Community Leader of the Week: Sally Ng

This week we are excited to spotlight long-time Organizer, Facilitator, and friend, Sally Ng of New Brunswick, Canada.


Sally finds numerous ways to support her startup community:

  • She’s been a SW Facilitator for 18 months, and has traveled to 9 different cities
  • She is the Executive Director of Planet Hatch/Accelr8, which connects startups to local resources
  • She is a TEDx programming manager

Outside of startups, she’s also a Lieutenant in the Canadian Forces, and she’s a Glider flight instructor! Most recently, Herald Business featured an article about Sally, her involvement in her community, and her many experiences. You can read the full article here.

Her work around the world allows Ng to bring intellectual experience and ideas back to her fledgling organization. At Planet Hatch, she works with regional partners to improve resources for entrepreneurs, but as the group is only four months old there is a lot to do and inspiration from elsewhere is welcome. Bg has been a volunteer Facilitator for Seattle-based Startup Weekend for the last 18 months and has already worked in nine different cities.

Oakland's first Black Male Achievement event a Success

Last weekend, Impact Hub Oakland hosted Oakland’s first Startup Weekend Black Male Achievement (SWOBMA). Kalimah Priforce says of the motivation behind the event, “Black boys are the most vulnerable population in the United States when it comes to incarceration rates and graduation rates,” he said. “It’s the population most ignored and that people are most afraid of. […] I personally want ‘hackathon’ to be a common word in every black home, in every Latino home, in every girl’s home,” he said. “For those underrepresented populations, a hackathon [should be] something they can see themselves in.”

Below are a few highlights from the event, and you can listen to SW BMA Organizers Ayori Selassie and Kalimah Priforce discuss this event on NPR here.

Van Jones gave the keynote at Saturday’s evening reception and shared his vision for Rebuild The Dream’s latest program, #YesWeCode, a major initiative to help train 100,000 low-opportunity youth become the next generation of world-class computer programmers.

The packed house also saw a panel: “Building a Silicon Valley that lives up to Dr. King’s dream” with Kimberly Bryant (Black Girls Code), Obai Rambo (Black Young Democrats of San Francisco), Marc Philpart (PolicyLink), Shaun Tai (Oakland Digital), Nicole Sanchez (Kapor Center for Social Impact), and Dan Portillo (Greylock Partners). 

Oakland Local




UP Press & Community Stories: January 2014

Featured Stories

MLK Meets Silicon Valley – Inclusion Hacking For Good In Oakland

Startup Weekend Oakland invites community members, business leaders and techies to solve global issues related to education, health, restorative justice and sustainability. The underlying theme is “Building a Silicon Valley that lives up to Dr. King’s dream” and is the first global hackathon for Black Male Achievement. The vision for this groundbreaking event presents the question “Could an app have saved Trayvon Martin?” says Kalimah Priforce, a 2013 Echoing Green BMA Fellow and Co-Founder of Qeyno Labs, the host for this historic event.

New Startup Weekend hackathon provides opportunities for disabled community

Co-lead organizer Todd Bachmann came up with the idea when he started thinking about the deaf and blind community and the potential technology innovation. He wanted to figure out how Startup Weekend could work into that and met Cory Klatik, a blind social media manager for Intel and four-time Startup Weekend attendee. “He helped me realize the weekend could be stronger in its accessibility offerings for the entire disabled community — not just the visual and hearing impaired communities — and inspired me to co-organize the event with him to do that just that.” Bachmann explained.

Women start it up: Women’s Startup Weekend looks to empower female entrepreneurs

Block notes that women are starting businesses at a faster rate than men, but are not scaling their businesses, often because they don’t have the support they need. “Sometimes it might just be an introduction,” she says. Block says she wants to be a good role model and help women reach their potential. She’s giving a kickoff speech at the Women’s Startup Weekend, and will be a coach. By gearing the event toward women, Block says organizers hoped to see a better turnout of women than a traditional Startup Weekend. (Another is planned March 7-9). See also: ND Women’s Startup Weekend a smashing success

This startup wants to make Filipinos healthier, one plate at a time

While it originated as a simple food pre-ordering system, he, together with his team Albert Go and Ian Rojas, “pivoted to a healthy food delivery platform during Startup Weekend Manila.” The startup ranked second in the Startup Weekend Manila held in 2013. For its soft launch, which is targeted before the end of this month, MetroPlate has established a partnership with healthy food caterer Rice Labs as its main supplier for food.

