This article was originally published by Endeavor Atlanta.
Selection as a Service: How Endeavor’s Selection Process Adds Value to Entrepreneurs
At the end of 2019, Endeavor reached a significant milestone: selecting its 2,000th entrepreneur into the global network. Historically, fewer than 7% of the companies Endeavor screens get selected, leaving many prospective Endeavor Entrepreneurs to wonder:
What happens if I’m not selected, and is the process really worth the effort?
“After learning about the six to twelve month, multi-staged process, I was pretty skeptical”, reflects Endeavor Entrepreneur Dave Keil, Global COO of Tricentis (formerly CEO of QASymphony).
Endeavor’s selection process requires a founder’s two most coveted assets – time and trust. We ask for about a week of effort, spread out over 6-9 months, and dig in on the entrepreneur’s personal journey, company vision, and most pressing challenges. Selection into the global network is never guaranteed. Who wouldn’t be skeptical?
When asked what advice she had for founders considering starting Endeavor’s selection process, Anisa Telwar-Kaicker, Founder and CEO of Anisa Beauty advised, “Give it the time and attention it deserves. Talk to someone who has been through it before and understand the takeaways that you want.” For Anisa, who says she’s “gotten a ton of value without being selected,” the Endeavor Selection process is “not about winning or being selected, but about getting feedback on areas of your business from a network of people that has the founder’s best interest at heart.”
Here’s how selection works:
Step 1: Getting to Know Each Other
The first step is really understanding the unique story, challenges, and goals of each entrepreneur at the time selection starts. If the founders are committed and Endeavor believes there is a fit to move forward with the process, the Endeavor team scours its global network to find the best mentors to conduct second opinion review interviews.
Step 2: Thinking Bigger with Experienced Mentors
Second Opinion Reviews are an aspiring Endeavor Entrepreneur’s first taste of the Endeavor network. We take great care to select the right mentors that can provide valuable feedback on the entrepreneurs’ challenges and goals.
“We were pushed to think bigger from the very first interview,” reflects Travis Terrell, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Nashville based Soundstripe, the world’s leading platform of royalty free music for creators. “Endeavor set us up with a very successful music CEO who challenged us to figure out how to build a $1B revenue business and was even willing to connect us to several industry CEOs in his network. It was really eye opening for our team.”
“After my first mentor interview with successful founder and investor Kevin Ryan, someone I tracked throughout my technology career, I was convinced Endeavor’s network had something special to offer and the process would be worth it,” adds Dave Keil. “These people (Endeavor mentors and Board Directors) are completely on the side of the entrepreneur, which was very unique.”
It takes three to five second opinion reviews to determine if the entrepreneurs are a good fit to interview at a local selection panel.
Step 3: Local Selection Panel
Founders must receive unanimous approval at the local panel (and then again at an International Selection Panel) to be selected into the Endeavor network. Panelists are looking to answer three main questions:
Entrepreneurs: Can this founder(s) achieve their ambitions, take feedback along the way, and be willing to pay it forward in the future?
Business: Can this business scale to create significant revenue, jobs and wealth creation in the local ecosystem?
Timing: Is now the right time for founders to join Endeavor’s global network to super-charge growth?
Panelists will pressure-test business assumptions and provide specific feedback to the entrepreneurs, whether they “pass” the panel or not. They also offer connections within their network that can benefit the founders.“
Chris (Chris Ramsey, CRO) and I literally spent hours after the local selection panel digesting the feedback. We grew our business so much faster than we would have otherwise based on the advice we received from Endeavor’s mentors,” reflects Endeavor Entrepreneur George Azih, Founder and CEO of leading lease accounting software platform LeaseQuery.
Step 4: An International Event to Remember
The final stage of the selection process, the International Selection Panel (ISP), is a 2.5 day event held eight times a year all over the world, but has moved virtual amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the world’s top entrepreneurs and investors network and interview founders from Endeavor’s 35 markets. But the environment is very intimate and egalitarian given Endeavor’s merit-based approach.
Kyle Porter, Cofounder and CEO of SalesLoft notes that his Endeavor experience ”really came together at the ISP [he] attended in Ecuador. You interact with amazing founders and Endeavor mentors and board members from all over the world. It provides such a unique perspective on the challenges to scale a business in each market. It’s a true network of peers that are 100% founder focused.”
“I literally had dinner with Jason Green, one of Silicon Valley’s top venture capitalists, alongside Steve Case, Founder of AOL and Rise Ventures, at my ISP,” adds Andrew McConnell, Founder and CEO of Atlanta based Rented, Inc., a leading revenue management platform for vacation rentals. “The level of access balanced with Endeavor’s founder first approach is truly unique.
What happens if I don’t pass?
Entrepreneurs that do not pass the local or international selection panel are usually asked to come back in the future after achieving certain milestones or implementing specific feedback. The Endeavor team continues to meet with the founders on a regular basis to support their growth.
“I can honestly say their approach and selection process is world-class,” commented Kristin Stafford, Co-Founder and CEO of Vital4, a leading compliance and risk-management software platform. “Although we haven’t been selected into the Endeavor network yet, we gained amazing feedback on our business, found several new advisors, and they introduced us to capital that is helping fuel our growth. It has changed the trajectory of our business, helping us think bigger and scale faster. The Endeavor team continues to meet with us monthly and we hope to come back through the selection process in the near future.”
Did you know that Endeavor’s International Selection Panel went virtual this year? Learn more about what happened at the first ever virtual ISP.