As I near my 5-year mark at Endeavor, I must say that I never expected that supporting entrepreneurs would become such a personally fulfilling endeavor. I cannot describe the feeling of accomplishment that I get whenever an entrepreneur tells me that a mentorship completely changed how they think of their business; that a peer-to-peer connection led to a business collaboration; that an introduction led to a critical investment; that participation in a pitch competition led to exclusive coverage by the press; or, that a casual conversation with me made them feel seen or heard. It is in these moments that I understand that for Endeavor to create a big impact, we need to be present and supportive of founders every day.
I’ve noticed that when people talk about startups that have successfully grown into massive companies, their origin stories are often reduced to a serendipitous balance of genius and luck. Scaling high-growth companies doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and it requires far more than just a great idea. Indeed, with 9 out of 10 startups failing and less than 1% reaching unicorn status, it is true that achieving entrepreneurial success requires a complex combination of industry expertise, market conditions and opportunity. Startups need capital to invest in growth and top talent to make it happen. Even then, fixating on hard assets alone is a too narrow perspective of what it takes to succeed, ultimately undermining external factors that enable startups to thrive in the first place.
It’s possible to grow a company without support, but innovation ecosystems have been proven to play a critical role in the success of startups. They supply founders with the resources, networks and connections to achieve faster scaling. Endeavor can be likened to a superbrain. Our unique model as a global non-profit positions us to be the ideal neutral third-party advisor to companies at scale. We understand the challenges founders face at different inflection points and precisely deploy resources that meet them where they are on their journey to scale up.
At Endeavor, it is our firm belief that only when founders understand the transformational power of network effects can they achieve true scale.
To many, Endeavor offers the validation needed to know they are on the right path. It is often the case that entrepreneurs are unplugged from Miami’s tech ecosystem, unaware of what others are doing and insecure about what they are building. When Endeavor bets on them, entrepreneurs internalize that what they are doing is worth the effort and that someone other than themselves believes in them. Acknowledgement goes a long way in helping founders keep at it. Endeavor offers a network of trust that is usually reserved to friends and family alone, which brings great comfort during challenging times when a founder’s inner circle can’t relate to the business struggles afflicting them.
Let’s dive a little deeper into how Endeavor shows up for entrepreneurs by taking Endeavor ScaleUp, our service offering for Series A-stage companies, as an example. Ten companies are selected to be supported by the Endeavor Miami team in four month-long batches. During this time, entrepreneurs are relentlessly put to the test and pushed by a newfound support system of fellow founders to rise to the occasion and make their dream company a reality. Business fundamentals are reviewed, growth strategies are challenged and their own leadership is questioned. We often see entrepreneurs come into our fold weary, tired, unsure of how Endeavor can be decisive in their journey. After hours of mentorships, group modules, peer presentations, pitch reviews, honest conversations, ecosystem introductions and curated individual servicing by a dedicated account manager, the verdict is the same. The magic of Endeavor lies in how it brings together founders who have much in common and even more to learn from one another. They come together to create a space in which they feel comfortable bringing down their walls and being their honest, ugly and beautiful selves with others who deeply understand the rollercoaster that is being a startup founder.
Curiously, I’ve seen founders’ hyperfocus on building their companies be misunderstood as selfishness, even though they blossom as some of the most altruistic stakeholders in an entrepreneurial ecosystem the moment they feel safe amongst their own. Humans are inherently social beings, and for founders to see that their struggle is also their peers’ struggle is to believe that their peers’ success can be theirs too.
I’m constantly inspired by how Endeavor creates a long-lasting impact in whatever ecosystem it is in.
The purpose of our organization is to create the Multiplier Effect – the phenomenon of successful entrepreneurs multiplying their impact on job creation, innovation and community transformation by paying it forward and inspiring, mentoring, and investing in the next generation of founders. It is honestly quite mind-boggling when you read about some of the Multiplier stories in our network, so I’ll share with you the most notable one: nine years ago, Argentina-based Globant – selected as an Endeavor company in 2005 – became the first Latin American tech company to go public on the NYSE. For the last 20 years, the four co-founders Guibert Englebienne, Martin Migoya, Martín Umaran, and Néstor Nocetti have helped build a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in Argentina, creating one of the first global companies in the country despite being in the middle of “the Argentine great depression”. Together, they have mentored over 200 founders, and more than 430 former Globant employees have launched their own businesses. You can read more about their Multiplier Effect here.
To bring us back to Florida, I’m on a mission to nurture the Multipliers of tomorrow, so that our state (our city!) can become a thriving innovation ecosystem in which anyone with a great idea has the support to scale it. When successful founders look back and talk about what it took to grow their businesses, my hope is that Endeavor comes up at the top of their list. Being an entrepreneur can be an incredibly lonely journey, yet collaboration can fuel creativity and human connection can be liberating. Finding allies for your cause who hold you accountable and believe in your potential is the untold secret of successful startups. But fret not – Endeavor is here to spread the word.