Ep. #1062 - Endeavor Entrepreneurs
In this episode of Startup Hustle, Lauren Conaway and Canem Arkan talk about the work Endeavor Entrepreneurs is achieving. Learn all about funding at entrepreneurial hotspots, the challenges of women founders, and how Endeavor Entrepreneurs is helping bridge the gap in the ecosystem.
Covered In This Episode
Entrepreneurs are the engine of economic growth. Their risk-taking and creative spirit drive competition, leading to increased efficiency and improved products and services. But like everyone else, they face many challenges, from lack of funding and mentorship to gender gap issues.
With that, Endeavor Entrepreneurs is working hard to bridge the gaps. Join Lauren Conaway and Canem Arkan as they discuss high-impact entrepreneurship, the gap in capital and markets, and more.
Learn more about Endeavor Entrepreneurs by tuning into this Startup Hustle episode.
- Founder’s journey (02:10)
- Discrepancies between support and funding at entrepreneurial centers (04:54)
- Changes happening in flyover country (06:03)
- Entrepreneurship thrives in the existence of infrastructure (08:27)
- New things happening at entrepreneurial hotspots (10:51)
- Definition of an ecosystem in terms of entrepreneurship (13:49)
- Three barriers to women entrepreneurs (18:49)
- Better at handling money both in the household and in businesses (20:35)
- Recognizing the need for equity and bridging the gap (22:57)
- What Endeavor is about (25:36)
- What Lauren and Canem love about the work they do (29:39)
- How mentorship can transform a business (32:11)
- Some examples of female-run startups (35:14)
- How to strengthen connections in the interconnected entrepreneurial ecosystem (39:48)
- Lauren’s human question (41:04)
Entrepreneurship thrives where infrastructure exists. I think in a lot of ways as we come to an understanding of ecosystem development as a field. As we start to understand the importance of supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, we see a lot of things being built. But we also see a lot of resources that have been previously. I don’t know, underfunded, under-noticed, under-networked, or utilized. We see a lot of those resources becoming coalescing points for entrepreneurs.Lauren Conaway
I find it so absolutely crucial to understand that communities are almost like a living, breathing organisms. Think about your human body, like you have to have all of these interconnected pieces that work together in concert to accomplish things.Lauren Conaway
The irony of all that is, I mean, the pure irony, is that women are actually better with money. And I mean, that both in the household sense like you don’t I know it. Those women, as you know, are in charge of their household finances, but also women entrepreneurs who have actually better numbers of success and growth on average than their, you know, cisgender counterparts.Canem Arkan
The best part of my job isn’t that I talk to them. It’s that I get to listen to them, talk to somebody who’s going to really help them rethink it, and it can be really simple. So we say high impact, but I do want to be clear that our impact is really about economic transformation. So they don’t have to necessarily be like an ESG-focused company. But it’s for people who want to give back to their communities and give back to the next generation of entrepreneurs, and that’s the impact part.Canem Arkan
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Lauren Conaway 0:01
And we are back. Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast. I’m your host Lauren Conaway, founder and CEO of InnovateHer KC. And I gotta tell you about today’s episode sponsor trends. Today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult, but Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And they have the platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. All right now Now, friends, I know that you know that I get really, really excited about talking about entrepreneurship and ecosystem development and all. But very rarely do I have a guest that I feel so resolutely fits within my conversational wheelhouse. We have a guest today I’m going to have so much fun with us this one and I hope that you have fun with this one as well, because we are very fortunate to have with us, Canem Arkan. And Canem is managing director of Endeavor Heartland. They do some really, really interesting work. They are supporting high impact entrepreneurs, high impact entrepreneurs, transform economies, and they are endeavors on a mission to bring entrepreneur, entrepreneurial ecosystems and emerging in underserved markets around the world, bring them support and resources and help and all of these things that we talk about on Startup Hustle. Canem, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. Welcome to the show.
Canem Arkan 1:32
Thanks so much for having me. I’m really excited to talk to you today as well.
Lauren Conaway 1:35
Yeah, so so some of y’all know, like I talked about the pre show prep that we do and some of my previous episodes. And I gotta tell you like the whole time, Canem, and I were just like, wait, you did this to wait, you’re you’re Turkish I was in Turkey. We did this, like we just did this whole thing. So I’m going to ask you to indulge us because I feel like we’re about to have like a really like pinging conversation. So friends just come along with us for the ride. But the first question that I’m going to ask is that perennial favorite, the one that I love, I’m going to ask you to tell us about your journey.
Canem Arkan 2:10
This is a very big question. And I love that you prepped me for it, Lauren, because I do actually want to go back a little bit. But I promise it won’t be like in my sixth grade class go
Lauren Conaway 2:18
back. It was a dark and stormy night, I’m telling you.
Canem Arkan 2:22
I was born in Turkey. And I speak to Turkish and my family’s. My extended family is all in Turkey. But then we lived in Iraq. So that was a big cultural change. And then we moved from Iraq, where we lived in a little fenced in camp where my dad’s company built irrigation canals to New York City, like smack in the middle of New York City, where I really was culture shock for sure. I wasn’t allowed to leave the apartment, which I was not used to, I could roam around this big, you know, two mile camp where I wanted to. And then long story short, I grew up in finance, worked at Goldman and Citigroup, and then met and married and our Kansan, and he dragged me to Arkansas, which I think of all the culture shocks was the biggest culture shock. And I have to say, I love Arkansas. I love living in Northwest Arkansas, and it’s maybe the best thing that’s ever happened to me. So that was, that was my journey to Northwest Arkansas. But what I realized here is that companies, entrepreneurs specifically, don’t have the resources that we had in New York, certainly not in Silicon Valley, or Boston, but definitely not even in New York. And that’s access to capital access to amazing mentors, people who are helping them think through their problems, because they’ve been there, done that, and don’t want them to make the same mistakes again. So I launched our endeavor, Heartland office, which is one of 41 offices all around the world that helps support entrepreneurship.
