Venios, a personal safety net for students

QUICK PITCH:  Venios provides a personal safety net for students that instantly notifies their loved ones in case of an emergency.

THE BUSINESS: When you walk somewhere, you drop a pin on your destination in the Venios app and we take care of the rest. We estimate the time you need to arrive, track your movements completely privacy-protected. If you go off-route, take too long unexpectedly in the same spot, or just take longer than our estimate, we notify your loved ones or campus safety/911 and then send them a link where they can see your location. To provide even more peace-of-mind, we also alert them when you arrive safety in your destination.

THE “AHA” MOMENT: We noticed alarming numbers of sexual assaults, especially to college-aged women. One of the most shocking events happened less than 4 month ago in Austin, where a women was raped and murdered on the campus of a top university. It was clear for us we need a solution that reacts quickly and provides additional peace-of-mind especially to the parents. That was how we got the idea for Venios.

HOW DOES IT MAKE MONEY? Venios relies on a classic Freemium model. The free model does only one thing: Alert when you take longer than expected and the paid version has intelligent premium features such as detection of stalling or going off route.

BUSINESS IT COULD DISRUPT: This could change how people move around in their daily lives and dramatically decrease the worries parents and other loved ones have.

MARKET SIZE: There are more than 11 million female college students in the US, our primary market. Our secondary markets (single moms, elderly parents, young children) are more than 100M people.

LIKELY COMPETITORS: We have a range of likely competitors, all of which we differentiate in one way or another: Companion App, Sec App, Life360, TapShied, bsafe, Watch Over Me, Get Home Safe, Life Alert, Safe Treck

PARTNERSHIP AND COLLABORATIONS: We are collaborating with college students in Texas and California.

WHO ARE YOUR ROLE MODELS? Elon Musk, Richard Brandson, Will Smith

WHAT’S THE BEST THING OF BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR? There are many ways entrepreneurship is great, but the best would probably be that you can build things that actually affect other people’s lives. That’s a satisfaction nobody can buy.

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE ANYONE HAS EVER GIVEN YOU? Of many advices, I stick with this public advice from Gary Vaynerchuk: “Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, what do I want to do everyday for the rest of my life…do that”

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS? Don’t let anybody tell you what you can’t do.

HOW HAS MANOS HELPED YOU GROW? Manos helped me understand that it doesn’t matter if you have no money. You can still build a business. Also, they helped me a great deal figuring out how to go to market with my product, something I was completely clueless about.

MANAGEMENT TEAM: Marc Backes, CEO - Melina Herrera, COO



Intern Spotlight with Caleb Mills

Caleb Mills, Manos Intern

Caleb Mills, Manos Intern

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in the South Bay Area (San Jose) and now live in the East Bay (Berkeley).

What do you aspire to accomplish in the future?
I want to become more involved in any industry that has entrepreneurship at the forefront. Whether that be a startup, VC firm, my own book of business, etc.

How did you hear about Manos Accelerator?
Through my good friend and classmate, Pedro Espinoza. He is the Founder and CEO of SmileyGo and attends UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

What was your role at Manos?
I did marketing for Manos. This constituted cultivating the website, constructing other platforms like Gust for investors, and helping choose which companies will have the opportunity to pitch to investors.

How has Manos helped you grow personally and professionally?
Manos has taught me terminology, market concepts, and platform structures that have allowed me to execute effectively not only on the job, but also in other business settings.

What did you take away from your experience at Manos?
A love for the Venture Capital industry. There is so much excitement within the industry. Having the opportunity to see new companies with new, innovative ideas, and to be around people (both in the VC realm and entrepreneurs) who are passionate about what they do, is very inspiring and contagious.

How has your internship with Manos prepared you for a future career?
Not only has Manos increased my awareness of the VC industry, but it has also pushed and cultivated my communication and research skills.

What was one thing that you were exposed to at Manos that you would not have experienced anywhere else?
I would not have been able to attend Networking events or conferences with other Angel or Venture Capital investors if it were not for managers allowing me to have the opportunity to attend.

Share a memorable experience at Manos.
Manos allowed me to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford, where many startups were pitching their companies to the public.

How did you change during your internship from your first day to your last day?
The work that I had to do for Manos taught me the importance of efficiency. Getting the most work done in the least amount of time.

What was your favorite part about being an intern?
The relaxed nature in the office. It provided a healthy space for creativity and productivity.

Describe your relationship with your bosses and the startups?
The bosses are excellent resources within the Venture Capital industry. Not only are they reservoirs of knowledge, but they are very willing to pour out their experiences to benefit others. The startups have all been inspiring people to talk to. Their passion, determination, and perseverance is infectious and stirring at the same time.

Where are you now? What are you doing now? (Just say where you expect to be after Manos)
In this next season I will be working towards leading and cultivating my own book of business in the insurance industry, doing property and casual, and life and health, insurance. 

Roadiy connects cars to trusted auto mechanics for maintenance and service.

QUICK PITCH:  Roadiy is a mobile marketplace that connects car owners to trusted mechanics for car maintenance and service.

THE BUSINESS: Roadiy facilitates the whole service process by streamlining the process that consumers have to take in order to find a reputable and trustworthy auto mechanics for service. With Roadiy consumers can select the service they need, choose a reputable Roadiy service provider, and pay all from their smartphones.

THE “AHA” MOMENT: We've determined that the biggest problem for car owners is initially finding a trustworthy source for any automotive services. They currently search online or read Yelp reviews, however often times these reviews are biased and inaccurate. Roadiy takes away all the hard work by centralizing access to all automotive related services, but starting with auto maintenance.

HOW DOES IT MAKE MONEY? Since our model is a Marketplace, we have the chicken and the egg problem. Our revenue model comes from taking a percentage commission from each transaction that takes place through the Roadiy platform.

BUSINESS IT COULD DISRUPT: Roadiy could potentially destroy the automotive service industry and generally the automotive industry.

MARKET SIZE: As of 2015, the automotive service history reach the staggering $120 billion.

LIKELY COMPETITORS: YourMechanic, OpenBay, and RepairPal are some competitors in our space.

PARTNERSHIP AND COLLABORATIONS: We are currently partnering with a few established corporations.

WHO ARE YOUR ROLE MODELS? Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

WHAT’S THE BEST THING OF BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR? The ability to work on something that you are actually passionate about, where you enjoy every day because you are doing what you love.

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE ANYONE HAS EVER GIVEN YOU? It wasn't specifically given to me, but it truly resonates with me. “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will do somehow connect your future. You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”-Steve Jobs.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS? What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are.” - Tony Robbins

HOW HAS MANOS HELPED YOU GROW? Manos reminded us of how far we have gotten, and how far we will go.

MANAGEMENT TEAM: Bill Holden-CEO, Roland Saenz-CTO

Reach us at, or

Manos Intern Immmersion in the International Startup relations culture

Cassandra Villicana, Former Intern

Cassandra Villicana, Former Intern

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in San Jose, CA. 

What do you aspire to accomplish in the future?

I am currently studying Biomedical Engineering at San Jose State University(SJSU). My ultimate goal is to focus on Community Health and engage in revealing new ideas and products while attempting to construct attainable sources. I have witnessed a vast opportunity gap within various communities and want to work closely with community doctors and hospitals.

How did you hear about Manos Accelerator?

At San Jose State University we have a program called MESA(Mathematics Engineering Science and Achievement) Engineering Program (MEP). Sylvia is both an SJSU and MEP alumni who likes to come back to her community, representing Manos . Sylvia attended an Industry mixer event to explain the wonderful things Manos is accomplishing. I became interested and looked further to seek an internship and be given the opportunity to become a part of their mission.

What was your role at Manos?

As a bilingual student I have the privilege of communicating and staying in contact with the startups from various parts of Latin America. My main two roles are planning the first Manos LATAM event that brings in 20 startup participants from only Latin American countries and provide them with the Silicon Valley knowledge and experience. Another role I will be taking, together with another one of my friends (Maurilio), is preparing the Manos Angel Network. 

