El Matriarcado of Argentina: Community Leader Spotlight with Belén Fernandez

Who are El Matriarcado? They are “the matriarchy” of Argentine startups, with Belén Fernandez and her women cofounders at the center, and they are growing a woman-led startup community in Mendoza, Argentina, and beyond.

Belén found startups through her husband. He was accepted into the Startup Chile program, but he didn’t speak English fluently—and as a former English teacher, she did. She joined him in the program and fell in love with the power of innovation and all things startup. She became determined to bring these back to her home in Mendoza, Argentina.

In 2014, Belén discovered Techstars Startup Weekend. It was exactly the sort of inclusive, community-led startup programming she was looking for, and she has been a force, organizing and facilitating Startup Weekend events, ever since. This year, she attended the Multinational Unsummit in Cordoba, Argentina, where Techstars gathered community leaders from Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Mexico to meet and share learnings from their journeys in community building.

Belén has co-founded incubator AgilMentor with Paula Aldeco and Luis Videla, and co-founded Mendoza accelerator Embarca with Valentina Terranova and Gonzalo Innocenti. In both cases, the founding teams are 2 women, 1 man—a “matriarchy” of women who are leading their startup scene.

Together with her co-founders and other community leaders, Belén is building an inclusive startup community in Mendoza, and they inspire startup ecosystem builders across Argentina, Latin America, and the Techstars worldwide network.








Meet a Community Leader: Greg Monterrosa, Los Angeles, CA

Who are you?

I’m Greg Monterrosa, born and raised in South-Central LA. About 10 years ago I launched a startup that outgrew me. I hired my replacement and the business is still thriving. Since then, I’ve recognized my passion for helping others get their start. It all began at a Techstars Startup Weekend, when I saw the direct impact of supporting others. Four years ago some friends and I organized the first Techstars Startup Weekend event in our community, the Conejo Valley (North Los Angeles). It changed my life. Soon after the event I booked a one way flight to France, where I found myself mentoring at four different Techstars Startup Weekends. That cemented how important it was for me to maintain a global network.

While I was away, Cal Lutheran University Center for Entrepreneurship—where we hosted our Techstars Startup Weekend—contacted me to help them bring their space to life and open its doors to community members, and Hub101 was born. I picked up a copy of Brad Feld’s book “Startup Communities,” and it’s become required reading for all staff and community leaders—it’s become our bible. Over two years we’ve grown a community of about 150 people at Hub101, and we’re continuing to foster connections that tie early stage startups into economic development and beyond.

Why do you do what you do?

I am living my purpose, which is to empower people. It’s refreshing to surround myself by inspiring doers. I can also see the impact we’re making. To date we’ve created over 50 high paying jobs. Historically, people have used funding as a metric, but our community is a bit different. We’re hyper-focused on empowering our members to seek the people they serve, their customers. It’s amazing to see the people we serve at Hub101 want to give back to the space that helped them get their start.

What’s new for greater Los Angeles?

We’re excited to bring Hub101 to other underserved communities and are working on a second location in Ventura, which was recently affected by the Thomas Fires, and we’re working on launching a third location at a major mall. We are committed to bringing startup communities to places where they don’t exist, utilizing programs like Techstars Startup Weekend and playbooks like “Startup Communities.” Recently one our community members, Beth Sidenberg, formerly a general partner at Kleiner Perkins, launched Westlake Bio Partners, a $320 million fund, to support early stage biotech companies in the area.

Any final remarks?

If you’re a Techstars Startup Weekend organizer in a rural town or a place that is struggling, please reach out to me. I’m happy to meet with you and your team to map out where you’re at, and let’s talk out how we can help your community grow. To that end, I’m also looking for a mentor myself. If you’re a community leader reading this and think you can add value to what we’re up to at Hub101 or to my personal journey I’d welcome a note. Feel free to connect with my on instagram at @GregMetro!