Startup Weekend Spencer to tackle agricultural innovation

“Everyone has been paying attention to entrepreneurs in the middle of big cities because there is more exposure and access,” she said. “Meanwhile, independent, rural entrepreneurs have been quietly finding new ways to generate food to feed the world and do traditional tasks smarter and faster with technology.”

Mexico, a cradle of startups

Startup Weekend is a global network of entrepreneurs that has organized events in more than 400 cities worldwide to inspire, educate and empower online communities and users with a culture of entrepreneurship. Mexico City, Guadalajara, Tijuana and Monterrey are cities with the highest levels of startup activity in Mexico, according to Hernández.


Portland Business Journal: A new twist for Portland Startup Weekend that will focus on access

Geekwire: New Startup Weekend hackathon provides opportunities for disabled community

Jacksonville Business Journal: Weekend warriors showcase entrepreneurial spirit at Jacksonville Startup Weekend 2014

Silicon Prairie News: “Golden ticket” storage tool wins the first ag-focused Startup Weekend

Launchpad Inland NW: Startup Weekend plays matchmaker ~ Barters Closet acquires Dresser App

Jacksonville Business Journal: Start me up: Weekend warriors showcase entrepreneurial spirit

Wichita Business Journal: Startup Weekend organizers Hansen and George on what Wichita needs to do next

Des Moines Register: Startup Weekend Spencer tackles rural problems

Asheville Citizen Times: From Startup Weekend to successful launch

Silicon Prairie News: LockerDome CEO thinks GlobalHack fills gap of product-centric events

Haaretz: Nazareth, Israel’s largest Arab city, now has a budding startup scene

Business and Leadership: ‘Champions’ sought to drive the creation of start-up communities around Ireland

Geekwire: Young upstarts from Startup Weekend Spokane merge to help keep your wardrobe organized

Xconomy: Colorado Ski Country Tries to Tap Into Entrepreneurial Talent Base

Indiana Statesman: Competition gives entrepreneurs chance to shine

USA Today Educate: Startup training programs prepare students for risk management, failure

Inforum: Women start it up: Women’s Startup Weekend looks to empower female entrepreneurs

Buffalo Business First: Heads Up looks to next step in biz plan

Times of India: Facebook acquires Bangalore-based startup Little Eye Labs (one founder attended SW)

Xconomy: From MIT Robot Whiz to DoD Engineer: The Gener8tor Startup Founders

Tech in Asia: This startup wants to make Filipinos healthier, one plate at a time

Azstarnet: Gangplank merged into Startup Tucson as CoLab

Latin Lista: Mexico, a cradle of startups

Bangor Daily: Let Maine entrepreneurs use the crowd to grow their businesses

BizJournals: ITEN names two to mentor startups

SB Wire: Houston Startup Loves the Intoxicating Fumes of Explosion in E-Cigarette Industry

Des Moines Register: Startup Weekend Spencer to tackle agricultural innovation

Community Stories

Arcticstartup: A new way to monitor chronic illness from Startup Weekend Stavanger

Emerging Prairie: ND Women’s Startup Weekend a smashing success

Mountain Xpress: Asheville Startup Weekend winners launch Local Flavor AVL app

Business 2 Community: Channel Your Inner Superman and Watch Your Idea Come to Life!

Forest Lake Times: Fantasy Geopolitics begins test drive

KMBZ Kansas City: New local startup aspires to help parents collect special memories

Exit Event: How We Got From Coursefork to trinket

The Florida Times Union: Startup Weekend at UNF drawing more ‘opportunity entrepreneurs’

Media, Videos, Photos

WAWV abc: Weekend Event Helps Valley Entrepreneurs

Grand Rapids SW Videos: ‘Startup Weekend Hatches Ideas’

KSBY San Luis: Cal Poly students launch businesses during Startup Weekend

SW Aarhus: SW Aaurhus Health Vertical event video

SW Rio Favela:; English subtitles:

Central Coast News: SW  event segment

Why barters can be more valuable for your startup than revenue

The following is a guest post by Anna Sergeeva of NOMAD

In October 2013, our startup tried a little experiment and started accepting barters as a checkout option. Instead of paying with money, our customers can now propose a barter. And if we like their offer, we’ll ship them the agreed upon number of products.

At launch, we didn’t know what to expect. Fortunately though, we received an overwhelming positive–and yes, valuable–response, and here’s what we’ve learned so far:

1. Barters are great for getting valuable services at a fraction of the cost – We’ve received legal advice, design consultations and web development work from high-level professionals thanks to barter. As a bootstrapping startup, it’s helped our bottom line and expanded our network.

