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Dubai, UAE – March 4, 2016 – Endeavor selected 35 high-impact entrepreneurs representing 24 companies and 16 countries at its 63rd International Selection Panel (ISP). In total, Endeavor has now supported 1,233 entrepreneurs leading 779 companies in 25 emerging and growth markets around the world. The most recent Endeavor Entrepreneurs were chosen at a panel held from March 1-3 in Dubai, which marked the organization’s largest ISP to date outside of the U.S. Panelists at the event included top global business leaders and investors who were drawn from Endeavor’s extensive network of mentors and supporters.
The ISP is the culmination of a rigorous and extensive multi-step selection process. At the event, top local and international business leaders interview candidates about their businesses and high-impact potential, and then vote on whether or not candidates become Endeavor Entrepreneurs. Post-selection, Endeavor provides entrepreneurs with customized services, including introductions to local and international business mentors and volunteers from Fortune 500 consulting firms. Endeavor Entrepreneurs have had a significant track record of creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, generating billions of dollars in revenues, and building sustainable growth models in their home countries.
“As our largest foreign ISP yet, this recent panel in Dubai demonstrates how fast and far we’ve grown,” said Linda Rottenberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Endeavor. “There’s nothing as encouraging as seeing so many entrepreneurs and business leaders from all over the world come together in support of high-impact entrepreneurship.”
This also marked Endeavor’s first paperless ISP – a special thanks goes to MacRentals for supplying iPads for our digital initiative.
In 2016, Endeavor will host its remaining ISPs in Madrid, Spain (May 25–27); Bali, Indonesia (July 27–29); Boston, MA (September 7–9); Medellin, Colombia (October 26–28) and Bay Area, CA (December 7–9).
Brief descriptions of the selected entrepreneurs and companies follow.
Opening day orientations
Entrepreneurs: Gaston Taratuta & Ignacio Vidaguren
Company: Internet Media Solutions (IMS)
Description: Internet Media Services (IMS) specializes in expanding brands’ presence in the region through performance marketing (both online and offline). IMS has become largest independent digital ad sales and digital media buyer company in Latin America. Ten years in the market, an experienced management team, local approach, and exclusive commercial partnerships have resulted in profitability since year one and a portfolio of 2,100+ advertising clients from 16 countries. In July 2015, SONY acquired a majority stake in the company, increasing access to global clients, opening doors to international expansion, and providing additional cross-advertising services.
Entrepreneur(s): Claudio Sassaki & Eduardo Bontempo
Description: Geekie is revolutionizing education in Brazil with its adaptive learning platform. Geekie employs the power of technology to democratize top quality education for Brazil’s 20 million middle and high schoolers. Today, one of every two Brazilian children that starts high school quits because he or she can’t keep up with the work load. Rather than treating students like products on an assembly line, batched by fabrication date, Geekie uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to customize a student’s learning experience to his or her specific educational needs. The company’s solution has already helped 5 million students across 80% of Brazilian cities, and the entrepreneurs will not stop here: their goal is to help 20 million young Brazilians reach their full potential by 2020.
Entrepreneur(s): Israel Salmen and Ofli Campos
Description: Méliuz is a Brazilian web platform that enables users to earn cash-back when shopping online. Unlike traditional rewards programs that offer collective points with questionable value or miles that expire, Méliuz gives users something they can appreciate: cash-back in their bank accounts with every purchase in major Brazilian online stores. Retailers increase their sales volume, get recurring customers and acquire new ones due to the added incentive of a reward. Méliuz has a large retailer base of over 1,600 stores including giants like Walmart and Amazon and is building a user base that is expected to increase to one million active users this year.
Entrepreneur(s): Julian Sofroniev
Description: BIODIT allows users to unlock virtually anything with your fingerprint. Alternative security measures, such as radio-frequency identification (RFID), PIN codes, and passwords, just do not measure up to the security of your unique DNA. BIODIT has implemented unique fingerprint identification technology across a wide product portfolio to address the needs of different industries. The company recently completed pilot projects to deliver sophisticated access-control systems to some of the largest hotel chains in the world, including nH, and also partnered with insurance companies Allianz, Uniqa, and Generali in Bulgaria to offer its anti-theft vehicle solution. With successful pilots in the automotive and hospitality industries, BIODIT is ready to prove that you ‘can’t touch this’.
