by Irina Encheva
Our mission at Endeavor is to help the network’s Entrepreneurs scale their businesses in the most effective and efficient manner. As 2018 comes to an end, let’s take a look into how that mission has translated into our team’s actions when assisting local entrepreneurs.
It’s important to note the non-technical and non-quantitative aspect of our jobs. As account managers, each of us at the office has a portfolio of companies for which we are responsible to know their aspirations and challenges. We adjust to each entrepreneur’s communication style and lingo and each of us is the biggest champion in securing the most appropriate local and global Endeavor resources for our entrepreneurs. Or, if Endeavor does not currently have access to the needed resource (be it mentor, program, or knowledge), we get creative and find a way to acquire it. We often get emotional about the pains and gains of Endeavor Bulgaria’s Entrepreneurs and that fuels even further our drive to assist them.
In total, Endeavor Bulgaria in 2018 supported 14 local network companies in three main areas: access to markets, capital, and talent. As we also believe in the power of collective wisdom, we also organized a number of local events to further strengthen our community. Let’s see how each bucket measures up for the past year:
Access to markets is assisted with by 30 local and over 4000 global mentors, who donate their time and share their expertise on market entry, strategic or functional challenges. For Endeavor Bulgaria’s network, there were 160 hours donated by mentors in 2018, of which some common topics were:
– How to best motivate and retain employees;
– What are a given industry’s market trends and who are the stakeholders in a particular geography;
– What sales channels are most effective to use in a particular vertical;
Mentors’ help was also recruited on some exotic topics such as:
– When and where geographically does it make sense to relocate a business;
– What are the pro’s and con’s of a Joint Venture and when is it a good idea to enter into one;
– What salary is it sensible for the founders to have if the business is scaling quickly and needs capital to fuel its growth.
It is through the mentors’ network that entrepreneurs get a reality check on a given topic and acquire know-how in a condensed and time-efficient manner. This substitutes the trial-and-error method that is often proves costly.
Access to capital – a few of Endeavor Bulgaria’s entrepreneurs in 2018 decided to raise funds through debt and equity rounds and so we are currently working on helping them raise 20 M EUR in total. In addition to specific 1:1 introductions to investors that we organize, in 2018 a few entrepreneurs attended an Endeavor Investor Network event in London where they had the opportunity to be matched with established global investors. Additionally, in 2018 we’ve held both local and global 1:1 sessions to help with their capital raising strategy, the most suitable instruments to use, and how to put together a great pitch deck.
Access to talent – besides ad-hoc mentoring sessions as well as webinars on a particular topic, Endeavor supports entrepreneurs’ teams through educational and training programs that build the leadership capacities of the founders – this year we had a few of Endeavor Bulgaria’s entrepreneurs partake in Harvard and Stanford’s customized to Endeavor programs that focused on innovation and scaling of ventures. We also had some of our local companies participate in a European CTO Circle that, over the span of 6 months, covers a range of topics in mentor-led online sessions that help CTO’s overcome common challenges. In 2018, we also started engaging more of our local entrepreneurs to help us select new candidates into the network, and in this way, we help broaden their business acumen and improve their mentoring skills.
Events – at Endeavor, we believe in the power of networking and collective wisdom, hence we committed that 2018 be an event-full year for Endeavor Bulgaria’s network. We hosted our first 2-day Entrepreneur Retreat in Borovets which involved workshops with Shaolin Monks, discussions on topics such as HR and scaling challenges. We also organized Impact Mornings with entrepreneurs and our board members where the members of our community discussed a particular topic. We’ve witnessed what a catalyzing force each of these events has and are keen to build on the momentum further in 2019.
We look forward to the challenge of supporting an even greater number of entrepreneurs in 2019 and are certain that with the strong team that we have at Endeavor Bulgaria we will co-create a long-lasting positive effect on Bulgaria’s entrepreneurial scene. That common goal is also shared by Endeavor’s local and global mentors, entrepreneurs, friends, and board members who donate their time and often get parking tickets here in front of our office as they are too immersed in a mentoring session to update their parking time. We thank everyone for the help in 2018 and cheers to a great New 2019!