Demographics Are Dead: Long Live Event-Triggered Marketing

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“I do not care if you are 25 or 65, if you want to summon a car to go from A to B right now, you are still my target customer.”

Do you know who—and where—your target customer really is, right now?

Chances are good you have no idea.

Once upon a time, marketing was focused solely on demographics—age, gender, income level, ethnicity, geographic location, or a combination of these things. But that was in the era of passive marketing. Think about all those wheelchair and pain-reliever commercials that ran during late-night Matlock and Golden Girls reruns. Billboards for chocolate and soda on the subway platform. You get the picture.

But that model is from the pre-mobile, pre-digital economy. The passive marketing era is dying a slow death, if not over completely. Instead, we’ve moved into an on-demand economy, where people frequently make snap buying decisions in real time. But these aren’t the typical mindless impulse purchases—they’re made in the context of digital information. People choose which restaurant to go to in a specific neighborhood by checking apps on their phones. They play mobile games like Pokemon Go searching for PokeStops around town that often lead them into specific businesses. They use mobile apps for tracking everything from personal finance (like using Mint to track how much they spend on groceries versus dining out every week) to how many calories they’ve burned in the past hour. Many shoppers in brick-and-mortar stores use their phones to get product information and even digital coupons from QR codes displayed on the shelf next to products they might want to buy.

Long story short, effective marketing just isn’t passive anymore. Consumers are taking an active role in every purchasing decision they make, and marketers who don’t understand that are going to miss the boat. Therefore, thinking of your customer in the old way or even by demographics isn’t going to work most of the time. The market is far more complex and niche-driven nowadays.

What often drives purchases in an on-demand economy is something called atriggering event. In a nutshell, a triggering event is something that makes someone want to buy a specific thing, in a specific place, at a specific time. You have a very narrow window to capture this decision—often mere seconds. How do you do it?

Today’s app developers use proprietary algorithms to determine what functions or content users will see when using an app. These algorithms adapt automatically according to the mobile data collected from the apps. This same process can apply to marketers.

Think about how smartphones work. Mobile data, GPS signals, digital calendars/clocks, and even face-recognition technology in apps like Facebook can provide a plethora of contextual information than can trigger certain actions at certain times and in certain locations—regardless of what demographic the smartphone owner is a member of. This is key to understanding or even creating triggering events that consumers will respond to.

Examples of Event-Triggered Marketing Opportunities

Nearby restaurants. Create contextual ad campaigns that promote a specific nearby restaurant at lunch time. Think “It’s 11:55 and you’re craving sushi. Guess what? You’re only 2 blocks from Sushi Naru, a Zagat-rated sushi bar that’s hot on Yelp.” The ad includes a digital 2-for-1 coupon.

Music suggestions while exercising. Somebody turns on their RunKeeper app or the GPS detects that they’re moving along a bike path at cycling speed—those can be triggers showing that the smartphone user is exercising. You can create a contextual ad campaign that is programmed to suggest a workout playlist from a music app when these triggers are met: “Hey, I see you’re working out. Have you downloaded Taylor Swift’s rocking new single yet? Here’s a sample.”

Tying rideshare apps with driving directions (think Mapquest, Google Maps):When someone looks up driving directions on one of the many digital map apps, it’s a perfect time to target them for a ride-share. How about this: “Do you really want to deal with all of that traffic and those tricky on-off ramps yourself? Sit back, relax, and call an Uber.”

These are all common, everyday situations in consumers’ lives that can be monetized if you know how the technology (and the psychology) behind them works. Rethink your marketing strategies away from old-school, passive demographics and towards context-specific, event-triggered campaigns, and you’ll find that you can move the needle a lot faster.

The Rise of Argentina’s Startup Scene

Startup Stock Photos

Right in the center of Buenos Aires, “Espacio Bitcoin” (Bitcoin Space) is a meeting Argentina’s Bitcoin community. It was started in early 2012 by Wenceslao Casares, an Argentinean entrepreneur who developed an online bank in the 90’s and today is the CEO of Xapo, a Bitcoin Bank.

At Espacio Bitcoin they organize developer meetups to share notes and information on this new technology. Franco Amanti, one of the leaders of the local Bitcoin community, set up shop there.  Franco is one of the founders of Bitcourt, a startup offering contract certifications in the blockchain, which is one of the tech infrastructure pieces supporting Bitcoin.

“Argentina and Venezuela are the two countries where Bitcoin is used the most”, Franco explains. It makes sense. Both Argentina and Venezuela have endured populist governments for years, closed economies and high inflation rates. However, winds of change are blowing these days. At least in Argentina. Mauricio Macri won the Presidential elections and became President in December 2015.  The son of an important Argentinean businessman, Mauricio is the former President of the Boca Juniors Soccer Athletic Club, one of the most important soccer teams in Argentina and former Mayor of Buenos Aires. Macri started his presidential term with measures to immediately open up the economy and insert Argentina once again in the global markets. These events have spiked interest in the Argentinean Startup scene, the only country in the region with companies that have IPOed in the NASDAQ. This article offers a glance into the who’s-who in the Argentinean Entrepreneurial Scene.

