July 4, 2007
Linda Rottenberg

As one of the leading social entrepreneurs of our time, Linda Rottenberg has turned Endeavor into a multi-country operation which seeks to empower business leaders who are in the process of growing promising enterprises.

Ipek Cem: My guest today is Linda Rottenberg, who is the co-founder and CEO of Endeavor. Welcome to Global Leaders.

 

Linda Rottenberg:  Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.

 

Ipek Cem: Time Magazine called you one of the top innovators for the 21st Century. What was this innovation that you came up with in the foundation of Endeavor?

 

Linda Rottenberg:  I co-founded Endeavor ten years ago. We're celebrating our 10th anniversary, and it's so wonderful to be here in Istanbul. I had been working in Latin America, and noticed that there was this huge gap between all of the money that was going into private equity, into big infrastructure projects, and that all of the micro credit was doing wonderful work at the bottom of the pyramid. And what became clear is that if you are a young person with a big idea who wanted to create a company that could create hundreds, or even thousands of jobs, there was nowhere for you to go. And that so many people in emerging markets around the world that had so much talent, but maybe didn't believe that it was possible to be an entrepreneur, with a big idea, and with big impact. So, we said, "Well, why isn't there anything in the middle? Why isn't there any organisation to help high impact entrepreneurs that we believe will change the course of these economies?" And, so, that was the foundation of Endeavor. That there's talent throughout the world, and all that was needed was just a little catalyst.

 

Ipek Cem: When you talk about entrepreneurship, and young people, and big ideas, they always come and say, "There is no capital for us to go ahead and execute our idea, to market our idea". But I know that Endeavor in fact does not provide capital. How do you go about the different ways of helping the entrepreneurs, because the first thing they usually ask for is money?

 

Linda Rottenberg: Good question. Well, many people have called Endeavor, "venture capital, without the capital".

 

Ipek Cem: OK.

 

Linda Rottenberg:  So, we are non-profit, because we felt that trust is one of the huge missing, ingredients. There's so much money out there, and there are so many great ideas, but often they don't know how to find each other. So what Endeavor does is we establish operations with local boards, and local management. It's very important to us to marry global best practices with very much a locally organised and owned network. And so we set up a non-profit in each of these countries to scour the country, looking for the best and the brightest ideas, and people who really have the potential to scale, but just need help, mentorship, sometimes capital, sometimes it's not capital. Sometimes it's just support to get to the next level. But what Endeavor does is it gives them a seal of approval, say, "you are a high impact entrepreneur". So suddenly if you are a bank, or you are a venture capital firm in these markets, or even in New York, or Silicon Valley, they will say, "If you're an Endeavor entrepreneur, we know there's been a seal of approval, so we'll give you a leg-up". But, again, the interesting thing we found now we've worked ten years, screened over 15 thousand companies, worked with 265 entrepreneurs, and about 160 companies, and we've found that capital is not always the thing that's really preventing people from getting to the next stage. It's the belief that, "Hey, wait a minute, if he did it, I can do it, too". So, for us, the role model effect is really the key, which is why I'm so excited to be here in Turkey where we've just spent three days meeting the most extraordinary entrepreneurs. I can't wait to be able to tell their stories in a few months, or years.

 

Ipek Cem: We'll come to that in a moment, but I just wanted to find out... you yourself are an entrepreneur, starting this new not for profit organisation ten years ago, and when you first started, it wasn't so easy to start, and even going into it was an uphill battle in the beginning. But then, all of a sudden, it seems to have flourished. What took it from that start up stage to more of an established stage?

