Unveiled in 1997 – and including backing from U2's the Edge – Endeavor aims to unlock the transformational power of entrepreneurship by selecting, supporting, and investing in the world’s top founders and providing them a platform to pay it forward. Its Irish founders include Barry Napier of Cubic Telecom, Sam Dennigan of Strong Roots and Brendan Noud/Des Anderson of LearnUpon. 

It has established a presence in 40 markets across Latin America, Asia, Africa, Middle East, and underserved areas in Europe, the United States and Canada. 

“Our model is designed to search for, select, and scale up entrepreneurs with the greatest potential for large-scale success, then spread their stories and resources to sustain lasting economic and social transformation in their home markets and beyond,” says the organisation. 

'Ideas, self-belief and a touch of megalomania'

“I think of every rock ’n’ roll band as entrepreneurial – I mean, when you think about it, it’s about ideas, it’s about self-belief, a touch of megalomania in there somewhere,” said the Edge at the time of its Irish unveiling in 2019.

The Edge said U2 had long been exploring how it could use its influence and profile to help homegrown Irish business, with Endeavor being “the perfect fit”, he told The Irish Times at the time.

“It’s a non-profit, it’s really orientated towards helping entrepreneurs, and it has this global network. Also the fact that it’s a tried and tested formula, it’s up and running, it’s not reinventing the wheel. I realised it was achieving everything that we were hoping to do,” he said, adding that he hoped the initiative would be another part of U2’s legacy.

Entrepreneurs were best placed to help Ireland overcome the uncertainty created by the likes of Brexit and Donald Trump, he said. “If we do hit a real problem, they are our best chance of getting out of that difficulty because they’ll be creating a lot of high-quality jobs.” 

L-R: CPL Resources CEO Anne Heraty, U2's The Edge, Atlantic Bridge founder Elaine Coughlan and Mark Roden, CEO of Ding

The Irish office is self-funded by its board of directors, which includes the Edge, representing U2, Elaine Coughlan of Atlantic Bridge, Anne Heraty of CPL Recruitment, Mark Roden of Ding, Denis O’Brien of Digicel, Alan Foy, and Paddy McKillen Sr.

“We select Endeavor Entrepreneurs by searching the globe, identifying the fastest-growing founders with the greatest potential, and inviting them to participate in our renowned international selection process,” says Rory Guinan, managing director of Endeavor Ireland. 

“We support Endeavor Entrepreneurs with our unrivalled global network, peer-to-peer community, and demand-driven services to turbocharge growth. We invest in Endeavor Entrepreneurs through our rules-based co-investment fund with hundreds of millions of dollars under management. We elevate Endeavor Entrepreneurs as aspirational role models and provide avenues for them to invest in, mentor, and inspire others to dream big.

“We’ve learned valuable lessons for building entrepreneurship ecosystems:

  • Entrepreneur led ecosystem development works best;
  • A small number of high impact entrepreneurs turn out to be especially critical;
  • It takes more than just start-ups. Scale ups drive most wealth and job creation;
  • Entrepreneurs who have successful exits should be encouraged to become active angel investors and/or VCs.  

'Pay it forward'

“Endeavor is a global non-profit organisation which aims to support the most ambitious entrepreneurs in each of the locations we operate in,” adds Guinan. “We have 500-plus staff across 40 offices servicing more than 2,100 founders all of whom demonstrate big thinking and a willingness to 'pay it forward'. 

“Specifically a focus for Endeavor Ireland is to assist in pushing out the horizons for Irish-based founders, who we believe frequently sell too early. By plugging the selected founders into our global network of trust we believe they can gain the confidence to keep growing their companies and, in time, act as role models for future entrepreneurs. 

Endeavour has selected two companies/three founders in the past two months, with another likely to join shortly. 

Aidan Corbett of Wayflyer

Wayflyer co-founders Aidan Corbett and Jack Pierse

A serial entrepreneur and a graduate of University College Cork with a BE (Elec), Aidan Corbett started Wayflyer in 2019 alongside his co-founder Jack Pierse. The business provides revenue-based financing and marketing analytics for e-commerce businesses by offering affordable, non-dilutive, unsecured capital to fund advertising and inventory ahead of selling items. 

Having raised significant funding from sector-leading investors such as Left Lane Capital, QED and DST.  The company already employs over 200 staff in Ireland, Atlanta, London and Australia and is poised to make big waves in the Irish tech start-up scene. 

 

Niall Horgan and Diarmuid McSweeney of Gym+Coffee

Gym+Coffee co-founders Karl Swaine, Diarmuid McSweeney and Niall Horgan

With a vision to 'make life richer' Irish athleisure brand Gym+Coffee's premium clothing is a common sight across Ireland and the UK. With a full direct to consumer model via their online channel and their own 'clubhouse' retail stores, the business has seen 3x year-on-year growth since being founded in 2017. 