How has Manos helped your grow personally and professionally?

Working with a team is important and Manos has helped me develop my communication skills. The thing that I value most from Manos is the fact that I am learning about entrepreneurial skills and the steps needed to become a successful startup. These are important things that we cannot learn in a classroom setting. 

What did you take away from your experience at Manos?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As a new intern that is only in her first year at SJSU and has never worked with startups, there were a lot of terms and procedures that I was never aware of. Manos provided me with the greatest learning ambient because everyone was willing to help. It taught me that working in a community allows for more innovative accomplishments.

How has your internship with Manos prepared you for a future career?

I can now feel comfortable entering an unknown setting or workplace. Thanks to the various Skype calls and emails being sent in Spanish, I finally have confidence in my bilingual abilities. Manos has prepared me to form important networks that will help me soon achieve my goals. 

What was one thing that you were exposed to at Manos that you would not have experienced anywhere else?

The various startups from Latin America are people I might not have met anywhere else outside of Manos. I saw such a drive within them that motivated me to put in the same amount of effort in my projects. I, together with the interns, will be attending Exponential Thinking for Entrepreneurs workshop at Google that I am excited for. 

Share a memorable experience at Manos.

Everyday was a memorable experience at Manos because we made work fun. One thing we started doing is that every hour on the hour we would get on the floor and do sets of 10-15 pushups, sit-ups, or if we dared, planks. That adds up to 70- 105 a day. We tried our best to stay in shape this winter!

How did you change during your internship from your first day to your last day?

I gathered more confidence in my Spanish speaking and writing abilities. This internship was a very humbling experience because I was speaking and learning from very bright and talented people who were extremely knowledgeable. 

What was your favorite part about being an intern?

Meeting such a diverse set of people who are experts in what they do and creating friendship with everyone. We were all open and willing to share stories. I enjoyed that a lot because it created a unity within Manos. 

Describe your relationship with your bosses and the startups?

I am extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to work and learn from Sylvia and Jim. Jim is a very knowledgeable man who always shares awesome stories with us. Sylvia is a strong woman that I look up to because she has been able to accomplish so much. They both helped us (interns) strive for the best. 

Where are you now? What are you doing now?

I will be entering my second semester at San Jose State University with a full course load. During this time I want to explore the diverse branches within Biomedical Engineering and gather various skill sets.


QUICK PITCH:  Aerial Backup uses image processing technology, cutting the time it takes to analyze images taken from Drones, getting straight to the numbers and data analysis. 

THE BUSINESS: A subscription based platform allowing our costumers to analyze from 1 image to a complete mapping. They get the pics, we get the data. A normal drone company has big platforms for automated data acquisition and gather tons of images to give to their customers and then the customers need to do the analysis on their own. 

THE "AHA" MOMENT: Our company in Mexico did various systems using drones, and whenever doing different systems we always ended up with the same problem... 1,000 photos, or a big image to count plants from, imagine watching a 5 hours video just to determine how many cars were there stuck in the traffic, then we decided we needed to provide a solution that allowed all the drone companies out there to simplify their processes and get the actual data from their data acquisition methods. 

HOW DOES IT MAKE MONEY?: On a b2b model, companies pay for their used credits a month on data processing, so they get the images and then upload all the data to our servers, we process the info using computer vision algorithms and get them back the information so they can show it to their costumers. 

BUSINESS IT COULD DISRUPT: The Drone industry and the image acquisition industry, today we have cameras everywhere, and most of them are in our cellphones, just now the best use for them is in Drones to obtain information, but imagine the possibilities, big companies grew based on the numbers and words analysis, databases and text mining, imagine doing the same but for Images...

MARKET SIZE: UAV Industry is hitting 6 billion by 2015, the Computer Vision Industry is going to be 30 Billion by 2019. 

LIKELY COMPETITORS: Skycatch is doing something alike for the construction industry, some other drones as GoDrone, offer the mapping services. 

PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATIONS: Valmie Resources is a Houston based Drone company that uses our software for Drones. DOW Agro is a client that uses our image analysis tools that cuts from 3 weeks to 4 hours the time it takes for them to gather data from large fields. EvoCreations is a Chinese based company that is developing hardware drones for our company to test. 

MANAGEMENT TEAM: David Castillo, ICS Drone product manager , CEO . Javier de la Mora , ICS UX, CTO,  Omar Pont , ICS  Drone AI , COO


WHO ARE YOUR ROLE MODELS?: Chris Anderson is a big player on the Drone Industry, DJI is a big company that we always rely when trying our new systems, because they have very trusted, high quality products. 

WHAT'S THE BEST THING OF BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR?: The fact of owning your future and deciding on what things you are doing today, trying to understand your costumer and finding value for them is awesome, Its not just selling something for them , is creating a relationship and making your clients feel better about your product and your company. its hard sometimes but at the end its worth it. 

WHAT'S THE EBST ADVICE ANYONE HAS EVER GIVEN YOU?: Do it for your costumers and try always to deliver value to them. If you are not succeeding it means you are not trying hard enough. 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS?: The pain of failing is nothing compared to the pain of not even trying and regretting.

Amitee Anonymizes Purchasing Trends For Consumers

QUICK PITCH:  Today Amitee tells you exactly what you spend money on by using the information on your receipts. Tomorrow Amitee will merge mobile payment tools, budgeting services, digitization of receipts, and rewards programs to make them “just work” for the average person. We believe these tools should be integrated in order to help 47% of Americans who simply can’t save money. Sauce 1 & Sauce 2.

THE BUSINESS:  Amitee is much better than Mint because it tells you what things you buy (shampoo, pantiliners, lipstick, deodorant, diapers) instead of only categorizing at a high level (personal care, food, entertainment). You can’t save unless you optimize your spending behavior. And you can’t optimize your spending behavior without knowing exactly what you buy. 

We are running a private alpha with 10 users. They email us pictures of their receipts, and we give them insights. The next step after this is to use these insights to provide users more relevant, targeted deals. 

Our end destination is to help you walk into Macy’s, pay with your mobile device, have any relevant discounts automatically applied, and measure this purchase against your spending goals -- without you having to do any legwork.

THE “AHA” MOMENT:   I left Google in June 2014 to learn how to code. Needed to manage my monies and didn’t cut it. It told me I spent $300 on Food, but not what kind of food (McDonalds’ chicken nuggets?, prepared food at Safeway?, chips?, yogurt?).

Created my own tool that helped me track this stuff. Friends were impressed, and asked if I could do this for them.  I said “yes if you pay me plz”. They were down to pay me, and I knew I was on to something.

HOW IT MAKES MONEY:  We aggregate and anonymize purchasing trends from our users, and sell them to brands that need to make smarter business decisions.

The information we sell looks like this:  “Hispanic women between the ages of 25-30 are 32% more likely than Asian women to buy Revlon mini tweezers at Target in the San Francisco Bay area.”

BUSINESS IT COULD DISRUPT:  Google AdWords, Rewards Programs, Personal Finance. 
Google AdWords has been successful because it offers targeted deals based on things you search for. We think a tool that offers you targeted deals based on things you actually spend money on is more valuable.

MARKET SIZE:  We are taking the advice of Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Ben Horowitz and are starting with a small market that’s currently being underserved: 10 million single mothers in the US.

The reason for this is because taking pictures of your receipts is a labor-intensive exercise. Single mothers have been the most engaged in our app and we think it’s due to their price sensitivity (average income is $26,000 compared to $81,000 for two-parent households).

The most successful startups have followed this approach. It works largely in part because it’s easier to become a monopoly in a small market and later expand than it is to try to dominate a larger market from the get-go.

PARTNERSHIPS OR COLLABORATIONS:  None. We need to validate more assumptions through our private alpha test.

MANAGEMENT TEAM:  Eric Flores. ex-Googler. can clap with one hand. hot cheetos addict.