2. Barters develop our brand – We’re designing products for the 21st century nomad.  We want to make sure that everything we do is in line with that mentality. And what’s more nomadic than bartering? Instead of simply accumulating another “thing,” our customers have bartered everything from custom bikes and die-stamped office furniture to wall art and artisanal popcorn.

3. Barters reinforce our culture – We’re growing our team in San Francisco and it’s important for us to build a culture that reflects our nomadic values and minimalist brand. By decorating our office with eclectic barters, our current team and potential hires have a constant reminder of what we stand for.

4. Barters are fun – It’s just plain fun to receive surprises from all over the world on a daily basis. And when you’re working in a fast-paced startup environment, little sprinkles of fun here and there are a great reminder of why you chose this career path to begin with.



About us – NOMAD is a crowdfunded hardware startup and we make the world’s smallest, most portable USB charging cables – ChargeCard and ChargeKey.


12 Latin American startups to look out for in 2014

The following article is by  and is a re-post from The Next Web. We’re proud to share that “lastroom,” a Startup Weekend team, has made the list! 


As the year comes to a close, it’s a good time to look back at some Latin American startups that are geared up to make waves in 2014. After quietly gaining traction over the last few months and sometimes years, they are now ready to collect the fruits of their work and pop up on your radar more and more often.

It is important to note that we decided to focus on startups that are still exactly that: startups. In other words, you won’t find names such as Globant on our list, despite the fact that the company is expected to IPO early next year – which, on a side note, should be great news for Latin America. Nor will we highlight e-commerce giants such as NetshoesDafiti, Rocket Internet’s Linio and portfolio companies like real-estate site Lamudi, which are already beyond the early-stage phase.

Please also keep in mind that this list is by no means exhaustive. For instance, we previously listed Latin American startups focusing on education and on finance that are very promising. In addition, we expect most if not all of the startups that we listed in last year’s “top 10″ to do great in 2014.

As you may remember, our selection back then was the following: Agent Piggy,Bandtastic (runner-up: Queremos), CinepapayaComparaOnlineCumplo(runner-up: Lenddo), Descomplica (runner-up: Veduca), IdeamePagpop,Workana (runner-up: GetNinjas) and Wormhole IT.

Without further ado, here’s our selection for 2014, in alphabetical order:


aentropico 12 Latin American startups to look out for in 2014

Aentropico is a big data company that provides company managers with easy-to-use big data applications that can answer their specific business concerns. While these tools already exist, they are rarely used in the decision process outside of very large corporations. This represents an opportunity for a company like Aentropico to democratize the market and offer big data solutions to all sorts of companies, including medium-sized businesses.

Aentropico’s platform is currently in closed beta, ahead of a planned rollout in Brazil in a few months. Its existing dozen of corporate testers inside and outside of Latin America give an idea of the wide range of clients to whom it may appeal, from large Mexican retailers to a Latin American food giant and Colombia’s government.

Aentropico indeed comes from Colombia, where it was born in Feburary 2012 and backed by Fundación Bavaria and INNpulsa. The company also has ties to different Latin American countries, starting from the incubation and capital it received from Start-Up Chile and Argentina’s NXTP Labs. Since then, it has taken part in Start-UP Brasil’s first batch within 21212′s acceleration program in Rio de Janeiro.

In addition, Aentropico’s founders received support from Boston-based accelerator MassChallenge and Massachusetts-based open innovation companyInnocentive. As a matter of fact, both Aentropico’s CEO Sebastian Perez Saaibiand CIO Juan Pablo Marin Diaz have impressive resumes, including as a fellowship at Harvard to work on a stat-based system to monitor institutional corruption, building upon their combined 16 years of global experience in applied mathematics and engineering.

Ultimately, Aentropico’s founders want to turn their startup into a leader in Latin America’s predictive analytics market. It is worth noting that they aren’t the only ones to operate in this segment; for instance, the winner of TNW Latin America Startup Rally this year was a Colombian company called Senseta, which sells data analytics solutions to enterprise clients.

avenida com logo 220x76 12 Latin American startups to look out for in 2014

Argentine e-commerce platform Avenida.commay only be a couple of weeks old, but it definitely deserves to be on this list due to its founders’ agenda. As we wrote in our monthly roundup earlier this week, it is the first project to come out of Argentine company builder Quasar Ventures (see ourprevious story).

Quasar itself is the brainchild of Andy Freire and Santiago Bilinkis, fathers of the office supply chain Officenet, of which Quasar’s CEO and third co-founder Pablo Simon Casarino was an early employee. After becoming Argentina’s leader and expanding into Brazil, Officenet was acquired in 2004 for $23.2 million by US giant Staples (it changed its name to Staples Argentina in 2011).