Community Leader Spotlight: Tatiana Yate

Tell us a little bit about yourself
I grew up in South Florida and graduated from University of Florida. I landed my first job at an Asset Management firm where I had the opportunity to work for around 3 years. While working, I started to find great interest in the startup community. That was when I become involved in meet-ups and participated in Startup Weekend NYC. I relocated to Miami early this year for family reasons, I currently work for a startup called SquadUP that is located in Santa Monica, where I work remotely.
What or who has gotten you where you are today?
My mom has been my number one supporter. She has always been there to remind me of my capabilities when I doubted myself.
How did you first learn about the LatinX startup weekend? What did you love about it?
I learned about LatinX weekend through facebook. As I was reading the event description all I was hoping was for it not to be a hackathon. As a women who comes from a non-technical background these events can be pretty intimidating. I purchased my ticket two days before the event unaware of what my weekend was going to entail.
What I most enjoyed was presenting the prototype Sunday to a panel of judges. A prototype that was consolidated in three days by a team of 4, it was an accomplishment to see our ideas come together.
Why did you decide to organize? 
A couple of months after moving to Miami I was pretty ecstatic about sharing the same experience I lived at LatinX Startup Weekend with the South-Florida ecosystem.
What does it mean for you? 
Startup Weekend was a life changing event. I don’t believe people understand the value of it,  and how fun and informing it can be.  I still talk to my team members from Startup Weekend in New York City as well as the mentors. They have provided plethora of resources and connections.
What do you find inspirational in general? 
Growing spiritually/personal and professionally are equally as important to me. Communities who have raised awareness of mental health problems are inspiring. There has been an increasing  alertness of anxiety and depression amongst our society. Shine is an example of an app that inspires me to be a better person.
I am aware committing a full weekend to an event can seem exhausting, especially a Friday after work when you are just ready for the weekend. When Sunday came around after LatinX Startup Weekend, I felt on cloud 9 from having such a productive and fulfilling weekend.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my experience.







Community Leader Highlight: Meet Heather Fisher (West Plains, MO)

Meet Heather Fisher from West Plains, Missouri:

I am the director of OzSBI (Ozarks Small Business Incubator), which is where the event will be held. I mentor our small businesses, run our business development programs, assist with our microloan program, and am on a mission to get new ideas launched in our community. About me–I live on a 200 acre farm, have 2 sons, 1 husband, 3 cats, 1 dog and a pet pig. I love the outdoors, was in the Peace Corp in Thailand, had my own grant writing business for 10 years, and have always worked for nonprofits.

Why do you do what you do?

I live in a rural Ozarks of southern Missouri. Ever since I moved here 20 years ago I’ve been working to help the economy grow. Rural areas need to stay viable and through the small business incubator I help start local businesses and create jobs for the community. My goal is to use economic means to improve the social conditions for individuals, families, and communities.

What’s new for West Plains?

Techstars Startup Weekend! I was tasked by the governor of the state to spur technology businesses in Missouri. How does a rural community compete? If startups can be everywhere, why not here? We work with a lot of service communities that circulate local dollars. We’re hoping that an influx of tech businesses will tip the balance of trade and bring new dollars into our community.  Techstars Startup Weekend seems to be the right program to help us get our start.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Rural communities are great places to live and work.  I’ve traveled all around the world and always come back to rural parts of the country. We may be a flyover state, but there’s bright, creative people here that just need a bit of a confidence boost to move forward with new ideas in order to start new companies.








European Community Leader Highlight: Jernej Dekleva

Meet Jernej Dekleva, Community Leader in Copenhagen, Denmark but originally from Slovenia

When did you first get involved with Startup Weekend?

I attended my first Startup Weekend in 2012. I just moved from Slovenia to Denmark and I wanted to meet people who are also interested in startups and wanted to work on new projects. I had an amazing experience and after first one, I decided to attend next one as well.
It was a coincidence that I decided to organize my first startup weekend. Startup Weekends were happening quite regular in Copenhagen at that stage. Few months before Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) Denmark in November 2014, Aleksander Bordvik and I noticed that there is no Startup Weekend scheduled in Copenhagen for Fall 2014. We saw a great opportunity for us to contribute to Copenhagen startup scene and with a big help of the previous organizer Monika Luniewska we started planning our very first Startup Weekend.

What do you do when you are not wearing your Community Leader cape?

