Tips for Startup Success From the Latino2 Conference in NYC

June 11, 2012

1:44 pm

The Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media (LATISM) held their 3rd Annual Latino2 Tech Startup conference at the Google offices in New York City on Thursday, June 7th. Ana Roca Castro, Founder and Chairwoman, Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media (#LATISM), organized the conference that had over 100 attendees.

Attendees included students of a local New York school, Gregorio Luperon High School, who came with startup ideas, entrepreneurial dreams, and a lot of enthusiasm.  During the session“Turn Your Idea Into a Concrete Actionable Project,” moderated by Ana Roca Castro and Julie Diaz Asper, they brainstormed and pitched new startup ideas that solve problems that they have.

Chris Genteel, Head of Diversity Markets at Google, spoke about the efforts of Google and other communities supporting diversity in tech. Only 1.2% of VC funding going towards Latino startups and organizations like NewMe Accelerator or Women Entrepreneurs on the Web, a movement started in India, are working to solve this.  Genteel encouraged students to apply for the The Generation Google Scholarship: $10,000 to support STEM education!

Joanne Wilson, David S. Rose and William Crowder were part of the VC panel advising the entrepreneurs on how to approach and get funding.  My notes from the panel:

  • The New York Angels is the most active angel group in the country
  • Most angels or VCs have blogs – reach out and comment on the blogs and get to know them
  • Expand your network and increase your network to overcome the challenge of getting a meeting with VCs
  • Always ask “Why not me?” when you are not funded – you may learn valuable feedback
  • Use Kickstarter to see if people buy in to your idea – having a market is THE key indicator for success and funding
  • Read books and get help from your network to learn where and how to get funding – the book, “Definitive Guide to Raising Money for Angels,” is free when you sign up for Gust.com
  • Create your own rallying point – go out and meet people who will champion you, attend local events organized by the tech community, and get peer to peer mentoring

Immediately following the VC panel, 3 startups – Klooff, Location Apparel, and Pledge4Good – pitched to the judges (I was one of them) and audience in the room and those following on Google Hangout. Klooff is a mobile app for pets, Location Apparel crowd sources design for local custom apparel and Pledge for Good enables donations for every day activities.

The conference brought home the message that entrepreneurship is joyful but is hard work – and success takes time.

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Shashi Bellamkonda is the Chief Marketing Officer at Surefire Social. He is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. Shashi is passionate about helping startups and small business and has been recognized twice as one of the Top 100 Tech Titans by the Washingtonian and Top 100 Small Business Influencer Champion 2011 by Small Business Trends. Follow him on Twitter @shashib.

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