With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see venture into other Latin American countries in the near future. However, the company makes it clear that the first task on its roadmap will be to expand its catalogue beyond the selected verticals it currently serves, such as home and gardening. Quoted by Argentine newspaper La Nacion,’s co-founder Federico Malek Pascha explained that the site plans to start selling electronics in the second half of 2014.

Ultimately, it is quite clear that will have to start offering “everything for everyone” if what it wants is to become Argentina’s Amazon. Whether it can achieve this goal without opening itself to third-party vendors remains to be seen. Still, Avenida’s decision to have its own warehouse and control its full delivery process seems wise at this stage, in a region where e-commerce startups are often stumped by logistics.

Bunny Inc.

BunnyInc logo black 220x137 12 Latin American startups to look out for in 2014

Bunny Inc. is the name of the umbrella company that is home to all of the startups related to voice acting that have been founded by Colombian entrepreneur Alex Torrenegra and his wife Tania Zapata over the last decade. Its portfolio includesVoice123 (2003), VoiceBunny (2011) andBunnyCast (2013), which all focus on different product offerings within the voice over segment.

As some of you may remember, VoiceBunny came into the spotlight a couple of years ago when it took the liberty to offer audio readings of Fred Wilson’s blog The newly set-up venture BunnyCast follows that same line by providing publishers with human narration of their articles.

While Bunny Inc. is now headquartered in San Francisco, it qualifies as a Latin American startup for several reasons. Besides Torrenegra’s nationality, part of the team is based in Colombia, where he also co-founded the co-working spaceHubBOG and two tech communities, BogoDev and BogoTech.

Besides its product and team, which we expect to deliver newsworthy results in 2014, Bunny deserves to be on this list as an example of a successful bootstrapped startup – and proudly so (see Torrenegra’s opinion post in PandoDaily). In an ecosystem that tends to give too much importance to signals such as acceleration cycles and funding rounds, it is important not to forget the fundamentals: the most promising startups are the ones that provide value to their customers.

In addition to his activities as an entrepreneur, Torrenegra also set upTorrenegra Labs to make a series of investments in startups such as real estate company VivaReal and travel platform WeHostels, which was recently acquired by StudentUniverse. He recently gave a great interview to Mixergy on his personal trajectory as entrepreneur and angel.


cityheroes logo 12 Latin American startups to look out for in 2014

Cityheroes is a platform that helps citizens chime in to improve their cities, for instance by reporting issues and threatening situations. To go beyond mere reports, the startup is building partnerships with authorities and institutions such as Santiago’s Fire Department and Chile’s Animal Welfare Association to promote specific verticals in which concerns are readily addressed once filed by Cityheroes’ registered users. Some of these are already available via the Google Play app that Cityheroes launched this year, while more features and an iOS version are in the pipeline.

Although Cityheroes’ CEO Ponce and his co-founder Mauro Trigo are Bolivian, they had moved to Santiago to participate in Start-Up Chile. As we learned last month, the team is now about to move again, this time to the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, where it has been selected to take part in the first batch of publicly-funded acceleration program SEED (see our previous post). It was alsoamong the finalists at TNW Conference’s 2013 Startup Rally in Brazil last August.


logo dujour 12 Latin American startups to look out for in 2014

Dujour is a well-designed fashion app that lets users share the latest trends and looks. In practical terms, these can take photographs of their daily outfits and tag individual items to share what they are wearing and maybe ask for quick feedback. They can also follow friends, fashion bloggers and fellow users from all over the world, building their own personalized style feed.

Dujour has been available for iPhone and iPod Touch since last January, followed by a rollout on Google Play last July. Since its initial launch, it has reached over 125,000 registered users. While most of these come from Dujour’s home country, Brazil, the app also has a significant fan base in the US, France, Portugal, Italy and the UK.

One of the factors that has boosted Dujour’s global growth is the fact that its outstanding UI caught Apple’s attention, resulting in the app being featured in the App Store several times for multiple countries. This month it washighlighted as one of the best apps of 2013 in Brazil’s App Store.

Dujour is based in Rio de Janeiro, where it graduated from startup accelerator Papaya Ventures. Earlier this year, it received angel investment from Sync Mobile’s founder Amure Pinhoinvestor and mentor André Diamand and a small group of foreign angels. It was also a finalist at TNW Conference in Brazillast August. As we recently learned, Dujour will also be part of Start-UP Brasil’s next batch.


logo firstjob 12 Latin American startups to look out for in 2014

As its name suggests, FirstJob is a marketplace that helps students and graduates find their first job. Its core target are young people with up to two years of professional experience.