Lauren Conaway 3:39
So that is a that is really interesting to me. And I want to I want to take us back just a little bit, because you said something really interesting. You said that you felt like you looked around and you saw that where you were you didn’t have access to the kinds of resources that you did when you were in New York City. And I find that really interesting because I don’t know if you know this, but Kansas City is actually we have a very, very strong entrepreneurial ecosystem. And I think it’s because we have the Kauffman Foundation, the Ewing, Marion Kauffman Foundation in our backyard. For those of you who don’t know, the Kauffman Foundation is a multibillion dollar entrepreneurial education and support fund. They do global worldwide work, but because their founder, cough Ewing Kauffman was from the Kansas City area, like they invest a lot within our, our particular region and in our city. So we’re very, very fortunate. So talk to us about some of the discrepancies that you saw between support and funding in what we consider one of those entrepreneurial centers. Like when we hear about Austin, we hear about the Silicon Valley, we hear about New York, you know, all of these kinds of entrepreneurial hotspots, and we don’t necessarily hear a lot of cities in the Midwest in the heartland. So talk to us about that some of the differences that you saw.
Canem Arkan 4:54
Yeah. And Lauren, I think you’re so spot on about Kansas City, by the way, in many ways Kansas City is you know, further ahead in the entrepreneur ecosystem than Tulsa, or northwest Arkansas, which is where we operate currently in supporting entrepreneurs, but I love looking at Kansas City. I mean, like, look at these amazing programs that they built, look at the support of the Kauffman Foundation. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that both in Northwest Arkansas with the help of the Walton Family Foundation and in Tulsa with the George Kaiser Family Foundation, we have such strong, a strong base there. I just think that the Kauffman Foundation has been doing it for so much longer. And so we’re still playing a little catch up. But here are the things I’ve noticed. I mean, first and foremost, a lot of investors that used to come from the coast wouldn’t actually make the trip. So in some ways, the pandemic helped that right, because everyone’s doing zoom calls now whether you’re five blocks away, or five states away, but honestly, entrepreneurs just wouldn’t get on the plane. And the the areas that we served weren’t big enough, where there were even direct flights. So that was such a hindrance. I think that’s changing away from us. But that’s we’re also helping kinds of companies we’re supporting are just so much more interesting, and so much more exciting than then I think people realize had been in this area before.
Lauren Conaway 6:03
Yeah. Well, and it’s really interesting. And for our international listeners, you know, both Arkansas and Kansas City, Kansas, Kansas City, Missouri, we are situated. So well Kansas City is like smack dab in the middle of the country, you’re a little bit Easter, and you’re a little bit, I think southern to us, but not too much. You’re you’re close your neighbor, Hi, my name. But you know, we are in a region of the country that is called flyover country. And there are a lot of misconceptions and a lot of stereotypes that come with living in flyover country. And one of those stereotypes, I think, and correct me if I’m wrong, but it is a lack of innovation. You know, people on the coasts and people outside of the US, they tend to view the area that we are in as more like hometown values, like we’re part of the Bible Belt, you know, there are people have these conceptions about where we live. And so I hear from founders, often they get so frustrated because they have to leave Kansas City to find funding. Is that what you’re seeing like that kind of risk aversion, I guess, risk aversion here. And then, as you said, that hesitation to come find innovation within our region.
Canem Arkan 7:21
Yes, but I do really believe it’s changing. So two things I think have happened. One is this zoom phenomenon that’s helped investors get their butt to I think investors have started to realize with hopefully with organizations like us, and with the incredible work you guys do broadcasting amazing founders, their challenges and success stories, is that they’ve realized that there’s an advantage to living here. And it’s not just cheaper cost of living or easier access potentially to workers, it’s that there are certain things that are being done here on a corporate level that entrepreneurs can build and innovate into. So very clearly, Walmart, the fortune one company in the world is here. But that means supply chain, and it means logistics and trucking, and it means CPG products, and E commerce and all these other industries. And being close to that is a huge advantage. And if you’re not funding companies that have that huge advantage, you’re making a mistake. And that’s all the more true in Kansas City where you have several really key high profile, you know, partners, clients, founders, right, for sure.