Currently recruiting for “founder+cto”. Hit me up if you find this interesting:

WHO ARE YOUR ROLE MODELS?  My father.  He got himself through medical school without any money at one of the most reputable universities in Mexico. Like many immigrants, he came to the US in search of better opportunities for his family. His credentials weren’t accepted here, and he had to work as a carpenter, dishwasher, and truck driver while learning english. I’m not as badass as he is, but definitely inherited his hustle.  

WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR?  You’re always learning. Don’t be an entrepreneur if you don’t value learning more than money and/or sleep.

WHAT'S THE BEST ADVICE THAT ANYONE HAS GIVEN YOU?   Do things that don’t scale. Why? Read this: Too long for you? Then don’t be an entrepreneur.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS?  Being an entrepreneur is 90% managing your own psyche, and 10% execution. Don’t be an entrepreneur unless you’re already pretty good at this, or are willing to learn (quickly).

Abogadazo Empowers Latinos by Connecting them with Vetted Attorneys

QUICK PITCH: Abogadazo is a web platform that connects US Latinos to a network of vetted attorneys. The main feature of the site is a free Q and A forum that allows clients to ask legal questions in Spanish. The platform serves as a lead generator for attorneys.

THE BUSINESS: A great portion of the 54 million Latinos living in the United States do not have adequate access to legal information; fear and fraud is rampant within the community. At the same time, in the age of the smart phone and laptop, lawyers still pay millions of dollars to advertise in newspapers,  the radio, yellow pages, and on billboards. Abogadazo uses tech to make it easier for Latinos to obtain legal information while making it more efficient for lawyers to reach their clients. For the client, the process is a easy as visiting the platform and asking a legal question in Spanish. For the lawyer, the platform serves as the conduit to start a relationship with a client.

THE "AHA" MOMENT:  As a second year law student, I worked in the Legal Aid immigrants' rights office in New York. During this time, I noticed the great need of the Latino community in searching for legal help. The AHA moment arrived after reading about new legal tech companies; I knew that I could help solve the need of the Latino market by using technology.

HOW DOES IT MAKE MONEY? Lawyers pay to have access to the Abogadazo platform. The pricing strategy will be most likely based on a subscription model.

BUSINESS IT COULD DISRUPT: Abogadazo disrupts Spanish legal advertising. Millions of dollars are spent on newspaper, radio, yellow page, and billboard ads.

MARKET SIZE: 10,000,000 Latinos and 25,000 lawyers.



MANAGEMENT TEAM:  Diego Lafuente (CEO/Founder), Hector Lafuente (Co-founder), Miguel Cabrera (Advisor)

CONTACT INFORMATON:, 175 Varick St. New York, NY

WHO ARE YOUR ROLE MODELS? My role model is Felix Dennis. Felix was a British Entrepreneur, founder of Maxim magazine, and poet. He wrote the book The Narrow Road which I think should be required reading for entrepreneurs. In this book, Felix discusses the hardships endured by entrepreneurs while treading the metaphorical narrow road. According to Felix, the greatest trait a successful entrepreneur must have is tenacity. Apart from being an entrepreneur, Felix was a celebrated poet and philanthropist. He donated most of his vast fortunate to charity.

WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR? There is great satisfaction in seeing your entrepreneurial ideas come to life.


WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS? Classical advice from the Ancient Greeks: Know Thyself. This advice is especially applicable for someone thinking about becoming an entrepreneur.

People Spread Proves the Most Effective Way to Get Promoted

QUICK PITCH: People Spread is a marketplace that allows you find the social media influencers that your target market follows and buy promoted posts from them in a fast and simple fashion.

THE BUSINESS: A search tool to find social media influencers with +10K followers together with an indicator of customer segment, social authority and price per post. It provides marketers with the ability to request promoted posts with a brief, then accept/ decline the posts the influencers propose and, when accepted, make a payment. On the other side of the marketplace, influencers receive push notifications for campaign opportunities, making it as simple as selecting “yes” when they are interested or “no” when they want to opt out of an opportunity. For every payment influencers receive, People Spread will keep a 5% commission.

THE "AHA" MOMENT: We had 2: 1. Martina struggled trying to lower customer acquisition cost at her previous startup. While searching for plan b´s, she realized that although word of mouth is the most effective way to get promoted, the experience of buying promoted posts from talent agencies (who manage the social media influencers) is like buying plane tickets from a travel agency! Time-consuming and expensive. Waiting for the proposals, limiting your spectrum of influencers to the ones the agency has exclusivity with, paying their expensive fees…. People Spread was born to solve this pain with a very googler mission: organizing influencer marketing´s possibilities for startups.

2. While conducting customer interviews to validate our idea, we found that clicks from followers of certain social media influencers were more valuable than clicks from a Facebook campaign. As an example, Facebook may tag a person as interested in fashion because he/ she liked a few fashion websites in the past month. For startups interested in targeting fashionistas, clicks from followers of Lady Gaga´s stylist are likely to be more cost-effective than the ones generated by a Facebook campaign.


- A 5% commission will be charged to the social media influencers. 
- Finance: to give some time to the marketer to file any claims, People Spread will wait for 72 hours before paying the influencer.
- Ads: by year 2 we will allow influencers to promote themselves to get more deals.

- Talent agencies (they are managing social media influencers with +50K followers)
- Advertising agencies
- Facebook ads

MARKET SIZE: We are excited to tap into the Internet advertising field, which revenue in the United States totaled $49.5 billion for the full year of 2014, 16% over 2013. Based on Facebook´s ad revenue, display advertising is an $11,47 billion market .


Ad agencies generating viral campaigns with influencers for startups
Online talent agencies such as Instabrand, Famebit, Creatrs, Tumblr, Plaidsocial, Traackr, Inside social, Revfluence, Topsy, Neoreach, Buzzsumo, Influential, Tapinfluence and others. Partnerships Or Collaborations:

PARTNERSHIP OR COLLABORATIONS : Manos Acelerator & Google for Entrepreneurs

MANAGEMENT TEAM: Martina Montana – Co-founder and CEO

Alejandro Rascovan – Co-founder and CTO


WHO ARE YOUR ROLE MODELS? Martinas grandfather left a job that paid well to work almost for free as a cadet at an advertising agency. His dream was to be able to create advertising campaigns, although he did not have any studies or experience in the field. After a few years, he didn´t only become a creative director: he became a partner at the agency, won several Cannes Lions, produced many of the top commercials of his decade and, today, some of the slogans he created are still in use. Most importantly, he initiated a positive change in how the world perceives argentine creativity that still remains today. He is proof of how passion and vision overcome experience.

WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR? Being free to set your own limits, if you get to find them since you are not even limited by your own intelligence. Having a startups means being able to hire people that are more brilliant than you.

WHAT'S THE BEST ADVICE ANYONE HAS GIVEN YOU? "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right." -Henry Ford

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS? Don't ever think you lack experience to do something. Passion and initiative are more powerful than experience.

Don't fall for thinking that you need to belong to certain network or own a proprietary technology to start a business. It sure helps, but most people who recently made it to Silicon Valley big time didn't meet any of these conditions. The team and the go-to-market strategy are the competitive advantage in every case.

Don't build products that people don't want. Google, college professors, mentors or specialists in something don't have the answer to whether people want what you aim to build. Go meet potential customers!


Monkier is Limitless While Transforming the Lives of Others Through Home Maintenance

QUICK PITCH: Monkier is a quick and convenient solution to find, schedule and hire home maintenance and personal care services.

THE BUSINESS: Monkier was founded because we couldn’t live in a world where finding a service provider had many obstacles like spending time on a search engine, asking your friends for recommendations or calling your mom for help and even if you do so, the service wasn’t available for the exact moment that you need it.

THE "AHA" MOMENT: It’s always rainbows and butterflies in life until someone clogs the toilet and in that emergency situation you need someone who’s quick, reliable and most important available for you in that moment. Sounds easy to solve, but it can actually take up to 72 hours to get it fixed, been there and done that that’s why we want to change that.