On the other side of the equation, it is helping large companies connect with millennials and adapt to their culture to find the best candidates. As a matter of fact, FirstJob knows that its target audience is more likely to read job postings and get exposed to corporate branding on social media networks than elsewhere, which is why it shares all job postings on its Facebook and other social accounts.

FirstJob comes from Santiago, Chile, where it received support and funding from university incubator IncubaUC and Telefonica’s accelerator Wayra Chile. As you may have read, FirstJob’s team has now been selected to join 500 Mexico City’s latest acceleration round.

PulsoSocial interviewed FirstJob’s CEO Mario Mora last November, and reported that the platform had then reached the milestone of 20,000 resumes in its database, based on which it had achieved 400 matches for its clients. Ultimately, its ambition is to expand in all of Latin America.


logo interesante 220x45 12 Latin American startups to look out for in 2014

Interesante could be superficially described as a Pinterest for Latin Americans and US Hispanics. These can use its platform to “discover people, products and content about entertainment, fashion and travel in real-time and based on your personal interests.”

However, it would be misguided to see Interesante as a quick clone of an existing business model: what it has been building is a strong brand with a distinctive design and an engaged community of users within a growing and untapped demographic group that companies are increasingly keen to serve. Its key differentiator is its knowledge of the needs and preferences of Latino users, which have guided many aspects of its approach, such as an emphasis on audiovisual content and mobile navigation.

Interesante was first released publicly around a year ago and already launched in Argentina, Chile, Mexico and the US. It is currently available on the Web and as an iPhone app, with plans to launch on Google Play in the near future. While most of its team is located in Argentina, its founders recently graduated fromManos Accelerator, a new US-based incubator for Latino entrepreneurs. Its first Demo Day took place at Google last November.

Interesante’s targeting doesn’t stop at ethnicity, and it also includes a more granular level of personalization. For instance, its algorithms are set to highlight relevant content based on a user’s location, which could turn it into an attractive customer acquisition channel for SMBs such as hotels and fashion stores.


lastroom logo black 220x66 12 Latin American startups to look out for in 2014

LastRoom is a Mexican same-day hotel booking service that operates in the same market asHotelTonightHotJustBook and the like. Earlier this month, it won WeXchange, a competition and conference for Latin American female entrepreneurs in which LastRoom’s COO Angela Cois took part.

The company’s first beta was released in December 2012 during Startup Weekend Guadalajara, followed by an app launch in April 2013. Its platform is now available on both iOS and Google Play, which have been downloaded 100,000 times in total. Over the last few months, LastRoom expanded from Mexico to Colombia and Chile, while broadening its catalogue beyond 4 and 5 stars properties to offer mid-range properties as well.

The company has gathered $100,000 in funding so far, including bootstrapping plus an investment from NXTP Labs, and is now working on a larger round to finance its growth. According to LastRoom’s CEO Josue Gio, LastRoom’s plan for 2014 is to focus on the corporate travel segment, which has proven more promising for its model:

“When we launched LastRoom we thought that our clients were both leisure and business travellers. After 9 months of operations, we realized that the leisure industry is too seasonal and it does not guarantee a constant flow of sales. [As a result], we concentrate our efforts on the business travellers, more disposed to take last-minute decisions and who [buy from] LastRoom at least 2 or 3 times per month.”

Last November, LastRoom launched a side product called HotelWalla, which complements its customer acquisition strategy. Thanks to this tool, event organizers can easily add a widget to their website and let attendees look for accommodation near the event venue.

logo murally 12 Latin American startups to look out for in 2014 is a web-based collaboration tool that lets teams and groups easily add links, web content from multiple sources and other comments onto a virtual shared wall that is directly inspired by real-world pinboards. Hence the company’s tagline: “Google Docs for visual people.”

As we reported last year, the startup launched publicly in September 2012 with seed funding from a group of investors including Intel Capital500 Startups, NXTP Labs, Alta Ventures Mexico and business angels.’s CEO Mariano Suarez Battan moved to San Francisco earlier this year, while the startup’s development team remains in Buenos Aires. This decision reflects the importance of the US market for’s freemium approach: although its 250,000 users so far came from all over the world, 50% of paying customers are American.

Most of these are corporate clients such as Ancestry.comIDEO and Steelcase, who have been using to do research, ideation and design collaboration. In addition, is gaining traction in the education sector, where it is used for class projects or for remote collaboration around MOOCs.

