5 Questions with Stéphanie Renée Bermúdez, Community Leader

Feb 28, 2022

Stéphanie Bermúdez is an Ambos Nogales native and Latinx innovator, who has invested more than 15 years in understanding the local culture, building relationships, and earning the respect and loyalty of people and organizations at all levels of society. Her innovative ideas create cross-border communities and environments that expand on binational relationships to encourage collaboration and co-inspiration. She focuses on building up entrepreneurial communities and networks, through events, training, consulting, and research that extends beyond Southern Arizona.

Stéphanie displays an unwavering commitment to making an impact and is passionate about taking her experiences and shaping binational business opportunities with Mexico and the United States. She is actively working with startups and aspiring youth across the Arizona-Sonora by developing and implementing Startup Unidos, entrepreneurial and workforce education, capacity building, and youth programs, such as Waste Not: Borderlands Innovations in Food Waste Management, Emprende Amigo, and Borderoots.

01. How did you get involved in Techstars Startup Programs?

I attended my first Techstars Startup Weekend in Tucson, Arizona at the historic Rialto Theatre in 2013. I had the experience that I now hear many of our community members attempt to describe. I felt connected, supported, heard, understood and the inspiration rippled far beyond that weekend. I would later in 2014 enroll my son into a Startup Weekend for Kids because I found the tools and networking to be beneficial beyond the 3-day experience. It wasn't until 2017 when I leaped and organized my first Startup Weekend and pitched a binational approach with Techstars USA and Techstars LATAM.

02. How have Techstars Startup Programs impacted your life?

Startup Weekends have impacted my life both personally and professionally.

On a personal note, I have filled my cup many times over with the constant drip of reward that Startup Weekend brings. I have built rich friendships and have had incredible experiences unfold thanks to the creative class that weekend attracts. I am grateful for it all from the beautiful humans who work for Techstars, sponsor a weekend, help in organizing, attend, mentor it does not matter! There is something magical that happens at a Startup Weekend that bonds creatives together for a long time.

On a professional level, the binational, bilingual, bicultural network that Startup Unidos has scaled from started with a crazy idea to organize a Startup Weekend in Ambos Nogales, across two countries and Techstars was into it! Thanks to spark, we do what we do. I won't always be leading in organizing Startup Weekend in this way, but I will ensure I support building capacity so that the benefits keep unfolding and that experience of connection, support, holding space for your voice to be heard, feeling understood, and inspired beyond what you can explain continues on. That is worth spreading all across the border region.

03. Why are you passionate about entrepreneurship?

At Startup Unidos, we continue to contribute to positive economic impact by establishing new businesses and increasing social capital. We’ve received a commendation for supporting underserved communities and alleviating poverty at the state level by increasing entrepreneurial opportunities. Our contributions are not only game-changing but life-altering.

04. How else are you involved in your community's startup ecosystem?

Startup Unidos has introduced two distinct innovations to the Southern Arizona entrepreneurial ecosystem: The WASTE NOT Program, an environmental/social justice-focused entrepreneurship program, and Emprende Amigo, a bilingual, international, fully remote, youth course on the foundations of entrepreneurship.

I am an honored community leader and have been recognized extensively throughout my career; the most recent awards include: February 2020, Top 20 Woman of Impact by Tucson Lifestyle Magazine; March 2019, Minority Business Owner of the Year, Inside Tucson Business Women of Impact; October 2018, TENWEST Idea Funding, Larry Hecker and Sherry Hoskinson Bright Futures Award; December 2016, Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as 40 under 40 Woman of the Year.

05. What's next for your community's entrepreneurship ecosystem?

We are already in the works unfolding another binational Startup Weekend! The desire for real, lasting change along the border continues to grow and we are passionately committed to empowering emerging Latinx entrepreneurs to self-identify, gain industry knowledge, connect to culture and community, solve local problems, innovate, and prosper like never before.