In the last few months, I asked myself what do I really want to do and what am I good at. I want to stay close to the local startup community, providing a framework for bringing new ideas to the marketplace and create memorable experiences for first-time entrepreneurs. I co-founded Norvai – Nordic Venture and innovation, where together with corporates are bringing new startup projects, services and experiences to the market.

What is your favourite thing about the Startup Weekend community?

I love the fact that people are very open and genuinely determined to make a change through entrepreneurship. Seeing so many passionate people in one place is just mindblowing for me. We are a community with a very diverse backgrounds and each person has it’s own story of how he/she ended up in Startup Weekend community. Next time you see the past attendee, current organizer or facilitator, ask that person why is she part of the community or what motivates him to be part of the global movement. These answers are very powerful in my opinion.

What are your bold plans for the future of your community?

Together with Startup Weekend Copenhagen team, we have quite big plans for this year. We want to create biggest Startup Weekend in Copenhagen so far in Fall 2017 by a number of attendees. Also, we are keeping one on the long term strategy as well: we would like that more Startup Weekend facilitators will emerge from Startup Weekend Copenhagen “school” in the next 2 years. We are very proud to say that the current team, had welcomed 3 new facilitators to the family last year who were helping us since 2014. I am very excited to see what the future brings.

Do you have any funny stories to share from any Startup Weekend event?

In Copenhagen, we created our own “tradition” when we organize Startup Weekends. This March for a third time in a row, all the organizers and a facilitator have to pass “Winter canal jumping” test. Of course, the bravest attendees are also invited. Last year in March, we were approximately 15 startup weekend survivors who few hours before the final presentations jumped into a sea on a snowy day. Proven method to get you pumped before final pitching.  







Community Leader Spotlight: Arturo Guizar

In memory of our dear friend Carole Granade, director, president, mother and wife. We will make sure that the entrepreneurial flame never dies in Lyon.


My name is Arturo Guizar, I am from Mexico City but I live in Lyon, France for almost 10 years. Since then, I have been traveling around the world but I always come back to Lyon.

arturo

What do you do when you are not wearing your Community Leader cape?

I consider myself as a hound and a hustler, two terms I learned from the startup culture. I use these terms to describe my two backgrounds as young scientist (hound) and entrepreneur (hustler). I did my PhD on wearable technologies at the CITI Lab, a joint Inria-INSA laboratory devoted to do research in the telecom sector. I am also co-cofounder of a non-profit organization BeyondLab which aims to connect the research and entrepreneur communities to create strong collaborations and democratise the discoveries of science to turn them into innovative projects. For that, we organise events and build scientific/business communities to reduce the cultural gap. My job here is to help on the community building and find money to continue growing. Since our first event in Grenoble, two years ago, we organised more than 50 events across France, from Lille to Marseille, and worldwide too, in Tokyo, Lausanne and Barcelona. We have worked with local partners, such as EPFL, Inria, CEA, The Family, Kic InnoEnergy, EDF, Withings and more.

For us, Startup Weekend has been a big inspiration, as well as Brad Feld’s philosophy about Startup Communities. We want to continue creating transdisciplinary hubs around the world to help scientist to find entrepreneurs and go beyond the lab.

When did you get involved with Startup Weekend?

The first time I heard about Startup Weekend was in 2011 when I was trying to create my first startup, but I missed the opportunity to participate in Lyon. At that time, I didn’t know it was an international community and I waited a whole year for the next event in Lyon. So, my first SW was on November 2012 in a vertical (SW OpenLabs which now is called SW Science) where scientists pitch their ideas and then, we work with them during the weekend to create startups using technologies coming from research.

This experience was so crazy, I learned a lot, especially about organization, team management and the importance of having a complementary team for the innovation process. I loved so much the concept of startup communities (thanks to Bernabé Chumpitazi), so I wanted to learn more about it and build our own for scientists/entrepreneurs. After that, I started organizing in Lyon (2013) and then facilitating in France (2014).

Startup Weekend inspired me to create BeyondLab (with Xavier Blot and Raphaël Meyer) in Lyon and Grenoble. But now, it’s becoming worldwide.

What is your favorite thing about Startup Weekend and the community?

