Many editorials have theorized why so few Latinos are graduating with engineering degrees, qualify for high-tech positions, or are starting their own ventures. With less than 1% of venture-backed startups founded by Latinos, there is a huge opportunity to develop this community and accelerate the growth of startups through this untapped entrepreneurial talent.
These observations frustrated the founders of Manos Accelerator and it invigorated in them a sense of purpose. They dared to ask a simple question, "What if?" They concluded that the correct response to these studies and speculations was to take action by developing a program that identifies and mentors a new generation of Latino entrepreneurs.
The founders of Manos Accelerator believe changing the world begins with entrepreneurial talent. They seek Latino entrepreneurs who have the following traits - creativity, an innovative spirit, a "can do" attitude and a desire to win. These are components for diversifying the local economy, finding inventive solutions, creating jobs and tackling the age-old perception that Latinos are not capable. Thus, the mantra was created: Dream Big, Believe More, Act Now.
When deciding on a name for the accelerator, the founders did not want something catchy yet culturally insignificant. They wanted a name that identified Latinos as a proud ethnic group that desired and achieved upward mobility. Latino workers and aspiring entrepreneurs do not want to be stereotyped as only taking food service, agricultural, manufacturing, construction, and other blue-collar jobs.
The founders wanted a name to show the world that Latinos are more than just a pair of "hands" (manos), and capable of so much more. As a result, the name Manos was selected as a motivation for all of the accelerator participants to never forget the hard work and challenges that other Latinos have had before them.
Edward is a native of San Jose and has worked at high-tech companies in Silicon Valley over the last 20 years as a Human Resources executive. He advised and nurtured talent for emerging businesses within corporations. He has a proven track record in the areas of leadership development, executive coaching, and talent management. In 2010, he co-founded myJoblinx, the industry's first employee-centric enterprise solution, leveraging both social recruiting and employment branding into a single unique application on Facebook.
In 2012, Edward was featured as a 'Game Changer' in Hispanic Executive Magazine. He graduated with a Master's Degree in Organization Development from the University of San Francisco and a B.A. degree in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University.
Sylvia Flores is an award-winning entrepreneur and engineer with years of experience. She founded several startup companies and is knowledgeable of the U.S. Hispanic market. In 2003, she worked with the former President of Mexico Vicente Fox to establish a technology incubator for Mexican entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Prior to her career in startups, Sylvia held various engineering positions at IBM.
She has also served as the Regional National Vice President for the Society of the Hispanic Professional Engineers. She was awarded the 'Entrepreneur of the Year' award in 2003 from Latino Style Magazine. She earned a Chemical Engineering degree from San Jose State University.
David is a twenty-five-year veteran of the insurance industry, working as a computer technician from the high-tech district of New York. Following his retirement, he relocated to California to advise his daughter, actress and musician Jennifer Lopez. Together, they opened up a restaurant called Madre's, where he was a partner and general manager.
David hopes to bring recognition to Manos Accelerator and its goal of promoting and nurturing Latino entrepreneurs in the field of technology.
Hana is a Partner at Manos, where she is focused on building an ecosystem of Latino entrepreneurs, angel investors, and venture capitalists. Hana is a founding member of the Manos Angel Network, where she leads the Manos Angel Bootcamp, a development program for new angel investors.
Before Manos, Hana worked at crowdfunding and e-commerce startups in strategic and operational roles. Prior to joining the tech startup world, Hana held strategic and operational positions at Adobe, the United Nations Population Fund Agency, and Capgemini Consulting.
Hana was raised in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina, and speaks Spanish and Portuguese fluently. She has lectured on the topic of crowdfunding at Argentinean and Bolivian universities. Hana has a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley and a M.S. in Fundraising Management from Columbia University.