Entrepreneur(s): Venelin Dimitrov
Description: Countries and NGOs across the world have sought to crack down on counterfeit medicines for decades, and with the help of Bulgarian entrepreneur Venelin Dimitrov, they have a much better chance of succeeding. SoftGroup offers pharmaceutical manufacturers a serialization solution allowing for the tracking of individual products through unique serial numbers. The company’s product addresses two problems for manufacturers: first, the spread of counterfeit medicines that hurt the industry’s credibility; and second, a directive by governments (specifically the EU, in this case) for all manufacturers to introduce serialization by 2019. Already serving 50% of the companies within Bulgaria’s $1.5 billion pharmaceutical industry, SoftGroup is looking to expand internationally into the Balkans and Middle East
Entrepreneur(s): Angela Gomez
Company: Off Bound Adventures
Description: Globalization demands that children of the next generation be citizens of the world. Yet, certain skills cannot be taught in a classroom. Off Bound Adventures (OBA) creates outdoor, educational programs that empower, challenge and inspire students of all ages to become global citizens. OBA operates in Colombia and the US, which together represents a youth travel market of approximately US$1.5 billion. OBA has captured 60% of Colombia’s youth travel market and works with several top US private schools. Looking forward, OBA plans to increase market share in Colombia and the US, with specific plans to expand into mid-sized cities and capitalize on its US network to target private schools on the West Coast.
Entrepreneur(s): Rania George
Company: Luna Perfumes and Cosmetics
Description: Luna PAC’s R&D team develops high-quality beauty products for the mass market by combining premium imported raw materials from Europe and Japan with low-cost Egyptian production and over 50 years of technical expertise. Throughout the MENA region, affordable mass beauty and personal care products hold the lion’s share of industry revenue (US$16.5B), accounting for 69% of total beauty retail sales. Its golden anniversary this year, Luna is an Egyptian institution—most well known for its lip moisturizer—whose entrenched customer base continues to grow younger. Luna PAC projects US$ 20M in revenue by 2019 due largely to increased penetration of the Egyptian market with a rejuvenated brand image.
Entrepreneur(s): Nour Shawky
Company: Softec International
Description: Urban challenges such as overcrowding, food shortage and crime call for technology and data-driven innovation to build resilient cities. Offering more than just buzzword solutions, Softec International develops cloud-based enterprise software for data-driven hardware used in the public safety, transportation and agriculture sectors. With the race to build smart cities around the world, this market is estimated to reach US$80 billion by 2020. Some of the company’s notable projects include fleet management of Egypt Ambulances; and smart dispatching of the Abu Dhabi Police fleet. Through long-term partnerships with Microsoft and ESRI (a global leader in Geographical Information Systems), and offices in Cairo, Dubai and London, Softec is poised to transform some of the toughest sectors globally.
Entrepreneur(s): Conno Christou and George Makkoulis
Description: Avocarrot, a Greek company that operates worldwide, offers a technology platform that allows publishers to integrate native ads into their apps and easily monetize their content. Native advertisements, which are less invasive than banner ads and result in 10 to 15 times higher click-through rates, are an effective solution for both publishers and advertisers. Over 2500 mobile apps monetize their content with Avocarrot to generate greater profits and 13 Demand-Side Platforms are able to offer more appealing, clickable ads to the hundreds of advertisers they are connected to. Ad integration is made easy with Avocarrot’s supporting features and products which include H.E.R.O., a tool that that tracks revenue performance and Morpheus a banner-to-native ad converter. Avocarrot currently delivers 4 billion ad impressions per month and aims to increase the number as it grows its portfolio of DSPs from 13 to 30 within the next year.
Entrepreneur interview with Louisville’s El Toro
Entrepreneur(s): Achmad Zaky and Fajrin Rasyid
Description: Thanks to one website, over 500,000 Indonesians have been able to Bukalapak (“open a stall”). Rapid growth of second and third tier cities, over 60 million small businesses, and a rising number of online shoppers (10 million) have collectively given a boost to the ecommerce industry in Indonesia. However, Bukalapak stands out in this sea of online stores. An online C2C marketplace, Bukalapak allows individuals and small businesses to sell nationwide through a secure and trusted network. Sellers set their own competitive prices, which results in products being 20-30% cheaper than other websites. Apart from offering this clarity of price, Bukalapak ensures payment security by holding payments until the consumer has received and accepted the product, resulting in a default rate of less than 0.1%. Since its launch in 2010, the website sees more than two million visitors per day and handles transactions worth over US$1 million daily.
