venture capitalist in Brazil, offered some especially interesting insights on the state of entrepreneurship and investing in Brazil.

As a VC, Eric says he considers himself an optimistic person and looks for other ambitious and optimistic entrepreneurs. He also explained that what he may be looking for in terms of technology or innovation does not necessary need to be “disruptive”; businesses can be a copy of existing models, or, as he joked, a “geographic innovation.” Stressing the importance of due diligence and selecting the right companies, he added further that “spray and pray,” or spreading investment everywhere and hoping for the best, is not the best way to approach Brazil.

Eric explained his interest in being an early-stage VC, saying that his job was quite different than that of a private equity investor. Being a VC takes more risk and more time, but he believes it is ultimately more exciting since early-stage companies also present the biggest opportunities. Eric joked that he primarily looks for “large companies…at an early stage” — in other words, high-impact entrepreneurs. He likes to invest in early-stage companies because it affords him more freedom to work directly with the team to design the company’s strategic direction. To companies, a VC firm should not be seen merely as a source of funding, but a strategic partner.

Eric believes that as Internet usage increases in Brazil and other emerging markets, there will be more opportunities for creating high-growth tech businesses that can become successful stories. He says that while the landscape could use more angel investors and VCs to make this happen, this is already happening. In addition to Internet Technology, Eric also sees Education as a promising growth sector.

Brazil has a brilliant future ahead, Eric stressed. More and more talented Brazilian entrepreneurs are returning to Brazil after receiving MBAs, and more foreign investors are looking to build their next business in Brazil. Both classes are importing valuable knowledge and experience from abroad, which is professionalizing the business and investment landscape. Meanwhile, Eric still sees an opportunity to create better mechanisms to exchange best practices among emerging market countries, especially on topics related to liquidity and alternatives to exiting.

Eric closed his session with a quote by Alan Kay, adapted by Berkeley Rice to link the shared vision of entrepreneurs and investors: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it. The second best is to finance it.”

Highlight from Brazil Trek: Three entrepreneurs discuss finding a market gap

Over the course of three days, Endeavor held its inaugural Investor Network event, the Brazil Trek, gathering Endeavor’s high-impact entrepreneurs, U.S. venture investors, and other key members of the entrepreneurship ecosystem that make Brazil such a thriving emerging market. The Endeavor Brazil Trek event was geared towards making meaningful introductions and initiating communication between entrepreneurs and investors.

One of the most memorable panels at Brazil Trek was moderated by Anderson Thees. Anderson is CEO of Apontador, a leading geolocation company in Brazil. Three other successful internet entrepreneurs spoke on the panel: Romero Rodrigues of Buscapé, Daniel Heise of Grupo Direct and Endeavor Entrepreneur Daniel Wjuniski of Minha Vida.

I’m always interested in how high-impact enterprises get started, so I was especially intrigued when Anderson, himself a computer engineer and former investor, noted that all three entrepreneurs started their businesses as a personal choice by identifying a need in the market, rather than out of their own need:

While attending university, Romero Rodrigues tried searching online to buy a printer. Unable to find any prices listed online, he turned his frustration into opportunity and started his own business. He found out that no stores wanted to feature their prices in order to avoid competition. Using his engineering skills, he and his friends built their own software to test the market. Buscapé was born, a shopping comparison site which allows consumers to compare prices and products. Today Buscapé covers more than 15 million items across 40 categories in 60,000 stores.

Tired of working in the financial industry, Daniel Heise sought a new direction. He joined his partner, an engineer, to build Grupo Direct. They recognized that as customers, they had trouble communicating with telecom companies, and identified a need for clearer service and communication in the market. Combining skills, they founded their business to help companies build stronger relationships with customers and understand customer behavior.

Daniel Wjuniski from Minha Vida also had personal motivations to start his business. Looking to drop some pounds, he searched the internet for information but came up empty. Leaving Johnson & Johnson, Daniel started an online portal for health and wellness, and was selected by Endeavor in 2009 along with partner Fernando Ortenblad.

Of course, in all three examples, what’s impressive most isn’t how they started out but what they’ve become. In listening to the panel, I was reminded of a quote adapted from Wilbur Ross: “A brilliant idea will only be successful if is brilliantly executed.”

The eyes have it: Endeavor Jordan tech firm IrisGuard makes inroads around the world

A recent article, IrisGuard Makes Inroads, from Mideast Banks to U.S. Prisons, on Bloomberg.com (summarized below) discusses the evolution of identification technology. Jordan-based Endeavor company IrisGuard is a leader in the field, and company founder, CEO and Endeavor Entrepreneur Imad Malhas articulates the bright possibilities for iris-recognition systems.