HOW DOES IT MAKE MONEY: We charge 20% for each completed service.

BUSINESS IT COULD DISRUPT: Home maintenance & yellow pages, we want to change the way people look up and hire services.

MARKET SIZE: Improving homes in Mexico is a job mostly considered to be done by specialists whom consumers pay to do “the hard work” of such tasks due to the poor local DIY culture, while busy lifestyles and the widespread availability of cheap labour mean that many Mexicans still prefer to hire outside contractors, due to this behavior home care market size in Mexico represent $10B monthly, nevertheless Monkier seek to reach online consumers with high purchasing power , this niche market represents 25.3 million people with monthly household consumption in home services for $ 3.4B

LIKELY COMPETITORS: There’s a couple of young competitors playing in the ground of on-demand services market in Mexico like Zolvers or Iguana Fix, yet no one has established the value proposition of quickness, reliable and available service in the market.

PARTNERSHIPS OR COLLABORATIONS: Monkier is currently exploring potential partnerships, if you are interested in a partnerships or collaboration, please contact

MANAGEMENT TEAM: Kathia Marroquin, Mariana Malfavon, Mariana Ortiz, Alfredo Escamilla and Luisa Castañeda is the current team that gives life to Monkier.

CONTACT INFORMATION: Take a look on what we do at or contact us at

WHO ARE YOUR ROLE MODELS? We believe that there’s so many people out there doing amazing stuff is hard to point just one, we feel deeply inspired by Larry Page & Jeff Bezos both with outstanding visions that changed the way things were and challenge the status quo. We also admire Blanca Treviño CEO of Softek for her trajectory in the tech business.

WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR? Knowing that we can transform the lives of other people and at the same time feel that what we do is made with passion. We like that every day we face a new challenge that gets us out of our comfort zone.

We need to understand that there are no limits, we create those limits, we can go as far as we want, each person is born with a passion for which it is worth fighting, that passion is what makes us dream and then work for that dream.

The only certainty we always have is a “no”, being an entrepreneur is to understand that if we get that “no”, we have our whole life to try again and get the "yes" and realize our dream. 

WHAT'S THE BEST ADVICE ANYONE HAS GIVEN YOU? People believe that giving 100% is something extraordinary, but when you give more than 100% you realize what you really are capable of

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS? Always have an assumption because assumptions become ideas, ideas become experiments and the result of experiments are hard and solid facts.

IPO Insights Accelerator Workshop

Join Deloitte at their IPO Insights workshop on October 14.  You’ll have the opportunity to learn more about leading practices for public exits, network with your peers, and hear a CFO’s perspective on a recent IPO.  Please see registration link at end of invite below. We believe you will find the information valuable and look forward to seeing you there! 

Connecting the dots to your IPO

October 14, 2015 | 7:45 am – 11:45 am

Is your emerging growth company (EGC) ready for an initial public offering (IPO)? Could you use some insight on how to navigate through the IPO process? Join us for a half-day session as key participants in the process share their perspectives and experience in preparing for an IPO and planning for life as a public company. Learn what you can do to help set your company up for success.

You will have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of leading practices for public exits, network with fellow business leaders and discuss perspectives on the IPO journey. Discussion topics will include:

  • Capital markets
  • The road to an IPO
  • Investor relations
  • Preparing for alternative exit strategies
  • CFO interview
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Quadrus Conference Center
2400 Sand Hill Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Date & Time
October 14, 2015
7:45 am – 8:15 am Registration
8:15 am – 11:15 am Presentation/Discussion
11:15 am – 11:45 am CFO Interview

Manos Intern Returns to Cornell University After Being Exposed to the Startup Lifestyle

Maurilio Nuno, former intern

Maurilio Nuno, former intern

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in San Jose, California.

What do you aspire to accomplish in the future?
In the meantime, I want to earn my Mechanical Engineering Master's of Engineering focused on design. My goal is to either become a consumer product designer to create products that have positive influence and impact or to have my own company that bridges gaps between mass manufacturers and companies.

How did you hear about Manos Accelerator?
As a Kessler Fellow, I had a fully funded opportunity through Cornell University to work with any startup in the country, so I began my search for startups. I searched Latino Entrepreneurs on Google, and Manos popped up! The rest was history. 

What was your role at Manos? 
As Hana (Managing Partner) would always say, I was the jack of all trades because of all the different tasks I had to accomplish. Some tasks/positions were sourcing for the 4th cohort startups, helping write grants, social media marketing, photographer, Manos Representative, daily operations, and logistics for Demo Days.

How has Manos helped your grow personally and professionally?
I have definitely grown as a professional and entrepreneur due to all the exposure I got through immersing myself in the Silicon Valley and Manos Accelerator events. I feel more confident networking at large events and I definitely know how to make a pitch deck now (thanks to all the past startups' pitch practices).

What did you take away from your experience at Manos? 
Exposure to the startup/entrepreneur lifestyle and also life-long friends and mentors.

How has your internship with Manos prepared you for a future career? 
Email writing for sure. But more importantly, teamwork, communication, autonomy / self-motivation, networking and more experiences that I will definitely use in my future career. 

What was one thing that you were exposed to at Manos that you would not have experienced anywhere else? 
The network of trailblazing Latino tech employees and entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley!

Share a memorable experience. 
Doing the Insanity workout with my boss and the CEO of one of the participating startups at a nearby park after work. Also visiting Google's campus for the first time and attending the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at Facebook's Headquarters.

How did you change during your internship from your first day to your last day? 
I came out knowing I had what it takes to work and thrive in the Silicon Valley tech / entrepreneurial industry.

What was your favorite part about being an intern? 
Mainly being surrounded with such ambitious and visionary people.

Describe your relationship with your bosses and the startups. 
They were awesome! It's not everyday that you get to spend time with self-motivating people who are successfully building their dream. It was really nice knowing that someone with a very similar upbringing (Sylvia who was born and raised in San Jose) was such a successful entrepreneur. I was especially close to Hana Yang who was my mentor and friend. Reflecting back, Hana was almost like my older sister, always looking out and guiding me to make sure I was heading in the right path.

Where are you now? What are you doing now? 
I am finishing up my Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Cornell University in Ithaca, New york. I am packing up on my credits in order to earn a Master of Engineering in only 1 semester (to save $$$ and to propel myself into the mechanical design industry).


MANOS Accelerator, a startup accelerator program with the vision to be recognized as an international hub in Silicon Valley where Latino entrepreneurs from across the globe can come to convert their big ideas into reality, is excited to announced that it was one of 80 winners of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2nd Annual Growth Accelerator Fund competition (see link for official SBA press release)

MANOS Accelerator was selected after reviewing more than 400 applications.  The recipients represent 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and come from a broad set of industries and sectors – from manufacturing to tech startups to farming as well as a focus on a diversified range of demographic groups. Applications.  Each organization will receive a cash prize of $50,000 from the SBA.

“We’re so honored and proud to be selected as one of this year’s SBA winners,” said Hana Yang, Managing Partner of MANOS Accelerator.  “This award is a great recognition of the hard work and dedication that we are doing at MANOS with providing education, resources and guidance for promising startup companies led by Latinos/Latinas.”

MANOS Accelerator and the other winners of the SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund competition were judged by more than 40 experts with entrepreneurial, investment, startup, economic development, capital formation and academic backgrounds from both the public and private sector.  The judges reviewed the applications and pitch videos submitted by 180 highly qualified finalists in the competition.

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“Over the last couple of years, MANOS has been creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem among the Latino community within the overall startup space,” said Sylvia Flores, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Manos Accelerator.  “It’s been great to work with so many strategic partners, mentors and experts to see first hand the amazing solutions that Latino entrepreneurs are doing.  It’s rewarding to see MANOS win an award in SBA’s 2ND Annual Growth Accelerator Fund competition,”

The purpose of the competition was to draw attention and funding to parts of the country where there are gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.  While there are entrepreneurial activities occurring nationwide, some are better supported by private sector ecosystems than others.  SBA has created connective tissue amongst the nearly 130 winning entrepreneurial ecosystems now part of the Growth Accelerator Fund.

