SmileyGo bringing smiles to Nonprofits & Corporations


SmileyGo (

  1. What’s your elevator pitch? What problem are you trying to solve?

SmileyGo ( is the tech platform that is integrating the corporate world with the nonprofit sector, matching the philanthropic needs of a company with the requests of a nonprofit. We are creating opportunities to bring positive results in the fulfillment of CSR efforts and societal needs across the globe.

So, what is the problem? Nonprofits spend more than 40% of their time plus an allocated percentage of their budget on fundraising, which often distracts them from focusing on their mission. At the same time, companies spend a tremendous amount of time and money on PR and marketing, often searching for nonprofit alliances and community outreach opportunities to align their brand with. This diverts their focus from meeting and exceeding their customer’s needs and expectations. Ultimately, Corporate Philanthropy is difficult work and that is why we are working on a product that will automate and facilitate this process, while maximizing social impact on a global scale.

Via SmileyGo, we are streamlining the CSR process and helping companies do philanthropy more efficiently, via our low-cost, online platform, while generating greater social impact and smiles around the world.

SmileyGo at Manos Accelerator launch

  1. Is this your first start-up venture?

SmileyGo is the first for-profit global venture for many of us. Having a diverse team working together to solve a global problem, we all bring different experiences to our team, and most importantly, we all share a passion for helping others make the world a better place. Pedro started a non-profit when he was 16 during high school:, a social enterprise connects teachers in American Schools in Peru with local Andean children in the highlands. Michael also founded two ventures, Conservosmart, a solution for kWh usage within homes, and MultiSite Professional (, a reliable, personal option for website development. Maria who is passionate about civic technology founded encire in 2014, which is an online platform that connects users to key information on the issues that affect their social, political, and economic lives. Dante founded last year, an ed-tech platform to empower Latino students in their Quest to attaining higher education. By working together, we leverage our passions and experiences to develop a unique solution to making it easier for companies to make smart investments with long-lasting social impact.

  1. What inspired you to do your start-up?

The SmileyGo Team shares an innate desire to help others at a global scale. We all possess the SmileyGo DNA: passion, drive, and energy. We all have a passion to help others, the drive to revolutionize corporate philanthropy, and the energy that is required to change the world. In particular, the life experiences of Pedro David Espinoza and Dante Alvarado-Leon revolved around giving back to their communities. Both having lived in developing countries in Latin America saw the need to create solutions to help those in need and took action at a young age. Pedro’s main inspiration came from looking at all of the opportunities and positive impact his mother’s nonprofit created for young women in Peru. When he met Juana, a young woman from the Anders region of Peru, who told him that her future was going to work on a farm, Pedro and his mother helped her and opened the door for many opportunities for her. In the end, Juana enrolled in a higher education institution and graduated as an engineer. Similarly, Dante was inspired by the stories of children he met at an orphanage that he volunteered with his family in Mexico. Dante recalls the words of one of the children in an orphanage in the city Tijuana who told him, “I want to be like you and help those in my community when I grow up.” Ever since that day, Dante continued to give back to his community through service and by using his education to help those around him. These two stories combined with the diverse backgrounds of all of the members of the SmileyGo team led to the creation of SmileyGo, a global venture aiming to stimulate companies to give back to nonprofits at a global scale.

4.  How do you see your start-up disrupting the space it’s in?

SmileyGo is taking the lead in showing that companies as a whole can give back in a meaningful way that has a lasting impact. Other organizations may encourage individual employees to go volunteer or make donations toward a certain non-profit. However, at SmileyGo we want to make sure that companies – not just the individuals that comprise it – are socially responsible and that the resources being donated are being used properly. We strive for a simple, straightforward process that creates transparency. This transparency won’t only be helpful for consumers and companies, but will hopefully get non-profit organizations to effectively allocate and manage resources. Ultimately, we wish to revolutionize the way business is done, and prove to the corporate world that business is not only about making revenue, but it is also about creating impact, and that companies can do well by doing good.

  1. What type of impact do you envision your start-up having in the market?

We see SmileyGo as the catalyst for companies to do well, while maximizing social impact worldwide. By directing philanthropy toward charities and non-profits that will effectively use it, we aim to encourage more corporations to give back to communities in need around the world. Here at SmileyGo we are revolutionizing the way business is conducted. We want to make companies more aware of the needs of the world, and make it easy for them to become catalysts of change. Essentially, we are streamlining the process for both the non-profits and companies and helping them collaborate to help each other out. By matching the requests and needs of a non-profit with the resources and funding of a company via our tech platform, we will be able to foster a win-win situation and help companies make smart investments that will have long-lasting impacts on the non-profits.

