Laura Maydon’s search for scale-ups

When Laura Maydon became the founding director of Endeavor Miami, she agreed to a pretty ambitious first week on the job.

“I was naive enough to agree to bring at least one company to the international selection panel,” she said. “In Endeavor world that happens every two or three months, but I didn’t know what that meant. I opened in September, and the next one was in December in Dubai. There was no way other than to hit the ground running. I went to my board and said, ‘You are my reviewers. Let’s choose five companies you think are growing.’”

She got it done, and got a fast education on the growing Miami startup space along the way. But Endeavor’s looking for a special kind of company, which they call “scale-ups” — high-growth, high-potential businesses that are ready to take their existing success and break it big.

Endeavor finds these companies, first though a local advisory board and then through a series of international “selection panels,” and supplies the chosen teams with mentorship and support to help them grow.

Endeavor started with a focus on emerging markets. Why did it end up in Miami?

When [Endeavor cofounder] Peter Kellner moved with one of the other cofounders to Miami, he met Matt Haggman, and Matt had already started his initiatives to foster entrepreneurship in Miami. So for Matt, it was just logical that Endeavor would come here. They took the initiative to Endeavor Global. At the time, they wanted to be very careful about the decision, because Endeavor’s mission was to foster entrepreneurial communities in emerging markets.

So there was a question about whether bringing it back home altered the mission in any way. The conclusion was that post-crisis, many places around the world look pretty much like emerging markets. The other thing is that Endeavor’s success has been very local. The impact is at the city level. You add those two components, and it did make sense to open certain cities in the U.S. Outside the U.S., my counterparts run a country, but I say I run the country of Miami.

Endeavor is industry-agnostic when looking for scale-ups. Why is that?

What are the selection criteria Endeavor considers when choosing companies?

What challenges do entrepreneurs have in Miami?

Entrepreneurs self-report to us that access to clients, quality of life, and customer base were some things they liked [about being in Miami], but they lacked access to mentors, talent, and capital. I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t had trouble finding mentors who want to donate their time, but what they need is a structured approach to mentorship, and that’s what Endeavor provides.

On the talent side, you’ve seen many efforts in the community to develop that. It will take time. The one that might be lagging is access to capital. Our entrepreneurs are going outside Miami; you can obviously access other sources of funding. It would still be good to have a local investor community because that adds support. Depending on the stage of the capital you are raising, you need more local investors.

What advice do you give entrepreneurs looking to connect with the startup scene?