Startups (24)

I had the pleasure of moderating a panel on startup funding strategies at the LSA Innovation Summit with renowned angel investor Manny Fernandez from DreamFunded, Pablo Fuentes from Proven and Jose Huitron from Crowdismo. It was a great panel with useful insights and most importantly Manny, an experienced and successful angel investor in Silicon Valley,…

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It has been almost a year since we launched Interesante.com to the public. It has been a fantastic ride and there are a lot of things that we’ve learned that I’d like to share. The main thing we learn is be clear, concise and truthful with our users, investors and advisors. To that end, I’ve prepared this post that explains who we are, how we came to be and where are we going.…

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I was happy to see this post about Andy Kieffer in Pando Daily. He moved to Mexico after a successful exit in the Valley and started Agave Labs. I don’t know him, personally, but I love what he’s doing and I wanted to add my perspective since I’m from Ecuador, I’ve been running remote teams from South America, and I’ve lived in the Silicon Valley for over a decade.…

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The Latinos Of Silicon Valley

A great article by Giovanni Rodriguez in Forbes (The Latinos Of Silicon Valley) describes with ease the role that Latinos are playing in the Silicon Valley.  He mentions Rebecca and I as emerging leaders. We’re thrilled to see a community of new leaders emerging in the Silicon Valley and to be considered among them. But truly, our team makes all of this possible.

I wanted to expand on the article with my point of view and explain why his article matters so much.

The Latinos of Silicon Valley –– We are about technology. We are like a startup. We are about the world. (Giovanni Rodriguez in a Forbes article dated May 11th 2013)

We’ve been in the Silicon Valley for well over a decade. We came directly to Stanford after a full year of traveling abroad.  Over the years, we’ve learned that the Valley can be fun, unpredictable, exciting, rewarding and sometimes even heartbreaking. There’s a reason why people from all over the world come here –– it all boils down to an insatiable feeling of curiosity and the unstoppable need to create something, to put a ding in the universe, as Steve Jobs would say.

I’ve always been curious about the most random things. As a kid I wondered what would happen if I used my dad’s computer. I reformatted the hard drive and it took him hours to restore it. It was thrilling and scary at the same time.   I wondered about luck and class differences. As a kid I was acutely aware of the socioeconomic differences we had to face as a family. I think experiencing that and being aware of it has helped me strive for something better throughout my life.  I was part of the have-nots and though it was tough, I enjoyed being the underdog and rising above it –– and still do.

I wanted to know more but I didn’t know where to start. My mom was pivotal, as she implanted the seed of curiosity by filling the gaps of knowledge with new and mesmerizing facts and stories about far away lands. Even though I had a great coach, after a while the oppressive environment with a revolving door of presidents and coups brought me down, so I stopped looking and I became a follower. But thankfully not for long. It was hard because it meant being completely aloof and putting my head down, which has never been one of my strengths, so I started looking again.

When I arrived to the Silicon Valley, everything changed –– not overnight but it was a pretty fast transition. I took up computer science, though I’d never programmed in my life and I was lucky enough to get an internship at Sun Microsystems. I didn’t know anyone but as things happen here, we met a super cool guy who happened to be a director of marketing at Sun and he happened to be looking for interns. Plus I happened to be persistent. I worked Saturdays and Sundays at the office. I was thankful that they would let me come to the office on the weekend and also surprised that not many people did, except the director.

My family’s emphasis on education, hard work and risk-taking was a great platform where to stand. Then I came here, to the Silicon Valley, as an outsider and now I feel part of the fabric of it. The platform my family built helped me stand tall and face challenges, accept failure and to always strive to be better. I believe we have a big responsibility to open up doors and to build up our presence in business, technology and innovation.

As Giovanni said in his article, we  “expect others — Latinos and non-Latinos alike — to begin investing.  For one of the most remarkable things about Silicon Valley is that it is fast emerging as one of the world’s new melting pots.”

 

The capitalization table is key to a startup and should be understood and managed accordingly. To understand what a cap table is and how to build it, please read my post below which explains some the basics. Also read Brad Feld’s introductory post on cap tables. Gust has some great resources as well to understand how to value your technology startup.

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Why Is Startup Weekend Important?

 Startup Weekend is now a global success taking place in major cities and now is entering smaller communities and becoming a lot more diverse. Santa Maria Startup Weekend is a great example of this. Communities that have entrepreneurial potential that needs to be unlocked.  I will be one the speakers. The coaches are great and the judges come from very diverse backgrounds. The event promises to be exciting and dynamic.  There are only a few seats left, so make sure to register.

We’ve all gotten that “aha” moment, when we’ve realized that a product or service can be much better than it is today or that a brand new servicecan help people be more efficient.  We have that little voice inside our heads that suggests solutions to problems we are experiencing in our daily lives. A brand new idea or an improvement to an existing product that could make our lives much better. These ideas are a mixed bag –– sometimes they are inspired and unique and some others they are, well a bit too thin. But none of them are worthless. All the creative process serves a purpose. A “thin” idea is the first step you take to form a well thought out and worthwhile idea.

Unfortunately these ideas stay at an empirical level. Friends of mine often see the task of creating something new as a monumental task devoted to the geniuses of design and engineering.  This is where Startup Weekend comes in. It helps you realize that you can create things and that your dreams can become a reality much faster than what you thought.

I attended one of the first Startup Weekends in San Francisco and San Jose and the events were amazing. It changed my point of view in terms of what a person can accomplish. Before Startup Weekend I had already started Tangelo, my own services company (clients include: Intuit, Padnos, Zuberance, etc.) and was trying out the entrepreneurial path. It was my first year and it was tough. I went to a Startup Weekend not knowing what to expect. What I found was amazing –– a group of people with the drive to do something big. Every single one of them emanated great entrepreneurial energy. I learned that I didn’t know much but that it didn’t really matter because we were there to figure it out together. I learned that you need to continue to improve because this group will be supportive but that you need to keep up with the pace. I learned that Startup Weekend is more about the people you meet that the idea that you bring in.

There are very few startups that have gotten funding or that have continued after Startup Weekend. FoodSpotting (acquired by OpenTable) and InDinero (financial services for small businesses) are the ones that people usually refer to. This should not stop you from going. The purpose of Startup Weekend is to open your mind and to light your entrepreneurial fire. To meet folks entrepreneurs and investors that could help you at the event but most likely in the future.

Come with an open mind and all the energy you can muster.