About Manos Accelerator
Manos Accelerator is a mentorship-driven accelerator and it works side-by-side with early stage entrepreneurs to enable them to build, launch, and finance their exceptional businesses, while helping to cultivate a more vibrant technology ecosystem among the Latino community.  For more information, go to


Where are you from?
I was born in Costa Rica but I grew up in Hayward where I currently reside.

Elias Barboza, former intern

Elias Barboza, former intern

What do you aspire to accomplish in the future?
I’m aiming to work in the public relations field.

How did you hear about Manos Accelerator?
My dad’s friend recommended I apply to Manos after he was informed they were looking for an intern.

What was your role at Manos?
I was the communications intern. I had many different duties but I mostly took care of the company’s entire social media. For example, I’d update Facebook on a daily basis with stories, photographs, event information, reminders, and company information. I also made sure to stay up to date with events and projects to inform the startups and co-workers.

How has Manos helped you grow personally and professionally?
It helped me grow by giving me a much better understanding of Silicon Valley.

What did you take away from your experience at Manos?
I understand the tech industry can be hard work so it’s important to have a little fun along the way.

How has your internship with Manos prepared you for a future career
Before Manos, I didn’t have a real, personal understanding of the startup ecosystem. Now I’ll be a lot better prepared and more confident in the future when I apply to jobs or simply talk about the tech industry.

What was one thing that you were exposed to at Manos that you would not have experienced anywhere else?
Meeting a very large amount of people in a very limited amount of time. I met CEO’s of international companies, venture capitalists, investors, and workers from just about every kind of technology company in only a few months.

Share a memorable experience.
Demo Day at Google is one event that stands out. Everyone had such a positive vibe, pitching their ideas and enjoying drinks and food. I really enjoyed visiting the Google campuses several times. Facebook also. Seeing Jennifer Lopez wasn’t bad either!

How did you change during your internship from your first day to your last day?
Throughout the season, I had to start conversations with many new people. It was something I wasn’t used to doing. By my last day, it was second nature.

What was your favorite part about being an intern?
I can’t choose just one. I liked meeting everyone and visiting different companies throughout the Bay Area.

Describe your relationship with your bosses, and the startups.
The bosses are too cool. They assign you a project and then do their own thing. They were understanding and encouraged me to ask questions. The startups are very focused on their companies but still like to be social. The internship reminds me of one of a small college course where everyone focuses on their tasks. We all go to events, dinners, and meetings together. By the end of the season, everyone is good friends.

Where are you now? What are you doing now?
I am applying to many places and hope to find something soon.

Click here to visit Elias’ LinkedIn profile


Estephanie Rodriguez, former intern.

Estephanie Rodriguez, former intern.

Where are you from? I am from Los Angeles, CA.

What do you aspire to accomplish in the future? I aspire to become a CPA and obtain a position as a Corporate Controller in the future.

How did you hear about Manos Accelerator? I first heard about Manos through one of the founders, Ed.

What was your role at Manos? During my time with Manos I worked closely with Hana Yang and helped her launch the Manos Angel Network. My main duty was ensuring that all Manos Angel Network events ran smoothly.

How has Manos helped you grow personally and professionally? Manos has further motivated me to have a successful career and to become a part of the growing Latino presence in Silicon Valley.

What did you take away from your experience at Manos? My biggest takeaway from interning at Manos is that success isn’t something that is easily obtained. Success is a long path with many highs and lows, but if you stay resilient you can achieve success.

How has your internship with Manos prepared you for a future career? It has helped me improve my networking skills and my ability to work with a diverse group of people.

What was one thing that you were exposed to at Manos that you would not have experienced anywhere else? One thing I was exposed to was Angel Investing. I had not had much knowledge about Angel Investors apart from what I learned in college. It was great gaining more insight into what it takes to be an Angel Investor.

Share a memorable experience. A memorable experience was listening to Sheryl Sandberg speech at NCLR event in Los Angeles. She is one of my role models and inspires me to one day take an important role in a company.

How did you change during your internship from your first day to your last day? The biggest change at the end of the internship was my confidence. I take on challenges now with more confidence and positivity.

What was your favorite part about being an intern? My favorite part about being an intern was learning more about angel investors and being able to diversify my network.

Describe your relationship with your bosses, and the startups. I had a great relationship with Hana, Sylvia, and Ed. I always felt like they truly cared about me and wanted to see me succeed. The people from the startups were very friendly and I always enjoyed working with them.

Where are you now? What are you doing now? I am currently working as a Staff Accountant at a manufacturing company in Santa Clara, CA.



QUICK PITCH:  CoupleCare is a startup that developed the first app platform that guides couples to track fertility as a team.

THE BUSINESS:  Starting your family is one of the most exciting times of your life. Having a child ranks as one of the most life-changing and rewarding decisions you will ever make.  There are over 4.2 million births in the United States each year and 136 million worldwide.  For some lucky couples, the road to parenthood is smooth and short.  Unfortunately, a lot of couples especially between the ages of 35 – 45 years old, find the road is filled with anxiety and stress as they discover getting pregnant is more difficult and takes longer than they originally thought. CoupleCare offers an innovation solution that equips both men and women with the knowledge needed to make the journey to parenthood worry free and successful as a team.

THE “AHA” MOMENT:   Many of our friends back in Mexico are at the age where they are getting married and starting families.  For many, it’s not that easy.  Infertility is a problem that affects both men and women everywhere in the world.  Although estimates of prevalence rates of infertility are not that accurate, and vary among countries and different populations within countries, world wide about 8% -12% of couples experience some form of fertility problems or lack of knowledge during their reproductive lives. 50-80 million of the populations globally have problem with fertility.  Despite the fact that infertility or lack of knowledge affects both men and women, yet women, particularly, often bear the sole responsibility and/or blame for the barren marriage.

HOW IT MAKES MONEY:  CoupleCare is free for users who download the app.   There are two business models for CoupleCare — subscription and sponsorship.  In the subscription model, the family pays zero for downloading the application.  CoupleCare makes it completely free for users to benefit from our tips and suggestions to enhance fertility.  In the sponsorship model, revenue is derived from advertisements or E-commerce solution shown to our members.

BUSINESS IT COULD DISRUPT:  Today, many couples go to fertility clinics or specialist for help or consultation with starting a family.  This can be costly, time consuming as well as stressful when just trying to understand the basics.  CoupleCare is a healthcare platform designed to leverage mobile technology and maximize efforts for couples to conceive.  The solution connects both men and women to work together and provides them with steps to parenthood.  The solution begins with the basics of ovulation – the foundation to conceiving.  CoupleCare complements their healthcare provider by helping couples track, monitor and manage the monthly ovulation cycle. Through our interactive solution, CoupleCare will identify nutritional and health tips for both men and women to enhance fertility.  We also provide fun tips, reminders, alerts and checklists that couples can easily follow and refer to through their journey of starting a family.  CoupleCare maximizes efforts and provides knowledge needed to achieve fertility success.

MARKET SIZE:  Just in the United States, we have statistics that tell us that 62 million women are in their childbearing years. 6.7 million has problems to get pregnant and 1.5 million of married women are infertile (have more than 12 months trying to get pregnant with unprotected sex with their husbands).  Also, 7.2 million women each year pass through fertility treatments, and we know talking directly to some of them that in the majority of the cases they pass through treatments because the lack of information or another solution to try before.  There is a big market where a lot of women who are professionals over 30 years old want to start planning a family.  This is harder for them because of the age factor so they need to keep track in a more specific way and try to reduce stress.  That’s where CoupleCare comes in.

LIKELY COMPETITORS:  There are existing fertility apps where most of them are focused on women only.  There are many apps that are working with freemium models or charging extra for simple features that users don’t need or want to pay.