  1. How did your team come together?

The co-founders, Pedro David Espinoza and Dante Alvarado-Leon brought together a diverse and talented team that shares the same vision and passion for a global cause. SmileyGo naturally attracts those who are passionate about corporate social responsibility and want to see a change in the way businesses give back to society, help non-profits in their struggle for resources, or a combination of the two. Our team is comprised of students from around the world, from the U.S., Mexico, Colombia, China, India, Africa and many other places. Most of us met at the University of California, Berkeley, and since then we have become a family of student leaders and young entrepreneurs with the vision to change the world, the heart to help others, and the spirit to dream big.

  1.     How has your startup journey been so far?

The start-up journey has been quite a thrill thus far. We are always making progress, but the progress has been far from anything like a straight, upward line towards success. The journey has been filled with twists, turns, loops and sometimes backtracking too. But through the entire process, we learn more about our company’s goal as a whole and have a deeper understanding of what we need to implement to create the best possible product. We are not the typical startup that rushes, seeks money and never sleeps. We rest, we bond, we are a family of winners, students, young leaders and learners. We have had to make many sacrifices to develop and create a global solution to corporate philanthropy, however, we have a passion for what we are doing that drives us to keep on going. To sum it up, our journey so far has been one of the best experiences in our lives. All of the work we put in every day, all the miles we have traveled together, and all of the time we have spent together to make our idea come to life has shown us that SmileyGo is our passion. We, the SmileyGoers, all share a common dream to work together as a family of young leaders and entrepreneurs. At the end of the day, we want to inspire and encourage others, especially our generation to dare to dream big, to be innovative, and to embark on their own entrepreneurial journeys to develop solutions to the challenges that we are facing today, while always remembering to smile.

  1. What would you like to achieve during your time with Manos?

During out time in the Manos Accelerator, we hope to achieve a clear direction in which we will head, so we bring to clarity to the problem we are solving, the solution we are providing, and how we can be sustainable throughout the process. At the moment, we are working towards developing an attractive, innovative, and concrete business plan that will allows to develop an efficient platform. One thing that Manos has definitely helped our company with–as a result of mentors and the number of resources we’ve been given–is setting a stable and simple foundation for what we aim to do and how we will implement an effective plan to create our tech platform to produce greater social change. By Demo Day, we hope to have a working and updated prototype so that we can begin connecting the corporate world with the nonprofit sector.

  1.     What type of funding are you looking for?

We are looking for seed funding, so that we can build the most efficient and reliable tech platform and stimulate our progression with SmileyGo. By the end of the summer we will possibly look for angel investments, if needed.


If you are part of a Latino owned startup and would like to be featured and connect with our Cultura Ambassadors please reach out to us via our website or any of our social media channels.

Dream Tuner empowers unsigned Musicians


We had a chance to visit with Dream Tuner and ask them about their startup being accelerated at Manos Accelerator in San Jose.  Are you a closet musician waiting to be discovered?

  • Is this your first start-up venture? You could say that it is at this scale. I had a couple of businesses in college and during my MBA that would generate extra income such as getting web designers in South America to develop pages for US companies at a lower rate (2006-2010).

Dream Tuner

What inspired you to do your start-up? I can say that music plays an essential role in my life, I still remember listening to The Beatles White Album and Let It Be with my mom and brother in our house when I was 7 years old, while She and my dad were getting divorced. Music became an outlet for my brother and I. He picked up the drums and I the bass guitar and for many years I guess that kept us sane from all the craziness that was going on.  Later on we had to go to college, get jobs and basically grow up, and left behind the instruments but we never left the music. The Aha moment came when I was visiting my family and my kid brother (ten years younger than me, from my mother’s second marriage) asked me to give him a ride to the local college station so that he could drop off a demo of his band to a DJ. That is when I realized that so much had changed thanks to technology and the internet but musicians were still dropping off their demos as had been done by young musicians since the early 60’s and 70’s.  I knew that I had grown up and had given up on the dream, but why should so many others follow that same path.


  • How do you see your star-up disrupting the space it’s in? Dream Tuner wants to empower the unsigned musician. We want to help them achieve their dreams while making it easier for their music to be discovered. At the same time we want to target listeners that label themselves as trendsetters, evangelists mavens. That one friend you have that is always promoting new music. We feel that both of these, the artists and these types of listeners are under served. We want music to be for the people and by the people.


  • What type of impact do you envision your start-up having in the market? We want to be the place to go for unsigned musicians to catapult to the next level. In baseball terms, we want to be the farm to help them make the leap to the big leagues. What product hunt is to app discovery we want to be to music discovery.


