This year’s techstars Latinx in Tech NYC 2019 was a diverse event full of Latinx innovation, partnership, and leadership. Major organizations like PayPal and The Kapor Center sponsored the event to ensure that Latinx people could gather and work on their tech start up ideas.
For many people the tech sector can be a part of their everyday lives and remain a mystery at the same time. Startup weekends and hackathon events can help demystify the sector but often times they have a high white male attendance rate which only replicates the lack of diversity in the sector. Diversity is necessary for all sectors, especially tech because it impacts everyone’s life. Having events that specifically call for diverse attendees helps people ensure that the rooms they walk into are more diverse. Techstars Latinx Startup weekends are one of these opportunities.
This year Latinx in Tech NYC weekend was hosted at PayPal’s New York City office in Greenwich Village. The space was the perfect backdrop for a weekend long event that brought together Latinx people to think of a startup idea, work on the idea, develop a minimal viable product, and pitch it to a panel of judges. Like other start up weekends, the winning team would not win prize money. However, this time the winning team would have the opportunity to travel to Northern California and pitch their idea at LTX Fest 2019. LTX Fest 2019 is one of the largest gatherings of Latinx people in tech and Latinx people who aspire to be in tech.
One by one twenty-one people stood in front of all the attendees and had sixty seconds to pitch their start up idea. Ideas ranged from having an app that helps musicians easily find sheet music, an app that helps local small food businesses sell leftover inventory at a discounted rate, to health tech ideas that would make caring for loved ones easier. After the ideas are pitched the group voted and broke up into 5 different groups to get started working on their products. With only 53 hours teams are tasked with developing the idea, getting feedback from coaches that work in tech and business, reworking their ideas, and discovering how each teammates skill set would inform the product.
Although it was Latinx in Tech NYC 2019, people traveled from northern New York and Philadelphia to attend. “There isn’t something like this in my city. I had to come out and connect with Latinx people that are interested and passionate about tech” one attendee told BeLatina.
One of the event organizers, Techqueria, ensured that everything about the event was Latinx. Being in the environment it was clear to see why the event is needed and how diverse startup weekends can be super welcoming. People effortlessly switched between Spanish, English, and Spanglish in casual conversation, during their pitch, and when they couldn’t find the right words in one language to capture what they were trying to say. Catering was from local small Latinx businesses and the food was, of course, delicious and fulfilling. And between working attendees hung out around the PayPal office while listening to Ozuna, Selena, and Cardi B over the loudspeakers and chatting with one another.
One the third and final day 5 teams pitched their ideas and their new minimal viable product to the panel of judges in front of everyone. A heart monitor idea which would make it easier to keep track of loved ones overall medical needs helped imagine streamlined a way of care for multiple caretakers. A credit card startup idea would make it easier for you to automatically maximize your credit card benefits. Another would connect people with local Latinx restaurants. And another one would make it easier for Latinx entrepreneurs to launch their business with culturally competent support. The winning idea was a business that would provide small business owners with data to help them maximize profits while connecting them to customers that would like to purchase their leftover inventory that would otherwise be thrown away.
Lili Gangas is the Chief Technology Community Officer at The Kapor Center, an organizer of LTX Fest 2019, and served as one of the judges. “I participated in my first Techstars Startup Weekend NYC in 2016 and now I’m back as a sponsor with the Kapor Center. This is a very full circle moment for me” Gangas shared.
Kapor Center and PayPal’s support of Latinx innovation and leadership demonstrates one way to help support diversity and inclusion efforts in tech.
Techstars has Start Up Weekends all over the world. People interested in attending an affinity group startup weekend event can check Techstars StartUp Weekend’s website to find one near them.