 

Linda Rottenberg:  Everyone thought we were out of our minds, including my parents. And I should say my parents were both the first in their families to go to four-year colleges. And because, you know, the US has a meritocratic system. I had gone to Harvard College, and then the Yale Law School So when I told them that I was going to become this social entrepreneur that was going to create this new idea, but it wasn't even a company, it was a non-profit. They thought their daughter was crazy, and what had they done with all this education. And everyone else said the same thing. And what I always tell entrepreneurs is, "If people don't think you're crazy at the beginning, then maybe you're not thinking big enough". So I sort of took that as a motivating thing. And I always believed that the stories, and once we got the entrepreneurs, it would tell itself, because these people are really creating jobs, they are really pushing their economies forward. They're really, we believe, they're the new change agents. And they happen to be running businesses, but they believe in changing the lives of people, they believe in giving equity to their workers, they're really concerned about their communities. (We also felt, especially on top of Latin America, the business leaders didn't have a very good reputation. They seemed to be all about making money for themselves, and we also wanted to show business people in a good light. We really feel like they're contributing to the growth of these societies, and we knew they cared. So, what happened is, after a while, we started showing results. And people started seeing the stories. And young people started saying, "Wait a minute! This kid who grew up in Patagonia, just sold a company to Banko Santanda. Wait a minute! If he can do it, I can do it too". It's not Steve Jobs, and Michael Dell, and John Chambers, and people who seem very far away, and it's not even the people who come from the family names. It's people just like me who have a great idea, and once that started happening, we always saying Endeavor is just contagious. And once you catch the bug, you can't get rid of it. So I always tell people to be careful, because once you come, we're never getting rid of you... And about four years ago, Edgar Bronfman, Jr., the Chairman of Warner Music became Chairman of our board. And Jim Wolfensohn, when he left the World Bank joined CitiGroup, and Endeavor, as his two boards. This was at the global level. And locally we've got all these business leaders just excited about supporting the young ideas, and people coming out of their countries.

 

Ipek Cem: Which country was your first inaugural country? Where did you start?

 

Linda Rottenberg:  We started in Chile and Argentina.

 

Ipek Cem: Any special reason? You knew the countries well?

 

Linda Rottenberg:  I did. And the funny story was I'd lived in both countries, and we had gotten our support, our seed capital, from a guy named Stephen Schmidheiny who is a Swiss industrialist and who believed in Latin America. And after a while, I said, "This is great, but we've started in Chile, but we need 200 thousand dollars more to go to Argentina. We want to test this in two models". He's "Alright, hot shot. You think this is such a great idea. I want to see if the local market responds. I need a local business person to match that 200 thousand dollars". So I secured actually my co-partner, co-founder... secured a 10 minute meeting with a guy named Eduardo Elsztain, who was known to have made George Soros the largest land owner in Argentina. So we spoke for about 5 minutes and he looks at his watch, and he says, "I know, you want a meeting with George Soros, I'll see what I can do". And I said, "No, Eduardo. You're an entrepreneur. I'm an entrepreneur. This organisation's about supporting entrepreneurs. I want your time, your passion, and 200 thousand dollars". So, the meeting had taken place in English, and he turns to his right hand man, in Spanish, ‘Esta Chica, Esta Loca'  ‘This girl is crazy.' It's like a bad movie, where you're suddenly in the shower, and she's coming at you with a knife". So I turned, in Spanish, and I said, "Eduardo, I'm disappointed. This, from a man who is known for walking into George Soros' office, and coming out with a 10 million dollar cheque. You're lucky I only asked for 200 thousand dollars". And, on the spot, he decided to support Endeavor. He became Chairman of our Board, in Argentina and he remains so, today. And I think it's that local passion, that willingness to take a bet on a young idea at the time that really gave us a start.

 

Ipek Cem: We talk in the world about the global debt crisis was a big issue of the past, and current issue, and also about poverty. And this has, in fact, at the end of the day creating jobs is about eliminating poverty. How do you measure that? what number of jobs you have created through the number of companies you have supported? And how do you think this kind of entrepreneurship, this kind of social entrepreneurship, what impact does it have that you feel that perhaps other ways of  alleviating poverty may not be able to achieve?