  • How did your team come together? Our team is composed of 2 brothers. A drummer and a bass player. I came up with an idea and called my brother in Los Angeles ( I was in Austin TX) to tell him that I had an idea in my head for about a month. it made sense to talk to him since he had studied music production and now worked at a music production company. We took it from there and kept developing the idea to a business plan even after I moved to Miami. After that, it just made sense that I should move to LA where my co-founder is and where so many musicians arrive every day with huge dreams and hopes.


  • How has your star-up journey been so far? It has been quite a ride. From a simple idea in Austin Texas, to winning a pitch contest in Miami, to developing the idea and then being in Silicon Valley. We never thought we would make it to where we are and the journey has always been uphill but exciting. We have learned a lot and have been questioned by many and have even been called naive by others for pursuing this dream, but we carry on. You learn to think fast, adapt, be persistent and know that for every 1 startup that makes it there are thousands that fail, in a way, it resembles musicians, for every one band that makes it there are thousand that see their dreams crushed.


  • What would you like to achieve during your time with Manos? Learn and keep learning. The ecosystem in Silicon Valley is like no other in the planet. The ideas that are generated here change the world and we want to be a part of it. We want to take full advantage of the opportunity Manos has given us to create a great product and at the same time collaborate with other startups. We hope to share our vision at Dream Tuner with the world soon.


  • What type of funding are you looking for? We are currently looking for angel investors to help with seed funding.

Manos Accelerator 3rd Cohort Kick-Off


Recently Silicon Valley Latino had the pleasure of attending the Manos Accelerator 3rd Cohort Kick-Off where the 2015 Spring Class was presented to the community. This time the Kick-Off was hosted by Ernst & Young at their San Jose offices and it featured five exciting new start-ups.

AMG_1062Dream Tuner – out of Miami, Fl, is a platform dedicated to helping independent and unsigned musicians achieve their dreams,

MakeMyQuince – out Sacramento, Ca, is the first solution to bring online planning tools and crowd-funding to Quinceaneras


Shovel Apps –out of Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a flexible open source CMS and App Maker that lets you create awesome mobile applications for Andriod and IOS without coding skills

SmileyGo – out of Berkeley, Ca, is a social enterprise that connects businesses and non-profits via its technological platform

The Exchange – out of San Francisco, Ca, is creating synergy between digital and physical realities through wearable technology.


Over the next few weeks we will feature each of these start-ups one at a time so stay tuned!

Building Silicon Valley, one custom home at a time!


Recently, Silicon Valley Latino had the opportunity to visit one of the Bay Area’s premier builders in his own custom-designed home. By spending an afternoon with the Owner of R.J. Perez Construction, we not only learned what has made him a successful builder for the past 23 years, but we also discovered his other passion, cooking. Rich is passionate yet focused and he attributes his strong work ethic to his Mexican father and his Korean mother. It is this commitment to excellence that has brought him much success and recognition in the Valley as a premier builder.

Rich Perez Rich discovered his talent and passion for architecture, design and construction early on. In the mid-1980s Rich started his career by becoming a carpenter’s apprentice. With the required number of years of hands-on experience under his belt, he obtained his contractor’s license and began remodeling homes in Los Altos. R.J. Perez Construction has established a brand for building beautiful high-end homes in Los Altos and throughout Santa Clara County. With his unique and comprehensive range of styles, he designs and builds his clients the luxurious, high-end home of their dreams.

Much of the company’s success can be attributed to the team’s ability to guide clients through the actual design of their prospective dream home. Rich is also well known for his signature style of working closely with architects and engineers, ensuring that the vision of the home owner is met and that the project moves forward smoothly while keeping costs under budget. “My strength as a builder is envisioning the finished product,” says Rich. This vision enables him to stay active during the preliminary stage of architectural drawings, where he is able to assess his clients’ needs as they go through the design and construction phases.

A significant feature of any Perez built home is the kitchen. “The kitchen is the focal point of every home we build. We will typically start with the kitchen and design the rest of the home around this space,” says Rich. “We like to build homes for families who entertain. We don’t want to exclude the cook by hiding him or her from the guests; we open up the kitchen so everyone can have a hand in the cooking process together. We also like to have the kitchen open to the backyard so that barbecues and outside functions are easy to enjoy,” says Rich. As a result of his high-end designs, he has established a new brand and is now designing most homes under the name “Perezidential Homes.”


