The Work in Progress podcast is a Green Start-Up and production focused on the investors and founders that change the startup ecosystem.

We've centered the Work in Progress podcast around two major themes, and were going to split the episodes into the Blue podcast – for – where we'll discuss with venture capital managers, angel investors, startup founders from Romania, Europe and around the world about their role in the ecosystem, business, trends, and the Green podcast – for Green Start-Up – where we will put a sustainability layer on our discussions and we'll approach topics relevant for impact founders as well as impact investors.

Endeavor is a 26 year-old organization that is leading the global movement to drive long-term economic growth by selecting, mentoring, and accelerating the best high-impact entrepreneurs around the world.

Founded in 1997 by Linda Rottenberg and Peter Kellner, the Endeavor network has more than 2400 high impact entrepreneurs that have generated more than 50 billion dollars in revenues in 2022. To date, companies led by Endeavor Entrepreneurs have created over 4 million jobs, and often go on to mentor and invest in the next generation of founders or serve on the boards of Endeavor offices.

To sustain Endeavor’s long-term operations in a mission-aligned way, Endeavor created Endeavor Catalyst, a rules-based, co-investment fund, set up to invest in the same High-Impact Entrepreneurs that Endeavor supports.

In February 2022, the fund closed Endeavor Catalyst IV, its largest fund to date, with 292 million dollars across 400+ investors, including 100+ high-impact entrepreneurs.

This brings Endeavor Catalyst’s total assets under management up to 500 million dollars to continue investing in companies led by Endeavor Entrepreneurs globally.

Pete Benedetto has been working for Endeavor Catalyst for almost a year now, having joined the Endeavor family, as he describes it, in the spring of 2015.

For our next blue episode of the Work in Progress podcast, we’ve discussed at length with Pete about the power of families, in our private lives and in business, networks, about investments and the current state of the startup and investment ecosystems, about unicorn trackers and home runs.

Listen to our conversation with Pete Bendetto, Head of EMEA at Endeavor Catalyst, or read some of the highlights from the discussion below.

“I think it's one where that analogy of a family can be taken too far. At the end of the day, work should not fully absorb our lives and, and vice versa. When times get tough, these are the people we turn to. When things get tough and they reach out, "Hey, can you, can you help me with this?" We’re in a bit of a crisis mode here. Do you have somebody that can help me? Or I'm thinking about a next career move, I will reach out to a coworker, "can you help point me in the right direction or make a connection?" The analogy can be taken too far. And sometimes people say it's not the company or an organization can't be a family. It's more of a team or it's just the place you work. I understand there are differences. When I talk about it, it's really those, the depth of those relationships and that commitment to each other during difficult times.”

“This is our model. And this is our network. Let me hear from the local business leaders, local entrepreneurs, and local investors about whether they think Endeavor’s model and network can be beneficial, can add to the local ecosystem. I'm here to help kickstart, but I'm not here to drive something forward without really strong local buy-in. I think coming in that way also that, uh, that helps to build trust. I'm not coming with a solution. And if you come in with the right, with a humble attitude, with an attitude of how can we help? And if you deliver on that, good things will happen.”

Referrals are essential. I once heard one of our mentors, Kevin Ryan. He was a founder of MongoDB.What he said is that in his hiring process, he almost doesn't consider the interviews and solely relies on the referrals and the reference calls that he has for a candidate. I think that's where we really deliver the most value of Endeavor is the types of connections. We talk about it like there's an a la carte menu. And you pick as an entrepreneur what you'd like, what support and which people you want to speak to, which programs you want to take part in. You pick which ones you want. And then there's a concierge type person who's your account manager who will deliver that for you”.

“We've been around for 25 years as an organization supporting entrepreneurs in emerging markets, helping them scale, high impact businesses. And just about 10 years ago is what started as a pilot, as Endeavor Catalyst has now grown into a pretty significant part of what we do, but it is in service of the nonprofit in our mission and the impact we seek to have. Endeavor Catalyst will invest in Endeavor entrepreneur led company. So, the company has to have been selected into the network. They have to be unanimously approved by their local board of directors. For example, in Romania, the local board has to have interviewed them. Once a company and an entrepreneur has gone through that, then they are eligible. They're partly eligible for the catalyst fund. The other key rules are not only do they have to be an Endeavor entrepreneur, but there has to be a qualified lead investor, who's leading the investment round. It has to be a round of $5 million or more in equity. And if those conditions are met, then we will invest up to 5% of the round up to $2 million”.

“The short answer is that it's, it's one part of the story for us. I think unicorns are an imperfect proxy for entrepreneurial success. They're only measuring the valuation of the company at one point in time. And I think the current market has exposed that even more than in the recent past. When it comes to companies, their fortunes change, they may plateau, they may suffer for a time. And some may cease to exist. What we're really about is high impact entrepreneurship. And those are the companies that have entrepreneurs with great ambitions who successfully scale companies, employ not just dozens of people, but hundreds and sometimes thousands of employees. And then very importantly, they inspire others to do the same, uh, to build innovative companies to grow them to success, to go beyond their home market oftentimes to expand regionally and internationally. For us that's what we're ultimately about is those entrepreneurs that have the greatest impact on their ecosystems and on their countries. Many of those are unicorns. Some of them are not, but it's been a way for us just to talk about that unicorn tracker”.

“We don't want to miss this. I don't know if you're good or not, but we want to get on this train. Yeah. I think nearly all investors have possessed some level of FOMO and they say they may be lying or not being honest with themselves. Because, ultimately, it's the business of venture capital, it is about your ”home runs”. Those who reach breakout success”.