Suarez Battan co-founded alongside CTO Pato Jutard and Head of Product Agustin Soler. Both Suarez Battan and Jutard previously founded Three Melons, a maker of social games which was acquired by Disney’s Playdom in 2010.

According to Suarez Battan, is set to make a big push around mobile and touch screens in 2014. In addition, it is currently beta testing a new algorithm-based feature than can detect sticky notes from a physical wall before cropping and arraying them into a mural.


logo properati 12 Latin American startups to look out for in 2014

Properati is an Argentine real estate platform that helps brokers, developers and owners find leads without charging upfront listing fees. On the other hand, its app and website helps prospective tenants and buyers find the property they are looking for.

As we reported earlier this week, it acquired its Brazilian competitor Imovel do Proprietario for an undisclosed amount of cash and stock to boost its growth in a market where it already passed the 100,000 listing milestone. Following the deal, both sites will merge next March and Imovel do Proprietario’s CEO Renato Orfaly will join Properati as country manager for Brazil.

According to its CEO Gabriel Gruber, 2014 will be a year of regional expansion for Properati, which is now set to launch its beta in Mexico in January 2014, followed by a beta rollout in Chile and Colombia next July. In addition, it will join Miami-based accelerator Venture Hive next January. Properati had previously participated in NXTP Labs’ acceleration program that has also received seed capital from investors such as GroupArgent and Eastpoint Ventures.


logo nubelo 220x122 12 Latin American startups to look out for in 2014

Nubelo can be described as a Latin American, which makes it a direct competitor to online staffing platform Workana. As you may remember, Workana won TNW Latin America’s 2012 Startup Rally, a competition in which Nubelo also participated earlier this year as a finalist.

Nubelo participated in the fifth generation of Start-Up Chile and subsequentlyraised a $1.3 million USD round of funding led by Latin American VC firm Nazca Ventures and supported by South Ventures and Spain’s La Caixa Capital Riskand Finaves. With several offices across the Spanish-speaking world, it is working on launching a pilot program in the US to connect Latin American talent with American clients. It decided to tackle the Brazilian market by acquiring a local competitor, two-year-old company Prolancer. Following the deal, its goal for 2014 is to reach a total of 50,000 published freelance job opportunities.


logo sympla 220x218 12 Latin American startups to look out for in 2014

Sympla is a Brazilian ticket and event management platform that seems to be on the road to success. Even if it does not get acquired by Eventbrite like its Argentine counterpart Eventioz, it looks perfectly able to reach profitability: since its launch in 2012, 300,000 event tickets have been sold through its platform.

Aceleradora’s founder Yuri Gitahy has been a mentor to Sympla’s team since its early days, later taking part in the angel investment round the company raised earlier this year.

According to Gitahy, Sympla is on track to hit R$20 million in revenue (around $8.48 million USD) in 2014. Earlier this month, the company had already passed the milestone of R$5 million ($2.12 million USD) in annual revenue. In addition, it expanded its reach from 250 cities to 1500.

If you take a close look at Sympla’s home page, you may notice a logo that reads “Made in San Pedro Valley.” As you may know, this is a reference to the company’s home town, Belo Horizonte, in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, which is increasingly positioning itself as a tech hub.

Which Latin American startups will you be following closely in 2014? Let us know in the comments.

SW Peshawar Encourages New Collaboration in Pakistan

The following is a guest post written by  Usman Raza, who recently won first place at SW Peshawar in December. 

Being born to the typical Pakistani parents usually means that your path in life is rather well defined. Turning yourself into a medic or engineer is your predetermined goal and venturing too far outside the norm is considered unwise. The result – a saturation of the few favorite professions, with the rest accommodating those who apparently ‘didn’t make it’. Although I ‘successfully’ made it through the regular system of education here, I never really had the opportunity to realize any of my entrepreneurial ideas. Later, having had the opportunity to study and live in the US, I found it to be one of the most open and entrepreneur-friendly country on the planet. Since I returned to Pakistan, I have been dreaming of having the same rich and lively environment in Peshawar.


Peshawar being the capital of North-Western Pakistan, represents a confluence of cultures and subcultures. Such a mix contains the potential for generating novel ideas and building them into robust businesses. What was missing until now was an instrument that would bring together young and bright minds from various disciplines and provide them with an environment that promotes problem solving, creativity and an entrepreneurial mindset.

What was missing until now was an instrument that would bring together young and bright minds from various disciplines and provide them with an environment that promotes problem solving, creativity and an entrepreneurial mindset.

