Thursday, January 23, 2014

Entrepreneur Series | Q&A with Kevin Hernandez, Founder of RecCheck

Ideas are better served with inspiration. Sometimes on the roller coaster ride of entrepreneurship we need a little bit of motivation and a hard reminder about the possibilities in front of us and the merits of hard work. Kevin Hernandez is the Founder of RecCheck, a mobile application that would allow users to easily set up pick up games with their friends and other players around them. RecCheck is a way for users to discover new parks and players in their area. Following is an interview with Kevin who recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdismo. (Disclosure: I am a Co-Founder of Crowdismo and huge supporter of Kevin's startup.)

RecCheck Mobile App 

Tell us About Yourself | You have an amazing story.
I was born and raised in the Silicon Valley so I have always had a very strong interest in technology and entrepreneurship.  Growing up during the Dot-com Boom, I was always surrounded by crazy ideas that seemed to only work here in the Valley.  Additionally, my parents always taught me that hard work pays off and they exemplified this mindset by leading by example.  My mother worked her way from the Philippines all the way to the Bay Area where she worked many jobs in order to put me and my sister through school.  My father also went through his share of struggles just trying to make his way to the United States.  He left El Salvador in the 80s while the country was going through a civil war.  He had a vision of raising his kids through education and the right morals.  This is why I have such a strong affinity with education and especially schools that teach entrepreneurship.  Because of this, I decided to earn a degree in entrepreneurship from Arizona State University where I graduated Magna Cum Laude.  After graduating from ASU, I decided that I wanted to further my education and expand my network.  That's when I decided to apply to the program at Draper University.

What was it like at Draper University?
Draper University was one of those rare experiences where you feel like you can accomplish anything.  Here we were taught to be bold and have radical ideas.  But to us, our radical ideas were just "out of the box" solutions to problems that needed innovative thinking.  We listened to speakers that changed the world with video games, coached companies into billion dollar successes, had theories of the universe that would make Einstein cringe, and even a founder that sold a company while he was still in High School.  Everyone that I encountered at Draper University was like-minded and incredibly talented.  This was the first time I felt as if I could really bounce ideas with others in such a welcoming environment.  Since this was a boarding school, I was able to form lifelong connections with my fellow classmates and I still talk to a lot of them to this very day.  Looking back, I'm incredibly grateful to Tim Draper for putting together such a life changing experience.  Here I learned to be brave.  Whether it was trying to get a job offer in one day, learn someone's life story, recount my most embarrassing moment to a room of 50+ people, or pitch an idea to a team of investors, I always felt prepared and feel like I can accomplish great things with courage and even a little bit of failure.

If you could lock in the mentor of your choice who would you choose and why?
If I could lock in the mentor of my choice it would be someone that values education and has been surrounded by entrepreneurship.  Additionally, I'd like a mentor that knows what it takes to succeed as a startup.  This is why I feel blessed to have two mentors that exemplify this with Bill Draper and Bruce Brege.  Bill has aided in the success of countless startups and even worked in D.C. as the President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.  Bruce has been my mentor since high school and has always supported my education.  With his guidance, I've been able to go through a 4 year university and even start my own company.  Bill and Bruce have been tremendous mentors and continue to support me with my endeavors.

Have any tips for other Latinos(as) looking to get into an accelerator?
My biggest tip to Latinos(as) looking to get into an accelerator is to just do something risky and fail while you're at it!  Entrepreneurs are supposed to know how to take defeat and dust themselves right off in order to tackle their next challenge.  I challenge anyone trying to get into an accelerator to start something.  The lessons you gain will far outweigh anything you have to lose.  Oh, and it doesn't hurt to be a bit crazy.

What's the idea behind RecCheck?
As someone who loves to play sports and compete against other people, I enjoy hitting up the local court or field to play a game.  However, often times I find that there's no one there or no one is willing to play a game.  After experiencing this several times I decided to come up with the idea of RecCheck.  RecCheck will be a mobile app that lets users discover and organize pickup games around their area.  Users can set up a profile according to their favorite sports and difficulty level then challenge players around them, join in on open games, or even create their own events.  After a nice run, users can add other players to their network in order to invite them to future games.  Also, as a premium feature, players can earn rewards by checking into parks and clocking in their hours.  So, the more you play, the more points you get for things like protein shakes, coupons for athletic apparel, sports equipment, etc.

Love it. So this is a mobile startup plat that encourages folks to be active?
Yes, and our motto is actually "Check Into An Active Life" because we feel that it's important to maintain an active lifestyle.  We also want to encourage people to get out there and meet local players through the power of pickup games.  Often times I'm on vacation and have a hard time finding a basketball court or field.  With RecCheck, you'll have the opportunity to look up the closest facilities and even meet new people through games.

Why is there such a need for this type of startup?
There's a need for this kind of startup because people need to get rewarded for the hard hours they put into perfecting their jump shot, practicing their swing, or throwing the perfect spiral.  At the same time, sports provide a way for people to work together towards a common goal.  With the growing trends in wearable technologies and fitness tracking, we hope to be a part of this wave and move towards a healthier and more active society.

Why did you create a crowdfunding campaign?
I created a crowdfunding campaign because I want to give people the chance to become a part of this whole experience from the beginning.  With crowdfunding, I have the opportunity to give any potential backers or users a sneak peek into the whole process of building this app from the ground up.  Crowdfuding also gives us the chance to really connect with people that are truly interested in what we're doing.

Why Crowdismo?
I chose Crowdismo because I wanted to reach out to the Latino community.  I want to show Latino entrepreneurs everywhere that there is a support system out there that can really make your ideas a reality.  I love Crowdismo's mission statement of "Empowering Latino Genius Everywhere" because I do believe that this is the sort of thing that minority entrepreneurs need.

How can folks get involved? 
You can get involved by checking out our crowdfunding campaign or checking out our actual site and sharing it with anyone that might be interested.  Spreading awareness is the first step towards a successful campaign and we're hoping to get as much exposure as possible!  You can also stay in contact by filling out the contact form on our site or by simply liking our Facebook page as well.  Thanks for all the support and if you have any questions or want to challenge me to a game then email me at Kevin(at)!

Thanks Kevin! You are an inspiration to us all. Absolutely have no doubts your startup is going places. We can all learn from your hustle. This is the first in a series of Q&A posts with successful and awesome Latino(a) entrepreneurs doing amazing things.

Article by @josehuitron - Entrepreneur. Author of Vista Hispano. Founder of Hub 81. Co-Founder Crowdismo.