Flyover Future met with Jackson Andrews, managing director of the Louisville office of Endeavor, a global movement to catalyze job creation, wealth creation, and inspiration in often overlooked and underserved markets. We asked him about Endeavor’s vision.
How did Endeavor come to be?
Andrews: Endeavor is a nonprofit that was founded in 1997 by Linda Rottenberg and Peter Kellner with a simple thesis: There are great entrepreneurs and companies everywhere but often in underserved markets where they don’t have the same access to capital and talent that businesses on the U.S. coasts do. Endeavor goes into those underserved markets and clears a lot of those barriers, provides a path to resources, and allows those companies to scale, creating hundreds or thousands of jobs with commensurate revenue generation.
The support puts the entrepreneurs in a position where they can invest, not just with finances, but with their expertise and inspiration, serving as examples for others to follow. Endeavor opened its first office in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and has spread across the globe. It opened a Louisville office in 2013. The office also covers Cincinnati and Indianapolis. The nonprofit is funded through foundations and board members, and we expect entrepreneurs to pay it forward. Endeavor entrepreneurs from the Louisville region in 2018 generated revenue of more than $86 million and have created more than 675 jobs.
What can Louisville do to support entrepreneurs in direct and helpful ways?
Andrews: We’ve got an amazing story to tell. We need to shout it from a mountain. Local businesses tend to be tech-driven and are hiring at a rapid rate, adding young, dynamic, tech-savvy employees for relatively high-quality, high-paying jobs. The businesses need help from our community at large so they can not just tell their stories but the story of the region to foster talent attraction.
It’s a global talent race. It’s a dynamic that exists in every city, and there’s no silver bullet. Competition for talent is high, and we can really put wind in the sails of a lot of local entrepreneurs and the larger business community if we support talent attraction and talent development. We want to give them everything we can so they have as big a success as possible. Talent attraction and development are quintessential to not just the work of the future, but the work of today.
What is the best thing about having a startup in Flyover Country?
Andrews: Capital efficiency. Local entrepreneurs tend to have an ability to build their businesses in a capital efficient way, to do more with less venture capital. That’s better for the entrepreneur, but also for the employee and investor. It’s a real strength. And that’s not lost on the folks in Silicon Valley, in part because the cost structure in some of the coastal cities is getting, at best, tenuous. That’s a real advantage for us.
Local entrepreneurs excel at getting to and understanding customers’ challenges and thinking about solutions that perhaps folks on the coast aren’t thinking about in the same way because they don’t have the same level of exposure to certain industries. If you’re not very familiar with warehousing, e-commerce, and logistics because those industries don’t exist where you are, you’re not going to be the one to build the better solution in that space. So here in middle America, we are closer to customers and consumers. And most of the country is middle America, which gives us a great line of sight for what the customer wants and is willing to pay for. That makes for a very compelling case to building a large, high-growth, scalable businesses in this part of the country.
What book are you reading right now or which one would you recommend?
Andrews: I just finished reading Venture Capital: an America History by Tom Nicholas. Fascinating book about business and history.