PARTNERSHIPS OR COLLABORATIONS:  CoupleCare is currently a participant of The Bay Area NSF Innovation Corps at UC Berkeley and a member of the 2nd cohort of the Manos Accelerator in Silicon Valley.  CoupleCare is also in talks with major family planning organizations as well as fertility experts in the healthcare industry.  If you are interested in speaking to CoupleCare with regards to potential partnerships or collaborations, please contact

MANAGEMENT TEAM:  Sebastián Abramowicz, Alonso Salcido and Alfredo Reyes.


Who are your role models?  Answer:  Our family has always supported us and guided us on our paths with different lessons and experiences to share and teach us about life.

What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?  Answer:  Feel free, get to know new people and create your own future the way you want.

What’s the best advice that anyone has given you?  Answer:  Everything happens for a reason, don’t let opportunities pass you by and cease the moment when faced with challenges.

What advice would you give to others?  Answer:  The team is most important than the individual and stay together during thick and thin.  Always be open to feedback and be a student of life.

Quick Pitch features most innovative early-stage startups founded by Latino entrepreneurs from the Manos Accelerator program.  It profiles company pitches, interviews and guest columns by experts in the startup scene.  For more information, go to


QUICK PITCH: is a startup that has developed a platform that unites the voices of the society and communities to find answers. 

THE BUSINESS: is a digital platform that allows users to create questions or comments addressed to leaders, organizations or people of influence.

THE “AHA” MOMENT:   In Latin America (as in the rest of the world), social media has become an outlet for people to speak out and express their opinions.  Many of us have the same questions to the same leaders and we all use the same social media but may of our questions or comments are left unanswered.  It is very easy to use social media, but it is very hard to be heard.  As a result, we created with the idea of making “voices” relevant so that leaders can hear them, respond to them and take action.  The most important question, is the question of the majority.

HOW IT MAKES MONEY:  As a digital platform, is currently exploring various business models.  A B2B model with the media channels (TV, web, newspapers) in which they pay for the use of to better address what topics their audience would like to hear.  A B2C model with people of influence and leaders in which they pay for a premium profile with top topics, analytics and resources to better serve their audience. Another model we are investigating is sponsoring questions.

BUSINESS IT COULD DISRUPT: is a bottom-up questions and answers platform that brings users, fans, citizens and/or communities together to raise a question or comment above the noise of the social media clutter and be heard.  Today, everybody can tweet everyone in the world, but it is very hard to get a response.’s unique value proposition is that by helping a question to become relevant, users can be heard and engage more with leaders, celebrities, athletes, companies and/or brands.  The questions that are popular typically reflect the kinds of information that people are thinking about and looking for.

MARKET SIZE:  The growth of social media worldwide has been explosive.  This create a great opportunity for  The ability of everyone to express their point of view has created the pain of too many asking the same questions to the same leaders, and not getting answers.  Some numbers: The total Internet users worldwide size was 2.4billion (Internet World Stats) in 2013. About 1.7 billion of those were using social media (eMarketer Report). That is 22% of the world population is using social media with a growth rate of 14% y-o-y.  Only in the US, Americans 18-24 year olds are averaging 20 hours per month on social media (Business Insider).  That is why 41% of marketers use social media in their marketing campaigns.  Social media is now a prominent space. wants to make those topics that are relevant to many so that there are answers.

LIKELY COMPETITORS:  There are no direct competitors for at this point.  There are a few companies in the question-and-answer space like Quora, Reddit,  Their value propositions are adjacent to’s.  We’re focused on bottom-up questions, comments and answers from a community or the society to leaders or people of influence.  We’re focused on providing to leaders the questions of the majority so that they know the voice of their followers and they can provide answers with the biggest impact.  Leaders, celebrities, athletes, companies and/or brands now can contribute and engage with their followers, ambassadors and users by providing answers.  It’s a win-win for leaders and users. wants to be the “go to” place for relevant questions from a community with answers from their leaders for both English and Spanish-speaking users.

PARTNERSHIPS OR COLLABORATIONS: is working with two TV stations in Colombia.  They have done two TV news shows with them and also provided a white label plug-in for their website. is an excellent tool for journalist because they are constantly facing leaders and users.  They can interview a leader and use to ask what is the majority’s question of interest.

MANAGEMENT TEAM:  Alejandro Quintero and Oswaldo Alvarez


Who are your role models?  Answer:  Those who are able to make an impact in the world with ideas, words and thoughts such as Mandela, Malala, Dalai Lama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Gandhi and others.

What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?  Answer:  The possibility of creating something from scratch on your own

What’s the best advice that anyone has given you?  Answer:  Do not be afraid of change. You are your biggest roadblock

What advice would you give to others?  Answer:  Do not be afraid to change now

Quick Pitch features most innovative early-stage startups founded by Latino entrepreneurs from the Manos Accelerator program.  It profiles company pitches, interviews and guest columns by experts in the startup scene.  For more information, go to


If SHPE has anything to do with it, the answer is “yes”.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock lately, you know that we are experiencing a growing economy in the hi-tech sector.  Why do I say this?  2013 was a big year for IPOs such as TwitterFireEye and Barracuda Network.   For startups, venture capital financing hit $29.2 billion across 3354 deals. Behind the continued surge in early-stage seed venture capital deals, 2013 marked the fifth straight year of record venture capital deal levels.  Compared to 2012, 2013 saw venture capital deals rise 3%.  With these opportunities, the so-called ‘American Dream’ is within reach for many.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 3.7 million open jobs in the U.S. economy within the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields.  Over the next five years, the United States is expected to add as many as 1.3 million new STEM jobs.  Sounds promising?  Not so fast. Despite the national unemployment rate of 6.7 percent, millions of STEM positions remain vacant because there are not enough qualified applicants to fill them.

According to the National Research Council, the relative number of Latino graduates in STEM fields is  still not at the same level compared to other ethnic groups.  This report highlights how Latinos have the lowest rates of high school and college degree attainment, which creates barriers to education opportunities and hinders their chances for stable employment.  Throughout the nation and in a wide range of industries, there is an urgent demand for workers trained in the STEM fields — yet there are not enough people with the necessary skills to meet that demand and help drive innovation.

If Latinos are to prosper in this global economy and have the same opportunity as others in the United States, then that is the opportunity STEM presents, in that STEM education gives people contemporary skills to become “innovators” and “game changers” in today’s economy.  So, where are the Latinos in STEM?

(L-R) Rodrigo Garcia, David Lopez, Sylvia Flores, Edward Avila, Hana Yang

(L-R) Rodrigo Garcia, David Lopez, Sylvia Flores, Edward Avila, Hana Yang

This is where The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) comes in.  For those who are not familiar with SHPE, it is an organization that was founded in Los Angeles, California, in 1974 by Rodrigo T. Garcia and a group of engineers employed by the city of Los Angeles.  Their objective was to form a national organization of professional engineers to serve as role models in the Hispanic community.  Today, SHPE enjoys a strong but independent network with over 250 student chapters and 10,000 members across the nation.

Recently, I had the good fortune to experience one of the most amazing conferences in my professional career.  We partnered with SHPE at their Region II Leadership Conference in San Diego on April 17 – 20, 2014.  With this year’s theme of, “Come ride the WAVE to your future”, the conference expanded its program to focus on innovation and entrepreneurship for the very first time.  Manos Accelerator was asked to deliver a unique track that would provide insight into the startup ecosystem and expose SHPE members to entrepreneurship opportunities.  Why is this significant?  For starters, I met over 300 Latino and Latina college students in STEM majors and I spent over two days networking with them.  I must say, these Latino students were very impressive – they came from various universities across California and Arizona and they represent some of the brightest and most eager students that I ever met.  It appeared like many students were ready to break through walls and solve some of our biggest challenges of today.

