Cheers to 10 years for Endeavor Miami: A look back and ahead

Over the years, this organization has helped hundreds of South Florida entrepreneurs scale their ventures ‘and we’re just getting started,’ says Managing Director Claudia Duran. 

By Nancy Dahlberg

Back in mid- 2012, I still remember the first time I met Peter Kellner, co-founder of Endeavor Global. He took me aside and shared that he and Matt Haggman, then of the Knight Foundation, were working to bring the global entrepreneurship network to Miami. He said he couldn’t talk about it yet, but that “it’s going to happen.”

Indeed, it did. In January of 2013, they made the big announcement, which I covered in the Miami Herald:  Miami would be Endeavor Global’s first US expansion city and the Knight Foundation was funding it with a $2 million grant. Describing Miami, Kellner said at the time: “There are commitments from large institutions like Knight, FIU, UM, there is capital, there are people that are interested in making things happen, there are already clusters of activity like accelerators and incubators. That’s where Endeavor thrives.”

By September of 2013, Endeavor Miami took shape, with its first managing director, Laura Maydón, and a local board co-chaired Adriana Cisneros and Daniel Echavarria. Four founding board members still serve to this day — Haggman, Ernest Bachrach, Maurice R. Ferre and Alberto Beeck.

Now 10 years later, look how far the nonprofit organization that supports high-impact entrepreneurship has come. At a 10-year very Miami celebration last week at Joia Beach, Claudia Durán, managing director of Endeavor Miami, shared how their Endeavor Entrepreneurs have generated over $800 million in revenue and created 5,000 jobs.

 “This is not only about jobs and dollars. This is about inspiring people, creating solutions, innovations that this world really needs. That is true entrepreneurship,” Durán told the crowd of several hundred entrepreneurs and community and business leaders at the anniversary event that also included remarks by Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. “Our call to action is for all of you to keep supporting Endeavor’s mission so we can continue scaling because the next 10 years are going to be even better,” said Durán.

For this milestone, I sought out the perspectives of three leaders: Durán, Haggman and Maydón.

The early years

Haggman, now an executive VP at the Miami-Dade Beacon Council and leader of its Opportunity Miami initiative, joined the Knight Foundation in 2011 as its then Miami program director (Raul Moas is now leading Miami for Knight and has continued to support Endeavor). Haggman wanted to launch a program focused on building a tech and startup community in Miami. “In doing this, the key problem to solve was building an environment where entrepreneurs can scale ventures. Miami was already a very entrepreneurial place but, generally speaking, people felt they had to go elsewhere to scale ventures. To be successful, that needed to change,” Haggman recalls. 

Haggman said it was important to bring Endeavor to Miami for two reasons. “One, Endeavor was focused – and still is – on solving the problem that Miami needs to solve: supporting high-growth entrepreneurs. Endeavor had a track record of doing this in other countries and now could do it in Miami. Two, in launching Endeavor in Miami, we could build on the platform that Endeavor had already built across Latin America. Endeavor was already in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, Mexico.”

Endeavor Miami’s impact has been transformative, Haggman says. “The launch of Endeavor Miami put a stake in the ground that, yes, Miami can be a place where entrepreneurs can build amazing, high-growth companies.” Also, Endeavor brought the community together in supporting high-growth entrepreneurship across Miami, including a founding board that “made significant financial investments and provided pivotal leadership to launch Endeavor Miami,” he continued. “Under the leadership of Maydón, Endeavor became such a powerful voice in the community about the importance of supporting and propelling high-growth entrepreneurs. And not only giving voice, but actually doing it – identifying and supporting extraordinary entrepreneurs across Miami.”  

Maydón led Endeavor Miami as managing director of Endeavor Miami its first five years, from 2013 to early 2019. “I knew about Endeavor, its mission and the impact it had had in Latin America. At the time, I had been in Miami for 10 years and knew there was a lot of entrepreneurial talent that lacked the resources to scale,” said Maydón.  “Endeavor was the missing piece.”

Calling leading Endeavor a highlight of her career, which now includes venture capital, Maydón added: “I also wanted my daughters to grow up in a city that was thriving with entrepreneurial activity.”

Both Maydón and Haggman said many people were skeptical that Endeavor could find scale-ups in South Florida and that it would benefit the community at large. “The initiative was really visionary and at the right time. Everyone involved at Endeavor, founding board members, mentors, partners, the team and the Endeavor Entrepreneurs were taking a leap of faith into what the future could be — and is,” recalls Maydón.  “We all knew it was a long-term play.”

Scaling up programs

Claudia Durán took the helm of Endeavor Miami in early 2019. She had experience in the corporate sector and had spent four years as managing director of Ashoka in Brazil – Ashoka is the largest network of social impact entrepreneurs in the world – where her job was to scale the impact. Once she moved to Miami, she led a turnaround of her parents’ company, giving her experience on the founder side, too.  “I felt comfortable coming in with the main purpose of scaling the operation.”