Lauren Conaway 8:19
Well, and one of the things that I find really interesting, you say you just raised a beautiful point. And I don’t even know if you know that you did it, you seem to be very intentional person. So you probably did, maybe you did. But one of the points that you kind of referred to is the fact that entrepreneurship thrives where infrastructure exists. And so I think in a lot of ways as we come to an understanding of ecosystem development as a field, and as we start to understand the importance of supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, we see a lot of things being built. But we also see a lot of resources that have been previously. I don’t know underfunded, under noticed under networked or you utilize, we see a lot of those resources becoming coalescing points for entrepreneurs. And I’m going to give you an example, if you don’t mind, I’m going to beg your indulgence. But so so when I first got involved with the entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Kansas City, we have something called the Kansas City Startup Village. And the Kansas City Startup Village was a one square mile area of town and it was just off it was over by the Google Fiber building. And that’s important StickIt like remember that later. But the Kansas City Startup Village was a place it was a residential neighborhood where entrepreneurs and startups started buying up houses, all within you know, a couple houses of each other like you’d go and you’d see it. Here’s the sport photos building. I used to manage Village Square, which was a co working center and kind of the kcse Welcome area, you know, and like you would see all of these startups just organically coming together because geography often creates support It helps you create a network. And there’s there’s a lot of convenience in that. The reason the case CSV came to being was because Google Fiber invested in that particular neighborhood, it was the Rosedale neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri, or Kansas City, Kansas. It was the very first Google Fiber, network and neighborhood in the world. And so as soon as Google Fiber announced that they were going to be starting with the Rosedale neighborhood startup started buying up houses because they wanted access to that, that internet, that really fast internet, that was like taking the world by storm. And so I’d be really curious to hear your thoughts around these kinds of entrepreneurial hotspots, these embedded areas of innovation, research, design, you know, all of these things that we think of when we think of startups, what have you been seeing there?
Canem Arkan 10:51
I love that story for so many reasons. One, because it takes something so simple, right? Just like really good internet to get people together. It’s so brilliant and so simple to is that like entrepreneurs see ahead of you know, they’re sort of two steps ahead of everybody. And so they’re like, not only is this gonna be great for our company, but I bet real estate values are gonna go up. So I’m gonna buy butter real estate,
Lauren Conaway 11:11
by the way, and so, back in 2012, so we’ve seen it kind of proven out, yes,
Canem Arkan 11:17
I wish I could go back in time. I feel that way. When northwest Arkansas, you know, the the areas surrounding Bentonville, just purely from a real estate perspective has just blown up because of the exciting work that’s being done. So one, one example, the add on to yours is Walmart’s building a huge campus, I would argue easily rivaling anything Google has built. And it’s brand new. And it’s going to incorporate a lot of the things that we care about today, which is bikeability, and access to nature and being able to, you know, communicate with people in a way that’s outside of the desk setting, right? So they built in all these really cool spaces to collaborate. And that has, I mean, it’s going to change the way people think about work, and it’s going to drive people into our region of the country. And by the way, I mean, my view is that we can’t just think independently like Kansas City, and Tulsa, and northwest Arkansas, we have to compete together. Because we are density requires it like neither of us necessarily has the resources alone. But if you take the resources of Kansas City, and then take the energy expertise of Tulsa and take the retail and supply chain expertise of Northwest Arkansas, we have this like Bermuda Triangle of entrepreneurship that no one’s gonna be able to compete with. And that’s going to help all of our cities and all of our regions in in every way. So I’m so pumped about that. And I’m pumped about the fact that people recognize that now. Right. And
Lauren Conaway 12:38
well, so that is that’s super interesting. And I’m I’m very cognizant of the fact that I’m going to explain something to our listeners. So for those of you who don’t know, I receive something called a setlist every time we do a show, and it has some talking points. It has the guest filled out information, all of that good stuff. But one of the things that it has is an episode title. And usually the episode title kind of dictates the content, the things that we talk about, sometimes we have a totally different conversation, and we ended up changing the title. And that’s the thing that we can do too, because we have that power. That being said, today’s episode title is never entrepreneurs. And that’s literally the name of genomes. organization. So So you know, talking talking about that, like I was like, when it when we were doing our pre show prep, I was like, you know, that gives us a lot of room. So I think what I want to explore with you, if you don’t mind, is that ecosystem, Vine, that ecosystem feel that we’re talking about? And so I’m going to ask you a very general question. So what, what is an ecosystem in terms of entrepreneurship?
Canem Arkan 13:49
Wow. I mean, there are so many smart people who’ve written so many wonderful books on this, but I’ll tell you my lived experience in northwestern Yeah, actually, that’s what
Lauren Conaway 13:56
I want. Like if you if you want the, you know, very academic definition, yeah, feel free to like do a Google deep dive, but I really want to hear it from you. Because you are an ecosystem developer, you’re a pioneer. So let’s hear it.
Canem Arkan 14:09
So I think it’s the belief that you can change things. So it’s a belief from various stakeholders, right? It’s a belief from senior people that work at corporate organizations that one day want to do something different. I think it’s a belief from capital providers. It’s a belief from the entrepreneurs themselves. It’s a belief. So it’s the talent and the capital and the, you know, and the support. And it’s a belief that all those people that we can change the things that we care about. So I think of entrepreneurship is it’s in its most simple form, which is problem solving. So my job is to help solve problems for entrepreneurs. And we can do that at endeavor. So to be in it be an endeavor entrepreneur, you have to go through a selection process where we identify ways we can help you as a nonprofit, and ways we can help you achieve your dreams of 10 axing and changing the world and disrupting everything and by the way that has immense implications for job creation, which is why we’re nonprofit and job creation then solves all sorts of problems ranging from poverty to peace. And, you know, keeping people and making their lives better keeping people in this area. So the reverse brain drain. So my job is to find those people that want to give back to the community and help connect them to our entrepreneurs. So endeavor entrepreneurs, what’s really cool about what we do just a plug in never for a second? Oh, let’s hear it. Yeah, is it because we’re a global organization. So we have 41 offices around the world, and outside of eight of those which are in the US, the rest are international. So I can go to my colleagues and endeavour, Brazil and Turkey and endeavour, South Africa, Endeavor Japan endeavor, you know, Morocco and say, Hey, we have this great company that’s doing this really cool software gaming business. And they they’re running into some hurdles, internationally, you know, globalizing and moving into international markets, can you help them think about the cultural aspect of how they’re reaching out to clients? And the answer is always yes. And so to be able to do that, from Northwest Arkansas for Kansas City, or Tulsa based company, is immensely powerful. And that’s how I think of ecosystem building. It’s finding people who say yes, to helping the next generation of founders.