A Little Bit of History

In order to understand the Argentinean entrepreneurial ecosystem we need to start by looking at the 90’s when, after years of high inflation rates and a closed economy, Carlos Menem’s government propelled economic reforms to open up the country. This period coincided with the “Internet bubble” and Buenos Aires became the regional “dot com” hub . During that time, about 70% Latin America’s venture capital was concentrated in Buenos Aires. It was then that the equivalent of Silicon Valley’s “PayPal Mafia” was formed in Argentina.

A young group of entrepreneurs started the first “dot coms” in Argentina. Wenceslao Casares was one of them. Others include Marcos Galperin and Hernan Kazah, founders of MercadoLibre.com, eBay’s regional equivalent (where eBay is also a stakeholder) which IPO’d in the NASDAQ in 2007. Andy Freire and Santiago Bilinkis founded OfficeNet, which was acquired by Staples in 2004. All of them became inspirational entrepreneurial leaders in a country where, until then, people viewed the typical corporate managerial ladder as the only way for the middle class to move forward.

Silvia Torres Carbonell is the renowned Dean of the Argentinean Enterprise Institute (IAE) Business School, one of the most recognized schools in the region. She had a front-row seat overlooking  the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region. “20 years ago people rarely talked about entrepreneurship” She comments. “But by the end of the 90’s  and the internet boom, becoming an entrepreneur became the path of choice”.

The 90’s did not end up well for Argentina. After a steep economic crisis, the country suffered a severe currency devaluation and defaulted on its public debts in 2001. In this traumatic context, Nestor Kirchner arrived to power, with a populist discourse aligned with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Kirchner was succeeded by his wife, Cristina Fernandez. In a hostile environment towards private enterprise, business  froze. Even during this difficult business environment, an entrepreneurial group led by Martin Migoya, Guilbert Englebienne, Martin Umaran and Nestor Nocetti started the tech outsourcing company Globant, which IPOed in the NASDAQ in 2014.

Throughout this decade, the Argentinean entrepreneurial ecosystem has been propelled by its entrepreneurs’ creativity, the quality of the local universities and the difficulty in raising capital; mostly due to public policies working against foreign capital investment in the country. In this context of foreign investment capital scarcity, the successful entrepreneurs from the 90’s “dot com” era became the main suppliers of capital to Argentina’s startup ecosystem  

Accelerator & Investors

Santiago Bilinkis, Andy Freire and Pablo Simon have spent a lifetime as an entrepreneurial group. During the 90’s they founded OfficeNet, and office supplies retailer, which they sold to Staples in 2004. In 2013, they starter Quasar Ventures, working under the “startup studio” format. Quasar looks for high potential entrepreneurial ideas and then chooses a team to execute them and bring them to fruition. They take 45% of the equity and the entrepreneurs take 55%. Their offices overlook the River Plate soccer stadium one of the most popular soccer teams in Argentina. Some of the most successful Argentinean startups in the most recent years were born and incubated there.

“Avenida.com” is the local adaptation of Amazon.com. They raised a Series C round in November 2015. Overall they have raised over U$D 50 million to date. Restorando, a restaurant table-booking platform similar to OpenTable in the US has raised U$D 24 million. One of Quasar’s latest creations is Rodati, which aspires to revolutionize the way car are bought and sold in Latin America.

“Argentina has a very good talent pool and a much lower cost than Silicon Valley” says Santiago Bilinkis. “That is why it is a great place to set up a platform to develop new projects aiming at both the regional and global markets”.

Quasar’s strategy is regional. It usually takes an idea or business model that works somewhere else and adapts it to the Latin American reality. They start in Argentina and then scale regionally. If they achieve traction in Brazil, with a 200 million people market, they can aim for a strategic buyer acquisition.

Quasar shows a typical strategy followed by many Argentinean startups. In general, they try to replicate the success seen in other geographies. Very few try to innovate globally. However, we find these cases too! The most salient one in Satellogic, a nanosatellites company founded by Emiliano Kargieman.

Satellogic, Running the Space Race from Argentina

Emiliano Kargieman is a serial entrepreneur in cybersecurity as well as a Venture Capitalist. While attending Singularity University in Silicon Valley in 2010, he came up with the idea for Satellogic. It is Headquartered in Buenos Aires’ Palermo neighborhood, where half a dozen scientists wearing bunny suits similar to the ones you can find at Intel’s manufacturing facilities assemble satellites as small as a soccer ball.

“Developing and launching a traditional satellite takes about 10 years and hundreds of millions of dollars” Explains Kargieman. “We plan to launch a constellation of small satellites at a much lower cost, connect them and make them work as a network”. Over 100 satellites will continuously orbit Earth while taking High Resolution images. This way we will be able to take pictures of our planet in almost real time, for applications from marine routes optimization to oil pipes control and harvest yield computations.

Satellogic was incubated at INVAP, a state enterprise focused on space technology located in the Patagonia region. It has a distributed workforce in Argentina, the United States, Israel, France and the UK.

“This kind of infrastructure will change the way we related to our planet” states an excited Kargieman, a big fan of Stanislaw Lem, the Polish science fiction writer. “Space is going through a revolutionary phase. This industry is becoming much more competitive. A new space race”.

