Startup Weekend Latinx in Tech Winners in Oakland Pitch Tech Solution to Help Puerto Rico and Mexico Relief Efforts

54-hour Event Part of National Effort to Increase Latinx Talent in Tech

1st place team, Las Casitas (pictured above), was made up of students from Chabot Community College and UC Berkeley


Oakland, CA (October 2, 2017) – This weekend, the Kapor Center for Social Impact, Techqueria and Techstars hosted Startup Weekend Latinx in Tech: Oakland. The event was part of a national effort to bring visibility, access and exposure to aspiring Latinx entrepreneurs across the U.S. Three more simultaneous events took place in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

Startup Weekend, a Techstars program backed by Google for Entrepreneurs, is a 54-hour team competition in which participants design, build and pitch their startup ideas to a panel of venture capitalists and seasoned entrepreneurs.

The winner of the final pitch competition was a team called Las Casitas. Using tech to create sturdy building materials from recycled plastic, Las Casitas pitched to build affordable, environmentally-friendly housing that could withstand natural disasters and contribute to relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the earthquakes in Mexico. The team was made up of students from Chabot Community College and University of California, Berkeley.

Second place winner, a team of formerly undocumented Latinx entrepreneurs, sought to simplify the immigration process using chatbots.  My Little Piñata, a company that celebrates culture through a customizable miniature piñatas online platform, and Camisetas, an online subscription-based t-shirt service that supports manufacturers that pay living wages, tied for third place.

The event brought together a diverse group of Latinx and ally college-aged students and young adults with technical and non-technical backgrounds from across the Bay Area. Throughout the weekend, professionals from the local tech, startup and venture capital communities volunteered their time to coach and mentor participants in preparation for their pitches.

[bctt tweet=”Our goal through Startup Weekend Latinx in Tech was to demystify the pathway to tech and entrepreneurship for the Latinx community, while celebrating our culture and potential” username=”lilsg31″]said Lilibeth Gangas, Chief Tech Community Officer at the Kapor Center for Social Impact. [bctt tweet=”Over the next 20 years, the United States population will be majority people of color, with the Latinx community making up the fastest growing demographic. This weekend is proof that with guidance, access and community support, we can reach a new level of innovation from the Latinx community and other underrepresented groups of color unlike anything we’ve seen before. There is so much untapped talent outside of Silicon Valley— Oakland’s growing inclusive tech economy will be proof of that.” username=”lilsg31″]

There was a total of 10 teams that pitched their startup ideas to a panel of judges that included Freada Kapor Klein, Partner at Kapor Capital and Kapor Center for Social Impact, Miriam Rivera, Managing Partner at Ulu Ventures and Shauntel Poulson, General Partner at Reach Capital. Teams focused on creating startups with a positive social impact that tackled social, economic and political barriers faced by Latinx communities. Other startup concepts included:

  • Using blockchain technology to circumvent predatory lending in low-income communities
  • Reducing the college drop-rate through a mobile mentorship platform experience
  • Bridging the gap for students in the Central Valley through a life skill-based curriculum
  • Teaching computer science through video game learning with culturally relevant content

First place winners Las Casitas received the grand prize of 6 months incubation at the Kapor Center Innovation Lab (iLab) which includes workspace, mentorship and office hours with Oakland Startup Network & Kapor Capital.