Endeavor Entrepreneurs are invested in accelerating their businesses while making a positive impact in their communities. To help them achieve this goal, Endeavor offers an extensive network of programs and services. Kaveh Zamanian, Ph.D, recent Endeavor inductee, understands the opportunities these programs provide. This week we sat down with Zamanian, Founder and CEO of Rabbit Hole Distillery, a Louisville-based distillery committed to building on tradition to make spirits with a modern edge, to discuss his experiences with the Endeavor program so far.
Zamanian was selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur in May 2018, six years after starting his Kentucky business. His selection came in the same month Zamanian opened the doors of his brand-new distillery in the NuLu area of downtown Louisville for production. In only five short months, Zamanian has taken full advantage of the Endeavor network with involvement in opportunities like the Advisory Board, the Harvard Business School (HBS) executive education program, the upcoming Food & Beverage tour, and as a featured Entrepreneur at the November Endeavor Gala.
The HBS executive education program is an integral part of Endeavor’s suite of services. HBS supports attendees in learning from renowned educators while networking with other Endeavor Entrepreneurs. This year’s “Scaling Entrepreneurial Ventures” program hosted more than 60 Endeavor Entrepreneurs representing 21 markets from around the globe. For Zamanian, the chance to step away from the day-to-day grind of his business and learn from people experienced at growing their companies was worth the investment. “Our time as entrepreneurs is so valuable,” he explains. “HBS is a fantastic way of getting information rapidly. You receive mentorship and instruction about taking a company from small to large in ways that would otherwise be difficult and too time consuming to learn. HBS was a semester or year’s worth of information packed into a week.”
Through case studies and an experiential approach, HBS creates a space for participants to collaborate with leaders in the field. “You’re surrounded by stellar faculty members,” reports Zamanian. “You’re learning from a team that’s been around the block starting and scaling businesses.” But at HBS, learning goes beyond simply reading case studies. Entrepreneurs interact with the case study subjects. “We would read a case study and discuss,” says Zamanian. “Then the facilitators would bring in the very person involved in the case study to talk about it, answer questions, and open up about their successes and failures. It was priceless.”
Of course, it’s more than the HBS instructors and speakers who make the experience a dynamic one. The international cohort of participants who live and learn together bring unique viewpoints and strategies. “There were a lot of things I learned from my colleagues, who were from Argentina, Egypt, Brazil, Chile, Greece, the Philippines, and the Netherlands,” says Zamanian. “The perspective each person brought was eye opening, and I met a lot of folks who took risks to pursue their dreams. Their entrepreneurial spirit was an affirmation of what I’m doing.” And the collaboration doesn’t end after the week at Harvard closes. Zamanian has stayed in contact with people from his cohort. “With one,” he adds, “we have plans to talk about working together on different platforms.”
Zamanian encourages other Endeavor Entrepreneurs to attend HBS. He highlights that his initial expectations for a traditional, classroom-based experience were surpassed, and there is an opportunity to get a bird’s-eye view of your business. “The interactive experience was informative, engaging, thought-provoking, and stimulating,” he explains. “I’d 100% recommend it for anyone with an eye on growing their business in a meaningful way.”
For Zamanian, the HBS program is one of the larger set of Endeavor opportunities. “Endeavor has a cumulative effect,” relates Zamanian. “The longer I’m in Endeavor, the deeper the expertise and the deeper the experience I’m able to access.” He points to the value added by Endeavor’s collegial group of peers and mentors. “From the local panel to the international panel and now the Gala, whenever it seems I’m getting to a plateau, another layer of opportunity opens up,” he explains. “So many doors have opened as I’ve continued my experience with Endeavor.” And when it comes to expert business advice, Zamanian describes the constructive criticism offered by Endeavor mentors as “priceless.” Says Zamanian, “The network of industry experts has been amazing. The individuals on my Advisory Board are very helpful. It’s like having experts in your back pocket.”