 

Linda Rottenberg:  Well, that is such a great question. It really gets to the heart of why Endeavor exists, and why we believe that we are pushing forward an anti-poverty, you know, agenda, and a wealth creation, and job creation platform. Endeavor has screened over 15000 entrepreneurs in ten years, and as I said, we have selected 257 from about 160 companies. They've created over 76 thousand jobs. They pay, on average, ten times the minimum wage. So these are really high value jobs. And generated, last year, 1.7 billion dollars in revenues. And, what's interesting is that there's this role model effect, too. So it's not only their jobs, but they have indirectly encouraged all these other people to go and start companies. And the statistic that I sort of love is that most jobs, in emerging markets, create two... most companies create two jobs. And our entrepreneurs, on average, are creating 214 jobs. 96% of the entrepreneurs we support still operate today. So it means they're not only creating jobs, but they're sustaining, and keeping these jobs around. And, to me, I applaud the work that's being done in micro-credit, and all, at the bottom of the pyramid, but when I talk to people around the world, whether it's Africa, or Latin America, the Middle East, they say, "Wait a minute. We also want... we don't just want micro credit, we want big ideas, and big credit, and venture capital, and people to support us to really get to that next level". And so we do believe that the people who are creating many jobs... hundreds and thousands... and showing that big ideas can happen... are having as much impact on social change as they are on economic climate of the country.

 

Ipek Cem: And recently you came to Turkey. You've been here, I believe, for about a year, and you've just had your selections for this year, from Turkey. Now you have the chance to look at entrepreneurs from different countries over 10 years. And also in your previous job. So what kind of entrepreneurs did you find, last year, and this year? The level of entrepreneurship, the kind of areas that people are looking into... how do the Turks compare to other countries, do you think?

 

Linda Rottenberg:  First of all, let me just say that we started in Latin America, but I always dreamed of bringing this to Turkey. I had come here in 1990, after college, one of my closest friends from college Inci Yalman  had taken me here, and I  met just wonderful group of people, and just thought the foundation of this country is entrepreneurship. And yet I knew so many Turks who were in London, who were in New York, who thought there was no opportunity to come back.  So one of the first entrepreneurs we found Bülent Çelebi, who started AirTies had been in Silicon Valley for fifteen years. And it's very common, these days, for Indian engineers to go back to India, but I think it was unheard of for a Turkish entrepreneur in Silicon Valley to say, "I'm going back to Istanbul". So everyone said, "OK. We'll see you when you fail, when you come back here".

 

Ipek Cem: Especially because he was successful there.

 

Linda Rottenberg:  Exactly. He was successful. Why would he leave that platform? And it's been incredible. AirTies, which is doing wireless solutions, and now has over 25 million dollars in revenues. Every day it's more, so I'm probably even off now, but and it's just launched in Greece. He now wants to go to Egypt, and throughout the Balkans, and it's really incredible, because he's now bringing engineers back from Silicon Valley. So, on the one hand you have an example of the reverse brain drain. And we saw many entrepreneurs throughout this week that were doing high-technology solutions, and so on the one hand, it tells the world, "Hey, wait a minute. This isn't just happening in Boston, or Silicon Valley, or even India, there are high growth, high-tech solutions happening here in Turkey.  But the other side of it was, we saw incredible entrepreneurial stories coming from Sivas and Rize, and, in tea, and in meat, and intraocular devices, and, so, and health care, and craftsmanship. And that is always what's exciting to me. When you talk about entrepreneurship, it's not only about high technology. It's also about changing the way an industry, like the meat industry, what Emre's Dukkan is doing, you know, or what Mustafa's "Morbiçay" is doing in tea.  It's revolutionising traditional industries, and really rethinking them in a new way, and that's what I love most. It's seeing entrepreneurs from all walks of life, all backgrounds, all industries, but they always have things in common. They always have, you know, the sparkle in their eye, the passion, the perseverance, and once you give them your card, you know you're going to get 20 emails, and telephone calls. And they all told me, they said, "Linda, I don't care if I'm elected an Endeavor Entrepreneur, or not. I have your card, you're getting my phone call."