Startup Weekend Peshawar has begun to fill this gap. This was the first of its kind event in Peshawar. We had people from technology, engineering, business, information technology and medicine. It’s a no brainer that these people who decided to give up a peaceful weekend, were brimming with enthusiasm and curiosity. Many of them got together to form teams right there, pitched their ideas and then worked crazy hours till Sunday evening to refine their ideas and business models. The organizers made a great effort to make available experienced mentors from various disciplines, to guide and coach the teams in their projects. This alone was a rare opportunity for many of the participants to interact with and learn from some of the most experienced and successful entrepreneurs of the country.


An interesting assortment of ideas was presented by the teams. These ranged from traffic management solutions and women’s empowerment through online platforms to virtual classrooms and online market access for craftswomen in villages. The winning startup was a SMS-based drug prescription system, which by the way, was pitched by my team. Beyond all, it was amazing to see a glimpse of the untapped potential this city holds in its brain.


This is only a start and we need a lot more of such activities in Peshawar. In fact, I imagine how much more effective it would be if creativity and entrepreneurship are woven into our education. If our young minds are groomed to become problem solvers, who should be creating jobs rather than looking for jobs.

I am absolutely convinced that with sustained effort, we are bound to see solid start-ups coming out of Peshawar.


Community Leader of the Week: Lloyed Lobo

Lloyed is a Startup Weekend Organizer and Global Facilitator, he was one of the first adopters of our NEXT program, which he helped to establish in Calgary, and he also coordinated NEXT in Silicon Valley.

Outside of UP programs, Lloyed finds many other ways to support his community:

  • He’s a board member at Startup Calgary, a volunteer driven non-profit movement with the mission to activate startups, connect founders, and grow the startup ecosystem in Calgary. There, he’s responsible for partnerships between Startup Calgary and UP Global, Startup Canada, and Startup Grind.

  • He brought events such as NEXT, Startup Grind, Mobile Monday and BarCamp to Startup Calgary and helped build Startup Calgary’s new advisory board and operations team.

  • He writes a weekly column called Startup of the Week in the print and online editions of the Calgary Herald.

  • He is also the Co-founder and Co-chair of The Cloud Factory, an enterprise tech conference; Partner at Plug and Play Canada which invests in early stage startups; and Boast Capital, which helps tech companies recover R&D costs from the government.

One of Lloyed’s favorite quotes:

“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want”  – Zig Ziglar


Live from CES 2014: Programming Recaps and More!

This morning’s panel on Media was hosted by Scott Case, founding CEO of the Startup America Partnership. Panelists included Tim Stevens of CNET, Jason Gilbert of Yahoo! Tech, and Jen Consalvo of Tech Cocktail.

photo (40)

See below for some key moments from the panel discussion:

Tips for pitching to tech journalists:

  • “If it’s not relevant [to me], it doesn’t matter how great your pitch is” – Tim

  • “You should spend as much time writing your subject line as you do your actual pitch.” – Jason

  • “We would love to read every pitch … but we’re getting hundreds and hundreds of pitches every day.” – Tim

  • “People need to understand more about the background of the journalist that they’re pitching to. Get a little personal.” – Jen

  • “One of the best pitches I got was from someone who followed me on Twitter and noticed my personal passion for photography.” – Jen

  • “Having some aspect of passion in your pitch helps.” – Tim

  • “Right now, we want to find a founder that we can connect with.” – Jen

  • “We look for the ‘why’” – Jen

  • “It’s important for you to find out who the best individual is to cover the story.” – Tim

What not to do when engaging with journalists:

  • “Many just can’t tell their story. Practice. Ask who you’re talking to, learn how to tailor your pitch and answer questions quickly.” – Jen

  • “No one knows your story better than you do. Practice.” – Jen

  • “Emailing me or finding me on Twitter are all way better than calling me.” – Jason

  • “If you reach out to me with a pitch and then I see another article about you with much better details and information” – Jason

  • “When people send 3-5 follow up emails.” – Tim

What’s the advantage of getting press?

  • “It could be argued that that value is going down because it’s so easy for companies to get their own message out.” – Tim

  • “It depends on the size and visibility of your company.” – Tim

  • “A trusting voice is something that we can bring to the table.” – Tim

  • “You want your exposure to get to the right audience.” – Jen

When should I start talking to journalists?

  • “If you’re building something, don’t go public until you’re ready to fulfill orders, or have a store front.” – Jason

  • “Once you’re ready, never just bring it to a reporter and say that you launched it that morning. Plan it so the reporter has time.” – Jen

  • “It’s never too early to start trying to form a friendship with a reporter.” – Jason

Is it better for a founder or a professional to pitch?

