This August, Endeavor Entrepreneurs had the opportunity to go “back to school” and learn from some of the world’s top business school faculty members — and one another — at Endeavor’s specialized programs at Harvard Business School (HBS) and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Together convening over 100 high-impact entrepreneurs from around the world, the programs are made possible by a longstanding partnership between Endeavor and the business schools. We are excited that three participants from Endeavor Bulgaria network joined the two programs: Endeavor Entrepreneurs – Alexander Lefterov, Founder of Tiger Technology, and Raycho Raychev, Founder of EnduroSat, participated in Stanford’s Innovation and Growth program; and Momchil Vassilev, Endeavor Bulgaria Managing Director participated in Harvard’s Scaling Entrepreneurial Ventures program.
A Week of Innovation at Stanford
The “Innovation and Growth” program, held at Stanford Business School August 19-24, brought entrepreneurs to the heart of Silicon Valley for classes that focused on accelerating growth, driving innovation, and developing more effective relationships with partners and customers.
Following the traditional business school method of learning through case studies, the nearly 60 class participants took an in-depth look at Google and Android’s global growth with professor Rob Siegel and the infectious company culture at Zappos with Professor Huggy Rao. On Huggy’s session, one participant remarked, “one of the best classes of the week. His energy was amazing. And the content was something that all of us were trying to address.”
Course lead Professor George Foster led great sessions on Tough Mudder’s tough decisions to expand its product offering and Zola’s growth in a crowded market. Another highlight came when Chris Kemp, the former CEO of now defunct Nebula spoke to the class on what went wrong in his company and how to avoid such pitfalls.
Alexander Lefterov shares “At Stanford, we were put into working groups and for the first time in years I was able to discuss every problem I have encountered with people that understand it easily if not having to deal with a similar issue. And all the professors and lecturers were way above anything I have been imagining before.”
Participants also had the opportunity to hear from and exchange best practices with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. VC Jeff Crowe, a partner at Norwest Venture Partners, held a live pitch meeting, which one participant called a “brilliant idea,” while former Kleiner Perkins partner Russ Siegelman spoke about current trends in the VC industry. And finally, the four-hour breakout sessions where each study discussed their toughest business challenges and received feedback from their peers were the highlight for many. “We should do that everyday,” said one entrepreneur.
“Reading well thought of case studies, studying in competitive groups and telling personal as well as business stories, from Latin America to Asia, coupled with guidance and mentorship from top notch Stanford professors enabled us to reflect, relate and plan actionable steps upon our return to our home markets,” said Endeavor Entrepreneur and program participant Sameh El-Sadat.
Addressing Key Challenges in Entrepreneurship at Harvard
The “Scaling Entrepreneurial Ventures” program at Harvard held the following week convened 60 entrepreneurs from 21 markets across the world, and was similarly designed specifically to help Endeavor Entrepreneurs build larger and more successful businesses. Throughout the week, HBS faculty members led interactive classes using the case method around themes such as strategy, sales and marketing, leadership and finance. With key takeaways from “cash is king” to “invest in relationships,” HBS touched on personal and professional challenges for founders.
The program culminated in case presentations of key challenges for eight of the companies in attendance. The peer entrepreneurs discussed questions on a wide range of topics from, “is my market a winner-take-all opportunity?” to “who is the best partner to help me commercialize my stem cell therapies?” — actively embodying Endeavor’s foundation of being of, by, and for entrepreneurs.
“It has been an invaluable week in Harvard Business School,” reflected Endeavor Entrepreneur Leonardo Dabague in a LinkedIn post. “The mixture of amazing Endeavor entrepreneurs and HBS professors is at very least life-changing.”
The executive education programs, held each year, are a critical piece of Endeavor’s customized services provided to entrepreneurs post-selection, all centered around enhancing skills and connecting founders with the talent, mentorship, and capital they need to take their business to scale.