Venture Capital

Many startups in the Argentinean ecosystem start their journey applying to NXTP Labs or Wayra, Accelerator and Incubators that function with a similar format to Y Combinator. They take teams with some kind of prototypes or proofs of concept and invest U$D 20K to 50K in the venture. However, getting into one of these programs that not guarantee success. Problems arise later, when the need to raise a seed investment round of capital.

Mario Tapia, a specialist in the mobile market in Silicon Valley states: “a significant disadvantage for a startup located in Argentina is the lack of access to seed and angel investment financing”. Carlos Esnal, CEO of LugLoc, a company focus on luggage tracking comments: “in Silicon Valley, an idea written on a napkin can easily raise a million dollars. In Argentina, to get a million dollars the product needs to be much more advanced and show a lot more traction”.

These kinds of companies look for a seed investment round of about U$D400K to 600K. These amounts are usually raised from angel investment rounds in which each angle ponies up between U$D 50K to U$D 100K. The situation gets a little trickier if the company keeps growing to the point of needing venture funding.

“After the internet boom, when many funds from abroad came to invest, there was practically no venture funding in Argentina” comments Carolina Dams, Dean of Austral University’s School of Management Sciences and venture capital researcher. The VC funds did not trust Argentina which was nationalizing private pension funds and enterprises. One of the first post dot com bubble funds was CAP, which was formed by both private investors and the IADB.

“In 2007, when the CAP fund was launched, it was very hard to build a pipeline and deal flow because there were very few companies that fit the investment criteria for venture capital” points Manuel Mauer, CAP’s fund manager. “Today the ecosystem is much more developed, but still has its limitations. A traditional fund investment cycle of 6 to 7 years it’s usually too short for the timelines of a typical Argentinean startup. Moreover, there are very few potential buyers within the country to consider a strategic purchase of a company a viable investment exit”.

As opposed to many Silicon Valley funds, the CAP fund is a general fund, not specialized in any specific industry vertical. It holds investments in food, Telemedicine, Internet, and eCommerce. The CAP Fund participated in these investments with amounts from U$D 300K to 3 million. The ecosystem does not offer a big enough deal flow to justify specialization. The “Smart Money” and the experience to build companies with global ambition and not as abundant in Buenos Aires.

NXTP Labs

NXTP Labs is an accelerator created in 2011 by Marta Cruz, Ariel Arrieta, Francisco Coronel and Gonzalo Costa, following the Y Combinator format. They are Argentina’s most active early stage fund  and an important player in Latin America.

They have a portfolio of about 160 companies with founders from 15 different countries, with offices in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay and the US. NXTP lab invests in a wide range of tech companies, such a eCommerce, mobile, gaming, new media and digital marketing. They invest U$D 25K in exchange for 2% to 10% of the company. Fintech is one of NXTP’s latest vertical focus.

NXTP Labs is raising a U$D 120 million fund. “It will help us invest additional money (between U$D 1 to 5 million) in about 32 companies, of which 70% are coming from our current portfolio” Explains Ariel Arrieta, NXTP partner.

Wayra

Wayra started in 2011 as an initiative from Telefonica Group. It has offices in 14 cities in Latin America and Europe. One of them is in Buenos Aires.

Wayra invests U$D 50K in each startup that makes it to their acceleration program, in exchange for 7% to 10% of the company. It offers entrepreneurs a great channel to commercialize their products through Telefonica’s mobile platform.

Wayra’s program is smaller than NXTP’s. They have invested in about 36 companies, in batches of 8 to 10.

Within Wayra’s investment portfolio we can find companies related to Internet of Things (IoT), education platforms and Big Data eCommerce solutions.

Kaszek Ventues

Kaszek was started in 2011 by Hernan Kazah and Nicolas Szekasy, cofounder and ex CFO of MercadoLibre. While founded by Argentineans and having an office in Buenos Aires, Kaszek’s investment activity in Argentina is small. They raised a U$D 95 million fund mostly from capital from the US, which they investment in 23 companies. They raised an additional U$D 135 million in January 2014 which they are still deploying today.

Some of their investments in Argentinean companies include Eventioz (ticket booking platform for events and shows, similar to Eventbrite in the US), Restorando and GoIntegro (Corporate HR platform) Kaszek focuses on Series A rounds investing amounts in the order of U$D 3 million.

Human Capital

In November 24th, 1960, the first computer in Latin America arrives to Buenos Aires, where it was used for simulation processing. It was 18 meters long and was installed at the University of Buenos Aires. They named it Clementina, because each time it processed a program it chimed the tones of the popular Clementine song. Manuel Sadosky, the mathematician leading the team, is considered one of the fathers of Computer Science in Latin America.

Argentina was always an advanced country in terms of science in Latin America. Argentina is the only country in Latin America with 4 Nobel Prizes in science categories. Universities like ITBA and UTN train very good software engineers. Many of them end up working in Silicon Valley, where salaries are more than three times the U$D 30K per year usually earned in the Argentinean market.

