My past two years at Endeavor have been the learning experience of a lifetime. However, typically a New York City local, it wasn’t until I temporarily relocated to the Endeavor Louisville office and spent time with Jackson, Raechele and Jake that the power and strength of Endeavor’s global network truly “clicked” for me.
To introduce myself, my name is Jamie Stern and I am the Global Portfolio Manager for Food & Beverage at Endeavor Global. My journey with Endeavor Global started two years ago, at which time I initially encountered the “magic” of Endeavor as an Entrepreneur, Selection & Growth Associate. I worked with candidate companies from local offices and helped them prepare for Endeavor’s International Selection Panels all over the world. One of the first candidates I ever worked with was Rodney Williams from LISNR in Cincinnati (then, Endeavor Louisville’s first entrepreneurial candidate from Ohio). Little did I know at the time how important Louisville would become to me personally, nor how involved I would become in Endeavor Louisville’s regional expansion efforts for a period of time.
Fast-forward to present day, I now oversee Endeavor’s Global F&B Portfolio, which encapsulates 152 entrepreneurs from 88 companies across the foodservice, consumer packaged goods, and foodtech spaces. Through this work, I have had the honor of getting to know the Endeavor Entrepreneurs in my portfolio – including Endeavor Louisville’s Kaveh Zamanian of Rabbit Hole and Joe DeLoss of Hot Chicken Takeover. My work with these entrepreneurs has allowed me a front row seat to the big wins and growing pains of taking a company to scale. On a more personal note, these relationships have also nurtured my love for the Food & Beverage space, and cemented my intention to build a career in the industry. Consequently, when it came time to decide where my five-week sabbatical at Endeavor would be, I knew in my heart that it had to be in Louisville: the bourbon capital of the world and home to world-class hospitality.
Looking back on my sabbatical with Endeavor Louisville, what stands out first and foremost is the power and expanse of Endeavor’s regional network. Jackson, Raechele, Jake and I drove countless miles across Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana cultivating relationships with entrepreneurs, as well as the networks and organizations that support them. In this way, I witnessed firsthand the breadth and strength of Endeavor Louisville’s impact not only locally, but also in the neighboring ecosystems of Cincinnati and Indianapolis.
The impact of Endeavor Louisville’s regional efforts became even more tangible when Endeavor Insight launched its report two weeks into my sabbatical. In summary, the report concludes that a “regional approach to supporting high-growth entrepreneurship is key to maximizing middle America’s economic productivity.” Over the past five weeks, I not only observed the team, board and network behind Endeavor Louisville adopting that strategy, but I also became an active participant in their efforts. From selecting Scale Up companies like AuthentiCx in Indiana or working with portfolio companies like Rodney from LISNR in Cincinnati, the Endeavor Louisville team is stretching its impact far beyond Kentucky’s borders.
My sabbatical with the Endeavor Louisville office culminated in our team’s selection of the eight companies that will participate in this year’s Scale Up Program. The beauty of the program is that this year’s cohort is equally representative of all three regional ecosystems: Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. It also exemplifies the importance of not only lifting up our own local markets, but figuring out how to work across them.
Having worked in Louisville for just five weeks, I have touched only the tip of the iceberg in regards to understanding Endeavor’s local impact, which undoubtedly will continue to grow. However, I’m more than certain that it’s Endeavor Louisville’s programs like Scale Up, or its regional efforts to bring more founders from Ohio and Indiana into its portfolio, that will truly maximize the entrepreneurial potential of these three markets.
Above all, during my time working with Endeavor Louisville, I learned the importance of kindness, hospitality, and inclusion. Whether I was at a happy hour with our Endeavor Entrepreneurs, at a meeting with a board member or mentor, or simply getting to know the startups and ecosystem players that are pushing these local economies forward, I always received a warm welcome from the people here.
To those who are reading this and whom I encountered during my sabbatical in Louisville, thank you. I’m leaving Endeavor Louisville truly inspired by the sense of collaboration and pride that radiated through every meeting, every Zoom call, and every mentoring session.
As the old saying goes, “The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts,” and as an honorary Louisvillain, I can’t wait to see what the power of this regional, collective network can bring when we’re all swimming in the same direction, towards the same goal.
Since writing this piece, Jamie has accepted a job in Louisville and will be pursuing a new opportunity in the spirits industry here. She remains an avid fan of Endeavor and plans to be an active member of the local Endeavor Louisville network.