Entrepreneur(s): Gibran Huzaifah
Description: Despite being the fourth largest seafood producing country with over 1.6 million aquaculture businesses, Indonesia’s aquaculture sector is entrenched with inefficiencies. Due to unaccountability, unpredictability and lack of innovation, farmers spend over 70% of resources on feeding alone. Cybreed’s first product, eFishery, is a ‘smart’ fish feeder that relies on the sensory movement of water to detect the fish’s appetite; and releases food as necessary. Additionally, its dashboard enables farmers to track the progress real-time and control the system remotely on their smart phones. Since its conceptualization in 2014, over 310 farms are equipped with the eFishery system. With one patent filed and two pending, Cybreed hopes to create a data-driven food and agriculture sector in Indonesia by providing over 80% of the country’s farms access to its ‘smart’ technologies.
Entrepreneur(s): Marwan Malek
Company: Pharma M
Description: Pharma M, the only licensed supplements manufacturer in Lebanon and one of just three in the Middle East, educates physicians on the clinically-proven benefits of its supplements and develops products according to local market needs. Its brand, Green Made, has become the number one physician-recommended supplements brand in the country. Pharma M is well-positioned to capitalize on the US$1 billion Middle Eastern dietary supplements market by leveraging its agile R&D capabilities and high-quality products to fuel market penetration in Lebanon and drive the company’s expansion into the UAE.
Entrepreneur(s): Stacy Griggs
Company: El Toro
Description: The digital advertising tools that exist today incorporate inaccurate targeting techniques and provide clients with no accurate way to measure their return on investment. El Toro’s patented algorithm enables clients to target consumers with 95% accuracy and provides three times the ROI per campaign. By analyzing over 30 points of offline data, such as voter lists and customer databases, El Toro can determines a household’s IP addresses enabling brands to send banner and display ads directly to a list of high value prospects. The efficacy of El Toro’s technology is demonstrated through its post-campaign match-back analysis, which compares a list of targeted clients to sales made throughout the campaign. Going forward, El Toro will target campaign consultants to capitalize on the increase in political spending this year and launch several new products beginning with Reverse Append, which enables targeted direct mail campaigns based on browsing history.
Entrepreneur(s): Ching Wei Lee
Description: Making the right financial decisions for you and your family can be a painful task, especially when accurate information is difficult to find, organize and trust. Malaysian entrepreneur Ching Wei Lee (30) founded iMoney in 2012 to help ameliorate this pain. iMoney aggregates financial product rates and information across several verticals including credit cards, home and personal loans, and broadband packages. With internet penetration, credit card use, and online banking growing rapidly in both Malaysia and its Southeast Asian neighbors, the region requires a convenient way to compare different rates for different products from a variety of financial institutions. Capitalizing on this need, iMoney has garnered over 1.8M unique visitors to its website in its first three years of operations and quickly established itself as the market leader in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines
Entrepreneurs: Mauricio Bouzali and Salomon Bouzali
Description: Mexico has one of the highest Internet penetration and online consumer growth rates in the region, creating a market demand for ecommerce; however, only 10% of all SMEs in Mexico exploit the Internet as a tool. The majority of retail companies navigating Mexico’s online marketplaces find it to be complex and expensive to have an online presence. Ibushak provides an easy, low cost, and scalable solution for brands to sell their products across the largest ecommerce marketplaces in LatAm, including MercadoLibre, Linio, and Amazon.
Entrepreneur(s): Alfredo Abraham Azar
Description: Bellísima brings beauty on a budget. This makeup company addresses a gap in the cosmetics industry in Mexico, bringing quality cosmetics at an affordable price into the mix.The eighteen year old company sells its own line and four other brands in 60 multi-brand storefronts and 43 Liverpool department store corners, all located in shopping malls across Mexico, primarily in the Yucatan region and some within Mexico City. With this footprint and few peers in the mid-range segment, Bellísima is poised to accelerate its growth and plans to expand its reach to 110 stores and 120 corners by 2018 by penetrating deeper in areas where it currently operates and entering additional Mexican cities.
Entrepreneur(s): Zineb Midafi
Company: Virtual Business Solution
Description: Virtual Building Solution (VBS) has developed a user-friendly, multi-functional software platform for the real estate industry that centrally manages the entire lifecycle of a building, from construction to leasing. A game-changer for Morocco’s US$5 billion BTP (building and public works) sector, VBS has signed on major real estate promoters and anticipates 50% customer growth by 2017, following a regional expansion push. Having recently obtained contracts in Senegal, Tunisia and Ivory Coast, VBS aims to ultimately become a leading player in the US$177 billion MENA real estate market.