As I learned more about SHPE, I discovered that they have been aggressively driving STEM programs and initiatives to help tackle these issues and close the national gap.  Over the years, they have introduced mentoring & networking programs, education outreach activities, scholarships and science-related events for students and parents.  These programs are intended to both enrich Latino students’ educational experience and recruit students into engineering fields of study.  In November of this year, SHPE will be hosting their annual national conference in Detroit where they expect to attract over 5,000 engineering professionals, students and corporate representatives.  The conference is an opportunity to provide educational, technical and career opportunities for professional and student engineers.  However, it doesn’t stop there.  SHPE is now expanding entrepreneurship into their mission as another option for students and professionals.

“More and more Latinos with engineering degrees are seeking alternatives to traditional engineering corporate roles.  Entrepreneurship is one of those viable career options” said Heidy Arriola, Region II Vice President of SHPE. “SHPE recognizes this trend and is expanding its focus to incorporate more programs and resources to meet this need for our SHPE members.”

That is the reason why for the first time, SHPE partnered with Manos Accelerator to provide SHPE members with a peek of the entrepreneurship landscape through a Silicon Valley lens.  The entrepreneur track was one of four other tracks offered at the Regional II Leadership Conference.  It heavily emphasized real-world insights from startup founders, venture capital (VC) panelists, tips on how to pitch to investors and an “open mic” pitch competition.  The 2-day curriculum involved industry experts such as Jacqueline Diaz, Founder of Amigapreneur, Lala Castro, Founder of Latina Geeks, Carlos Rosario of Novak Druce Law Firm, Dennis Doucette, Paul Johnson and Pattric Rawlins of Procopio Law Firm, Phillip Walker of NSP Capital, Miguel Marshall of Angel Ventures Mexico, Jennifer Argüello of Kapor Center for Social Impact,  Miguel A. de Jesus of Purpose & Actions, andTodd G. Poling of Vantage Point Advisors.  The track provided a thorough exposure to the many building blocks of an entrepreneurial career.

I applaud SHPE for taking a leadership role with making STEM a priority and connecting with so many bright Latino and Latina students.  SHPE is making the right moves with the goal to increase the number of Latino STEM graduates into the workforce.  They are committed to helping our nation fill a growing void of home grown engineers and scientists in this decade and beyond.

At San Diego, I witnessed a robust conference where SHPE partnered with industry leaders and corporations to cultivate the next generation of Latino STEM “game changers”, which is much needed to fuel innovation and ensure global competitiveness.  To say the least, our nation’s economic future depends on it.  Latinos are projected to account for 75 percent of the growth in the nation’s labor force by 2020.  If my experience from participating in the SHPE conference is any indication of the up and coming talent and the next generation of STEM innovators, then all I have to say is that I’ve seen the future and it looks so bright.

Keep up the good work SHPE!!!


As the CEO of Manos Accelerator, I truly enjoy meeting entrepreneurs who are passionate and at times crazy about what they are creating as they talk about their startup. Hearing pitches about “aha” moments vary from founder to founder.  Many of these stories are frequently about the incredible challenges and pressures of breathing life into a company and trying to survive.  At times, I, myself, have wondered, “is it worth it?”  Being an entrepreneur is not easy and it is supposed to be difficult. That’s part of the journey of innovating, failing and learning – isn’t it?  As a founder of a startup, you work tirelessly on something you believe in and pour everything you have into your venture.  You live in a constant state of risk, reward, loss and gain.  Entrepreneurship is probably one of the most difficult things I can imagine someone doing.  Essentially, someone is disrupting or creating something from nothing – a market, product and/or service.  Most entrepreneurs start with an idea, a concept or a dream with little or no money.  Most likely, they are doing it alone.

For most Latino entrepreneurs in the United States, the startup journey is even more challenging, especially as it pertains to access to seed capital.  Many Latino founders have few wealthy friends or family members to help fund their ideas and get it off the ground.  Lack of investment capital is a significant barrier to the growth of these early-stage startups.  Why is this the case when there isn’t a shortage of Latinos?

“Undeniably, Latinos have a strong entrepreneurial spirit, stemming from generations of families creating small businesses to generate financial resources.  However, many Latinos in this country are first generation entrepreneurs in the tech startups and other scalable business models.”  said Angelica Perez-Litwin, PhD, Founder of Latinas Think Big.  “They need the support and intelligent guidance of those who have successfully navigated these spaces, and strong connections to influential networks that are willing to invest in their innovation.”

According to the Selig Center for Economic Growth, the population of Latinos is 53 million and in Silicon Valley alone, Latinos make up 33.2% of the total population. They are the fastest growing minority ethnic group and they will represent $1.5 trillion in purchasing power by 2015 (and $1.7 trillion by 2017).  By 2050, they represent 30% of the United States population. Additionally, Latino small businesses are growing at twice the rate of the national average – generating over $350 billion in annual revenues.  Yet this powerful demographic continues to be ignored by mainstream leadership in business, venture capital and angel investing.

In a recent study by CB Insights, a report found that the percentages of venture capital funding breakdown were as follows:  87% White, 12% Asian, and 1% to Blacks/Hispanic/Native American.  This study highlights that the total investments received by Latino founders make less than 1% of all venture capital money.  Perhaps that is why Latinos remain the largest unfunded community in the startup ecosystem.  This is one of the reasons why I co-founded Manos Accelerator.  We are not only focused on startups developing solutions with cool technology but we are also focused in the development of Latino entrepreneurs.  Our goal is to help Latino entrepreneurs realize the potential of their idea and to increase the number of Latino entrepreneurs in the global tech community.  We are creating an environment in which Latino entrepreneurs from across the US and in Latin America can go from turning their innovative ideas into reality and not feeling a sense of loneliness.

With our first cohort under our belt and our recent announcement of our partnership extension with Google for Entrepreneurs, we plan to have two program cycles in 2014 and two more scheduled in 2015. However, that is not enough to fully realize a “total startup ecosystem” within the Latino community.  There is still a missing vital piece to the puzzle.  Connecting those who have promising new business ideas to those with access to capital and market savviness are big challenges. With approximately $2.6 billion in venture capital investments in 2013, we need to put more focus on the other side of the startup ecosystem, which is to develop Latinos to become knowledgeable angel investors. We need to create a community where budding Latino entrepreneurs can engage with Latino angel investors to help accelerate the growth of disruptive and innovative companies.

The life of an “entrepreneur” is risky. Everyone knows that and so is the life of an “angel investor” where they lose money taking risks.  The game of angel investing in early stage startups is complex – there are times when you make money and others when you lose money. This is the nature of the startup environment and it is not for everyone.  According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. That means that 80% of startups crash and burn.  So, angel investors need to understand the “in’s” and “out’s” of investing in early-stage companies in order to make smart and calculating decisions.

To create this concept of a “total startup ecosystem” strategy, Manos Accelerator is launching the “Manos Angel Network” along with the Angel Bootcamp program for new and seasoned angel investors. Angels from this network would be exposed to a robust curriculum that educates Latinos on how to make angel investments in early-stage startups.  These interactive investing sessions are led by seasoned veterans and industry insiders from Silicon Valley.  The Angel Bootcamp program runs in parallel with the 12-week accelerator program so that the Latino startups can tap into a new class of trained investors.

The Manos Angel Network’s mission is to create and develop a new generation of Latino angel investors by accomplishing three complementary goals:

  • Attract and develop a strong and robust network of Latino seed stage investors.
  • Attract and invest in Latino entrepreneurs and startups.
  • Support the angel network with resources such as the Manos Angel Bootcamp, which will help build the startup ecosystem of tech innovation and entrepreneurship within the Latino community.

One thing I learned from living and working in Silicon Valley, is that you need to “think big” in order to move the needle.  It is time to make a difference by attracting more Latinos both as “entrepreneurs” and as “investors” to co-exist in the rest of the hi-tech world.  A true startup ecosystem will only begin to form by increasing the number of Latino-led startups with the accelerator program and having more capital in the startup ecosystem with the Manos Angel Bootcamp and Network.  Initiatives like these are vital in the continuous growth of the entrepreneurial community.  They focus on grooming angel investors to support the growth of current Latino entrepreneurs while extending its reach and plugging into the overarching global tech community.