If Argentina is to keep its engineers, its needs to set up enabling policies for startups and attract foreign capital for investment. This is the large task ahead for Mariano Mayer, a startup attorney. Mayer has led many city government entrepreneurial initiatives in Buenos Aires, which former Mayor is the current Argentinean president Mauricio Macri. Today Mayer is the leader and responsible for all federal policy related to entrepreneurship.

“Argentina currently ranks very low on the World Bank’s Doing Business index.” Says Mayer. “The first phase involves changing the norm to enable and make entrepreneurship easier”.

This is the work being tackled by the new Entrepreneurial Law, supported by the Argentinean Entrepreneurs’ Association. The Law aims to simplify the paperwork needed to incorporate a business and boost seed investments in particular and venture capital in general. We can refer to Chile’s success case to see that this is possible and the kind of benefits it can bring. In 2010, Chile launched “Startup Chile”, a program that offers companies U$D 40K without taking any equity in return for companies to set up shot in Chile for at least a year. Many Argentinean entrepreneurs are heading over to Chile to start their companies, taking advantage of the seed investment in a country open to capital markets, with a clear legal framework and economic stability.

Startups Future in Buenos Aires

In the movie The Third Man (1949), the character played by Orson Welles says: “Italy, for 30 years under Borgia ruling, it went through war, terror, murders and blood baths, but it also produced Michelangelo, Da Vinci and the Renaissance. Switzerland, on the other hand, enjoyed a lovely time, with 500 years of peace and democracy, and what did they produce? The Cuckoo clock”.

Argentina’s history seems more similar to that of Italy than Switzerland, both because of the origins of its immigrant population as well as a recent past marked by blood and terror from a dictatorship ruling the country between 1976 and 1983.

Argentina provides contrast. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Argentina was the 8th richest country on Earth. After that it suffered decades of economic stagnation and political instability since the 1940s with Peron coming to power. After the steep crisis of 2001, it went through Kirchner’s populist ruling. Now, Mauricio Macri’s new government promises a new alignment with the West and an open economy to help boost the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In their book Startup Nation, Dan Senor and Saul Singer study Israel’s success case in entrepreneurship, a country that has massively developed its entrepreneurial ecosystem in the last 20 years. The authors note that one of the key elements of Israel’s success is Chutzpah, the Hebrew word for a concept that could be translated as the “creative energy to overcome obstacles”.

Pablo Brenner is a Uruguayan engineer who lived in Israel during the time the entrepreneurial ecosystem was forming there. Today Pablo is  the General Manager for Globant Uruguay: “There are some similarities and differences between Israel in the 90’s and Argentina in 2015” Pablo notes. “Both Israel and Argentina have good scientists and universities. “Chutzpah allowed Israeli companies to attain goals that seemed impossible to reach. Argentina is, without a doubt the country with most chutzpah in the region”.

Argentina’s history is one of individual’s success and collective failure. The land of Messi, Pope Francis and Jorge Luis Borges. While its citizens and venerated around the globe, Argentina has lived through decades of economic stagnation since mid-20th century. The new government promises economic integration with the rest of the world as well as setup the conditions for a country of 40 million entrepreneurs. This promise gives hope to many in this land known for its lands and beef, but which has much more to offer to the tech world.

AUTHORS

Federico Ast. Studied Economics and Philosophy at the University of Buenos Aires. Enterprise Management PhD Candidate at the Argentinean Enterprise Institute (IAE) Business School. Entrepreneur, consultant, investigator and journalist specialized in tech companies. @federicoast

Leandro Margulis. Industrial & Systems Engineer. Yale MBA. Entrepreneur, investor, consultant and business accelerator in Silicon Valley and emerging markets. @leanmarg

How Advertising is Evolving: From “In Your Face Ads” to Sponsored Experiences

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What is a sponsored experience?
One of the examples that comes to mind from the “real” world, is the Sephora makeup session: When a customer walks into the store to get a free makeup session using the products from brands Sephora want to promote, that’s a sponsored experience.

How can we create sponsored experiences in the mobile world?
Advertising needs to evolve. Smartphone screens are very small (even though they have grown into phablets), and display ads take too much of that screen real estate. Hersh Choksi, VP Products & Strategy at Flightly, an exclusive Twitter advertising partner, agrees: “Mobile has been much faster to adopt native advertising, which aligns more with the idea of a sponsored experience rather than an interruptive ad.”

In today’s digital world, we see a shift towards convenience and instant gratification. Sponsored experiences can be part of this mobile content, and would provide users a convenient experience on their smartphones without having to leave the mobile app or browser experience they are currently in. So how can we provide meaningful experiences for brands that relate with users?

Here are some examples and use cases for sponsored experiences in the mobile world:

1. Meeting Locations
Many of us use our smartphones to coordinate when and where we are going to meet with colleagues and friends. When we are searching for that cool restaurant or bar, wouldn’t it make sense for either the location apps or restaurants themselves to pay for placement right there, at your fingertips?

2. Transportation
Once we decide on the place and time, we need to get there! Why couldn’t there be a sponsored transportation experience at this time to take an Uber or a Lyft? This could be sponsored or subsidized by the transportation company, or for the transportation company could pay for the opportunity to surface at this time in the user’s screen.