 

Ipek Cem: So, one of the things that you notice about Endeavor is emerging markets, and high impact.

 

Linda Rottenberg:  Yes.

 

Ipek Cem: How  do you define the "high impact entrepreneur", as opposed to just "entrepreneur"? Good entrepreneur, let's say. Not just entrepreneur.

 

Linda Rottenberg:  Now I understand why people say you're the best interviewer they ever had. For us, "high impact" can be defined in many ways. I think, on the one hand it is jobs creation, and I think that  again, you know, where people can create hundreds, or thousands of  jobs that's where the economies are built. Are in these SME's. and I think that that is one area. You know the fact that our entrepreneurs have generated 1.7 billion dollars collectively, and yet they started really quite small I think is really... is very exciting as well. But, to me, "high impact" also comes in terms of the role model effect. I grew up in the States, and so people like Steve Jobbs, you know, I could relate to. And I told the story of Apple Computer in Argentina, when I  was starting out, I remember a kid came up to me and said, "Linda. Great story. Not relevant to my life.  I don't even have a garage". So, telling stories of people who relate to people to me has an amazing effect.  Because it's about changing the way people think, and making them think a little bigger. And then I think that what I was saying before about changing the way even a very traditional industry, even a very simple product... that if it can be done in a different way, then everyone can walk around and they're like think, "Huh! What can I change, too?", and, so to me, that's where the impact comes. And finally, I think the fact that we are a non-profit that's helping business entrepreneurs is changing the way people think a little bit about philanthropy, and about non-profits. It's not, as we were discussing earlier, about these sleepy people who are trying to... just to give handouts. It's about this energy, and this youth and this getting together, and say, "Wait a minute. We can change the way people are thinking about these countries, and I was just in Jordan a couple of weeks ago, and I couldn't believe the energy and talent that I saw there, and I can't wait to come back from Turkey and to tell the stories I've found, and we brought so many American businessmen, and Columbian businessmen to Turkey, and now they're going to go tell these wonderful stories. So, for me, the last part about "high impact" is just creating these connections among people in different countries, but who are all thinking the same way.

 

Ipek Cem: You were the Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum on Middle East and you just discussed how much of an impact it had on you. And women in the Middle East, though you know, some of them highly educated and maybe quite entrepreneurial we feel don't get the same chances as men. What were your observations, sitting there, and hearing some of the stories?

 

Linda Rottenberg:  Well, I didn't know what to expect going in. I had a gotten this invitation. I was the only American, the only woman, the only person under 45 representing the panel. And there were 1200 people and  what was so exciting was people were talking about the future. They were talking about solar energy, and investing in the future, and women, and youth, and new voices coming up.  I was so impressed with the women I met in particular.  The strength in politics, in culture, in the environment, and in business. They really said, "Wait a minute. We just need the spotlight put on us, because there's so much going on under the surface. I came away unbelievably impressed, and thought that, again it's just about seeding people. Because once you see these role models, I think there are so many women in countries like Turkey, and if there are a few role models that can be spot-lighted I think they'll be a wave of change. And we're not quite there in the US either. I always say, you know, "Let's look at Fortune 500 companies, I mean, you know, we can do a lot better ourselves". So I always say, just as I count... If you are in New York, your cell phone goes out in mid-town Manhattan 10 times. You come off the plane in Istanbul, your cell phone is working immediately.  So just as we talk about leapfrogging technology, I really believe emerging markets, when it comes to women, when it comes to, young people, I  think they have the capacity to leapfrog the United States, for sure.

 

Ipek Cem: When you look at the world, this issue of development, just going back to it, is usually handled by big, international organisations. Some of which, like the World Bank, you have cooperated with, and even now have Mr Wolfensohn on the Board of Endeavor... How are organisations, like Endeavor impacting, let's say, the traditional method of development, or helping countries develop. Of course, when you talk about development, and within emerging markets you have such different examples, and such different stages...