Lauren Conaway 16:05
Yeah. Well, and I always, it’s really funny, because like, when I’m out in the real world, I’ll tell you, I’ll tell somebody, and they’ll be like, Oh, what are you into? And I’m just like, I don’t know, reading and supporting female founders, whatever it is, but then the, you know, I’ll mention ecosystem development. And like, more than once, I’ve gotten the response, like, You mean, like a jungle, and I’m like, Hey, close that No. Biological ecosystem, we’re talking about community ecosystem development. And so for me, like, I find it so absolutely crucial to understand that communities are almost like living breathing organisms. Yeah. And you have to have all of the like, think about your human body, like you have to have all of these interconnected pieces that worked together, in concert to accomplish things, right. So if you’re an entrepreneur, when you’re thinking about an ecosystem, for me, it’s like, Who do you need to have? Well, you need to have the entrepreneurs themselves, you need to have access to capital. So you need to have investors, you need to have supportive policies and laws. So you need to have that civic piece, you know, people who are elected to City Councils and local governments, you know, kind of paving the way with supportive policies, and bills, you need to have a customers and clients and brand advocates, you need all of these people. And all of these entities, corporations, and education alike, they all need to come together to produce six successful entrepreneurial ecosystem, right? And so you’re doing that on both the micro and macro level, because what you’re doing is you’re connecting resources, and you’re connecting entities that might not otherwise meet each other or know each other is that is that accurate?
Canem Arkan 17:45
Exactly. And I think might not is almost too strong, they would never know each other because
Lauren Conaway 17:51
we believe a little bit of wiggle room and like, somebody could meet somebody at like a baseball game, like who even knows, but
Canem Arkan 17:58
and locally, that does happen. But I think nationally and internationally, it’s impossible. And actually, we’re such a we’re such a global market now. Like it’s almost impossible to build something that’s not global, unless it’s hyper regulated industries. Yeah, you have to be able to think bigger than just your area, even if you just want your area to succeed, which, you know, we spoke about your love for Kansas City, I feel that way about Northwest Arkansas. And but the success of those things depends on our companies and our entrepreneurs really scaling and growing. But I would be remiss, and I wanted, I wanted to get your opinion on this. Because what we found is we have so few female and women entrepreneurs. And and that’s that’s certainly a problem for a lot of our endeavor offices, but it’s a big problem for hours. So I’m curious with the work that you do, how have you found that playing out in Kansas City?
Lauren Conaway 18:41
Sir, it’s it’s really interesting. And this is a question that I think about a lot. And I love that you did, thank you for asking me what that was. But so when I talked to, in particular, women, entrepreneurs, female founders, you know, innovator that our organization serves every, we run the gamut of the gender spectrum, with the exception of those who identify as cisgender male. That being said, we focus and we center the experiences of women. And so my job, I talk to women all damn day, every day. And I hear a lot, I hear a lot of feedback, and we put listening tools out in the community. And time and time again, what we hear is three things like when we talk about barriers to leadership and barriers to entrepreneurship, women in particular, seem to struggle with access to capital, access to affordable health care and access to affordable childcare. Those are like the top three. And in that those those problems become even more urgent, and they’re exacerbated when you’re dealing with intersectional women. So when you’re talking to women of color, LGBTQIA women, you know, individuals who have been historically excluded on top of their womanhood. We see those those disparities and those discrepancies become even more aggravated and even more are epic. And so a lot of the work that innovator does is working to address those things. So in 2023, we’re actually we’ve made a promise to ourselves in our community that we’re going to be doing putting together and developing a lot of programming that speaks to those specific three things. Because if those are the biggest barriers, that’s what we want to be talking about, right? But when we’re talking about ecosystem development, like all three of those things are, they’re pretty urgent, they’re things that people need in order to succeed and thrive. Are you? Are you hearing the same thing? I mean, that’s what that’s what we’re hearing in Kansas City. But
Canem Arkan 20:35
yes, 100%. And the irony of all that is, I mean, the pure irony is that women are actually better with money. And I mean, that both in the household sense like you don’t I know it. Those women, as you know, in charge of their household finances, but also women entrepreneurs who have actually better numbers of success and growth on average than than their, you know, cisgender counterparts. And so that’s the irony of all of it. But I think that there are lots of reasons we’ve identified and I don’t want women to change the way they speak. But you know, a lot of it is around how they pitch their businesses. And it’s usually words of, of concern is too strong, but really like more cautiousness, as opposed to words, we’re gonna crush the words of protection,
Lauren Conaway 21:15
rather than growth, I think, is the way that I heard it phrased like, how are you going to mitigate this risk? Versus how are you going to achieve great success? And those are two very different questions. The crux of the questions might be the same. Tell us how you plan to do this. Yeah. But the the attitude is very different, right? So when you ask some protected questions versus supportive or growth based questions, there’s some unconscious bias that is not only on display there, but that is propagated by that language. Right?