3. Music for Fitness
Let’s assume you are one of those people that track their physical activity while exercising; using apps to track your ride or map your run, etc. Let’s also assume you like to listen to some music to “pump you up” and energize you while exercising. Today you need to open your fitness apps and then go and open another music app to find that music. What if Pandora or Spotify would offer you a sponsored “Work out music” option within the fitness app itself?

I wanted to show you through the examples above how sponsored experiences can be meaningful to users and not be considered interruptive.

How would you prefer to have Sponsored Ads served up to you?

 

Cornershop App shops 6.7 Million USD from Investors!

 

Silicon Valley Latino is proud to share the news that this Chilean-Mexican-Swedish startup Cornershop App for raising USD 6.7 million this past week from some big players here in the valley and overseas for their operation in Chile & Mexico.
We ask where do you see more money going to in the near future? Latino Startups who focus on all of America seems to be the growing trend as Latin America hosts more than 500 mm people. That is a big market!!

Cisco’s 2015 Hispanic Heritage Month

 

Silicon Valley Latino had the pleasure of covering Cisco’s 2015 Hispanic Heritage Month .

Impacto Latino! That was the theme of Cisco’s first annual Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration  held on October 21, 2015 at its San Jose campus. Hosted by Conexión, Cisco’s Latino ERO, the event showcased the contributions made by Latinos, both at Cisco and across the globe, and also celebrated the unique Latino culture with food, music, art and dancing. The event coincides with the U.S. observation of HHM which is recognized from September 15 – October 15, the anniversary of independence for several Latin American countries.

Cisco Hispanic Heritage Month 2015Over 200 attendees joined locally and from remotes sites in Mexico City, Brussels, Raleigh, NC, Austin, TX, and Boxborough, MA to hear from the great line up of speakers, network with their peers and celebrate. The agenda featured several Cisco leaders including Guillermo Diaz, Jr., SVP & CIO and Executive Sponsor of Conexion, Shari Slate, VP, Chief Inclusion & Collaboration, and Maria Dincel, Director, Sponsor Marketing and Head of Olympic Games.  In addition, a professional development component was offered and Gina Rudan, leadership coach and author of Practical Genius, delivered a keynote.

Event speakers:

Guillermo shared the impact Conexión has made over the past 17 years and highlighted the continued efforts to develop the next generation of Latino leaders at Cisco. He also shared the impact that Conexion had on his career and encouraged the audience to disrupt themselves and inspire exponentially.

Maria shared Cisco’s sponsorship plans for the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics and the efforts Cisco is making in Brazil around country transformation.

Gina Rudan shared her 5 steps to leveraging your practical geniusand the importance of marrying the heart and the mind to create your genius.

Shari highlighted the power of partnerships to help unleash the power of our talent. She also shared the progress made by the Office of Inclusion and Collaboration to transform the company.

Following the main event, attendees in San Jose had the opportunity to network with their peers, learn Zumba, and connect with local Latino owned businesses – PONDL Winery, Vino Latino, Voces Wine, Tico Coffee Roasters, Teatro Vision, Ventana de Flores and Latino Art Expressions.  Conexión

Silicon Valley Latino looks forward to covering Cisco’s 2016 Hispanic Heritage Month event.

If you were a part of this event share your experience with the Silicon Valley Latino community.

Don’t just look for a Mentor: Develop your Personal Board of Advisors!

Article originally posted on LinkedIn by Cultura Ambassador Leandro Margulis

In this series, professionals thank those who helped them reach where they are today. Read the posts here, then write your own. Use #ThankYourMentor and @mention your mentor when sharing.

“You need a mentor.”

 

If you’re like most working professionals, this is one of the first pieces of advice you heard around college graduation or upon landing your first job.  (Stressed out at work? Get a mentor. Not sure how to navigate office politics? Get a mentor. Want to know whether going to grad school or switching careers is the right option for you? Get a mentor. Ad nauseum.)

But whether you received this advice from one of your professors, your mom, your neighbor, or a co-worker, finding a mentor is a lot easier said than done. (It’s not only hard to locate someone with the professional chops and time to help you out, it can be even harder for some people to ask for help in the first place.) And how do you know whether the mentor you do eventually hook up with is the right person to help you with your current challenges, let alone professional issues you encounter five or ten years from now?

Here’s the thing—you don’t.

The reality is that we need more than one mentor throughout our careers. We need many different mentors for many different things. We not only need different mentors over time as our careers grow and change, we also need different mentors at the same time.

Again, easier said than done, right? Well, not if you play your cards right.

You probably aren’t close friends with the all the people you spent every weekend with in high school anymore. Why not? Because you’ve changed a lot since high school, that’s why—you have an adult life with adult responsibilities. And just like you’ve moved on from several of your old high school friends, the close confidants you have at your current job or career stage may not be able to relate to you a decade down the road when you’re navigating the complex issues a top manager or executive faces, either.

Mentors are human—they have their own strengths and weaknesses, just like you do. They grow and change, just like you do. And the people you look up to as role models now might not be the role model you want a decade or even a year from now. Or you may find yourself needing help in a pinch for a unique business or personal situation that your current mentor has no concept of.

