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In addition to the main keynotes, the 2013 Endeavor Entrepreneur Summit featured dozens of smaller workshops and sessions in which attendees learned from entrepreneurship gurus from the Valley and beyond.
With new companies starting up every second, one of the hardest things is create a completely unique brand voice for your business. In a workshop “Finding Your Brand Voice: From Product Flows to National Media Attention,” Innovation Endeavors team member Vanessa Hope Schneider offered advice for how entrepreneurs can connect with one another, develop their own brand, and connect with the media. During her workshop, she helped entrepreneurs better the voice of their brands for every situation imaginable – from content strategy to investor meetings.
Interested in turning your entrepreneurship career into a successful investment career? In “Founders into Funders,” Phil Wickham — President and CEO of the Center for Venture Education in California, who helps run the Kauffman Fellows Program — said LPs want to be confident in two things when raising funds. “One – the team’s ability to attract a good pipeline. Two – the team’s stability.” And what’s the best form of intellectual property? “Inspiration – doing what others don’t think is possible or logical.”
In “Mining the Silicon Valley Mind: Lessons for Foreign Entrepreneurs,” Dr. Carlos Baradello — a tech industry veteran — discussed the history of the Valley and gave tips on how foreign entrepreneurs can expand to the Golden State. “Openness brings reward,” he advised at one point. “Leave the non-disclosure agreements in your home country.”
Don’t be blindsided by a fast-growing company; use experts’ tips to handle the transition smoothly. In the panel entitled “Product Roadmaps for Fast-Growing Companies,” Nicolette Moreno related her own experience at Open English and explained the process of evolving products to encourage a company’s growth. Moreno is a founder and the Chief Product Officer at Open English. She helped bring the company to the landmark of teaching over 100,000 students across 40 countries. She talked about how she helped Open English meet that impressive landmark and what strategies companies can use to do the same.
“Protecting Innovation During Expansion” was the kind of panel discussion that every entrepreneur should hear. Diana Muller and Ted Weisz discussed the latest news regarding intellectual property for international entrepreneurs. Having done extensive work and research on trademarks, Muller was part of the Women’s Wear Daily Legal Roundtable on Protecting Intellectual Property and Actions against Global Counterfeiting. Weisz was an electrical engineer before becoming a lawyer. He has spoken to entrepreneurs worldwide about intellectual property and the best methods of securing patents. They both shared their knowledge of the latest trends for intellectual property on an international level.
In “The Secret to Scale: Understand Your Unit Economics!” Endeavor Global Board member Nick Beim, a partner at Venrock, offered advice gained from advising companies worldwide. “Sales and marketing is not an art, it’s a science,” he said. “If you’re an internet entrepreneur, you want to hire someone who studied math to run your marketing.” It’s all a numbers game.
A good team can help a company, but only a great team will make it great. In the discussion “Unlocking Growth through Leadership Development,” Jennifer Waldo talked about using talent management to simultaneously grow and give your business a competitive edge. Waldo has worked at GE for years, and is currently the senior human resources manager for GE Software. She is known for preaching a new wave of leadership at GE.
In a discussion with Geoff Ralston, “Accelerators and Incubators: From Seed to Scale,” Ralston gave advice to early-stage startups about how to grow and scale their business. Ralston was the CEO of Lala Media, Inc. (a music startup) for seven years, before moving on to found Imagine K-12 (a program to help education startups) and become a partner at Y Combinator (a company that invests in startups and helps them get moving).
He encouraged entrepreneurs to “build something that lasts – don’t get stuck with the idea of a big exit. Be profitable.” This is also good to remember when looking for investors: “When you are profitable, investors love you. Because you no longer need them. Focus on survivability, not exit.” His answer for how not to fail? “The only reason companies fail is because the founders give up.” Bottom line: stick with it, grow your company, and focus on profitability.
Another popular workshop was “An Entrepreneur’s Playbook to Getting the Most out of Attorneys” with Doug Mandell. Mandell works as both general counsel and personal counsel to tech companies and entrepreneurs, such as LinkedIn. He has now founded his own firm, Mandell Law Group, PC. He spoke about everything an emerging business needs to know from a legal standpoint, such as how to work with an attorney, understand legal terms, and pick the right lawyer.