With a recent investment from singer Niall Horan (see YouTube video below) and a strong community pull, they are poised to enter the US market in the coming months with 20% of their revenues already coming outside of Ireland and the UK. 

 

Barry Napier of Cubic Telecom

Endeavor selected four founders during 2020: Barry Napier of Cubic Telecom, Sam Dennigan of Strong Roots and Brendan Noud/Des Anderson of LearnUpon. We were delighted that Strong Roots and LearnUpon are included in the 2021 Outliers cohort (with Cubic having featured last year) which showcases the top performing 5% of the global network. 

“We are sector agnostic and prioritise the founder and his/her ambition over the business when selecting members,” says Guinan.  “A big focus for us in the near term is to select female founders and also non-Dublin based founders and I am delighted to say some of the founders actively in our pipeline at the moment cover those priorities.” 

Sam Dennigan of Strong Roots

Strong Roots

Strong Roots is on a mission to revolutionise the way frozen vegetable products are marketed, packaged, and ultimately perceived by consumers by offering tasty, plant-based, and environmentally responsible foods designed for busy lives.

 

L-R: LearnUpon co-founders Des Anderson and Brendan Noud

LearnUpon

LearnUpon is an award-winning Learning Management System disrupting the industry by providing a multi-tenant, user-focused, intuitive solution that coordinates and streamlines training delivery for multiple, separate audiences

Cubic Telecom

In early 2020, CEO Barry Napier became the first Irish entrepreneur on the highly-coveted Endeavor Programme, joining the ‘Founders for Founders’ network focused on high-impact entrepreneurship movement.

Following a rigorous selection process that usually sees less than 5% of candidates become part of the world-renowned programme, Barry gained unanimous approval from expert panellists and will now join an exclusive cluster of like-minded individuals to focus on high-impact entrepreneurship movement.

“It is an honour to join the Endeavor network as its first Irish member,” said Barry. “I look forward to joining fellow entrepreneurs and industry leaders from around the world who are each focused on the same vision. With this insightful group of individuals, I hope to play my part in stimulating activity in exciting global sectors.”

 

Global team

Our 500-plus team members and worldwide network painstakingly search the globe to identify qualified entrepreneurs to participate in our renowned international selection process.

Can these entrepreneurs scale their companies at least 10x beyond where they are today (or even more than 10x if the business is currently less than $5 million in annual revenue)?

Do they possess the growth mindset and values of the global Endeavor community? Will the entrepreneur(s) multiply their impact by learning how to be thought leaders and role models, and by using our platform to pay their success forward?

Selection process

The Endeavor seal of approval carries significant weight with investors, partners, and other industry leaders. International business leaders serve as panellists to interview candidates, deliberate, and select a new class of Endeavor entrepreneurs by unanimous vote. Endeavor mentors conduct multiple interviews with each candidate, probing the business’s strategy, innovation, growth potential, and entrepreneurs’ personal qualities.

We select high-impact entrepreneurs who will further Endeavor's mission. Entrepreneurs that will inspire generations to dream big and are willing to reinvest their time and money to help others take off.

Transparent business leaders that are willing to listen, learn, and grow from mentors’ feedback. Companies with an innovative business model and significant growth potential. Businesses that will create large-scale wealth and jobs. Local businesses with potential to scale regionally or globally. Companies that are at an inflection point for growth and could be turbo-charged by Endeavor’s network.

Services

  1. Endeavor delivers demand-driven services locally, regionally, and globally. We further customise these to turbocharge our entrepreneurs’ individual scale-up journeys.
  2. Network of functional/industry experts provide advice through one-on-one mentoring, industry tours, webinars, and intimate roundtable discussions. Endeavor Advisory Boards provide expert mentorship to founders on strategy and execution.
  3. Endeavor Market Access supports our entrepreneurs’ geographic expansion by leveraging Endeavor’s networks worldwide to deliver mentorship and commercial introductions, deep-dive country visits, and in-market industry tours.
  4. Talent Partnerships with university and corporate partners, such as HBS, MIT Sloan, Bain & Company and EY give entrepreneurs access to top talent for short-term engagements to tackle strategic business challenges.
  5. Endeavor Verticals unite the global portfolio of Endeavor Entrepreneurs under sector-specific communities, and connect them with a curated network of peers.
  6. Endeavor Outliers is a peer-to-peer gathering organised for an annually selected class of Endeavor Entrepreneurs leading the fastest growing companies in our active portfolio. Endeavor Executive Education offers Endeavor Entrepreneurs and their senior managers uniquely designed programs focused on leadership, innovation, and techniques for scaling companies at the world’s top business schools, including Harvard, Stanford, and INSEAD. Recruiting Partners like Pedersen & Partners help Endeavor Entrepreneurs hire key roles. Endeavor Investor Network facilitates access to capital for our entrepreneurs through road show preparation, “speed dating” sessions, and curated introductions to best-in-class investors, both local and global.