Endeavor’s Venture

Claudia Duran’s job is to help deserving young firms with capital and mentorship

Claudia Duran’s job is to link high-potential entrepreneurs with peers, mentors, and resources

By Doreen Hemlock

Growing up in El Salvador, Claudia Duran remembers joining her interior-decorator mom to check on her furniture factory. Her engineer dad would bring her to building sites where his construction company was working. Conversations over meals often centered on her parents’ ventures.

Duran learned early the value of entrepreneurship and the grit it takes to succeed. She’s applying those lessons now as managing director of Endeavor Miami, the local affiliate of the global nonprofit that helps high-potential founders scale up their companies. She’s the latest to helm the Miami office, which opened in 2013 as the first U.S. chapter of the organization that started in South America.

“Entrepreneurs just have it in their DNA. It’s how they’re wired,” says Duran, describing her parents as “workaholic, passionate founders,” active their whole lives. “My dad is 89, and he still goes to the office every day.”

Duran is passionate about entrepreneurship too, bubbling with ideas to help founders and boost networks. Ask her about Miami’s tech scene and she’ll quickly talk meetups, conferences, and mentorships – all ways to bring people together. She just moved Endeavor’s office to Miami’s techie Wynwood neighborhood, partly to offer a space for founders to come meet.

“One of my goals is to build a strong community of entrepreneurs,” says Duran. “I believe in the power of peer-to-peer sharing, because most entrepreneurs go through similar challenges,” from operations to funding to mental wellness. “It can be a lonely ride being an entrepreneur, with so many pressures.”

Endeavor began operations in Chile and Argentina in 1998. Today, the New York-based nonprofit has offices in dozens of nations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, as well as in Canada and the U.S. Its core programs help founders of young, fast-growing companies; selected as Endeavor Entrepreneurs, they get access to mentors, capital, and other resources worldwide. Since its inception, Endeavor Miami has helped 51 founders from 32 local ventures join the prestigious network. Last year, those ventures crossed $700 million in revenue with 5,000 employees, the group says.

From Spain, to El Salvador, New York, Brazil and Miami

Duran’s road to Endeavor Miami spanned three continents. Steeped in business and strong with numbers, she studied finance at Penn State University and then earned an MBA at Spain’s Instituto de Empresa. 

She began her career at multinationals to learn in a structured environment, working in El Salvador at beverage company SABMiller and then TACA airlines, while co-founding a nonprofit to help women. From there she turned to banking, working for Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management unit in New York, serving mainly Latin American clients.

But the world of entrepreneurship called. Duran moved to Brazil with Ashoka, the nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs with ventures for social impact. Next, she helped her parents with a new venture making frozen foods for sale in the U.S., commuting back and forth from Miami. That led to her current post, leading Endeavor Miami since 2019.

In three years, Duran has expanded the chapter’s activities, raised its profile, and added women to the board. She’s also developed programs for early-stage ventures: a two-month EndeavorLAB to help founders of startups earning less than $500,000 a year, and a four-month ScaleUp program to help founders with ventures earning $1 million-plus a year. Those programs will boost the pipeline for new Endeavor Entrepreneurs, who lead companies earning at least $5 million a year. Says Felipe Sommer, an Endeavor Entrepreneur (Nearpod) and local board member: “She’s delivered.”

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