By Claudia Duran, with the support of Eric Marroquin and Rebecca Negro Rocha.
For most people, the start of a new year ushers a new beginning. Seeing “January 1st” on one’s calendar inspires many of us to try being different, being better, and trying something new. For some, the passing of another year is an achievement in itself, a feat to be congratulated for its drag made it impossible to see the finish line. For others, Sunday was just another day of the week.
For Endeavor Miami, 2023 is a milestone year: we celebrate 10 years of operations in South Florida.
As we join 15 other Endeavor affiliate offices that have reached this achievement since Endeavor’s launch in 1997, we would like to take a moment, with you, to revel in the journey that has brought us thus far and answer: why Endeavor?
For the last 25 years, Endeavor has not only transformed industries, but entire economies. Back in 1997, when we launched Endeavor in Latin America, entrepreneurs faced multiple barriers to success including a high cost of failure, limited access to talent, shortage of mentors, and insufficient access to smart capital. Still, we believed that if you could systematically break down these barriers, there was tremendous local talent to be unleashed.
In 1998, our co-founder, Linda Rottenberg, met a 24-year-old Patagonian sheep farmer named Wences Casares. At that time, Wences was launching the ETrade of Latin America, called Patagon.com. He’d pitched Patagon to all local investors, and all of them turned him down. Two years later, Wences sold Patagon at a valuation of $750M, which is $1.2B in today’s currency. Across Latin America, people started saying: “Hey, if Wences can do it, I can, too”.
This inspired Argentine Stanford MBAs, Marcos Galperin and Hernan Kazah. The pair moved back to Argentina to found Mercado Libre, an online marketplace that would rival eBay and, later, Amazon. In August of 2007, Mercado Libre became the first Latin tech firm to IPO on the Nasdaq. Next, inspired by Patagon and Mercado Libre, four corporate employees left their jobs to found Globant, a digitally native software development firm. Globant IPOed on the New York Stock Exchange in July 2014.
This scenario didn’t play out only in Latin America. Whether it was the Thailand currency collapse, the dot.com crash or the 2008 global financial crisis, when most investors pulled out of emerging markets or tech industries, Endeavor ran towards them. When Greece dove headfirst in a deep financial downturn, Endeavor raised its hand and opened an office in Athens in 2012.
While people may think we are crazy for going against the current, the reality is that when economies turn down, entrepreneurs turn up and Endeavor shows up. In fact, Endeavor Entrepreneurs do even more than turn up.
Endeavor has found that successful entrepreneurs do more than passively show what is possible when you dream big. They actively inspire, train, mentor, and invest in the next generation of founders, enabling them to overcome the systematic barriers that impede economic transformation and effectively jumpstart entire tech ecosystems. That is the multiplier effect, the term coined by Endeavor to describe this cycle of generational transformation. When visualized, the multiplier effect shows how a single founder can have a significant impact on generations of companies over time. Below is the multiplier effect map of Brian Requarth, Endeavor Entrepreneur and serial entrepreneur from Brazil founding Viva Real, Latitud, Kocomo, and Aptuno.
Endeavor Insight, the research division of Endeavor, has found that it takes just a few influential founders to jumpstart an entrepreneurial ecosystem. More so, as the influence of these success stories grows, their multiplier effect transcends beyond the initial inspiration, mentorship and investment to effectively give rise to a new wave of companies from within the original founder’s ranks. Case in point: Latin America today is home to 50 unicorns, many of whom traced their start to one of the early Endeavor Entrepreneurs.
2012 research from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation showed that while Miami had a high rate of new business creation, the rate of scaling businesses was quite low. What’s more, additional research by Endeavor Insight highlighted that although Miami had a “high quality of life, vibrant culture and an accessible customer base,” it significantly lacked the talent, mentorship, and capital in the economy to enable scalable growth. In all, Miami had the right elements to one day become a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, but in the early 2010s, it was not. It was, however, the perfect place for Endeavor to start its US expansion.
In 2012, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation approved a $2M grant to bring Endeavor to Miami. Endeavor and Knight Foundation gathered a group of seasoned business leaders in record time to form Endeavor Miami’s Founding Board of Directors. For Knight Foundation, Endeavor Miami was a cornerstone of their initiative to make Miami more informed and engaged, widening their lens on Miami’s creative community and focusing not only on artists but the city’s emerging startup community.