Rich’s enthusiasm and passion for the kitchen comes from his childhood. “My dad, Frank Paul Perez, was a one of the early Hispanic Mess Sergeant’s; back then there were not many Latinos in the Army and my mother, Su Ku Moon, was a fabulous cook” says Rich. Rich himself worked as a cook throughout college, so he brings practical applications to every kitchen he designs. Every element is carefully examined, from the placement of the recycling bins and trash compactors to the measurement of the countertops and dishwashers.

“Flow and functionality is the key to a Perez home, but it starts in the kitchen. It’s important to make the kitchen look great and practical to work in,” commented Rich. “Ideal placement of appliances is the important to create an effective and efficient workstation.”

Other distinctive characteristics of a Perez home include a lack of barriers for lots of open space, high ceilings throughout, a lot of windows for natural lighting and the ability to flow throughout. A signature trademark of a Perez home design is the attention to the tiniest of details from the framing stage to the interior finishes.

Perez homes are also pre-wired with cable, networking and phone capabilities. They also feature an unforgettable home theater system, which can be built into more than one room, depending on the size of the home and needs of the homeowner.


One area that R.J. Perez Construction is very proud of and happy to be recognized for is the construction of “lower living” spaces. They have been very successful in digging out lots and creating additional room below – what was once called a basement is now called lower living. They dig deep to allow for nine to ten-foot ceilings and open floor plans, allowing the homeowner to have a three story home – one lower and two up above – or allowing flexibility of having a two-story home in a single-story neighborhood. The demand for lower living spaces came from people who wanted to build larger homes but couldn’t due to limited shrinking lot coverage. With the creation of lower living, the homeowner is able to work around the lot coverage restrictions while still gaining the square footage and desired living space” notes Rich.

In the last 25 years, R.J Perez Construction has assembled an “A” team of stellar employees, subcontractors and suppliers. For that reason, the ensemble has been highly efficient with their building projects. With a select team of 20 employees, they are proud of being a boutique builder. “It has always been important that we maintain our high quality standards and sustain the positive brand that we’ve developed over the years,” comments Rich. With a focused emphasis on superior service to the client and attention to detail, the final product is always a big hit amongst clients and beyond. I believe this is one of the many reasons why we’ve managed to be in demand even in economically challenging times.

The kitchen in Rich’s own home is large enough and has enough amenities to be in a restaurant. When he is not working with new home designs Rich spends his time in the kitchen cooking for friends and family. Creativity spills over to the kitchen as Rich enjoys creating new versions of traditional favorites of Mexican and Korean foods and also healthier versions of popular recipes. On Superbowl Sundays especially, you can expect to find a house full of guests enjoying a buffet of different types of meats and signature sides in the beautiful kitchen living room space.

While it is evident that Rich’s two passions are building exceptional living spaces and cooking great food, it seems that a restaurant could be next…

High Growth Entrepreneurs – the Search is ON!


There’s more to being an entrepreneur than blood, sweat and tears. Yes, entrepreneurs drive relentlessly toward their goals, adding jobs and prosperity to the economy. But even the most dedicated need to take time out to recognize how far they have come to achieve success.

That moment has arrived.

On Friday, January 30, EY announced that nominations are open for its Entrepreneur Of The Year™ awards at an event that featured San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. Surrounded by past award recipients, award sponsors, and other business leaders, Ernst & Young LLP partner and SVL Executive Cultura Ambassador, Ernie Cortes, said the search is on for the top entrepreneurs in Northern California.

EY, Entrepreneur of the YearCortes, who is also the award program’s director, said, “EY’s Entrepreneur Of The Year™ is not just an awards program, it is an ongoing network of top leaders. Once you compete, you’re part of an elite group that helps get business done as investors, employees and customers take notice.”

Mayor Sam Liccardo agreed. In a statement, Liccardo said, “The San José/Silicon Valley region is the birthplace for innovations that drive the global economy. The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ award celebrates the vision and passion needed for the long-term success of our region. ”

Each year, EY showcases successful entrepreneurs from more than 145 cities in 60 countries. Past Northern California winners include Reid Hoffman and Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn Corporation);  Sergey Brin and Larry Page (Google, Inc); Nick Woodman (GoPro); Lisa Im (Performant Financial); Hamid Moghadam (Prologis); and David Hung, MD (Medivation).

The regional award winners will be announced on June 11, 2015. To qualify, entrepreneurs must be the founder or an executive who organizes, manages and assumes the “educated” risks of a business or enterprise in the company’s life or development and are active in the leadership of the company. The deadline for 2015 nominations is March 6, 2015. To learn more, go to

Chilean/Spaniard Business Networking App startup – LaunchCard


We are glad to present these two latinos and their startup from a brief get together we were able to have in Santiago, Chile.