Canem Arkan 21:51
And there’s no, I mean, there’s no reason women should change the way they talk about that, in my opinion, I think what we need is more women allocators. So the problem is so as an aside, it’s that’s not the mission of endeavor. But something I’m very conscious about, and leading our office to say is how many of our founders that are in our pipeline to become endeavor entrepreneurs are women, it’s an appallingly small number. So I’m very upset about that. And so we’d love to I’m going to talk to you offline about innovating for Kc because I think helping women in KC and Tulsa, and northwest Arkansas help each other is actually great. Oh, my other big concern is for women, and I’ll I’m gonna generalize a little bit stereotype a little bit. But we are also primarily caretakers of aging parents of as you said, childcare. And so I’ll say this as a woman myself, like, I get asked to represent women at events where I’m usually the only one or one of only a handful of women. And so my time gets sucked up doing all those other things, when I could be focusing on the actual day to day work that I’m doing. And so that’s really hard, right? Because now, my time is divided. And my colleagues time isn’t my you know, my parallel male colleague isn’t so yeah, I think it’s really hard to well,
Lauren Conaway 22:57
and I mean, it’s one of those things where, like, I have these conversations all the time. And I think part of the frustration lies in the fact that like, you definitely want like, I want to be very clear. I love men. I mean, some of the greatest mentors and champions and friends and like have been men. And so it’s not just like we’re not, you know, she woman, man, haters club or anything like that. But basically, what we’re recognizing is the need for equity, we see inequity, and we’re just trying to bridge gaps, right. And so I find that work. It’s some of the most fulfilling, but also the hardest damn work I’ve ever done in my life. Really quickly, and I do want to tell you, I knew that this was going to happen. We are running overtime right now. And I don’t even usually acknowledge when that happens, but we’re actually egregious ly so and I blame you. It’s your fault. The conversation is just too good. But friends, I’m gonna bust in here for just a minute Matt’s gonna kill me because I didn’t do it gracefully. But I want to talk to you about Full Scale. Finding expert software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit full scale.io where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs and then see what available developers, testers and leaders are ready to join your team visit full scale.io to learn more. And really quickly I do just want to acknowledge the fact that when you look at the the workforce of Full Scale, they they are approaching gender equity and their women stick around we just got a fist pump from but they’re women stick around because Full Scale treats them so well. Like that’s why I like people who like you you love Full Scale as a sponsor. I’m like I really do they’re amazing. We love them so much. Anyway,
Canem Arkan 24:45
he’s put their money where their mouth is, by the way.
Lauren Conaway 24:48
That’s exactly right.
Canem Arkan 24:51
It’s another to actually do it so that’s
Lauren Conaway 24:52
awesome. Exactly. Well and I mean honestly like Matt and I, we talked about it a lot like I you know, I do some consulting work for him and just Like, hey, let’s make sure that we are serving your workforce, but in particular, the workforce that you know, might need a little bit extra help or support or assistance. Like, let’s, let’s figure it out, let’s make sure your team is well taken care of. And Full Scale does that. So, alright, I’m gonna I’m gonna, I want to get into endeavor a little bit more, because we’re talking about some very, very big concepts that I can do this all day. I do do this all day. I never get tired on it. But I want to hear about the endeavor. So take us through, what do you do? Well, no, no. Why do you do it? What do you do? And how do you do it?
Canem Arkan 25:36
So the endeavor was launched with by Linda Rotenberg, so a fantastic visionary woman, and she’s based in New York, and they run an organization called endeavor global. And what they’ve done is say, we want to help entrepreneurs in all markets that don’t have access to this. So that really started in emerging markets. That was all over Latin America, South, you know, Middle East, Southeast Asia. And what we’ve decided was, wow, we’ve made a big impact, because we connect people to capital and mentors and partners, and each other, most importantly, in some ways. And then let’s do that in the emerging economies in the US, and thus, Endeavor offices in the US were born. So I, you know, when I think about my role is to help emerging economies within the US, which is a fantastic description, I think, for our part of the world. And my job, why I love it so much is one I spend all day long talking to founders about their concerns, their excitement, their opportunities, and then we try to fill the gaps in where we think that they need that extra push. And if they succeed, we all succeed. I mean, think about what northwest Arkansas would be if Sam Walton hadn’t succeeded, right? If the, you know, John Tyson hadn’t succeeded. And we have some enormous companies here that were that are entrepreneurial in their origin, and we need the next generation of those, or we won’t be around in 150 years, right? Or 200 years, right. So my job is to help support those companies that want to be that next generation of changemakers. And hopefully do it in a way that’s global and really connected, where they then give back to the next generation of founders, hopefully, again, more parity among that being more women and people of color. Sure, but so we do that in a couple of ways. And, you know, you can come up and you can talk about these more if you want and but one is through capital. So endeavor has its own venture fund, we’re on fund four. And it’s $292 million. That’s the size of one four. And we invest solely in endeavor entrepreneurs. So we have about 1400 entrepreneurs that we support globally. So that’s, again, entrepreneurs in all of those 41 markets that I mentioned. And we don’t negotiate in our about against our entrepreneurs, because we are, you know, one of our value system is entrepreneur first. But we want to be able to have capital available for them if they need it. And so if we’re reading leading around a 5 million or more endeavor, we’ll be able to cut a check into that round, which is awesome. Love that we will be able to do that, especially in emerging economies where they really have no venture community at all. But you’d be surprised that I, you know, I think there’s more venture capital available for Brazil these days. And there is for you know, Bentonville, Arkansas. But hopefully that’s changing too. So capital is one mentorship is another we have over 5000 mentors in every subject. So you talked about being industry, agnostic and innovate her Casey but we’re the same way you can do food and beverage, you can do health tech, you can do enterprise SAS, as long as you have scales, you plan to scale and big dreams. So 5000 mentors, and then we have amazing peer to peer network. So endeavor entrepreneurs who are scaling themselves just like talk and complain and find a human to connect to. So that’s a really big part of what we do. And then lastly, we program so if you’re an endeavor entrepreneur from Kansas City, you can go do a week long course at Harvard, just for endeavor entrepreneurs, so companies that are scaling that are an inflection point. And you can also you know, talk about your leadership skills, you can talk about your sales strategies, you can talk about your innovation, culture, all sorts of things. So Harvard, Stanford, INSEAD, we all have these. We have programs at all the schools, as well as partnerships with Bain and EY. So all collectively said, it’s really like a demand. Like, I still don’t understand, I’m like, well just just join us and be part of it. And then you’ll get to know it. It’s kind of like a jungle.