 

Linda Rottenberg:  Right.

 

Ipek Cem: But, how does your model, or models like you, impact the way we think about development?

 

Linda Rottenberg:  Well, Jim Wolfensohn is a member of our board. I consider him more an entrepreneur. I think his stint at the World Bank, he tried to entrepreneurialise the World Bank. We're very proud to have him. Harvard Business School did a case on Endeavor, in 2002, and before I went in, one of the teachers said, "I want a five word headline that will be, you know, in the New York Times about Endeavor in 10 years". I said, "That's easy. ‘Endeavor – takes – over – World – Bank'". So far we haven't managed to do that.

 

Ipek Cem: OK. No lack of ambition. Right?

 

Linda Rottenberg:  And people tell me, "Maybe you should shoot a little higher". No...  I happen to believe that, I think there's an important role for all these development institutions, but I really believe that what goes on on the ground, I mean, you can... smaller institutions can work quickly. Can work... we embrace the private sector, we're very... all the members of our boards around the world are from the private sector. It's about social change, but driven with the same kind of pace and metrics, and results orientation of the private sector.  So I always thought that we... that working outside, in cooperation with these big institutions, but not being enveloped by them, you can actually do... do more to shake things up. Where really things are happening on the ground.

The other aspect of your question that was really interesting, which was that there are different level of countries and  different types of development, and what Endeavor says is, "We're looking at countries transitioning from international aid, to international investment". And our model actually isn't right for countries at sort of the most basic level of development. But I think that you need basic, just you know, health, and infrastructure, and education, and even the micro-credit models. I think countries like Turkey which are, and Brazil, and even India, and Mexico, which are on that cusp of really being where most developed countries are, and it's, again, it's just about spot-lighting the countries as well as these entrepreneurs.  To me there are such great investment opportunities here, and  so in our little way to be able to bring top venture capitalists, and top New York bankers to a country like Turkey, and show them all the great investment opportunities going on on the ground. They no longer look at it as an emerging market, or a developing country, they look at it as a peer country.  I think that's what we're trying to do, is to spotlight these countries where the private sector is already so rebust, but  just to, kind of, show the world that they're all the talent that we see, and we think of in just a limited number of countries is happening on this global level.

 

Ipek Cem: Let's say that I'm an entrepreneur in Turkey. How do I find you, and let's say that I don't speak English, but I'm a great entrepreneur. Does that impact me negatively, because you're going to put me in touch with all these international people? How does the process work from A to Z?

 

Linda Rottenberg:  Well, we try to scour the country, so anyone watching this show who is an entrepreneur, we welcome your applications. That's, you know, one of our jobs, now. Is to really use the media exposure to really tell the people, "Hey, there's an organisation out there looking for you. If you have a great idea, you know where to come". And we're looking for people, in every industry, and, you know, all parts of the country.  I think English is absolutely not a requirement. And I think that at the same time, I think that obviously to be able to interact at the global level, if there's someone in your organisation who can help you translate your ideas, that makes it easier. But we have a great network within Turkey. We've a wonderful board. So there are people really here to mentor people, even locally and regionally. So it's about just finding people who are at an inflexion point. Who have a great idea, who have gotten something started. It's not... we don't usually take pure start-ups. We usually want people to have something in terms of revenue, show some type of,  proof point, and then, we can help gotten them to the next level.

 

Ipek Cem: And in terms of number of employees, and years of operations are there constraints on that?

 

Linda Rottenberg:  No. It depends. I mean, we do take some start-ups, sometimes take people with just a couple of hundred thousand dollars in revenues to somebody with ten million dollar revenues, but who we think can get to a hundred million.

 

Ipek Cem: Yes.

