After seeing that less than one percent of venture-backed startups were founded by Latinos, Ed Avila, Silvia Flores and David Lopez joined forces to change that statistic. The human resources executive, the award-winning entrepreneur and engineer, and the retired computer technician and veteran of the insurance industry formed Manos Accelerator. Based in San Jose, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley, the company recently partnered with Google for Entrepreneurs to further increase the number of Hispanics in the startup community.
“A person can have an idea or a vision, but you have to have a system in place where you can pitch your idea to a person, and they can help you formulate your plan,” says Lopez. “We are focusing on file computing and web-based solutions, but any good idea is a great idea…We provide the mentors and angels to invest so the idea can be pitched to people willing to invest in Latino success.”
On July 31, the application process will close and six to eight Latino startup teams will be chosen — from the 45 submitted so far — to collaborate with other startups, meet with angel investors, mentors, corporate executives and venture capitalists to help develop their business plans– all for free. The first session begins on September 9.
“Even though Manos Accelerator is located in Silicon Valley, it is poised to be recognized as an international ‘hub’ for all Latino entrepreneurs and startups from across the U.S. and Latin America countries,” says Avila. “From our total submissions, we have received 30 percent of our applications from Latin American countries such as, Chile, Spain, Costa Rica, Mexico, Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, and Argentina, just to name a few. This shows me that innovation is happening among Latinos, and we are excited to give them the visibility, the resources, and the fuel that they deserve to enable them to scale to the next level.”
So far, Avila says about 100 people have volunteered to be mentors for the program, and a third of submissions are from international startups.
Partnering up with Google for Entrepreneurs has only helped the initiative more. Lopez says it was a collaboration which progressed naturally after they pitched the idea of Manos Accelerator.
“We are excited to be partnering with such a great organization to provide resources to increase the number of Latino entrepreneurs in the global tech community,” Mary Grove, Director of Global Entrepreneurship Outreach at Google, told The Wall Street Journal. “Our mission with Google for Entrepreneurs is to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship around the world and we believe in supporting the current and future entrepreneurial leaders in our communities.”
Lopez says Google will be providing mentors, engineers, and other resources to the Latino entrepreneurs.
“Let’s say a person has a high-tech web-based idea — they will send one of their engineers to help train the entrepreneur, give them technical help and provide outings,” says Lopez.
Lopez also says that other successful Latinos have shown willingness to help Manos Accelerator as well, and in the next couple of weeks, they will be holding meetings with them.
“I’m really committed to seeing Latinos succeed in this environment, and my long-term goal is to extend this program to anyone in Europe and Latin America. The hub is in San Jose, but we’ll still do these workshops in New York, San Antonio or Miami — wherever there is a large Latino population…First we want to make a couple of Latino rock stars — once we do that, I think we will be on our way to achieving our goals.”