Lauren Conaway 29:07
No, I’m just kidding.
Canem Arkan 29:11
Let’s trees and
Lauren Conaway 29:15
shade producers, you gotta have like mushrooms and fungi on the morning. You got all kinds of stuff going
Canem Arkan 29:24
on there. But it’s really cool because I get to do it. I’m Arkansas. And then I get to call my colleague who’s you know, sitting in Spain and the managing director of Endeavour Spain and I get to talk about how we help a company together. It’s a really incredible way to spend your day.
Lauren Conaway 29:39
I love that. You know what, I am going to drill down on that just a little bit because I like it. So one of the things that I love most about my work and about innovators work and I generally try not to speak about innovator in AI terms, but right now I’m doing so because I’m like no, this is me. This is like the core of what I feel One of my favorite things about this work is that the work I do allows other people to do their work better. Yeah. And therein lies a lot of power. Because in empowering community leaders and Empowering Entrepreneurs and empowering these people who are radically positive, we call it radical positive change innovator, like, these are individuals creating radical positive change. These are not like inert, people just kind of go on about their business, they’re there, they’re working to create a better future a more equitable, more, just more kind, you know, whatever word you want to put around it. And so so I feel almost as though I kind of get to touch everybody else’s stuff, and everybody else’s work in a way, in a small in a small way. But it exponentially adds up, like, is that kind of how you feel about
Canem Arkan 30:51
Yes, yes. Explain that to people. So they’re like, so you talk to a lot of people all day long, I’m like, Yes, but it’s incredibly impactful.
Lauren Conaway 31:00
And it’s something
Canem Arkan 31:03
and you know, the best part of my job isn’t that they I talk to them, it’s that I get to listen to them, talk to somebody who’s going to really help them rethink it. And it can be really simple. So, you know, we say high impact, but I do want to be clear that our impact is really about economic transformation. So they don’t have to necessarily be like an ESG focused company. Yeah. But it’s for people who want to give back to their communities and give back to the next generation of entrepreneurs. And that’s the impact part. And they want to, they want to dream big, they want to change the way we you know, access healthcare or the way we do our jobs, or the way we live in our houses, right? And so it can be any industry, and I get to hear them solve simple problems. So it can be something as simple as one of our companies really early on, had the question should, you know, they had an offer to sell their company? And, you know, they talked to one of our mentors, and that the question was, should I sell at this point, and the mentor was absolutely you know, and these are, this is these are pieces of advice, you can take it as you will mentor was like, I love what you’re doing, do not sell, you have the hugest opportunity in front of you. And they didn’t sell and then they went public like three years later and became a crazy unicorn in Latin America. And they’re, they now give back to every entrepreneur, they support, invest in and mentor all sorts of companies. And it was just, you know, it’s the most
Lauren Conaway 32:11
story well, and going like, so I love that story so much. But like going along with that line of thought one of the things that we talk about innovator a lot, actually it’s like on our website and everything. We talked about the cyclical nature of leadership, mentorship is one of our pillars. You mentioned mentorship as well. Mentorship is hugely important, but we believe in the social contract. So we believe that it you it is incumbent, as somebody who has achieved success within this community, it is then incumbent upon you to reach behind you and help elevate and pull up the next generation. And if every succeeding generation continues to do that, we have the cycle of success, that perpetuates itself. Right. And so and so that’s kind of what the assumption that we’re operating under that that’s like it’s a vital part of ecosystem development. So what are some of the ways you have seen that that mentorship piece? Really, really, you just mentioned, one, you know, you talked about the advice factor. But what are some other ways that that kind of mentorship can really transform a business?