Since launching in Miami in 2013, Endeavor has built and supported a portfolio of 25 companies led by 41 High-Impact Endeavor Entrepreneurs who have created over 5,000 employment positions throughout Florida and generated $800M+ in annual revenues in 2022. Endeavor Entrepreneurs are founders who dream bigger, scale faster, and pay it forward; they are selected into our network for their tenacity and vision, and inspirational influence on other founders in the ecosystem. They are the driving force behind the multiplier effect.
The selection process to become an Endeavor Entrepreneur is no small feat. Prospective candidates begin the rigorous process with a series of interviews conducted by local Endeavor staff and experienced business leaders who comprise the Endeavor Mentor network. This is followed by the Local Selection Panel (LSP) where panelists interview, deliberate, and select candidates to proceed to the International Selection Panel (ISP), the final step to becoming an Endeavor Entrepreneur. At the ISP, international business leaders conduct a final round of interviews and must vote unanimously to approve a candidate as an Endeavor Entrepreneur. Panelists look for founders with a personality that is conducive to big ideas, their companies’ potential to scale, and the desire to pay it forward.
It is Endeavor Entrepreneurs’ selfless giving and generosity of spirit that appealed to the Knight Foundation all those years ago. “A World Bank study found that Endeavor Entrepreneurs grow jobs at a five to one rate of comparable firms. More than that, what so intrigued us about Endeavor was that they’ve been very good about turning Endeavor Entrepreneurs into future funders and mentors. More than 65% of Endeavor Entrepreneurs went on to become mentors of other entrepreneurs and funders of other entrepreneurs,” shared Matt Haggman at the office launch. Today, one in four mentorship sessions at Endeavor Miami are led by Endeavor Entrepreneurs paying it forward.
By 2018, we realized that Endeavor had the potential to do a lot more for our community. Endeavor Insight research from that time identified that scaleups are important to the development of local economies because once they hit moderate scale, they generate 70% of their jobs. However, 60% of startups in Miami were dying and only 1% employed 50 or more people at five years of operation. As Endeavor, we concluded that it was crucial to bridge the gap between startup to scaleup with support that actually helped companies scale.
In 2019, we made the intentional decision to expand our service offering and deploy our network and knowledge to catalyze the growth of more local companies at earlier stages than that of our Endeavor Entrepreneurs, who are traditionally post-series A. This led to the creation of our cohort initiatives, Endeavor ScaleUp and EndeavorLAB.
We understood that different companies require different types of services to tackle different challenges in different growth inflection points. To expand our model to support entrepreneurs in earlier stages required adapting how our value offering was deployed and choosing the parts that were most relevant for earlier stages of scale. Indeed, the extension of our on-demand membership model to one of structured cohorts with set content pillars allowed us to incisively focus on two areas that earlier-stage founders struggle with the most: building like-minded peer communities and accessing knowledge on scaling up.
As of 2022, 123 companies have completed our cohort initiatives and have gone on to employ over 1,500 individuals and generated $131M in annual revenues. And this is just the beginning – we expect to actively service over 40 companies in 2023 alone, and continue supporting them as network members in their pursuit of scale.
With all of this in mind, a final question should be posed: why is Endeavor still in Miami?
As the Miami affiliate of Endeavor, our hope is to service all high-growth founders across all inflection points in the scaling-up journey whom we believe can scale faster AND compound their impact by paying it forward to the next generation. Whether a founder is fresh off finding product-market fit or has just hit their first $1M in revenues, has recently completed their C-suite, is raising growth capital, or is planning an exit, our message is clear: Endeavor has a home for you.
And while yes, it is so important to pay attention to hyper-growth tech startups in themselves, as Linda says, a unicorn that doesn’t breed even more unicorns is just an endangered species. That is why Endeavor’s work is so important: we bet on entrepreneurs with bold ambitions and aspirations and help multiply their impact in their local ecosystems, transforming local economies by nurturing the success stories of tomorrow who will reshape our world.
In reality, 10 years of Endeavor Miami is more than just cause for celebration — with all the world’s ups and downs, Endeavor has remained a constant, an unrelenting supporter of those who truly dream bigger, scale faster, and pay it forward.
Looking ahead, we hope to be both a safe haven and north star to the high-growth founders of Florida, at all stages of scale. And of course, further foment our own multiplier effect along the way.