You Need a Team

This is where having a team of mentors, rather than just one, can come in handy. Take it from me—I once relied on only one professional mentor. But I soon found I needed more than that. So I eventually evolved past having just one mentor to having what I like to call a Personal Board of Advisors.

My advisors come from many different walks of life. Some are young—even students—while some are my age or older. Some work in my field, and some come from other fields. Some are still working, and some are retired. In all cases, though, they have a certain type of expertise or experience that I’m lacking—whether it’s a deep trove of professional contacts, financial acumen, the ability to speak frankly about difficult topics, or wisdom gained from many years of experience. (Or in the cases of my young/student advisors, it’s often youthful energy and a better understanding of new technologies like Snapchat, Periscope, or other emerging social-media platforms.) This allows me to have a variety of people I can choose from when I need specific advice about different topics at different times.

In this way, my personal board of advisors is similar to the boards of directors that advise CEOs at major corporations. Corporations make a point to build advisory boards where each member contributes according to a different specialty or strength. Why not have the same kind of board for your professional and personal development?

As my own personal board of advisors illustrates, not all mentors are gray-haired businessmen in drab suits. They are young and old, male and female, working and retired, in your industry and outside it.

Your own Personal Board of Advisors is out there, waiting to help you. You just need to go out and find them, and build those relationships. (Be prepared to mentor them in return, too—a big part of relationship-building is reciprocity.)

Modern Latina presents Fashion Fights Back Event

 

A runway event benefiting Latinas Contra Cancer

 

It will be a night of fashion, culture, and community honoring and celebrating breast cancer survivors. Guests will have a great time as they enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres, while viewing the latest fashion, including the reveal of the finished looks from our Frida Kahlo Inspired Look contest. Guests will have the opportunity to shop from our participating local artists, crafters and small businesses and have the opportunity to bid on the many unique silent auction items!

Latinas Contra CancerVIP reception includes some pre-festivity pampering, networking and VIP treatment with an exclusive gift bag, drawings and a sneak peek at the silent auction items. At the VIP reception, guests will meet Modern Latina’s Commemorative 10th Anniversary Edition Featured Latina, Tina Aldatz. Tina is a self-made, successful Latina entrepreneur who founded Foot Petals and is now the CEO of Savvy Travel. She will be sharing her compelling and heartwarming personal story of success against all odds from her book, “From Stilettos to the Stock Exchange.” Books will be available for sale and book signing.

All proceeds from the ticket sales and silent auction benefit Latinas Contra Cancer, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about cancer in the Latino community, increasing access to quality care, working to decrease mortality and improving the quality of the health care experience. Latinas Contra Cancer provides support services and resources for the Latino cancer patient and their family; collaborate with other small agencies to provide education and outreach services; partner with health care institutions to bridge the gap through culturally competent outreach and medical care.

This wonderful program will be emceed by community leader Mrs. Guisselle Nuñez, Director of Marketing, Public and Government Relations for the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District. Fashion will be featured from local Latina designer Sindy Hernandez de Cornejo who will debuting her 2015 #SINDYCollection as well as styles from Banana Republic and Dress Barn. The looks will be modeled by members of Latina Coalition Silicon Valley.

Enjoy a fun evening out while helping to raise awareness and funds for the fight against breast cancer.

 

Location: San Jose Woman’s Club, 75 South 11th Street, San Jose, CA 95112

Date: Thursday, October 1, 2015 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM (PDT) ; 6:00 VIP entrance

 

General Admission $35 (After 9/23/15 $45) Entrance at 7pm

General admission includes entrance to fashion show with wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres. Entry at 7 pm.

 

VIP Reception Admission $55 (After 9/23/15 $65) Entrance at 6pm

VIP Reception Admission includes early entrance at 6 pm to enjoy some pre-festivity pampering, networking and VIP treatment that includes an exclusive gift bag, drawings and sneak peak at the silent auction items.

 

Purchase Tickets: http://bit.ly/1dzzsRp

 

 

Cultura Ambassador Isabel Valdés appointed to U.S. SBA

 

We are excited to share that SVL Cultura Ambassador Isabel Valdés has been appointed to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Region IX Regulatory Fairness Board by SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.

Isabel has been a long time supporter of not only our small business but many others and this comes as a result of all her hard work and dedication to the Latino Community throughout the country.

 

 

News Release

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Release Date:

Contact: Marlow Schindler (415) 744-6771
Release Number: Internet Address: http://www.sba.gov/news

 

California Small Business Owner Isabel Valdés Appointed to Federal Advisory Board

 

SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco small business owner Maria Isabel Valdés has been appointed to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Region IX Regulatory Fairness Board by SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.

Regional Regulatory Fairness Boards in all 10 of SBA’s regions represent the voice of small business on regulatory fairness issues. Each Board is comprised of five small business owners who serve as a resource and point of contact for small business owners who feel they have experienced excessive federal regulatory enforcement and compliance actions.

Regional Regulatory Fairness Board members advise the Acting National Ombudsman, Yolanda Swift. Together, The National Ombudsman and Board members host regulatory fairness hearings and outreach events nationwide where small business owners report concerns about burdensome federal regulations.