Canem Arkan 33:19
I mean, this is so evident in my board members, by the way, who are just industry and visionary leaders in Northwest Arkansas and in Tulsa. But you know, it’s really opening up your network, because that’s where that scale happens. So, you know, my I have my board chair Clete Brewer, who is a partner at New York capital, you know, what he does after every call, every mentorship call, he gives us advice, he talks to people, and then he says, you know, here’s three people you really should talk to that are potential clients and investors. Yeah. And that without that, you know, you’re sort of stuck in the cycle of okay, that was good advice, what do I do next, but he is constantly thinking about and opening doors for our founders, because he knows and believes in the fact that if they succeed, all of Northwest Arkansas succeeds, including, you know, families and restaurants and all the people that make our lives great that work so hard to create a livable ecosystem for us, not just an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Yeah. So that’s the first thing, I think, to be a great mentor to be a great person in our ecosystem, you have to give back through your network. So you can’t you can’t just keep those things to yourself. And then secondarily, I think it’s the hardest part is finding amazing talent. So it’s connecting to your people and saying, Hey, you should go work at this great company, because you’re going to do something amazing. And talent, I think, is one of our key issues, not just in not just in our little Bermuda Triangle, but all over the coast too. Because, you know, talent is expensive, and it’s hard to come by and making a mistake in hiring a key person can have huge ramifications for you as a company and for you as a founder. And so really helping people clearly think about how to hire talent, how to interview how to find the right fit, how to make sure it’s it’s thoughtful and diverse and inclusive, and also, you know, the right person for the role, and so not the the Things are not mutually exclusive. They’re all usually the same. But that’s, that’s one way our mentors really, really give back our board members give back is to help say, Hey, you should hire this person. And that’s happened naturally and organically through recommendations so many times now, I can’t even tell you.
Lauren Conaway 35:14
Yeah, well, so so I’m gonna, I just really want to bring it home for our listeners. So I’m gonna give it an exact like innovator. Just as a for instance, like when we create these kinds of I call them serendipitous collisions, like you, you intentionally create the space to collide, but you don’t necessarily direct it. And so that’s what innovator is all about, like, we’re like, we can provide the platform, we’re not going to do the work. And so one of the things that like happened, so we had a member who was an entrepreneur, she had a she had a childcare company, she offered childcare at co working spaces and for events, which I firmly believe is a hole in the market. Let’s get more of that, please.
Canem Arkan 35:54
How can I hurt let me know.
Lauren Conaway 35:57
Like, I’m happy to point you to where she’s amazing. Her name is Alan Zod, and her company is called Flex slay, and I just I love her. But so so we have this entrepreneur. And then we had a high school chemistry teacher, Dr. Dr. Melissa, I think her last name was Hasley. But don’t don’t quote me on that started with an H. But at any rate, so she she was a high school chemistry teacher. And they met at one of our events, it was one of our social events. And we don’t have agendas for those or anything like that. We’re just like, hey, come and have fun. We believe that people support people that they like, know and trust. So let’s find you more people to like no interest, basically. So these two women met, they would not have otherwise met, we’re pretty sure you know, maybe you’re like some off chance meeting. But they actually ended up doing a stem site, summer camp for sixth through eighth graders together. You know, Melissa came up with the curriculum. And um, it got to work on the, you know, the camp and the play aspect and like they came together, made some profit for each other and did something really cool. And they were able to benefit kids in the urban core who might not necessarily have had easy access to that kind of learning or instruction. So I mean, those are the kinds of things that we see when we have strong ecosystems that connect previously. siloed institutions, verticals, industries, like all of these things that we have historically liked to keep a separate, when you throw them together, we make each other stronger. I firmly believe that and I think you do too.
Canem Arkan 37:28
Actually, we were just right before this call, I was on the phone with a fantastic company. You guys may know them because they have some Kansas City roots. The company is called bottle. And that’s
Lauren Conaway 37:36
clearance and oh my gosh, oh my gosh, Edna Thank you. i There are I actually have their sweatshirt clearance and Edna and I go way, way back, I love them. And they do they do edtech for you should
Canem Arkan 37:51
definitely look into them. bottle is fantastic, a great resource for students. And you’re talking about, you know, giving access to education for students in places where they themselves are able to learn in a way where you don’t you know, where the reading level may be higher or lower. So there’s there’s so amazing, amazing founders, the company I’m so excited about everyone should check them out. We were talking to Edna and one of the mentors we put her in touch with is a woman named Tracy black, she used to work spent 30 years of her career at JB Hunt. She’s brilliant and wonderful. And we love her. And they talked about hiring the right VP of Engineering and what that would take and who they should look for and how they should structure it and everything from Comp to interview questions. And I think that so and then they hired this person. And so this this kind of conversation can happen in the in the most unexpected ways by people who aren’t even in your industry. And you know, all of us are rooting for the success of bottle because Edna and Clarence are like the best founders in the world.
Lauren Conaway 38:43
So they also incidentally, if you look at their Instagram, they have like the cutest baby ever. It drinks. The cutest things just this morning, I was actually watching a little Instagram video of Edna dancing with their kid and I was like, Oh, alright, so I’m gonna I’m gonna transition to the human question here in just a second. But I really, I knew that we were gonna go over time like Sorry, Startup Hustle tech producers. Sorry, my bad. I’m like started hashtag Sorry, not sorry.
Canem Arkan 39:19
We need to spend like another hour after this.
Lauren Conaway 39:23
I’m gonna ask you this, you know, when we’re talking about the importance of interconnected systems, and we’re talking about the kinds of resources and support that endeavor can provide? What are some of the best practices, tips and tricks, things that you can impart to our listeners playing at home? What are some ways that they can strengthen themselves through a strong interconnected entrepreneurial ecosystem?
Canem Arkan 39:48
I mean, I think the the number one thing is don’t be afraid to ask for help. And that can be anything from like, Man, I have to make a tough decision at work. How do I even think about it or I’m so lonely. I mean, there’s There’s real loneliness and being an entrepreneur and just having access to help and support is so, so important. But I think also, we’ve come from this really isolating time and scary time through COVID. And obviously, we still need to be very careful. But as things open up really mean, take advantage of those things, attend the events, go to the places because the human connection is good through zoom, or, you know, whatever your choice of video is, but so much better in person. And so I know it’s a small thing, it seems so obvious, but really make the effort to like to go and participate and ask the question and ask for help. Because you never know, when you’re gonna get the most important piece of information in your life or advice.