New technology, the growth of online services and a rising number of cases of fraud demand new solutions for electronic identification. IrisGuard, and companies like it, have developed and are promoting biometric alternatives to finger prints, debit cards and pin numbers. Iris-recognition is the fastest growing of the new technologies, and has a number of advantages. Each person’s iris (the colored part of the eye that takes in light) is unique and remains the same throughout a lifetime. In a span of ten seconds, an IrisGuard (or similar iris-recognition) device can take a digital picture of the eye, algorithmically convert it to a template and compare it to others in a database. The results are faster, more hygienic, and more accurate than using fingerprints.

Such technology has been successfully adopted in the financial services industry and has wide implications in several sectors. Cairo Amman Bank was the first in the world to adopt IrisGuard in 2008 and it now uses the identification system in its 87 branches across Jordan and Palestine. Nearly 65,000 customers participate in “eye-only” transactions, to the satisfaction of the bank’s CEO, Kamal Al-Bakri. “A person’s iris is nontransferable, it cannot be lost, stolen, forgotten, borrowed, or duplicated.”

The United Arab Emirates was the first country to use IrisGuard technology in border control operations. It has already been successful in catching deported workers trying to re-enter the UAE on new documents. Jordan is following suit, enrolling every visitor that enters. This year IrisGuard began selling cameras to India’s Unique Identification Authority, which aims to register all 1.2 billion citizens. In the United States, the Intake Service Center, the law enforcement agency that processes convicts, has installed IrisGuard technology to register all current and incoming inmates. Using IrisGuard technology, officials can access a person’s criminal history in the FBI database in less than three minutes, a drastic improvement over the 20 to 60 minutes required using fingerprints.

There are limitations to the new technology. It’s ideal for institutions with large existing databases, but impossible to use in solving crimes (“you can’t leave your iris at a crime scene”). It also has high up-front costs, and is not currently ubiquitous enough for companies to do away with old methods of identification. Regardless, Malhas remains optimistic. The need for biometrics seems to be growing, and potential is particularly strong in the banking sector. Before the tide of unrest in the Middle East, IrisGuard’s 2011 sales were on target to double from $5.08 million in 2010. The company has been in the black since it was created in 2005 and has every indication of continuing a pattern of strong growth.

Click here for additional coverage on how IrisGuard (and similar technologies) is improving global airport security, from Fox News.

Endeavor Investor Network kicks off with Brazil Trek

The Endeavor Investor Network kicked off with Brazil Trek, holding its inaugural event in São Paulo from April 27-29. The Endeavor Investor Network, which launched at the start of this year, is a program designed to provide investors with access to High-Impact Entrepreneurs and key members of the business and venture ecosystems in Endeavor’s emerging markets.

The Brazil Trek brought 30+ high impact participants together: Endeavor Entrepreneurs, local investors, and international investors including global network members Intel Capital, Redpoint, and Balderton. The Entrepreneurs and investors connected over a networking dinner and speed-networking sessions, fostering both local and global relationships. All six Endeavor Entrepreneurs attending also gave 10-minute pitch presentations to investors from the U.S. and Brazil.

Programming featured six experts on the Brazilian investment arena. Event highlights included a panel with successful entrepreneurs from BuscaPe, Grupo Direct, and Minha Vida and a 3-D tour of the São Paulo Stock Exchange (Bovespa). Eric Acher of Monashees Capital and Martin Escobari of Advent International delivered keynote speeches on venture and investment in Brazil, followed by Rodrigo Lara of the Getulio Vargas Foundation Business School who outlined macro-level Brazilian investment trends.

The Endeavor Investor Network looks forward to its June 28th US Trek: Emerging Market Venture Day in San Francisco. This event will bring together US and emerging market investors with over a dozen of the fastest-growing emerging market companies from around the globe. Organized as a pre-conference to Endeavor’s larger Summit event, this day will include market snapshots of Latin America and the Middle East, speed-networking with Endeavor Entrepreneurs, and numerous networking opportunities.

For more information about the Investor Network or the June event, please contact Jean-claude.homawoo-at-endeavor.org.

Below are some pictures from the Brazil Trek:

Endeavor Entrepreneur Felipe Vergara named Latin American Social Entrepreneur of the Year (World Economic Forum)

On April 28, Endeavor Entrepreneur Felipe Vergara, who founded the Colombia-based Lumni, received a Latin American Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 award by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship (see the press release). Four other entrepreneurs also received the award for their efforts in promoting education, banking, medicine, and housing in the region. The winners were announced at the 2011 World Economic Forum on Latin Ameria in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

A venture capital fund that invests directly in human capital, Lumni finances education for students in exchange for a small fixed percentage of their future income over a pre-set time period. The firm currently operates in Colombia, Chile, Mexico, and the U.S. Since joining Endeavor, Felipe has grown Lumni from supporting 150 students to over 1,600 students, with a dropout rate of 5% and a default rate below 2%. Lumni’s investors exceed 150 individuals and corporations, and current and forthcoming capital totals US$15m across 20 funds.