  • “I’d rather ask detailed questions about the product.” – Tim

  • “A PR person can help get you through email pitching, though.” – Tim

  • “There’s nothing wrong with working with an agency. Make sure it’s the right time for you.” – Jen

  • “Early stage companies can sink a lot of money into a firm too early on.” – Jen

After the panel, Eureka Park attendees had a chance to meet privately for mentorship with each of the panelists.

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Later this afternoon, we heard from Frank Alfano, Chief Revenue Officer at MakerBot in an exclusive one-on-one interview with Scott Case in which they discussed “The Maker Movement.”

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 Highlights Below:

  • “Over 600 US schools have a MakerBot today.”
  • “We are on a mission to put a MakerBot Desktop 3D Printer in every school in the USA.”
  • “MakerBot is exploding. There is room for growth in this space. We are a disruptive technology and welcome competition.”
  • “The coolest things about becoming a MakerBot – you enter a new world, a new community, it will unleash your creativity!”
  • “There are 44,000 MakerBots out in the world, in 5 years there will be millions. The education space is rapidly adopting 3D printing”
  • “As the technology evolves and materials change, the items that will be able to be 3D printed will go from the design phase to actually printed out on a graphic prototype basis. We have a number of automobile producers who use our MakerBots in their factories today for design purposes.”
  • “We’re a rapidly growing and changing company, and we are going to continue to be disruptive.”


Live from CES 2014: UP Global Pitch Results!

After judges deliberated over the 20+ submissions from yesterday’s pitch competition, results are in! See below for more info about the winners:

Winner: “VoicePark” 


Turn by turn voice guidance to the closest available parking spot, on-street or off-street in real time.



Scott Case congratulating the Founder of VoicePark

Honorable Mention: “Power Practical


The practical thermoelectric generator.


Honorable Mention: “Teddy the Guardian” 


Clear, structured, and reliable insight into essential health parameters by deploying an innovative and child-friendly approach disguised in a plush bear for children.


Live from CES 2014: UP Global Programming Recaps

Thanks to all who attended our 3PM panel to hear from Scott Case, founder of the Startup America Partnership, Trey Bowles of the DEC, Benjamin Forman of ZBoard, and Thomas Knoll, founder of clipPR on the topic of “Founders Supporting Startups.”

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Here are some highlights from the panel discussion:

On unexpected outcomes from founder networks:

  • “Knowing things that are ‘under the radar’ is valuable. Knowledge of things that are huge already aren’t interesting.” – Ben

  • “If you go to events like this [CES], you learn things that no one else knows.” – Ben

  • Constantly being passionate and sharing what you’re doing with others with spread your brand, personality, product much further.” – Ben

  • “When we create this theory that collaboration is better than competition we see the benefits” – Trey

  • “You will see generations of companies down the road because of the time that communities spent together.” – Trey

  • “The biggest thing that makes this possible is hearing people say ‘this is really hard’ in one on one conversation.” – Thomas

On instigating new professional relationships:

  • “Try to lead with a give; it’s easiest to build a relationship when you’re giving something.” – Ben

  • “If you don’t have anything to give, maybe you shouldn’t be talking to that person.” – Ben

  • “Give before you ask” – Ben

  • “I set up time every week for 30 minute calls with anyone who wants to talk.” – Trey

  • “Get involved in your community at whatever capacity that might be.” – Trey

 On how mentees can create more effective mentor sessions: 

  • “Email the mentor three questions that could be read on their phone on the way to the meeting – that don’t require substantial preparation.” – Trey

  • “Honor the time that you have with the mentor. Wrap the call up at 28 minutes if it’s a 30 minute time block.” – Trey

  • “Take the advice you got in the first meeting to earn a second meeting.” – Trey

  • “Mentors want to be helpful, but you need to make it easy for us to help you so that we continue doing so.” – Trey

  • “Ask specific questions. Big, vague questions will yield a worse answer and feel like a homework assignment for me.” – Ben

  • “Focused questions get answers from me that they can actually use.” – Ben

  • “I send mentees questions – What do you want to get out of this? Can you describe the problem that you’re solving?” – Thomas

Panelists stayed after the discussion to meet one-on-one with anyone who had questions or who sought mentoring.

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Participants also came to the UP Global Stage to pitch their startups this afternoon and receive pitch feedback from experienced founders and mentors including Scott Case, Trey Bowles, T.A. McCann, Nick Seguin, and Kate Drane.

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