 

Linda Rottenberg:  It really depends on the entrepreneur, and the industry. Once they go through, all entrepreneurs they have to go through a nine month screening process, but during that time, they're meeting the top, you know, business people who actually are giving them value to their company. So people tell us all the time that forgetting about the Endeavor seal of approval, that the whole process was really sort of valuable. But once they become an Endeavor Entrepreneur, we do a 12 to 18 months needs assessment. So for some people they do need capital, we'll get them to have a road show. In some cases we recruit MBAs from the top US business school Stanford, and Harvard, Wharton and  to come and spend their summers inside the companies helping with their strategic plan. In some cases it's about mentorship. In some cases, I would say, it's about how to fire my brother-in-law. So we do a very customised needs assessment, and then we hold ourselves to a very high standard. So we take, every year, a survey of our entrepreneurs. So say, "How many jobs did you have when we found you? How many jobs do you have now? How much were you doing in revenues, and turnover? How much now? And what did Endeavor do? What services did we provide? What can we do to improve that?", and then, what's very interesting, is now, it's about peer to peer network. So we had people here this weekend from Egypt, from Turkey, from the U.S., from Colombia, from Argentina, from Pakistan, and from Greece.

 

Ipek Cem: These are all Endeavor companies?

 

Linda Rottenberg:  Endeavor companies. Endeavour mentors. Endeavor board members. So, what's interesting is it's not just happening within the countries, or bi-laterally with the US. People are saying, "Hey. Wait a minute. We want to get to the entrepreneur in Argentina, or in South Africa, or in, you know, we're about to launch in Egypt, and hopefully in India. So that's what's really exciting: is that it's this peer to peer collaboration that's starting to be the next phase.

 

Ipek Cem: When you look at Latin America, there's always the aspect of being able to market your product to the neighbouring countries, in terms of the language.

 

Linda Rottenberg: Yes.

 

Ipek Cem: Even though they have different ways of speaking it, but it's still the same language. When you look at a country like Turkey, it's a big country, there's a big market that a lot of big international companies are looking into, and taking benefit from, as well... Do you feel that an Endeavor company can be just a local company, or usually your companies also do business with other countries, or end up doing business with other countries?

 

Linda Rottenberg:  We have different categories. So we call the local star, is someone who is probably just going to be a national role model, but we feel  that they are operating in an industry that really, if they can change the way it's working, that they can really inspire others. So you can be just a national role model. But interestingly, I now saw people in Turkey who wanted to  go to Greece, or wanted to go to Egypt, or want to go to the Balkans, or other areas, or even want to go to South Africa, or even want to go to Brazil. So what's interesting is I think that those barriers are changing, and Latin America's a good example, because on the one hand it's true, there are  regional opportunities, and yet Brazil's Portuguese, not Spanish. And for an Argentine to get to Mexico, you have to go through Miami. So it's not as close as you think. So I'm actually very excited, because I think that what we've seen is despite all the differences, actually the commonalities are the same, and we had these two Colombian board members that were on our panel, and they kept saying, "Oh my God! The similarities between what we're seeing in Istanbul reminds us of  Colombia. So I think that's the exciting next phase. That absolutely there are going to be some just local, national role models, and that's a tremendous thing, and to do that in this economy is just great. But if we can also start showing these connections among countries, I think that's where it gets really exciting. Again, today, Ali says, "You think of Indian products, and services as world class. I know there are just as many world class people and products here in Turkey, and to show case that to the world  I'm just... if we can do just a small part in that, I think Endeavor will have, you know, made progress".

 

Ipek Cem: I think with this energy, and enthusiasm, you should help us market Turkey.

 

Linda Rottenberg:  I look forward to doing that.

 

Ipek Cem: At any rate, India and Egypt are very interesting next steps for Endeavor. Very different... two very different examples. What is the timing plan for laying out Endeavor in those countries? Is that going to be in 2007?