Manos Accelerator is not only fostering entrepreneurship and supporting Latino-led startups, but also building a new breed of angel investors with the Angel Bootcamp.  The vision is to have Latino angels gain more experience, invest and lead, as well as for new companies to form, scale and succeed.  These efforts will, undoubtedly, promote a new generation of Latino entrepreneurs and angel investors who are a key part of a vibrant ecosystem.

To learn more about how the Manos Angel Bootcamp is changing the face of angel investing, click here.  The Manos Angel Bootcamp has opened a call for applications for its upcoming program in Silicon Valley, which will run from June 13 to August 22, 2014.  For more information, please send an email to:

Making Payments Possible for Small Businesses in Developing Countries

saySquare is redesigning payments in Latin America.  Its trusted platform allows small businesses to accept payments using SMS like a mobile POS.  With their solution, users and merchants won’t need specialized hardware or smartphones to receive payments.

Small businesses in developing countries have many obstacles that don’t allow them to grow economically or reach their core objectives.  One of those main obstacles is the lack of trust that the banking sector has in the niche; this is reflected in the lack of access to POS devices that streamline small business sales and move them in highly competitive markets.

saySquare is an alternative payment method that will allow small business in Latin America to grow.  Specifically, saySquare offers a mechanism to receive payments through a platform using SMS on any cell phone with any mobile carrier in a country – safely and quickly.

Cristian Espinoza, one of the founders of saySquare, was running late to a meeting back home in Honduras.  He didn’t have time to make lunch, so he quickly stopped at a small taco shop on his way to the meeting.  When he was about to pay, the cashier told him that she didn’t have change for a large bill, so Cristian tried to pay with his credit card. Unfortunately, the cashier didn’t have a POS either.  Frustrated, Cristian had to leave without his tacos and with an empty stomach.  Most importantly, the taco shop missed out on a potential sales transaction.

The saySquare founders realized that this sort of thing happens quite often in Honduras and similar places with many small businesses.  As native Latin Americans, the saySquare team saw that there was a great need to support the small business sector, and saw that they could do so through today’s technology. Consequently, by helping small businesses grow, they would foster the progression of the nation’s overall economy.

This was their “AHA” moment.  They felt that there had to be a better way to use technology and allow anyone, anywhere, to accept payments.  They decided to do something for the sake of hungry “taco lovers” and small businesses everywhere.

saySquare applies a 3% fee per transaction.

Financial Services and Mobile Payments for small businesses in developing countries.  saySquare’s SMS platform makes it easy and safe for any merchant to use in their business, as to avoid missing out on potential revenue.

Small businesses in Latin America represent 90% of companies, and there are almost 4 million small businesses operating over a market of 146 million consumers. Furthermore, saySquare is specifically designed for places like Latin America where 80% of the population uses basic mobile devices.  They aim to partner with merchants who seek a better way to increase their sales but whose businesses are too small to work with traditional credit card networks or systems.  saySquare is well positioned in hopes of tapping into the purchasing power of Latinos within Latin American countries and eventually the US market.

In the US, the competition is heating up in the mobile payments market. However, for these companies, Latin America may be viewed as a risky, small market or they wrestle with how to target Latino users effectively.  Solutions like Google Wallet or PayPal may enter the Latin American market to compete.  However, as of now there are no major competitors in Latin America.

saySquare is currently in discussion with various banks to explore potential partnerships.  If you are interested in speaking to saySquare with regards to potential partnerships or collaborations, please contact

Cristian Espinoza, Leonardo Amador, Armando Alvarado and Wilfredo Guevara

Who are your role models?  
Answer:  As an entrepreneur, we find inspiration for many in the startup world and we try to learn from them as much as possible, both successes and failures. However, Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square and Co-founder of Twitter, stands out because he did something outside of his comfort zone.  Also, Ev Williams, Co-Founder of Twitter, because he has been an effective leader.  Lastly, Steve Jobs because he always tried to create the best products for customers even when customers did not know what they want.

What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?  
Answer:  You get to meet a lot of brilliant people and you learn from them.  You learn more from experiencing entrepreneurship than from reading books about entrepreneurship.

What’s the best advice that anyone has given you?  
Answer:  #hacelopue – it’s slang that people use in Honduras that means “stop talking about it and just do it.”  When we started hearing this, it motivated us to focus on saySquare and take action to complete it.

What advice would you give to others?  
Answer:  Don’t be afraid of taking a leap of faith.  Don’t be afraid of failure, because you learn more from failure than from following the risk-free path.

Quick Pitch features most innovative early-stage startups founded by Latino entrepreneurs from the Manos Ventures program.  It profiles company pitches, interviews and guest columns by experts in the startup scene. 

Augmented Reality Sees its Way Through a Contact Lens

LENS is redefining reality through the first augmented system built into a contact lens called IRIS.

IRIS will use photographic image generation to project virtual objects onto the physical world around them. By using a cubical environmental grid emitted from a beam projector attached to the user, IRIS will be aware of the movements of the user allowing the user to manipulate and interact with the images.

For augmented reality to become an integral part of our society the devices must be aesthetically appealing. They must be discrete and non-obtrusive allowing for users to feel like the system is an extension of them. A contact lens is a perfect platform for AR to exist in. By studying the wearable space, the idea started with how to subtly integrate smart systems into clothing. We took it a step further by asking how wearables can be used in a rapidly emerging virtual/augmented reality market, thus bringing to life the idea of IRIS.

The entirety of the consumer electronic market. By bringing an affordable device to the market we will be able to take a significant chunk out of smart phone sales. Super imposed images will make physical screens obsolete.

The virtual reality market has existed for decades but has only saw a re-emergence in the past two years. This is due to technological advancements of 3D printing and advancements in nano systems. The entirety of the consumer AR market is valued at 6 billion dollars with an expected exponential increase over the next ten years.

Magic leap will be our primary competitor in the mixed reality market. With their development on smart goggles and 3D stereoscopic imagery we believe we are taking AR one step further.

We have connected with the Netherlands based augmented reality company Cinoptics. Other collaborators on IRIS include TalosX, Texas Instruments, Stratasys, IMG Tech, and IBM.

Nick Reyes, Maryam Fakhrizadeh, Diego Torres, Shanmugesh Buhvanesh, Bohan Lin, Amanda Nemec, Elio Angile.

Our role models encompass a wide range of individuals in different fields. All have the same thing in common: the belief that their ideas and their existence can help progress humanity forward. These are people no different than you and I, who aspired to help out the masses no matter what the personal repercussions would be. Against all odds they followed their dreams and used their respective platform to make a better day. Martin Luther King Jr, Steve Jobs, John Lennon, Mahatma Gandhi, Buddha, Mohammed Ali, Oprah, Tupac Shakur, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Edgar Allan Poe, Aubrey Graham, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Paulo Coelho, and Steven Spielberg.

Creating and working for the people. There is a feeling that what you are doing isn’t just feeding into a stagnant system but that you are truly producing something of value. Do not mistaken all work does have value and is important but entrepreneur work allows for an unparalleled amount of freedom. That freedom is also what makes being an entrepreneur so terrifying because there is truly a freedom for anything to exist, good or bad. When you find balance as an entrepreneur it allows for your own personal unique creativity to flow into your work that really can change the world.

Love. Embrace everything that comes your way good or bad because it all has a reason. The universe never wants to defeat you it only wants to cement your values and make you a stronger person.

Be yourself and believe in what you love, always. Truly find out what makes you happy and pursue it with every ounce of your energy. The hardest part is understanding yourself and your place. Once you can conquer yourself, you can understand and sympathize with any person because you realize we are all not different, we are all the same. Let your imagination run wild, love with all your heart, work hard, smile, anything is possible, and your job is to help as many people as possible.