Catalyzing Conversations with Patrick McGinnis

You might suffer some FOMO if you missed Endeavor Jordan’s most recent event in its speaker series, Catalyzing Conversations. In fact, the keynote speaker, Patrick McGinnis, coined that mainstream malady back in 2003 in an article he wrote while attending Harvard Business School. Aside from being the first to successfully identify our pandemic “Fear of Missing Out,” McGinnis is also a successful venture capitalist and author of the international best seller “The 10% Entrepreneur.” At Monday’s event, McGinnis discussed his perception of Jordan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and provided advice on a range of topics from failure to fundraising. Here are some of the key takeaways from the event.

On Entrepreneurship in Jordan:

McGinnis commented that despite the country’s size, Jordan continues to develop a positive mindset and infrastructure for entrepreneurship. “My sense is that Jordanians are quite global thinkers. Jordan has always been a country that has built bridges internationally with the countries around it and with the West. It’s not an inward looking country.”

“A couple of years ago, I was in Jamaica, working on a project with the World Bank, and Jamaica was sending its entrepreneurs to Amman to do the Oasis500 training program. That infrastructure here in Jordan is really important.”

On Going Global From Day One:

McGinnis stressed the importance of having a global mindset while maintaining a sense of responsibility to the place where you began: “Raising money is never easy,” he says. “If you live in Karak, you may have to go to Amman. If you live in Amman, you may have to go to Riyadh. If you can’t find it there, you may have to go to London or the US. Go where the money is, but never forget where you came from. The minute you make it, come back and invest in entrepreneurs here because that’s what you owe the ecosystem and that’s what builds a better tech community.”

On Learning From Failure

The tech bubble crash in 2000 taught McGinnis a lot about failure and minimizing downsides. Borrowing from his experiences, he urged entrepreneurs to, “Always stay humble and lean, and not waste money on things that don’t matter.”

“The companies that raised money just before the crash were the only ones that survived. Why was that? They had enough capital to cut costs and reach profitability as quickly as they could…To all of you entrepreneurs, have a ‘Plan B.’ Be ready for the inevitable slow down.”

On Successful Investing:

As an investor, McGinnis noted that you don’t get the luxury of being able to consistently invest in unicorn startups, especially in emerging markets. “What I try to do is get in very early,” he says. “Put a certain amount of money in early and sell a little bit at a time. Believe in the company, and take chips off the table as you go in order to diversify. Life diversification is what it is all about.”

On Fundraising and Pitching

When it comes to telling your story, the last piece of advice McGinnis offered was to learn the local language, literally and figuratively. McGinnis says, “When you’re raising money internationally, learn how to pitch in the native language. Obviously in terms of language, but also in terms of culture. If you’re coming to the US to raise money, definitely spend time coaching yourself on how to sell your message in a way that appeals to investors.”

From the investor side of the table, McGinnis shared that the most successful pitches are those that cement his confidence in the entrepreneur above all else: “I need to feel like you convinced me that you are the best person to do what you’re doing, that your success is inevitable. You have to create FOMO…it’s about storytelling. Even if the business is a little boring, the entrepreneur is what gets me excited.”