 

Linda Rottenberg:  I think Egypt will happen in 2007, and India will take a little longer to, just because there are a billion people, it's a continent, as people have told me on numerous occasions. Nagib Saweeris of Orascom, is helping to launch the board in Egypt, just as the board members here. I mean I really have to thank them. I really think that... you know, what's interesting here is we have this mix of people. On the one hand, you know, Ali Koç, and Suzan Sabanci, and others like Vuslat Dogan, and Murat Özyegin who come from really established families, and yet they're entrepreneurs within these families. And then you have these really self-made entrepreneurs Mehmet Ali Babaoglu, who is our Chairman, and Fadi Nahas who is of Lebanese descent, but works in Turkey, and Emin Hitay, and Ozcan Tahincioglu. It's been this incredible coming together of very entrepreneurial people who themselves didn't necessarily know each other, and now they're spawning the new generation. So, what we look for, when we launch a new country is that local, that local buy, and I always say, you know, we're very demand driven. We don't want to push this idea on people, and say, "Look! You need entrepreneurship, and we have their gift". No. We have a model, but it has to be brought in locally. And the story I always tell people who say, "Oh yes. You say it's local, but it's not", and the story I tell was my family, my husband is from Savannah, Georgia, and I was there for July 4th, for a family gathering, and introduced to the Wall Street Journal correspondent from Sao Paulo, who happened to have grown up in Savannah. And I was introduced as the co-founder and CEO of Endeavor. He looks at me, and says, "Endeavor? That's this great Brazilian organisation that helps entrepreneurs. What's it doing with a New York office?". So I look forward to the day when I come to Turkey, or Egypt, and someone says, "What, this New York office? We don't get it. This is Turkish".

 

Ipek Cem: Going forward. Are you looking into Eastern Europe as a possibility for entrepreneurship? Or do you feel it's in a different phase of development, because of the integration with Europe?

 

Linda Rottenberg: Well, I'm going to get in trouble for this answer, but I think you... well we're overlooking at the Bhosphorus. Beautiful weather. The Bhosphorus. If you look at the pattern of where Endeavor is, very good weather, very nice places to go, very good food, and my origins are actually Eastern European. So I feel I can say this, I'm just you know, the food and the weather have not been, you know, so appealing. But I think, in all seriousness, I think when you look at Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic. I mean, I think they are so entrepreneurial. So, absolutely, everyone has said... and in Russia, too, I think that that...

 

Ipek Cem: China?

 

Linda Rottenberg: China. I think Endeavor's goal now, we actually have created a ten year plan, and all those markets we just mentioned are on the plan. And I think that we took five, seven or eight years to get the model right in Latin America, but we really feel that now it's about expanding to the world, and so, absolutely those are all places on our radar screen, and we think that that success in Turkey is really going to help us. Because I think to show case Turkey and South Africa will be our first two affiliates outside of Latin America. And I think that for a while people said, "This is a great idea, but maybe it just works in one region". So it's going to be great, the fact that Turkey's success will help us launch in Egypt, and India, and Russia, and in Hungary, and because I think it will show case that this idea that this idea has resonance throughout the world. So, thank you to Turkey.

 

Ipek Cem: So the story of an entrepreneur is also the story of a person, and a team of people, and you've come across many stories. Some of which are show cased on your web site. To tell our audience, can you tell us one or two of the stories that touched you in some way? Success stories, but also personal stories that are also linked with Endeavor?

 

Linda Rottenberg:  There are so many.

 

Ipek Cem: Yes. Just take a couple...

