Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Endeavor will help build network of Miami entrepreneurs

Jan. 15, 2013, 8:28 a.m., Posted by Matt Haggman

Despite a high rate of entrepreneurial activity across Miami, it remains difficult for doers and innovators to build their ideas here. It is harder than it should be for people launching new ventures to connect with others, find mentorship opportunities and obtain quality support services.   

To address this challenge, today we’re announcing a $2 million investment over five years to launch Endeavor Miami.

Endeavor is a non-profit organization that for nearly 15 years has built vibrant, connected, self-sustaining communities of entrepreneurship and innovation. First started in Latin America, Endeavor now operates in 15 countries around the world.

Miami will be Endeavor’s first outpost in the U.S.

To be clear, Endeavor does not invest in companies. Instead of providing venture capital, it provides what one writer called “mentor capital.”

What Endeavor does is go to a city, identify the best high-impact entrepreneurs, connect them with proven local business leaders as mentors and integrate them within its broader global network. Importantly, in each city, the non-profit tells the stories of its entrepreneurs in a bid to create role models who serve as catalysts for the broader public.  

Currently, there are more than 700 Endeavor entrepreneurs in 14 countries who receive an average of 70 mentorship hours per year from some 2,500 business leaders.

The non-profit is focusing on Miami, in part, because its approach is well suited to address the challenges here. South Florida is an environment that is entrepreneurial but fragmented and lacking a support infrastructure and strong local and global networks. 

In addition, the organization is a good fit because it is known to many here in Miami and because of its geographic and cultural ties.

When Endeavor started in 1998, it launched in Argentina and Chile. It has since expanded across Latin America, opening offices in Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil. A presence in Miami further strengthens its network in the Americas and provides for the possibility of strong, cross-border collaborations. Furthermore, because Endeavor is well-known in Miami, it provides a leg up in launching here.

For Knight Foundation, Endeavor Miami is a cornerstone of our initiative to make Miami more informed and engaged by widening our lens on Miami’s creative community, focusing not only on artists but the city’s emerging startup community. With Endeavor, our aim is to unite and elevate the cohort of engaged entrepreneurs.

Ultimately, our aim is to make Miami more of a place where ideas are built.

As we announce our investment to launch Endeavor Miami today, our work is just beginning. An Endeavor Miami board must be assembled, a managing director and local staff hired and – of course – entrepreneurs must be selected.

Under Endeavor’s approach, Miami’s best entrepreneurs will be provided skilled mentors and support services like pro bono financial management consultants and leading business school students spending summers in Miami with Endeavor Entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, Endeavor will build a community of Miami entrepreneurs that is connected to fellow innovators and has its story told, providing a greater sense of possibility across the city.

It’s a model that has found success. With Endeavor’s support, entrepreneurs have seen significant job and revenue growth. One study found that Endeavor Entrepreneurs grow jobs at five times the rate of comparable ventures.

But perhaps more important: it’s created strong pay-it-forward networks that develop role models who inspire. One telling statistic about Endeavor’s ability to build thriving, supportive entrepreneurial communities: more than 65 percent of Endeavor’s entrepreneurs themselves become advisors and donors to other entrepreneurs.   

By Matt Haggman, program director/Miami at Knight Foundation

Read more in the Miami Herald, the South Florida Business JournalThe Next Web and Pulso Social