This business networking app startup looks to expand into all markets in the USA by allowing you to find the type of event you are looking for and then connect with like minded folks at those events.


What inspired you to come up with this idea? What problem are you trying to solve?


Initially the problem that inspired us to develop Launchcard was born with our constant taste for attending business and entrepreneurship events in the cities where we traveled. We realized that there was a tool missing that was 100% mobile and that would let us know what events were occurring in the city during our stays. We also wanted to identify, in real time, during the course of these events with other people with like-minded tastes and interests so that businesses opportunities could flourish.

Thus was born Launchcard, as a social tool that, with just a few clicks, we can discover events and people with like-minded tastes and interests to improve business opportunities.

What’s your business model and how do you plan to monetize?

We began operating in three countries: United States, Chile and Spain. Specifically in the city of San Francisco, CA, Santiago de Chile and Seville in Spain … we are allowing any event organizer to publish their events, for free, in our application by entering their event via our website. They can post launchcard your event, increase the diffusion of your event throughout the city through our application as a new distribution channel and thus also increasing ticket sales.

Launchcard also has a powerful Analitycs, networking and social tools for event organizers to interact with their assistants. We are able to lift data and metrics from the interactions that people make via launchcard during the events and provide this information to the event managers.

We will charge a fee on the sale of tickets via the application and receive payment from organizations that hire the Analitycs and social tools to interact with the attendees, before, during and after the event.

How are you different from your competition?

Our most direct competitors are Bizzabo, and we seek to provide a better experience for both event organizers and attendees. We want to give organizers a complete analysis of all the networking that is going on during the event. Besides offering competitive pricing and service we at launchcard seek real change in how our analysis will give you an in depth understanding of what is going on within your venue.

Where do you see your business in one (to three) year (s)?

We hope to be operating in various cities around the world. We want Launchcard to become a trend within mobile applications and among users to become a global service. Adding value to millions of people around the world as an established and highly accessible service.

10634086_10204670800788832_7301566463002696690_oWho are your partners (business partners, co-founders, etc)?

In Launchcard we are two partners co-founders,

José Pérez Rivas, (31) (CTO). Spanish currently living in Sevilla, Spain. Who runs the technical development of our service.  And Sergio Povea Sáez (27) (CEO). A Chilean currently living between Chile and California.




Have you Received any investments? From Whom? For how much?

To date we develop our service with our own funds and with the support and guidance of a startup studio located in the city of Oakland, called which has played an important role incubating us.  Our plans, within the coming months, is to go for our first round of fundraising in California.

What is your biggest challenge?

We believe that our greatest challenge is to turn Launchcard into an essential service which offers a great value to our users. We want to improve the way people connect and do business networking everyday and everywhere.

Everything goes back to Launchcard becoming a global trend.

What advice would you provide to other emerging Latino tech entrepreneurs?

Do not give up, do not stop for anything, to pursue their ideas, their dreams … seeking opportunities and areas for development and growth. The growth of people is directly related to how you relate to others. Learn to appreciate the connections and relationships. And always consider the opportunities that are born by adding value to those around you.


Manos Accelerator highlighted in Latino Magazine


Chipsafer from Uruguay takes home $30,000 IDB prize


This past week in Washington, DC the Inter-American Development Bank brought together the most innovative and game changing Latin American startups to pitch their companies.  Victoria Alonsopérez an electronics engineer and communications  professional from Uruguay took home the grand prize as the Most Innovative startup of Latin America & Carribean with a prize of $30,000 USD for her startup Chipsafer.

victoria alonsoperezc


Chipsafer allows farmers to track and detect early anomalies in cattle behavior in real time.







Here is a list of the other participants:

Technology Innovation with biggest impact:

Sokotext (Colombia) – Allows micro businesses to create virtual groups via cell phones to purchase and sell at wholesale prices.

Livox (Brasil) – Is an app for tablets that facilitates communcation.

Most creative startup:

plataforma saude (Brasil) –  A social impact platform that allows users to monitor 15 of the most common chronic sicknesses (non contagious) with results in about 20 minutes

Best presentation:

Acámica (Argentina) – A learning platform that gives students not only traditional education but also what they will need in the future to obtain a job.

Best possibilities for expansion:

Digital Partners (Guatemala) – Games that preserve cultural sites and promotes financial literacy

Criptext (Panamá) – Secured email service for large companies.

Performance with a Purpose:

Acuacare (Colombia) – Creator of low cost housing for rural areas that include water treatment that use worms to clean the water.


If you have a startup that needs our attention please let us know.  What did you think of these?



Laura I. Gomez interview on USA Today!



Manos Accelerator recognized by LATISM as best in class 2014!