 

Linda Rottenberg:  There's a woman in Brazil, and her name's Leila, and she comes from an Afro-Brazilian community. And she and her brother started this hair salon. And suddenly they noticed that there were four-hour waits, five-hour waits... in Brazil, I don't know if you know, but they have the highest degree of, like, cosmetic surgery, and hair is very very important. So these people were waiting in line and they said, "Huh. Maybe we should, market our products", and they started marketing their products, and people were buying them off the shelves, and they said, "Maybe we  should create a franchise of these salons...", and started doing this. And they created, from scratch, this multi-million dollar company. They came from really very little means, and they just had the intuition, and the idea. And they came to Endeavor, and all of the top venture capitalists said, "If there's one company we want to put our money in, it's none of these high-tech things, it's this hair products one. This entrepreneur, this woman, has so much passion and conviction, and today she's really talking about  taking on L'Oréal, and taking on Vidal Sassoon, and expanding... exporting into the US, with the African-American sort of hair community. And to me that is just an incredible, you know, story of something that really can be multi-million dollars is thinking big, but starts off very small with a simple idea. On the other end of the spectrum, in Mexico, we have an RFID company. High radio frequency identification chips. They embed these chips in tickets and in cars, and they had tracked, actually, a number of the highjackers pre-9/11, but no-one was paying attention. Today the Pakistani Government uses this Mexican company to do border security control. Delta Airlines is using them. They are one of three companies in the world to do this RFID technology, and they were the first Mexican company to take over a San Diego company, and the Mexican entrepreneur remains CEO.

 

Ipek Cem: Interesting stories. Global warming is an important issue for the world, and I know, for example, one of the Turkish companies, PetFor, I think, is doing recycling of plastic bottles. So, you are paying attention to this field I presume. Do you see a rise in the number of eco-friendly entrepreneurs?

 

Linda Rottenberg:  Yeah. One of my favourite stories is actually a Brazilian, named Bento Koike who comes from a Japanese family that emigrated, and we found that he had this wind blade technology for wind energy turbines. Today it's a 200 million dollar company. GE uses their wind blades for the wind energy turbines, exclusively, and they've captured 70% of the US market. It's incredible. In wind energy. I think that's where the story is headed, in terms of solar, and bio-diesel, and, alternative energies, and again, I think there's a real opportunity in emerging markets. You look at Brazil as an example in terms of what's happening in ethanol, and they're really becoming world leaders in that. So I think that that's exciting idea, and I know Al Gore is actually in Turkey, as we speak, so he'll be very happy to hear.  I think to combine entrepreneurship not only with job creation, but things that can preserve the environment. I know Richard Branson is doing a contest around the world to find new companies that can reduce carbon emissions. I mean, what better combination is that? So I'm really excited to find these world class entrepreneurs doing things in these alternative energy, and environmentally, eco-friendly, as you say, areas.

 

Ipek Cem: We talked earlier about women and the business world, and in terms of entrepreneurship, what is your findings on the number of women who are entrepreneurs, and who are successful entrepreneurs, in the companies that you have dealt with?

 

Linda Rottenberg:  I would say probably 20% of our entrepreneurs are women. Not high as I would like it. I think the good thing in this is where technology is important. I think that the internet, for example, is giving women the opportunity to have home-based businesses. Because I think that's a challenge. We talked earlier, you have young children. I have 2 year old, identical twin daughters. It's very hard to leave, you know, and to get on planes, and to run businesses, and to be gone, and to combine family and work. I think that's the challenge for our generation. I think that when I talk to many women of a previous generation, they did one, or the other. They had family, or they had business. And so I think that the great opportunity with young businesses is how do you accommodate families, and still be high growth. And I really think that's what our generation is going to do. And I think that I'm hopeful that we'll find more and more, you know, women starting companies, and I think that that's the one area. It's a personal mission, I think we've got to get that number up to 50%, but I do respect, I mean, I know how hard, how hard it is, and so, you know, I think that all of us are looking for role models in that case. So I just want to end by saying -and I know this is your last TV event of the season- and I think you are an entrepreneur, yourself, and I want to thank you. It's been a privilege to be part of this, and I wish you continued success. I think what you are doing is really special, and important. So, congratulations.

 

Ipek Cem: OK. Thank you. Thank you for your time.

 

This transcript was typed from a transcription unit recording and not copied from an original script. Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, NTV networks and Ipek Cem cannot vouch for its accuracy.