June 16, 2011

Latinos, education & tech entrepreneurship

JD LasicaHow do you overcome the obstacles you face as a Latino in the fields of technology, math, science and engineering?

Step one, says Jennifer Arguello — one of the panelists at last weekend’s Latino 2 conference in Mountain View, Calif. — is to find kinship with people who face the same realities, to compare experiences and to ultimately find the path forward.

Jennifer, a product manager at Mozilla (yay open Web!), took part in a “Latinas in Technology” panel that turned into a terrific conversation about how familial roots and community support can put one onto a path toward entrepreneurship and business success.

For Jennifer, the pivotal springboard was an event called Startup Weekend, a global series of events that teach tech folks how to become an entrepreneur. “You start on a Friday thinking you’re a regular old Joe, and by the end of the weekend you’re CEO,” she says. The program encourages participants to start with an idea, entice people to join your team and then pitch it to venture capitalists, all in the course of a single weekend.

Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo Continue reading

June 13, 2011

Latino 2.0: Delivering on the promise

Juan A. Sepúlveda, Jr.
Juan A. Sepúlveda, Jr., director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, spoke at Latino 2.0 on Saturday.

JD LasicaIspent a few hours Saturday at Latino 2.0, a gathering that celebrates Latino business, entrepreneurship and community leaders in the age of digital/social engagement.

Originally planned as a big conference in Los Angeles last year (I was on the planning committee), Latino 2.0 has morphed into a series of regional events, with Saturday’s gathering at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley following similar events in New York, Washington, DC, L.A. and Orlando, Fla. Other Latino 2.0 events are on tap for Santa Maria (Oct. 29) and Chicago (Nov. 9-11).

Here’s my Flickr photo set of 30 pictures, with two video interviews coming as well.

The promise to ‘outbuild, out-innovate and out-educate’

For a change of pace, I mostly mingled and listened rather than taking a lot of notes. Highlights included:

• Founder LeaAnna Hernandez discussed her app and company MyMic, which lets you send free audio messages (up to 5 seconds) to your Facebook friends.

• Vanessa Larco, product manager of Playdom, recalled how her mom, instead of posting her daughter’s drawings on the refrigerator, instead posted Vanessa’s math and science tests. Love it!

• Juan A. Sepúlveda, Jr., director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, gave a memorable talk about the lack of support he received from mentors and extended family when pursuing degrees at Harvard and Oxford. His talk to 160 participants, mostly Latinos, focused on creating and enhancing support systems in the community to encourage kids to stay in school.

Sepúlveda recounted the Obama administration’s vision to “outbuild, out-innovate and out-educate the rest of the world” by the year 2020, though challenges remain on how to get there. He noted that the opposition party has very different priorities.

• Met a lot of other great folks, including Jennifer Arguello of Mozilla, Cesar Plata of Every Circle.com, Loida Rosario, senior VP of Edelman and Liza Cuevas, HR director of Citrix. Also hung with my Socialbrite partner, Carla Schlemminger, and Chris Heuer and Kristie Wells of Social Media Club.