Monday, April 29, 2013

Meet Cíbola: South Side Chicago's Innovation Center Fueling Diversity in Tech Innovation

Fresh off 54 hours of startup ideation via Startup Weekend Santa Maria, the excitement and energy still remains. Questions arise as to how we can keep the momentum going in the area of moving viable ideas forward. Enter Cíbola, a prime example of a focused collective effort aimed at helping drive the number of everyday innovators. The Rainforest by Victor W. Hwang and Greg Horowitt identifies several important aspects of the 'Innovation Funnel' including:
  • Ideas
  • People
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Organizations
  • Coordinating Infrastructure
Cíbola, founded by Mahrinah von Schlegel and Emile Cambry, Jr., is an interesting example of coordinating infrastructure focused on launching new ideas and lasting companies of all kinds in South Side Chicago.

Cíbola is a hub for startups innovation, collaboration and creativity in Pilsen. Our mission is to help Chicagoans become everyday innovators, solve complex challenges, promote diversity and create a community of support for all of us to build our dreams. Cíbola is dedicated to building companies of all kinds, with a focus on tech entrepreneurship, social enterprise, and growing both Pilsen and Chicago's entrepreneur communities.

About Pilsen
Just three miles from downtown, Pilsen has been a port-of-entry community for more than 130 years. The eastern section of Pilsen has attracted been home to artists and galleries for more than 20 years. This arts district, along with the expansion of the nearby University of Illinois at Chicago and is less than five minutes from the Illinois Institute of Technology and Depaul University’s downtown campus.

Why Now?
The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) reports that less than one percent of venture capital dollars invested annually has been directed to the country’s 5.8 million minority business owners, who represent 29 percent of all businesses in America. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of minority-owned firms increased 46 percent, compared to 18 percent for all U.S. firms. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between 2002 and 2007, the number of people employed at minority-owned businesses jumped 27 percent, while job growth for non-minority-owned firms increased less than one percent. The MBDA asserts that closing the funding gap between minority-and non-minority-owned startups, based on the share of the adult minority population, would add $2.5 trillion to the economic output of the U.S. and create 11.8 million new jobs.

Cíbola, a coworking space, aims to create an intimate, engaging environment for entrepreneurs to learn actual lessons from actual experiences. It’s hard to do that with 3,000 people spread out in a giant auditorium at a keynote full of theory and fluff. What we need is an environment of accelerated and directed effort towards product and idea development.

Starting in the mid to late 2000s, hackathons became significantly more widespread, and began to be increasingly viewed by companies and venture capitalists as a way to quickly develop new software technologies, and to locate new areas for innovation and funding. Some major companies were born from these hackathons, such as GroupMe, which began as a project at a hackathon at the TechCrunch Disrupt 2010 conference; in 2011 it was acquired by Skype for $85 million. The software PhoneGap began as a project at the iPhoneDevCamp (later renamed iOSDevCamp) in 2008; the company whose engineers developed PhoneGap, Nitobi, refocused itself around PhoneGap, and Nitobi was bought by Adobe in 2011 for an undisclosed amount.

We need more spaces like Cíbola and innovators to help set the tone for ongoing ideation and exciting entrepreneurship.

Learn more by supporting Cíbola on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

NORTEC Collective and Composing New Technology Tune.

NORTEC collective and composing new technology tune.

Mexico is experiencing an economic renaissance. The country's explosive growth has fueled a new wave of technology startups that are betting on the Mexican market. is one that has been able to fuse culture and technology into a service that allows users to publish, share and discover millions of interests in Spanish and English.

Interesante users are a highly mobile crowd. To support this, we are regularly releasing improved versions of Interesante for iPhone and Interesante for mobile web. Our users can explore different categories, create collections and get recommendations.

Colors, sounds, location, content and type, play a crucial role in the recommendations we serve users and our highly sophisticated algorithms are making this happen. The algorithms work diligently in the background and simplify the user’s actions.  We show our users the best content as fast as we possibly can.

Discovering new musical tastes through video

NORTEC Collective, a collective of avant-garde artists in electronic music lead by Ramón Amezcua (Bostich) and Pepe Mogt (Fussible) and twice Grammy nominated artists, are now part of the group of advisors to Interesante. NORTEC collective provides the artistic point of view and opens the doors for up and coming artists to be a crucial part of the discovery engines of the future, where the crowd discovers the hidden gems in platforms like Interesante. Video is key in the discovery of new artists and music and we are committed to taking video discovery to a new level. Interesante has integrated YouTube’s API, enabling video content recommendations

NORTEC and Interesante are working to understand the needs of musicians and solve the problem of how to be discovered among a sea of noise.  Interesante wants to let artists and musicians find their core audience and increase the initial engagement by bringing their music directly to them.

Interesante, Inc.
Menlo Park, CA

Monday, April 8, 2013 Hosting Developer Bootcamps for Women and Minorities

How can we encourage more diversity in the arenas of entrepreneurship and technology? It begins with a sense of identity and community where each of us play an important role in recognizing that talent and possibility know no boundaries. Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas and we must take advantage of opportunities to turn our passions into rewarding careers. Advocates of Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) and proponents of technology and innovation in the startup arena are charged with the task of providing pathways for increased diversity in tech. As we speak organizations like March for Innovation are pushing for smart immigration reform to attract and keep the best and brightest to fuel innovation and American jobs. This is a great step forward. However, we must recognize that women and people of color are continually faced with unique challenges in the tech space. At least, that was the featured topic of a recent Diversity in Tech Panel at the LAUNCH Festival in San Francisco. Below is the video of a pioneering discussion on increasing diversity in the technology space.

Open discussion is a catalyst for idea generation, societal reflection, and community development. Collaboration and synergies among women and people of color is a token for advancement, innovation, increased creativity, and awesome ideas.

Several Latinos and Latinas come to mind who are doing some great work in encouraging open collaboration and opportunities for all in the startup and technology arena. Pioneering communities like Ellas 2.0, a unique content platform where female founders, investors and innovators share their startup stories, tips and tricks and guidance, is a prime example of progress and fundamental fairness.

"If the U.S. wants to maintain its current economic standard of living it's got to figure out how to use all of the talent available..." - Freada Kapor Klein, Ph.D.

Our goal at Vista Hispano is to highlight those who are addressing these issues and championing possibility and diversity in the entrepreneurial and startup environment. is a perfect example of what can be when individuals come together to promote diversity in tech and create new pathways for sustainability.

Sabio was born out of necessity, desire and hope. The necessity to bring more women and minorities into the world of programming through developer bootcamps. A desire to see a superior and more diverse workforce. And a hope to uplift the communities that suffer from the highest rates of unemployment and worst educational resources.

Developer bootcamps are basically accelerated learning programs where you take someone with little to no programming experience and in a short period of time (3-6 months) make them employable as an entry level programmer.

Perhaps, one of the most exciting aspects of a career in technology is that we have the ability to create our own success and (in the case of a startup) be part of a unique team environment and overall industry that is charting the future of America's place in the global arena.

Kudos to the team at Sabio who are beginning a journey in real possibility and positive outcomes for women and minorities. Interested in supporting Sabio? Check out their profile here or visit