“With extensive multi-cultural communications and marketing experience working with Fortune 50 as well as 1000 companies, across business categories such as retail, healthcare, financial services and insurance, as well as entertainment and media, Ms. Valdés is uniquely positioned to understand and advocate for small businesses,” Swift said. “As a member of the Region IX Regulatory Fairness Board, she will play a vital role in insuring that the voice of small business is heard by federal regulators, while facilitating regulatory solutions that save small business owners time and money.”

As a Region IX Regulatory Fairness Board member, Valdés will serve as a local resource for small businesses and will work with small business trade groups and other entities to address regional concerns about federal regulatory enforcement and compliance issues. SBA Region IX includes California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, and Guam.

Valdés is the president of IVC, a boutique marketing consulting firm. Valdés is also a VP of the Chile California Council (CCC) and is the Chair of the Center for Multi-Cultural Sciences, with previous positions with PepsiCO/Frito-Lay’s Advisory Board; The National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI); and The Latino Community Foundation (LCF) San Francisco. Valdés can be reached by email at isabel@isabelvaldes.com or by phone at (650) 444-3924.

The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), created five-member Regulatory Fairness Boards in each of SBA’s 10 regions. As representatives of their local and regional small business communities, Board members provide insights and recommendations on regulatory challenges facing the small business owners they represent – perspectives that are critical to eliminating ineffective, duplicative, or outmoded regulatory business barriers to small business success. For more information about the Office of the National Ombudsman and the Regional Regulatory Fairness Boards, visit www.sba.gov/ombudsman.###

What’s the Secret to Great Networking? Become the Missing Link!

 

Article originally posted on LinkedIn by Leandro Margulis

Networking can be intimidating even to the most seasoned business people. It’s especially daunting when you don’t know anyone at the beginning of your career, or you’re starting out in a new industry (or country!) completely from scratch. But in today’s competitive business environment, the best opportunities often come to us from the people who already know and trust us. Without a solid professional network in place, you could miss out on these opportunities.

But how do you start building that professional network?

Let me tell you what’s worked for me. My name is Leandro Margulis and I am originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I moved to the United States twelve years ago to attend school and pursue business interests, and, at that point, did not know many people in the United States.

Like many working professionals, I did not have a strong network.

As time went by, I discovered that interacting with other people energized me, and I wanted more of that. I enjoyed bouncing around ideas with others, as well as learning about other people’s customs and culture.

I also discovered that not everyone felt the same way about networking as I did. Some people preferred to avoid interaction with others altogether. Some were shy, some feared rejection, and some had other reasons not to connect, like family obligations that took up a lot of their time. These people had even more difficulty building networks than most—but I’ve found that everyone has networking challenges to some degree.

This discovery showed me that I could add value to both individuals and organizations by helping to connect people I met in different places and through different sources. Sometimes one person I met was looking for what another person I knew could offer. But these two people would not have met unless I made the connection, because they frequent different circles.

In other words, I became their “missing link.”

The Missing Link As Snowball Effect
Everyone in the professional world should constantly be asking themselves this question: how do I add value? When I was thinking about what tagline to use on my LinkedIn profile, I realized that the best way to describe my personal business value is to show how I can connect people in ways that can benefit both them and their businesses.

I also realized that the more I connected people, the more events I was invited to. Each connection led to many more connections, snowballing upward and outward at a rapid pace. People started coming to me for referrals when they had trouble finding the expertise they needed. Not only that, people from my network began to call me for advice on an array of different issues.

In other words, I had not only managed to grow my network on a grand scale, I had also become a trusted advisor to my network. My personal brand as a connector of people continued to grow, too—attracting even more professional connections.

By leveraging my personal interest in meeting and socializing with new people and places, I became an essential business asset to my network. Being resourceful earned me access to contacts I did not have before. It also helped me enhance my reputation among different clusters of people. I became the “go-to” person for finding talent and ideas across wide groups—and the more people who consulted me, the more my credibility grew.

It didn’t happen overnight, of course—but networking is something that tends to build upon itself over time. You get out of it what you put in.

The Weakest Link Is Also The Strongest Link
Another term for “the missing link” is “the weakest link” Think of the person in your cluster of contacts who seems the least engaged. Maybe that person is only someone you run into occasionally at the coffee shop or gym. Maybe it’s the person on your work team who is the most reserved and least outgoing. Maybe it’s a person you worked with several years ago and liked, but have since lost touch with.

That person might seem like the weakest link in your network. But if you take the time to reach out to this person and find out more about what makes him or her tick, you might discover he or she has hidden talents, interests, or contacts that are exactly what you or someone else you know is looking for. By exploring the weakest links in your network, you might discover stronger links in their network. Or you might even find that the so-called weakest link can do something someone in your own network is dying to find.

For example, what if the shy software developer who never speaks up in weekly department meetings has a great idea for a new product or service one of your other contacts might be interested in? What if your former secretary who retired last year has relatives in the venture-capital world that could fund a startup? What if the intern who makes your coffee and organizes your files knows something about the sharing economy in Brazil because she backpacked there last summer?

The possibilities are endless. You never know until you ask.

Believe it or not, there is science supporting this theory. When I was a student at the Yale School of Management I learned about learning to leverage the weakest links in our networks  from Joel Podolny, who is now Dean of Apple University. (Talk about building great connections!)

