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Throughout the month of August, nearly 150 Endeavor Entrepreneurs from 30 markets convened for week-long tailored executive education courses at INSEAD, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Harvard Business School (HBS). Endeavor’s Executive Education programs give Endeavor Entrepreneurs access to specially designed courses led by faculty from some of the world’s top business schools, and are a key part of our demand-driven services designed to turbocharge our entrepreneurs’ individual scale-up journeys.
Endeavor Detroit Entrepreneur Danny Ellis, CEO and Co-Founder of SkySpecs, recently attended one of Endeavor’s longest-running executive education initiatives: Harvard Business School’s “Scaling Entrepreneurial Ventures” program, HBS faculty-led classes on strategy, sales and marketing, leadership, and finance. He shares his experience in this post.
How were you set up with this program and why did you decide to do it?
I learned about the Endeavor HBS Executive program through my local Endeavor office and heard great feedback from people who had taken the course. I decided to do it because I thought it would be perfect timing with the stage of our business and the challenges we are facing.
I don’t think I would have considered it had it not been for Endeavor. 1) I wouldn’t have even thought I was allowed to participate in a program like this and wouldn’t have sought it out to begin with, and 2) If I had found out about it, I probably would have thought it was for C-Suite corporate executives only, and that it wasn’t valuable for my size business. I was completely wrong.
What were the most important takeaways from your experience?
The entire program was extremely valuable so it’s hard to pick a short list, but a few things come to mind:
Did anything happen during this program that you didn’t expect?
On the first day of class, I was called on to participate in “CEO improv,” where I had to play the role of a new owner who had bought a business, and I had to address the purchased company over lunch. I basically had to make up a story for why I bought the business and what was going to happen now that I owned it. It was truly fun and I’m glad I was called out. While the interaction was made up, it was based off of a real story, and we had the opportunity to learn from Jim Sharpe, the real-life CEO and buyer about his actual experience in that situation. Incredibly valuable.
I also took away information that I never expected to apply to my business. We were analyzing organizations that ranged from online mobile gaming, to fast food chicken, to non-profits and CrossFit. At first glance I didn’t believe there would be many ideas that applied to my B2B software business, but I was very surprised to learn something valuable from each case study.
Finally, I didn’t expect so many other Endeavor Entrepreneurs to have experiences that would be relevant to me. These entrepreneurs have been through so many different scenarios and were very willing to share their stories and insights. I hope to stay friends with many of them for a long time and can’t wait to visit them in their home countries. Honestly, this was the highest quality of learning in the shortest amount of time that I’ve ever had.
What did you learn from the other entrepreneurs in the program?
The biggest thing I learned from the other entrepreneurs is that it doesn’t matter what stage of business you are in, how many times you have done it, what education you have, or who is on your team – everyone is going through the same challenges at one level or another. Whether it’s customer acquisition, talent retention, fundraising, regulatory, or product design, everyone’s challenges are similar in some way. We are all just trying to find ways to scale our businesses.
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