Transdisciplinarity, international dimension and the fun. I’ve been involved in this community for almost 4 years and I got the opportunity to meet people from everywhere sharing the same values about community, economy and innovation. I also love to see passionate people trying to help their local ecosystem and I always learn something new by listening their background, everyone has an interesting history to tell

What is the funniest thing that you have witnessed and/or experienced with your team?

Each Startup Weekend is different, I have seen many funny and amazing things. But on the last two weeks (during the Global Startup Weekend), I saw for the first time a connected community without frontiers in real time. I connected with many communities using appear.in from Bolivia to US and even Australia. I found always someone to have a chat with and share moments/experience. That’s how we came with the idea to make the Mannequin Challenge during the GSW, it was fun and magical.

What are your bold plans for the future of your community?  

In Lyon, we believe that Startup Weekend is the perfect way to create strong communities for the local economy. The last time we organized a horizontal Startup Weekend was in 2014. Since then, there is always a theme (Science, Food, Makers, Women, MedTech, …). And for each one of them, we have a different team that shares the same passion for that vertical. As a result, we build multiple communities that continue doing things to keep growing our local ecosystem. For instance, the MedTech team also created a new community called Exponential Medicine that organized meetings and Hackathons to improve our healthcare system, find new solutions for pathologies, and more. Nonetheless, they continue organizing other Startup Weekends and we are waiting for the next SW MedTech.  

So, we try to create these ad hoc communities using team building and community chat sessions (every first Monday of each month). The next step is to create more community leaders and increase our local family. But also, we are open to help neighbor cities to create their own.

If you want to become a Techstars Startup Program organiser, go to techstars.com for more information.








Community Leader Spotlight: Rayanny Nunes

Brazil CLEu sou co-fundadora da startup Klipbox e All Bugdet, uma apaixonada por empreendedorismo e por organizar eventos nessa área, fomentando comunidades e empoderando pessoas no meu país.

Meu primeiro Startup Weekend como participante foi em 2013 em Recife, uma experiência transformadora e que marcou para sempre minha jornada empreendedora. Me apaixonei completamente pelo evento, pelo propósito e pela comunidade que estávamos construindo. Então, em 2014 organizei duas edições em Natal e participei do primeiro Statup Weekend Women do Brasil em João Pessoa. Ainda nesse ano, fui convidada para mentorar o Startup Weekend Campina Grande.

Definitivamente o Startup Weekend fazia (faz) parte da minha vida, em 2015  fui convidada para mentorar em outros eventos e  participei de mais 5 edições como mentora e voluntária, organizei mais uma edição em Natal e entrei pro time de facilitadores do Brasil.  

No Summit, pude conhecer outras líderes de comunidade do país, nos unimos para organizar um Startup Weekend Women simultâneo, foram cinco eventos realizados em cidades de quatro regiões e que impactou mais de 600 pessoas, você poderá encontrar alguns dados aqui.

O Startup Weekend Women é uma paixão ainda maior, a causa me atrai e meu desejo é que cada vez mais tenhamos mais mulheres  no movimento empreendedor. Assumi a liderança desse movimento e me orgulho muito do trabalho incrível que nossas líderes vem realizando em suas comunidades. Após esse movimento, aumentamos a participação de mulheres em mais de 20% nos eventos do Startup Weekend.  

SW Women /brazil

Depois de realizar o maior Startup Weekend Women do mundo, nós resolvemos aumentar o desafio para 2016 e impactar ainda mais participantes. Estamos realizando nove edições em diferentes cidades do país (Recife, Florianópolis, Belém, Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, São Paulo, Natal e Manaus), tive o prazer de facilitar dois desses eventos (Recife e Florianópolis) e contribuir com a construção dos demais.

Hoje estou participando de um programa de aceleração focado em fundadoras mulheres no Chile (The S Factory), os aprendizados, habilidades, desafios e as conexões que o Startup Weekend me proporcionaram, contribuíram muito para essa conquista.

Os planos para 2017 incluem o desafio de impactar mais pessoas e levar o SW Women para outras cidades do país, sonhamos com 15 cidades, assim seguimos ampliando as conexões e participação das mulheres na tecnologia e no empreendedorismo. O desafio é grande, mas estamos preparadas!