Felipe is a Wharton MBA and former McKinsey consultant, who has long been passionate about reducing the gap in access to higher education. In explaining the decision to confer the award on Lumni, Hilde Schwab, Chairperson of the Schwab Foundation, said, “Education accounts for roughly 70% of a country’s wealth, yet approximately 88% of the world’s youth cannot pay for university. The Lumni model has the potential to change this.”


In 2006, Lumni was the subject of a Darden Business School (UVA) case study. In an article in the Economist (Sept 2010), Lumni was recognized as an innovator in education financing.

“Social entrepreneurs are the driving force behind the innovations that improve the quality of life of individuals around the world,” said Mirjam Schoening, Head of the Swiss-based Schwab Foundation. Klaus Schwab, co-founder of the Schwab Foundation, commented that Latin America has the highest density of social entrepreneurs in the world.

With this award, Lumni will become a member of the World Economic Forum for five years. Said Felipe: “I am very excited with this opportunity and hope to leverage it to continue building my vision of an international company that creates outstanding economic and social value and helps invent a new industry that creates opportunity and hope for millions.”

Endeavor Brazil takes part in World Economic Forum entrepreneurship education panel

On April 26, a group of Latin America’s most vibrant entrepreneurs gathered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a Latin America Entrepreneurship Education Round Table as part of the Global Education Initiative led by the World Economic Forum. The Global Education Initiative (GEI) is currently most active in Jordan, India, Egypt, the Palestinian territories and Rwanda. “The primary objective of the GEI is to raise awareness and support the implementation of relevant, sustainable and scalable national education sector plans on a global level through the increased engagement of the private sector.”

This meeting in Rio de Janeiro brought together the Steering Board of the World Economic Forum’s Global Education Initiative, the Latin America Action group and other leaders from business, government, academia and civil society. Featuring a special roundtable and working group co-chaired by Endeavor Brasil and UNESCO Latin America (a key partner in the GEI), the meeting focused on entrepreneurship education, the widening gap between skills and jobs in Latin America and the employability of youth.

Endeavor Brasil’s Juliano Seabra noted, “Entrepreneurship Education and mentorship were key for our Brazilian Endeavor Entrepreneurs. In Brazil, Endeavor is supporting the next generation of young entrepreneurs, passing on key lessons through our entrepreneurship education program Bota pra Fazer, through Global Entrepreneurship Week and through the free entrepreneurship content on our website.”

The meeting resulted in the creation of a manifesto, built on six pillars and a call to action:

1. Promote Entrepreneurship and Integration into Education
2. Raise Awareness and Build Political Commitment for Entrepreneurship Education
3. Leverage and Scale Good Practices Through Multistakeholder Partnerships
4. Ensure the Appropriate Metrics and Incentives are in Place
5. Train, Develop and Motivate Teachers
6. Launch Pilot Projects

The stakeholders plan to work toward these goals through awareness campaigns, urging the media to recognize successful entrepreneurs, integrating entrepreneurs into classrooms, building upon existing policy work, identifying, sharing and scaling up existing practices, developing an online platform for the sharing of education materials, and joining forces and consolidating initiatives in the region.

Linda Rottenberg: “Forget B2B and C2C, it’s E2E: emerging market to emerging market”

In a brief interview for thedeal.com, Endeavor Co-Founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg discusses the growth of emerging economies beyond the BRICs, and a trend towards business activity between emerging market firms: “Instead of the me-too copycats where American ideas get replicated in emerging markets, we’re seeing home-grown ideas get started in emerging markets and then get replicated across continents and regions because the conditions are very similar.”

Check out the interview below.

Q: When people think about the emerging markets they think about the BRIC countries, but there must be more to the world than that. Where are some of the newer places that you’re finding and helping entrepreneurs?