“Designing an e-Commerce Strategy” was led by Endeavor network member Diego Piacentini. Piacentini was the VP at Apple Computer Europe before taking on his role as SVP International of Amazon.com, where he manages the company’s Asian and European divisions. The previous year’s Endeavor Global Mentor of the Year winner discussed how to craft the right e-commerce strategy for your company. One thing to remember, he said, is that “E-commerce in the US is still 5-10% of total commerce. Physical stores won’t go away.” He also gave advice on how “e-commerce can still thrive in markets where credit card penetration is low.”
The workshop “Driving Growth via Customer Experience” focused on how to make your customers an integral tool for your company. Aaron Cheris, a partner at Bain & Company, Inc. where he is the worldwide product leader for customer loyalty, talked about how to make your business flourish by focusing on its customer experience. Cheris gave a demonstration on how to use Net Promoter Score to pick out its biggest fans and worst enemies.
Doesn’t everyone love a good success story? The chat titled “EE Spotlight: Peak Games’ Path from Istanbul Startup to Global Player” delivered one of the best stories of them all. Sidar Sahin, an Endeavor Entrepreneur, has founded or partnered in many companies, such as Trendyol and Gamegarden. Most recently he has co-founded Peak Games in Turkey, which has become the third most popular social gaming country in the whole world. “People are the same everywhere,” he said at one point. “Your IQ and intelligence has nothing to do with gender, race, or nationality.” Sahin also cautioned against ignoring potentially successful employees due to inexperience, citing that he has a 22-year-old in charge of marketing.
“Experiential Marketing: Connecting the Online and the Offline” was a great discussion concerning one of the new waves on the marketing front, which uses consumer interactions in its efforts. Maneesh Goyal, founder and CEO of experiential marketing agency MKG (which has worked with big names like Google and Coca-Cola), talked about why this new movement is becoming particularly popular as of late. “Milennials care about money, but they care more about being empowered. They care about being communicated with, not down to.” Make your customer a part of the conversation, and they’ll be more willing to like your product.
Laptops are so last season. The session “Navigating the Mobile Movement” discussed how mobile is growing at a huge rate, and how to tap into that business opportunity. Andy Kleinman answered questions and talked about different strategies to make mobile work for your company. Kleinman is an advisor to multiple startups, as well as previous GM at Zynga and current Chief Business Officer at Scopely, a fast growing business in the mobile world. The most important things to keep in mind when it comes to mobile apps? “Retention is the number one thing . . . number two is engagement.”
Another panel focused on problems every company faces: those involving the HR world. Titled “The HR Doctors Are In! A Human Resources Forum for CEOs,” it had speakers Donna Dubinsky and Tricia Tomlinson, with over 60 years of experience in HR combined. Dubinsky is the former CEO of Palm (which created the PalmPilot), co-founder of Handspring (which created the Treo smartphones), and board member for the company created when Palm and Handspring joined forces. Tomlinson has been an HR executive for decades and is Principal of her own HR firm, Tricia Tomlinson Consulting.
In a unique side event, “Upward Then Onward: Elevator Pitches,” attendees were given the opportunity to give their elevator pitch to Venture Capitalists for critiquing and feedback. Those mentors included Steve Dupree, a General Partner at Richmond Global and creator of marketing e-newsletter MarketFound; Andrew Heckler, CEO of Workhouse Capital and previous panelist for multiple Endeavor selection panels; and Mike Hennessey, startup mentor and Managing Director for BlueBanyan, where he invests in tech startups in the US and Latin America. The best part? The pitching was done inside an actual elevator.
Another interactive workshop focused on building a good culture and maintaining it through company growth. “Deliver Happiness Like Zappos!” was led by Sunny Grosso, who has worked in several startups and is now the Culture and Brand Boos at Delivering Happiness, LLC, where she works to create success in companies by way of happiness. Sunny focused on teaching work-life integration instead of the cliched work-life balance. One quote to remember: “People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”
Another interactive session, “Design Thinking Across Borders and Industries,” discussed how to manage overwhelming customer data and was led by Daniel Markwig and Beate Riefer. Markwig was a mechanical engineer and marketing consultant before joining the Design and Co-Innovation Center at SAP, where he is now a Senior Design Strategist. Riefer is also a Senior Designer Strategist at SAP and is responsible for team building and people development.
Another workshop, “Innovated through Business Model Generation,” went through entrepreneurs’ business models to dig deeper into their businesses to find more ways they could refine and grow. Patrick Van der Pijl, CEO of Business Models, Inc. (where he works with global organizations to create new business models and pick out strengths and weaknesses), and Lisa Kay Solomon, the US partner of Business Models, Inc. and co-founder of Thirty-X Innovation Studio, ran the workshop.
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