During his research on the subject, Podolny created a graph similar to the one below to illustrate how the weakest link in one social cluster could be the strongest link between two or more social clusters:
Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 9.15.43 AM

The so-called “weakest” link might even be you! Contrary to its name, it’s a very strategic position to be in, both personally and professionally.

Do you want to become the missing link that could solve other peoples’ business problems? It’s easier than you think. Start out by learning to hang out in many different crowds across both your personal and professional lives. Keep your eyes open for new contacts—even unusual or shy ones—and actively listen to what people are saying. More than that, learn to read between the lines. (Your best friend’s rant at the bar last night about what a hard time he’s been having at work might be a clue that his business needs a smart consultant to help them solve a problem!)

And most of all, become the “go to” person everyone wants to invite to their meetings, parties, and social gatherings. Have the information and insight that people are looking for. Make introductions, and also seek them out. And never turn a blind eye to someone with an interesting story to tell, even if it’s not work-related. You never know where these contacts might lead you!

Share your thoughts with us and tell us how you become the missing link!

6 Latina Self-Made Entrepreneurs Seizing Technology and Building Winning Businesses

 

This article was originally posted on Hispanic PR Blog

6 Latina Self-Made Entrepreneurs Seizing Technology and Building Winning Businesses

 

Seasoned or budding entrepreneurs, all of these women have a few things in common. They’re Latina, self-made, have untraditional business models that have been built from the ground up, and are leveraging the tech world in smart and innovative ways.  They are without a doubt changing the face and perception of Latinas in business.  Here they are in alphabetical order:

 

  1.    Jessica Alba, The Honest Company – Making “Toxic-free” Trendy

Jessica Alba may be a well-known Hollywood starlet, but she has also proven to be a phenomenal business woman – growing her non-toxic, e-commerce business into a multi-million dollar machine with a current valuation of $1 billion.  The Honest Company’s product lines, which range from baby care products to household cleaners, are now also making their way onto retail shelves across America, including retail giant Target.

 

  1. Marie Forleo, B-School – Her Life As A Brand

Despite landing enviable positions on Wall Street and in magazine publishing, Marie Forleo could not shake off the feeling that there was something better out there for her. Naturally a people-person, she decided to take an online course and pursue a less familiar career path as a life-coach – a title that she admits she initially found to be “cheesy.” After deciding to develop a newsletter on the topic, Forleo leveraged her personal network to establish a loyal following.  Today, Forleo is a marketing and lifestyle expert, bestselling author, and Oprah certified business woman (yes, Oprah interviewed her).  She is teaching individuals how to succeed in business and life through B-School, an online business school for modern entrepreneurs developed by Forleo.

 

  1. Laura I. Gómez, Atipica – Tech Diversity Guru

In spite of having arrived to the United States at the age of 10 as an undocumented immigrant, Laura I. Gómez has proven to be a force to be reckoned with.  Gomez went on to graduate from a top college, receive U.S. residency, and work with leading tech companies including Twitter, YouTube, and Jawbone. She is now taking her tech know-how to the next level with her recently launched startup.  Her company, Atipica, helps the tech industry address its diversity challenge by working directly with hiring managers to improve companies’ recruitment and retention efforts.

 

  1. Maria Theresa Kumar, Voto Latino – Transforming The Latino Millennial Electorate

Since its founding in 2004, Voto Latino (VL) has registered nearly a quarter-million voters. Founder and CEO, Maria Theresa Kumar, started VL out of her apartment in New York.  Her vision: develop a platform that will empower Latino millennials through civic engagement. Today, VL is stronger than ever and recently launched what many are calling its most innovative program yet – VL’s Innovators Challenge. The program helps Latino millennials translate their “tech savvy” into technology work and is helping pave the way towards greater Latino entry into the Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math (STEM) fields.

 

  1. Michelle Rosado, Raging Babe – Engineer Turned Boxing Promoter

Michele Rosado may have started off as an engineer but her passion for the sport of boxing has led her down a road less traveled, perhaps untouched by most Latinas. Her company, Raging Babe – originally founded in Arizona – is taking the boxing community by storm and has significantly contributed to the resurgence of the sport in Arizona.  Today, Rosado is taking her business to an entirely new level with a Raging Babe online store, radio show, and a social media following that is helping to promote her brand to more than just your typical boxing aficionado. Rosado is blazing new trails for women and smartly leveraging technology to help build her boxing empire, which today extends well beyond Arizona.

 

  1. Lynette Spano, SCI Consulting – Triple Threat

After working as a receptionist for a software company, Spano’s interest in technology quietly developed into one of the largest woman-owned federal contracting companies in the country – SCI Consulting.  But serving as CEO of a multi-million dollar IT firm is not all Spano does, she is also a Latin recording artist – a path she pursued after suffering from a life threatening brain aneurysm. In 2010, Spano founded Stars, Stripes, and Hearts, a nonprofit initiative that raises funds for Hispanic service members suffering from mental health conditions.

 

Laura Berrocal is a Contributing Writer on tech and diversity issues at Silicon Valley Latino.  Follow her on Twitter at @1LauraB