Supporting High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Argentina

Every year, top recent college graduates in the Princeton in Latin America program are assigned to work with an Endeavor office and its entrepreneurs for 12 months. Following is a field reflection from Jaysel Shah, who is spending the year working with Endeavor Argentina.

After having arrived to Buenos Aires the day before, I arrived at the Endeavor office for my first day of work. The team meeting was a blur; ISP, LSP, FOR, SOR, I had no idea what any of these terms meant.  Throughout the day my new coworkers in the Entrepreneur Selection and Growth team threw out names of mentors and entrepreneurs as potential matches for their accounts. It took me a few weeks of interrupting and Googling to figure it out, but I eventually realized was in a truly special place within the Argentine economy and society. This organization, run by just 20-plus people, had connections with some of the most influential, innovative, and powerful people in this country. I have the immense privilege of beginning the first year of my working life here, and my principal responsibility is to learn and absorb as much as possible of what is happening around me.

As a Princeton in Latin America fellow, my main role in the office is to create the Endeavor profile, a document that encapsulates everything about a business from the entrepreneur’s story, market opportunity, to its challenges and financing needs. This isn’t an easy process, because it involves sitting down with the entrepreneur on several occasions to hear their story and collecting the necessary data to back up arguments for the business model’s robustness and scalability. Finally, a successful profile communicates the business’ opportunity in a way that portrays the entrepreneur in positive light, but also provides all of the necessary information for the panelists to make an unbiased decision.

Beyond profile writing, I have been lucky to be involved in a host of other projects in my six months of Endeavor. Most notably, I worked with some of my coworkers on planning and executing a project for one of the first companies that Endeavor Argentina selected, Globant. We partnered with this software development company to put together a company-wide business pitch competition for its employees, named the iFactor contest, that brought together two-person teams from all around Globant’s offices Latin America and India. Personally, I taught a video course on entrepreneurship basics and the lean startup methodology and mentored some of the contestants on their projects. Teaching on-camera in a film studio and working with people from India were never things that I thought I would be doing during my time in Argentina, and I am incredibly grateful for this varied experience.

As a first step in my professional career, I cannot imagine another position that would give me as much ownership and responsibility over my own work, allow me manage the relationship with the entrepreneur, all while feeling assured that my efforts are helping to promote development in a truly fascinating and complex like Argentina. With the occasional linguistic difficulty, cultural difference, and piece of situational knowledge that I will never have being a foreigner, it’s never completely easy, but I think that is just part of the challenge. At least for me, I think that is what makes this experience so much more valuable than anything that I would be doing back in the States.