Endeavor’s mission has always been to support high-impact entrepreneurs, what they call Endeavor Entrepreneurs who are selected by an international selection panel for the global Endeavor network that now spans 40 countries. Endeavor Miami today supports 32 companies with 52 Endeavor Entrepreneurs in the last 10 years, a group that includes companies like Boatsetter, NovoPayment, Securitize and My Ceviche. Together the 32 companies have generated the 5,000 jobs and $800 million in revenue Durán spoke of. Endeavor is currently preparing about 10 more entrepreneurs to go before future selection panels.

Under Durán, Endeavor Miami also developed two more programs, the Scaleup Program and EndeavorLAB, to support companies at earlier stages.  “[Endeavor Miami’s] biggest impact has been in supporting, connecting and championing entrepreneurs across Miami,” Haggman says.

[READ MORE: 10 startups selected for 2023 Fall Cohort of Endeavor ScaleUp – and they are…]

The Endeavor ScaleUp Program launched in 2019, with companies typically ranging between $1 million and $4 million in ARR. “We use the Endeavor selection lens to say okay, these are companies scalable, and how can we support them to really take their business to the next level? We also give them the opportunity to showcase their company and pitch in public, and we invite the community to come and support them,” Durán said. Endeavor runs two ScaleUp programs a year.

And then in 2020, in partnership with the City of Miami, Endeavor Miami developed the EndeavorLAB model to support a cohort of female founders. That was followed by cohorts focused on Black and Latinx founders and to this day Endeavor holds three cohorts a year focused on early-stage  underrepresented founders. So far, about 150 Florida-based companies have gone through Endeavor’s Scaleup program and EndeavorLAB programs.

[READ MORE: 10 Black founder-led startups selected for next EndeavorLAB cohort. Let’s meet them.]

 Endeavor Miami has begun focusing strongly on analyzing the data on these companies to find out their pain points, at what stage of their journeys they have certain challenges, and what industries that are spearheading the development of this ecosystem, for instance.  This year, they released a migration report to learn more about the Great Migration that Miami experienced during the pandemic  [read more about it here] and more reports will be coming out soon.

With the increased migration of international startups to Miami, soft-landing assistance is another program Endeavor Miami has scaled up. For example, Ontop’s founders, now in Miami, are Endeavor Entrepreneurs from Colombia. When they wanted to expand their fintech company to the US market, they contacted Endeavor Miami, Durán said. “We have a program that’s called Access to Markets and for any Endeavor Entrepreneur from around the world that wants to establish themselves in Miami and get support from our Miami office, we incorporate them into our portfolio and they start getting the full stack of services. That is the beauty of the power of a global network — peer to peer sharing … We’re a hyper connecting network, we’re constantly connecting people.” That contributes to what Endeavor calls the multiplier effect.

The ‘Multiplier Effect’

“The power of the Multiplier Effect is the power of connectivity within the network itself and the outcomes from those connections creating serial entrepreneurs, new investments in the ecosystem, and giving back to the community,” says Durán.

Some Endeavor Entrepreneurs have become Endeavor board members, such as Emiliano Abramson, co-founder of Nearpod, and Abi Mandelbaum, founder of YouVisit. Some have become advisors and investors in the new generation of startups, she explains. The founders of Nearpod, Wyncode and others joined Miami Angels after their exits, and after Medelbaum’s exit, he acquired Opcion Yo, an EndeavorLAB company. “And now he’s starting with that new company and we’re supporting him with that one.”

Another example of the multiplier effect: Some of these entrepreneurs exited their companies in Latin America and have migrated to Miami, and are building their second company, with Endeavor Miami’s support. An example of that: SellersFI. “They’re one of our global Outlier companies. Outlier companies are the top 2% fastest growing of our global portfolio,” says Durán. [OnTop is another Outlier].

Adds Maydón: “It’s been a great testament to the success of Endeavor to see so many Endeavor companies had successful exits, including FIGS IPO in the NYSE and Nearpod, YouVisit, Everymundo, Wyncode, Pincho and Deliver Lean to name a few. Many of these founders continue to have an impact in our community. Endeavor Miami is part of a great, vibrant, impactful global family.”

Looking ahead

What’s next? More growth, Durán says. Endeavor Miami’s team is 14 people, and in addition to their main programs, they host dozens of events and podcasts annually and expanded to a new, much larger office in Wynwood, a communal place with room to grow in the heart of #MiamiTech. “We put a lot of love into the office. I get so happy when I see the office full of founders.”

What’s next also includes strengthening their Access to Market program, Durán says. “For all the Endeavor Entrepreneurs around the world that want to enter the US market, I want them to enter through South Florida. I envision that we will become the strongest Access to Market for all of Endeavor, because if there’s so many entrepreneurs wanting to access the US market and we have a great solid team and program that supports them, why not Miami?”

Where does Durán see Endeavor Miami in another 10 years?

“I see Endeavor leading the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Florida with a tight-knit network that lives and breathes the multiplier effect: employing local talent, investing in local companies, and sharing knowledge amongst peers. We will continue to collaborate with the public sector and private sector to generate greater local impact through our high-impact entrepreneurs.”

Cheers to the next 10 years and beyond.

All photos, most of them from the 10-year celebration event, are from Endeavor Miami.


Nancy Dahlberg