An Introduction to Network Building
The following is an excerpt from The Evangelists: Insights from Leaders of the Nation’s Most Beloved Brands. Written by Monica Padillo, this chapter is titled “Paying it Forward Through Connections.” In it, Maita Mojica, the Head of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships of Endeavor Philippines, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in networking.
Bridging entrepreneurial relationships
In the world of business, connections are important. It’s often a rewarding feeling for a business leader to close deals, work with other like-minded entrepreneurs, and hire great talent as they scale up their businesses. However, more often than not, building connections is not easy for a number of reasons. Sometimes it starts with giving a good first impression, finding the right people to share your ideas with or simply having access to the right type of resources they need.
Maita Mojica can second this being the Head of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships of non-profit organization Endeavor Philippines, which is part of a network of Endeavor offices located across North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Mojica has been in the business of connecting entrepreneurs to mentors, investors, journalists, talent, and more for over two years.
However, as mentioned before, building this bridge was not easy. To help business leaders make high value connections, Endeavor Philippines hosts a range of events that fall under two categories: servicing events and social events.
Mojica explained that the organization’s servicing events were designed to allow participating entrepreneurs to get access to Endeavor Philippines’ global network of mentors, investors, markets, and talent. When it came to providing access to mentors, for example, Endeavor Philippines connected entrepreneurs to relevant people who can give them feedback on different aspects of their businesses.
Some of the prominent figures included in Endeavor Philippines’ mentor network include Ayala Corporation CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, J.P. Morgan Philippines Executive Director Carlos Mendoza, NutriAsia President Angie Flaminiano, and Suy Sing Commercial Corporation President Tina Tan.
The organization has also hosted investor networking events where entrepreneurs can connect with investors and gain access to different markets as some participants hailed from different countries, mostly from the Asia Pacific.
One of the organization’s most successful investor networking events was MatchCAP, which was launched in 2019, just a year after Mojica joined Endeavor. During MatchCAP, 30 entrepreneurs and 30 investors were paired in a speed dating fashion and given 12 minutes to talk to each other. It became an effective way for both parties to state their purpose—entrepreneurs shared about their business and reason for seeking capital and investors explained their investment philosophy, asked questions, and selected which projects they could support.
Even Manny Ayala, the managing director of Endeavor Philippines, participated in the event as a “matchmaker” as he would talk to the participating business leaders, shake
their hands, and make them feel comfortable. In that moment alone, he was able to build connections for himself as well, staying true to his leadership role in the organization.
Mojica said that MatchCAP became a platform for entrepreneurs raising anywhere from series A to series C funding rounds, as well as a venue for investors, from corporate and traditional venture capitalists to private equity firms, to fund various businesses.
Endeavor Philippines was able to measure the effectiveness of the event by looking at how engaged the entrepreneurs were at MatchCAP and how much value they were getting from it. Mojica recalled one entrepreneur who spent eight months trying to meet with a particular investor prior to MatchCAP. The investor fortunately participated in Endeavor Philippines’ event and this move prompted the entrepreneur to join as well. Not only did the entrepreneur meet his target investor, but conversed with 10 other investors in a two hour window as well.
“We have this global network of mentors and investor relations that we believe is Endeavor’s strength and can be used to leverage what we can offer,” Mojica said. “We have no control over the amount an investor has invested in a company or the amount an entrepreneur has raised. What we are good at as an organization is organizing those very valuable introductions.”
The success of the first MatchCAP prompted Endeavor Philippines to organize a bigger and better one in 2020 but had to shift the event online due to consequences brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of talking in person, entrepreneurs and investors had to interact through their screens.
Mojica added that they had to scale down their number of attendees, from 60 to 32, to manage simultaneous breakout rooms on Zoom. Despite the limited circumstances, Endeavor Philippines organized the 2020 MatchCAP gathering as their first truly regional event. They had representation from each of their five Asia Pacific offices, as well as neighboring countries like Singapore—further promoting diversity and leveraging the wide reach of their network.
One of the investors who participated in the virtual event was Matt Kolling, Chief Investment Officer of UBX, UnionBank’s financial technology and corporate venture capital arm. He agreed that MatchCAP was able to successfully help both investors and startups in getting opportunities to invest or innovate in a region or country with sufficient observed participation.
Aside from their servicing events, Endeavor Philippines also hosted more casual and laid back social gatherings where like-minded business people meet and engage. One of these events was called Endeavor FOAM (Friends On A Mission). During this event, entrepreneurs were free to drink together, share their stories, and expand their network.
The first Endeavor FOAM of 2020 was hosted by Alaska Milk Corporation Chairman and Endeavor Board Member Fred Uytengsu.
Through all of these efforts, Endeavor Philippines has helped a number of entrepreneurs find their ground and achieve their goals. Some of their entrepreneurs include Kalibrr CEO Paul Rivera, world-renowned furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, Sprout Solutions co founders Patrick Gentry and Alex Gentry, and Coins.ph CEO Ron Hose.
Mojica said Endeavor Philippines was able to start an “economic multiplier effect”—once entrepreneurs form connections and scale their business, they were able to pay it forward by investing in other companies, mentoring other companies, generating more revenue, and creating more jobs.
“Business founders start other companies, they mentor others, and it creates that multiplier effect,” she said. “So far, the 27 entrepreneurs that Endeavor Philippines has selected have created over 2,200 jobs and generated USD$230 million dollars in revenue in 2019 alone. And there have been thousands of mentorship hours donated by the people in our network.”
In all events, Endeavor Philippines makes sure they are tailored to be “GIFTT moments,” which was short for Glad I Found The Time. Mojica explained that because the people in their network were consistently busy, Endeavor Philippines needed to make sure their events were substantial and meaningful so that the participants would feel that they spent their time well.
“Every time participants come to an event, we have to make sure that they leave thinking they are glad they found the time to attend, or consider the experience as a ‘GIFT,’” she said.
At the end of the day, Mojica said it’s all about listening to their customers and seeking their feedback. She added that it was also a matter of going back to the organization’s mission and mantra, which she believed was what other communications professionals should consider when organizing programs or creating materials for their brand.
“I think a lot of the time, big corporations can get lost in hitting a quota, getting the first mover advantage in launching products, or generally being louder in their sphere,” Mojica said. “Endeavor is not very loud. We make up for it by tailoring our services and our comms depending on how they can help entrepreneurs. At Endeavor, we are ‘entrepreneurs first.’ It’s important to remember your mission and why you’re doing what you do.”
To get more insights from other marketing leaders like Maita Mojica, please check out the full book, available for purchase here.
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