Endeavor Detroit seeks local entrepreneurs to join its network – Knight Foundation

Endeavor Detroit seeks local entrepreneurs to join its network

Photo of Detroit by Mike Boening Photography on Flickr

Antonio Lück is scouring metro Detroit for high-growth companies that could someday generate the kind of economic impact automakers produced in the region in the 20th century.

“How many companies exist because of Ford and GM? That’s what we want to accomplish,” said Lück, the managing director of Endeavor Detroit.

Endeavor, a nonprofit group that helps companies scale, or grow rapidly, by providing them with a global network of mentors and advisers, selected Detroit for its second U.S. affiliate and named its board of directors in February.

Lück said he’s hoping to have five to eight companies complete the rigorous selection process and join Endeavor Detroit’s network in its first year.

He’s looking for companies from a variety of industries, generally with sales of between $2 million and $5 million. Entrepreneurs throughout metro Detroit are eligible to participate.

Detroit, one of 26 Knight Foundation communities, is getting national attention for its growing number of startup companies. But it lacks larger, fast-growing businesses that are significant job generators.

Endeavor Insight, the organization’s research team, found that Southeast Michigan lost a staggering 50 percent of its high-growth firms between 2007 and 2012. Those are companies in business for at least three years with at least 20 percent employment growth over the past three years.

“We want to find companies to help turn things around and be contributors to the growth of the community as a whole,” said Lück, formerly the director of business acceleration at the Michigan Economic Development Corp. “We want to elevate everybody.”

Endeavor calls it “high-impact entrepreneurship.”

Entrepreneurs seeking to join Endeavor’s program must complete a series of local and regional interviews before presenting to an Endeavor international selection panel, conducted four or five times a year in cities around the world.

Once selected, companies are assigned local advisers who help them with financing, marketing, developing talent and other growth issues. The companies also have access to mentors from Endeavor’s global network of more than 1,000 entrepreneurs.

Companies selected for the program must make an annual financial or equity share contribution to support Endeavor’s mission. Business leaders serving on Endeavor’s local board of directors also must make annual financial contributions from themselves or their companies and commit to the program for five years.

Cindy Pasky, the founder and CEO of Strategic Staffing Solutions in Detroit, chairs Endeavor Detroit’s board. As a successful entrepreneur, Pasky said she believes Endeavor’s business scale-up model is exactly what Southeast Michigan needs.

“It fills a void that I think is very, very important,” she said. “There are not enough resources to help a business scale and go to the next level. Endeavor provides those resources.”

Endeavor Detroit’s other board members are:

·      Gerard Anderson, chairman and CIO of DTE Energy

·      Dave Egner, executive director of the New Economy Initiative, and president and CEO of the Hudson-Webber Foundation

·      Thomas Groos, partner at City Light Capital

·       Nate Lowery, co-founder and CEO of TM3 Systems and board member of the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation

·       Raj Vattikuti, founder of Altimetrik

·      Steven White, chairman and CEO of Detroit Renewable Energy

Endeavor seeks to create an “entrepreneurial ecosystem” by encouraging businesses owners who succeed in its program to in turn mentor new entrepreneurs and take seats on local Endeavor boards.

The organization started in 1997 serving entrepreneurs in developing countries. But about three years ago, it decided to establish affiliates in U.S. cities where entrepreneurs lacked the resources to scale up their companies.

It opened an office in 2013 in Miami with $2 million in funding from Knight Foundation and soon began considering Detroit as its second affiliate.

“We knew when we launched in Miami, we needed to take a closer look at Detroit,” said Joanna Harries, Endeavor’s vice president for the United States and Canada.

Endeavor has aided 1,005 entrepreneurs from 666 companies in 22 countries. Those companies have created more than 400,000 jobs and in 2013 generated $6.8 billion in revenues, according to Endeavor’s website.

Those results have convinced Pasky that Endeavor can have a major impact on entrepreneurial activity in Detroit.

“It works and has a proven track record,” she said. “It’s an amazing program. I’m honored to be a part of it.

For more information, go to endeavordetroit.org. Entrepreneurs who want to apply to the program may contact Lück at [email protected].

Rick Haglund is a freelance writer in Southeast Michigan.

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