Lauren Conaway 40:40
Yeah, well, I think that, that that’s such a crucial, crucial advice, and I loved it, you, you brought it up, and I mean, that, that’s really, I’m going to project a little bit, but it seems like that’s kind of the core of who you are, and the core of who what endeavor is like, we’re going to, we’re going to support and help and, you know, all you have to do is ask and so I love that that was kind of your your closing caveat. Now, I am going to ask you the human question, and I don’t know what it is, I’m literally looking around my office for For Inspiration as I saw. Okay, all right, I’m gonna ask you this. So if somebody gave you a million dollars, and you have to spend it on yourself, not anybody else, not programs, initiatives, not charities, not but you can only you only have at, let’s say a week to spend it. You can’t you can’t nothing for anybody else just gotta be you.
Canem Arkan 41:39
Okay, and it’s not for cheating. You can’t do good in the world. So we’re kind of
Lauren Conaway 41:43
like if you wanted to have like a giant party to like, you know, benefit a charity or set like I’d allow that. But you know, he really tried to focus on you. Because sometimes I do sometimes think that women struggle to do this, like we’re so accustomed to these serve first lens, that we forget that like, hey, sometimes I would love to have a million dollars to buy myself a charter jet.
Canem Arkan 42:07
Honey, say that, Oh my gosh, I really wish to tears in some way. I like when I think about what I would change in my life. I feel so blessed. I you know, I’ve such a wonderful my parents, my husband’s parents, like, I have such incredible support network in my life. My kids are great. I mean, we were very lucky in so many ways and privileged in so many ways. But if you were to really ask me like my secret guilty desire, that’s so terrible for the environment, and really nothing I would actually ever do. Even if I did get a million dollars is just never fly commercial again. Like
Lauren Conaway 42:35
never ever. Ever first class all the way. Yes, please. I do want a glass of champagne. You know, how have you been first
Canem Arkan 42:42
class just fine. You’re gonna you’re going for
Lauren Conaway 42:45
the big guns.
Canem Arkan 42:47
Like no, no, nobody else. I’d like my own space with my own glass champion. Yes. You
Lauren Conaway 42:53
want your own version of like Air Force One minus all the reporters.
Canem Arkan 42:56
Yes. And the like the jet fuels that are terrible for the environment and all the all the bad stuff. Like if you could remove all those things, I would just singularly fly by myself everywhere.
Lauren Conaway 43:05
Yeah. Well, hey, so So fun fact. Like, if you ever thinking about relocating to KC, like we I believe that conversations are still happening around the Hyperloop, which is that fast commuter train between eight I think they were they were looking at it from St. Louis to Kansas City. And they did a feasibility study. And last I heard it had been slowed due to COVID. Of course, of course, but was still in the works. So just throwing that out there.
Canem Arkan 43:33
That’s a great alternative. I would love that. So let me that we let’s talk about that. More to that’s gonna Okay.
Lauren Conaway 43:38
All right. We are so we have like a whole parking lot of things to talk about. But first things first, I just want to thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Spend time with us on the show. Thank you so much for being with us today.
Canem Arkan 43:51
Lauren, I know you said I said it wasn’t gonna be possible because I already had such high expectations. But I had more fun than I thought I would. So
Lauren Conaway 43:59
for those of you who don’t know, that is my super secret goal. For the show. I always want guests to say that once I she said it before I hit the record button to take us off recording. So I’m like hi have proved. Well, thank you for that. I know I’ve had a blast. I also have a blast friends whenever we talk about Full Scale, and I know you hear it a lot. They are the producers of the show. They are the folks who make this all possible. There is a whole team of amazing people who help us bring Startup Hustle to life. And really they do all the dirty work I just show up and talk. So we love Full Scale not only as producers and the amazing power behind Startup Hustle, but because if you need to hire software engineers, testers or leaders Full Scale can help. They have the people in the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. When you visit full scale.io. All you need to do is answer a few questions and then let the platform match you up with fully vetted, highly experienced software engineers, testers and leaders at Full Scale they specialize in building long term teams that work only for you learn more when you visit full scale.io. And friends, I feel like I beat a dead horse here, but I’m gonna just I’m gonna say it again. So Startup Hustle is for you. We do this because you know, sure we love talking. I love talking to founders. It’s one of my favorite things to do. And it’s something it’s what I’ve made my career on. But that being said, Startup Hustle, this is a tool and a resource for you. You get to hear stories of people who’ve done it before, maybe you hear some things that you identify with, maybe you hear some things that you’d never even thought of. But you might have to deal with a little bit further down the line with your business now. All that keeping all that in mind, we want to hear from you, friends, we want you to tell us, the founders that you want us to talk to you about the topics that you want us to cover. We need your feedback in order to keep this show relevant and interesting, but not most importantly, useful. We want the show to be useful to you. So please reach out to us Startup Hustle dot XYZ through our website. We have a Startup Hustle chat group on Facebook, we’ve got a LinkedIn page, Instagram, we’re highly reachable. So reach us. Tell us what you want to hear. Definitely keep listening week after week. We are so appreciative that you do so and we will catch you next time.