Build PH Silicon Valley: Endeavor picks BPO entrepreneur

Chris Schnabel
Build PH Silicon Valley: Endeavor picks BPO entrepreneur
Endeavor selects Vivek Padmanabhan, a pioneer in the BPO industry, as its next candidate to become a global Endeavor entrepreneur

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine arm of the global non-profit entrepreneurship organization Endeavor has chosen the next batch of entrepreneurs to help transform the Philippine market and create an enviroment of “meritocracy.”

Endeavor aims to transform emerging economies by providing support to high-impact entrepreneurs.

The goal is to create the infrastructure or ecosystem where these entrepreneurs can thrive since entrepreneurs here usually don’t have access to money, markets and the talent to build their firms, said Endeavor Philippines and ABS-CBN Chairman Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III. (READ: Use tech to scale up CSR)

“In the Philippines, we don’t have that kind of ecosystem yet, an ecosystem like Silicon Valley where entrepreneurs have access to all kinds of capital and talent to help them grow. So that’s what we want to create,” he said.

Lopez stressed that Endeavor is not just looking for firms in the tech sector but is casting its net wide to include industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, and retail.

“In most emerging markets it’s really the top 10 big family conglomerate that control 40-50% of the economy so what we want to do is diversify that and let other people into that stream. In short a meritocracy,” he said.

BIG GOALS. Gabby Lopez explains the goals of Endeavor to an audience of entrepreneurs and business leaders.

High-impact entrepreneurship

High-impact entrepreneurs are those capable of scaling up a business to become really big in order to create jobs and wealth, Endeavor Philippines Managing Director Manny Ayala explained.

Having done so, they then reinvest their success in the next generation of entrepreneurs by supporting them, and often investing in their startups, he added.

The whole process creates a cycle of repetition and value in the economy by building up an ecosystem where individual entrepreneur’s firms are all connected and all depend on each other.

The idea has been validated by prominent economic experts including “The World is Flat” author Thomas Friedman who commented that “Endeavor is the best anti-poverty program of all.”

SCRUTINY. Ayala explains the selection process for entrepreneurs in detail. The candidates and their businesses had already passed 3 previous layers of screening to make it to the local selection stage.

Next candidate

To continue the cycle, Endeavor Philippines selected Vivek Padmanabhan, a pioneer in the BPO industry in the country, as its next candidate at a local selection panel held on September 28.

This is the penultimate step towards being a global endeavor entrepreneur. The final hurdle to clear is the International Selection Panel (ISP) to be held in Mexico City in December.

The ISP has already chosen Nix Nolledo, president of Xurpas Incorporated, as the first Philippine-based endeavor entrepreneur earlier this year.

Padmanabhan, along with US based partner Brian Cotter, is the brains behind PSG Global Solutions, a fast growing Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) company based in the Philippines which started in 2009 servicing the global talent recruitment industry.

Feel Good Incorporated, the entrepreneurs behind Juju Eats, a salad chain that is helping to lead the way in healthy eating and The Greenhouse, Incoporated, representing Zenutrients, a personal care brand based on natural products showed promise and were invited to try their luck again at next year’s local selection panel.

These decisions were made by a panel of local business leaders who serve on Endeavor Philippines’ board including: Ayala Corporation Chairman Jaime Zobel de Ayala, Doubedragon Chairman Injap Sia, JP Morgan and Co Philippines Managing Director Bobbit Panlilio and Lopez.

“We looked at the degree of innovation of the business and the entrepreneurs to see if they have the leadership skills and, importantly, the desire to give back and not just think of their own bank accounts,” Ayala said.

A critical factor in the selection process, he added, involves whether or not the firm is at an inflection point or at the cusp of the next wave of exponential growth. “Typically, we need to see these companies having a path to getting to at least $10 million ($467.9 million) in annual revenue but it’s not set in stone. We take firms that are very early stage and companies that have millions in revenue. What’s important is that there’s room for growth,” Ayala stressed.

JUDGING. A panel of judges made up of the country's biggest business leaders decided on which entrepreneurs to send to the international panel. (seated L-R) Gabby Lopez, Injap Sia, Mckinsey Philippines Managing Director Suraj Moraje, Bobbit Panlilio and Jaime Zobel de Ayala.


The chosen Endeavor entrepreneurs gain access to its network of over 4,000 business leaders worldwide who can mentor them.

In terms of market, these mentors will help connect the entrepreneur to the people they need to reach. They will  “open up the rolodex” so to speak, Ayala said.

“Last year, 30,000 hours of mentoring were provided. If you were to apply Mckinsey rates to that, it would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” Ayala noted.

Endeavor partners, consulting firms Ernst and Young and Bain Consulting, also help by parachuting people in to help the entrepreneurs solve their firms’ problems for weeks at a time for free.

It also maintains its own investment fund of around $500,000 (P23.39 million) that it feeds into selected firms.  

Pay it forward mentality

In return for the help they receive, the entrepreneurs are expected to think of Endeavor and make an annual donation once they have achieved success and a stable measure of liquidity.

The suggested amount, Ayala shared, was $10,000 (P467,950), although he stressed this is neither a set fee nor mandatory. “What we’re  saying is if you thought that Endeavor helped you then what’s $10,000 to you? “It’s the concept of giving back to the greater ecosystem and giving back to Endeavor to continue our mission,” he added.

He shared the case of one Endeavor entrepreneur, Yemeksepeti, an online food delivery service based in Turkey.

The firm exited for over half a billion dollars and the founder then wrote checks to all his employees totaling $23 million (P1.076 billion). On average that works out to each employee receiving at least $200,000 (P9.359 million).

“That’s life changing and it’s all part of the Endeavor mentality of paying it forward,” Ayala said. –

Editor’s note: Manny Ayala and Nix Nolledo are members of Rappler’s board.

$1 = P46.80

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