Linkedin: https://br.linkedin.com/in/rayannynunes








Community Leader Spotlight: Andrei Cosmin

From Timisoara, Romania, Andrei shares with us his experience as Community Leader in Europe.
Andrei Cosmin

What do you do when you are not wearing your Community Leader cape?

I’m a geek 🙂 I work full time as a Software Test Engineer at a big automotive company. Besides the techie side there’s of course the community part where there’s enthusiasm from the community to help organise tech & startup events.

Oh, and we’re also working on opening a co-working space.

When did you get involved with Startup Weekend?

I first heard about Startup Weekend in 2013. The 1st edition of Startup Weekend Timisoara was about to take place, so I bought a ticket the rest was history. It was an amazing experience: I got to learn a lot from the event, made friends and from that point on I was hooked.

I jumped to help the local organizing team prepare the 2nd edition of SWTimisoara where I got a chance to learn what happens behind the curtains. It got me even more enthusiastic and I decided to lead the organising team for a great 3rd edition of SWTimisoara.

This just got me even more excited about the entire SW movement. I wanted to be a facilitator to get to see how things are happening in other entrepreneurial communities across Europe. In 2015 I became a Global Facilitator and since then I have facilitated a bunch of great events across Europe.

If I had to summarize it all: amazing, energetic, roller coaster of awesomeness.

What is the funniest thing that you have witnessed and/or experienced with your team?

Organizing Startup Weekends is as much of a roller coaster ride as participating in an event.

There are so many funny / crazy & amazing things happening at Startup Weekends – helium balloons, Batman and Superman cupcakes as mentors, cards against humanity SW, Nerf guns, VR corners to name a few!

One thing I want to mention here and for sure it’s the most important thing (coming back to being serious): there’s always an amazing team behind each Startup Weekend event. In Timisoara there’s a great team which has evolved from event to event and they’re THE BEST!

What are your bold plans for the future of your community?  

Our community in Timisoara has potential to grow a lot when it comes to the entrepreneurial spirit. There’s a lot to learn and there’s a lot of potential.

We’re striving to direct that drive of the community in a direction while also offering the framework that the ecosystem needs to flourish and grow.

Organizing events and having the community to meet up is one way we plan on growing. Together we’re stronger & better.








Dear Community Leader: A Look at our APAC Summit

Dear (Amazing) Community Leader,

Thank you for doing what you do. Your passion, enthusiasm and sincerity in the work you do inspires me, every day, to continue doing the work I do.

Coming together this past week in beautiful Bohol, Philippines was more amazing than I can put into words. This year, more than 80 of you from over 20 countries joined us – and it was awesome. Community programs led by true community leaders are essential to building strong and thriving startup ecosystems – and I saw nothing short of that last week. Each of you shared deeply diverse and extraordinary stories from your communities, showing us just how much the work we all do matters.

I am so happy that every year we get an opportunity to come together and connect in person, because as much as connecting with you online throughout the year is awesome, nothing beats seeing you in person and listening to your journeys and stories and goals together.

I am so proud of the inclusive, happy, global community we are building. When we collaborate with each other, there are no bounds to what we can achieve together.

You inspire me. You keep me going. Keep doing what you do.

Love,

Your Community Building Partner-In-Crime.








Coming Full Circle with Startup Weekend Portland: Global Startup Battle Edition

On November 13, I will be facilitating for the fifth time this year for Portland Startup Weekend, joining dozens in the greatest startup competition on earth: Global Startup Battle.

Each of my previous facilitations have been special in their own right:

My general style is to embarrass this poor woman.
My general style is to embarrass this poor woman.

This next event may surpass them all – Portland is and always will be my hometown. I was born in Oregon City and went to school in the Beaverton School District, graduating from Southridge High School. (I’d rather not say when because, well, I’m old.)

Leading up to the event, I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept of “home”, especially as I’ve recently claimed a new one after moving to Seattle.

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(Among many of my new responsibilities is crushing lip sync contests during Seattle Startup Week.)

Pittsburgh: Where I Found Myself (and just a few months before 30 – whoo!)

Before moving in August, I lived in Pittsburgh for three amazing years. I had just married my brilliant (and crazy-tolerant) wife, and other than striving to be the best husband possible, I had no idea what to do with my life … until I discovered Startup Weekend.