Final day deliberations
Entrepreneur(s): José Múgica
Description: ECOALF produces urban fashion from recycled materials that rivals the quality, design, and technical properties of industry’s finest non-recycled products. Competing in the mid- to high-end fashion market with three lines of clothing and accessories built from 80-100% recycled materials, Ecoalf products are sold at over 300 points of sale in some the world’s premier retailers like Barney’s and Nordstrom. Only three years since the launch of its first line, ECOALF has made a name for itself by collaborating with high-profile brands like Apple, Barneys, and Goop (Gwyneth Paltrow), on limited-edition pieces. More impressively, ECOALF has already recycled over 40 million plastic bottles and 50 tons of fishing nets to make its products.
Entrepreneur(s): Cem Gul and Emre Erkin
Description: Nuvia is Turkish company specializing in smart home solutions. With a thermostat penetration of less than 5%, over nine million households in Turkey use their heating systems without a control unit – leading to inefficient energy consumption, high monthly bills and discomfort. Nuvia hopes spread warmth in homes and as well as bank accounts through its first product – a smart thermostat called ‘Cosa’. Cosa is an affordable wireless connected device that allows users to adjust and monitor home temperatures remotely through their smart phones. It also adapts to the user’s energy habits; for example, the preferred time to switch on heating and the desired temperature Through its smart algorithms and usage modes, it guides users to save up to 30% in monthly bills. With a smart cooling device in its product pipeline, Nuvia hopes to bring the next generation of smart home devices to the Middle Eastern, Eastern European and the African markets.
Entrepreneur(s): Bülent Demirhan, Murat Demirhan, and Cüneyt Gürbüz
Description: Meal Box is Turkey’s largest internet kitchen, uniting the authentic taste of local Turkish cuisine with a sophisticated and digitally integrated delivery network on par with multinational pizza chains. Meal Box has 30 delivery points strategically placed throughout Istanbul, so that all Istanbul residents within rage can receive healthy and affordable meals in less than 30 minutes. To date, Meal box has 85,000+ registered users and 25,000+ mobile app downloads, with plans to expand to other major Turkish cities in 2016. Featuring a 60-dish menu high in vegetables and lean meats, Mealbox positions itself as Turkey’s first on-demand food delivery option healthy enough to be eaten every day.
Entrepreneur(s): Bilal Ballout, Mohamad Ballout, and Mohamad Khachab
Company: BMB Group
Description: BMB provides convenient and cost effective solutions for confection ingredient trading and manufacturing. The company trades confectionery raw materials, manufactures private-labels and produces its own brand of Middle Eastern sweets, Petit Gourmet. Boasting a client roster that includes Emirates Airlines and Carrefour GCC, BMB is the A-to-Z solution for its clients’ every confectionery need. Capitalizing on its existing infrastructure and seeking ownership over its brand messaging, the company recently launched its own line of oriental sweets, Petit Gourmet. BMB will launch its second brand in 2016, a line of health-conscious Middle Eastern sweets geared towards the global market.
Entrepreneur(s): Ambareen Musa
Description: SouqAlmal.com is a comparison website for financial and insurance products that allows consumers to compare over 3,000 products including credit cards, loans and insurance. With over 50 banks operating in the UAE, finding information to compare financial services can be a stressful task. Banks’ offline marketing practices require consumers to travel from bank to bank for information or receive unsolicited phone calls and visits from sales representatives. SouqAlmal.com’s unbiased information and financial education content empowers consumers to make smart decisions. Simultaneously, the site offers a simple customer acquisition tool for banks to reach consumers online and target their marketing spend in a measurable way.
Entrepreneur(s): Nathalie Haddad
Company: Right Bite
Description: Right Bite, which stemmed from entrepreneur Nathalie Haddad’s career as a dietician, offers the UAE personalized meal packages that help customers eat and live healthier. Nathalie realized that, in order to implement her health advice, her clients needed healthy meal options not available in the market. Starting in her friend’s café, Right Bite not only has its own commercial kitchen now where its personalized meals are made, but a pre-packaged meal line, an on-demand delivery service, and two small cafés of its own. As the first mover in the market, Right Bite has positioned itself very well for future growth in the healthy eating category, a market that has grown by 20% over the last five years in the Middle East.
Entrepreneur(s): Santiago Schapira
Description: Yerra brings its contemporary and refined taste to the design world through its selection of high-end rugs. Its rugs which range from $5,000-$30,000 are carefully crafted out of hides and furs from Brazil, Argentina and Peru. Yerra exports 80% of its production to the US and the remaining 20% is mainly exported to Mexico and Canada. With a total of over 60 dealers worldwide Yerra is just beginning to scale to its full potential. An impressive client list includes names like ABC Carpet & Home, Lillian August, and Stark Carpets. With a very well established distribution channel and relationships with specialized retailers in three continents, Yerra aims to expand from 45 to 140 dealers worldwide, plus over 500 direct clients by 2019.
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