A: When we started in 1997, the Thai baht had just collapsed, Latin America had caught the “Asian flu.” People said the emerging markets? You mean the submerging markets. Why would you go there? Then people started hearing about India and China. Well suddenly Brazil and Russia start doing well, but so did Turkey and Mexico and South Africa and Indonesia. So Endeavor has investors from Silicon Valley, from New York, from London as well as from the regions calling us up and saying, “You know what? The next opportunity may no longer be in China and India even, maybe it’s Brazil, maybe it’s Turkey, maybe it’s Mexico, maybe it’s Indonesia. We really need to understand the whole landscape. What we’re also seeing is, I say forget B2B and C2C, it’s E2E, it’s emerging market to emerging market. I was in Davos with Sunil Bharti Mittal, who created the largest telecom company in India. He has now bought Zain throughout Africa. What he found was his low cost, high volume approach that worked in India was very adaptable to the African context. So I think what we’re going to start seeing is instead of ‘me too copycats’ that were American ideas replicated in emerging markets, I think we’re now going to see homegrown ideas, started in emerging markets that replicate across continents and regions because the conditions are very similar.

Endeavor Entrepreneur Emrah Kaya (Turkey) offers entrepreneurial advice, discusses his youth-focused venture

Emrah Kaya, Endeavor Entrepreneur and Founder of YouthholdingFeature below courtesy of the Founded Project, an online publication featuring interviews with rule breakers and risk takers from around the world to learn how they got started.

How much do you know about Turkey? Thirty-one-year-old Emrah Kaya believes the most important thing you should know is that 50% of the population is under the age of 29. Over the past decade, he’s created a mini-media conglomerate designed to focus on youth marketing, engagement and sales. In 2001, he launched Youthholding, which currently generates $10 million in revenues and employs 143 people. Along with Aslı Caner, Emrah was selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur in 2010.

What is Youtholding?

Emrah: Youtholding is the umbrella name for a group of five Turkish companies specifically focused on developing marketing strategies that embrace the unique culture of young consumers. Our businesses are The UniClub, Youth Media, Eğitişim, Youth Research, and Firsatciyiz.com.

Five businesses dedicated to the Turkish youth market? Tell us about the opportunity you see.

Emrah: First, let me give you some context on Turkey: The population is 72.5MM; 51% is under the age of 29. Social media penetration is very high; we’re ranked 4th worldwide for Facebook usage. The youth marketing segment is valued at $50MM. So when you connect these dots, it becomes very clear that one of the most exciting and dynamic opportunities from a business perspective is harnessing the youth of Turkey. One of the gaps I saw back when I was in college was that traditional Turkish advertising agencies don’t really “get” how to connect and captivate young people.

What do you think the more traditional agencies in Turkey are doing wrong?

Emrah: They are still trying to reach the youth sector via TV, newspapers, print magazines, and radio.

But we know that for young adults and teenagers, TV commercials have transformed into viral videos; print-magazine ads will soon be replaced by interactive iPad apps; radio transmissions are out, and mobile messaging is the way forward.

So what is the vision of your youth media conglomerate?

Emrah: We want to be the hub for all youth-related marketing and create trends and social change for future generations in Turkey and beyond.

What are some of the most innovative businesses in your portfolio?

Emrah: The Uniclub: The first and biggest youth marketing company in Turkey; made up of 5,000 youth influencers on almost all university campuses (90 campuses in 64 cities).

Youth Research: Youth Research is the only research company that focuses entirely on young adults. We study the lifestyles, spending habits, buying behaviors and brand awareness of young adults through qualitative and quantitative projects on various ethnographic platforms.

Firsatciyiz.com: This is a youth-focused online sales channel. It has a unique e-commerce model that is formed according to young people’s buying behaviors through a demand-aggregator web platform. Sales prices are determined by the amount of demand generated within a given campaign period. For example, if 100 customers buy a specific product, the price will be discounted by 15%. If 250 people buy this product, the price will be discounted by 25%.

As a 31-year-old co-founder, what has it been like to build a business in Turkey?

Emrah: It can be tough in Turkey sometimes because most businesses are run by senior-level executives who will always try to prove the validity of their own opinions. You have to be comfortable challenging but also collaborating with the old guard.

Any advice you’d give young entrepreneurs?

Emrah: Try to sell something. No matter how small or silly it is, sell something.

When I was in college, a friend and I planned to launch a huge event on campus. We got some funding from Nescafé, but we severely under-budgeted for marketing expenses. We weren’t going to let the event flop, so we had to get creative—and entrepreneurial.

We decided to sell cheap finger cymbals outside of concert venues where Turkey’s “Prince of Pop,” Tarkan, would perform. These cymbals were a signature part of his music videos, so his fans really loved to see us after the show. We sold almost 5,000 and made US$19,000.

This experience ultimately inspired us to start our first business, The Uniclub, which leverages college students to serve as brand ambassadors.

My main advice is this: There’s no golden moment when you transform into an entrepreneur. If you have ideas, start bringing them to life.

A special thanks to the The Founded Project for conducting this interview.

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