From that intense, eye-opening 54-hour experience, I launched my own ed-tech community, which was admitted into an incubator, received seed investment, and even found customers. I continued to volunteer and organize for SWPGH six times, launching its first education edition in February of this year.

A blizzard was going down outside. We don’t care in Pittsburgh.

Above all, I made friends who simply “got it” – people who came from the Startup Weekend world as well, and knew how to “give back” in the Brad Feld sense. When we weren’t organizing in the Pittsburgh community, we’d go on an Eat ‘n Park run or watching Silicon Valley on HBO On-Demand. It was grand.

Friends. Also, Startup Weekend volunteers. Coincidence?
Friends. Also, Startup Weekend volunteers. Coincidence?

I truly considered Pittsburgh my home until two opportunities opened up for me and lured me back to the West Coast: briefly serving as east coast regional manager for UP Global before its acquisition by Techstars, and now joining the mission to transform education, technology, and entrepreneurship with Galvanize.

We're really into "the pineapple way" at Galvanize.
We’re really into “the pineapple way” at Galvanize.

Seattle: How I Quickly Thawed the “Seattle Freeze”

The move from Pittsburgh was … precipitous. I didn’t have the best chance to express my love and gratitude to everyone that did so much for me in Pittsburgh over the years (though I tried to cover as many bases again here). When I moved to Seattle, I was warned of the “Seattle Freeze” and heard it would take time for me to make friends.

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That has not been the case … because of Startup Weekend. The first people I contacted were my former co-workers, who then introduced me to the local Seattle community leaders. Instantly, I felt like I found my family here, connected by a shared passion and experience to build community through entrepreneurship.

Never go mountaineering with Marc Nager. Trust me on this one.
Never go mountaineering with Marc Nager. Trust me on this one.

Recently, I was invited out to the Techstars Community Leader Retreat to get to know Portland’s Dina Moy and dozens of other organizers from the US and Canada. I came away with the trip with two impressions:

  1. I am completely down with the Techstars vision and rationale for why it acquired UP Global. Techstars may be the largest for-profit accelerator in the world, but it was originally founded on the mission to lower the barriers of entrepreneurship to the world.
    Supporting initiatives like Startup Weekend, Startup Next, Startup Digest, and Startup Week won’t really be profitable in the short run (why mess with a good thing), but in the grand design, these programs will cultivate both better startups worthy of support and stronger, focused communities that can support them.
    That’s the vision that Techstars and UP Global shared, and that’s why I’m willing to stay on as a community leader and global facilitator. The terms of engagement do not really change from a non-profit status (in fact, they never actually did when you discover the legal difference between donation and sponsorship). Why should our support of the community change because of it?
  2. We may come from different cities, but we’re all Startup Weekend nation. Every community leader had a story to share, and the rest of us listened. Whether it was a startup story or a Startup Weekend anecdote, we “got” each other. (The altitude may have been a factor.)

If You Can’t Find Your Community, Create It (and Startup Weekend can help)

Me (right) with my sister back in our old home in Beaverton, OR.
Me (right) with my sister back in our old home in Beaverton, OR.

I look back on the last three years of being a Startup Weekender and can’t believe how far I’ve come from my previous status as a graduate school drop out. I didn’t make a lot of money, win any major awards, or acquire any common materialistic milestones like a new car or house.

I did, without question, make a lot of friends, and unlike the ones I made before, these friends stay in touch and support me however they can without asking anything in return, and vice versa. I also traveled a lot to places I never thought I’d ever go to until I was “summoned” by people I never met before.

I have a problem with respecting other people's private space.
I have a problem with respecting other people’s private space.

Every time I go facilitate, I ask to crash on a couch or even on the floor just for the opportunity to bond with another community leader. Anytime a community leader asks to visit me, I prepare a spare room for them, no strings attached.

I’ve found my family, and we’re actually not that difficult to find.

Just look for the ones that “get it.”

valencia-whirlwind

Lee Ngo is a Seattle-based community leader and global facilitator for Techstars formerly based in Pittsburgh. He currently works as an evangelist for Galvanize.