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!!

Manuel Romero: El orgullo de ser Latino

Manuel Romero photos courtesy of Keepsake Photography Š

Manuel Romero singer, song writer, and guitarist expresses his Orgullo through his music and for his Latino roots and for Silicon Valley. He performs for local sports teams, the President of Mexico, as well a having performed for the Pope John Paul II in Mexico City.

Romero made his first recording at age nine. He adds, “Ever since I was just two years old … (his family) they have videos of me singing at the house with him (my father) playing at the house.”

Interview with Manuel Romero by Alex Ontiveros on traditional mariachi musical talent, vision, and proud heritage.

Written by Eydie Mendoza | Videos by Jose Posadas

Portraying the Celebration of Life and Death

Francisco Franco paintings | Photo by Patricia Ruiz

Juan Diego walked back down from the mountain in Mexico to share the image of La Virgen (Our Lady of Guadalupe) with his people.

Francisco Franco, a 39-year-old accomplished local artist, says, “My mother wanted me to be an artist. In kindergarten I won some award out of the whole elementary school; the teacher had a conversation with my mom and put me in art classes.”

As a 10-year-old child, he visited that same mountain in Mexico with his family but returned without his mother, who passed away while on vacation to the mother-country.

Francisco Franco in his studio | Photo by Patricia Ruiz

“Because the virgin is the mother to all of us, she is my surrogate mother in a way … I went through a lot, was raised in the hood with gangs, and many friends died. Death was so much a part of what guided me,” but in Modesto as a youth, Franco created no art. He adds, “From age 10 to 18. I never drew. I never painted,” although he was into graffiti.

“I see myself as Juan Diego…” He smiles and explains that he loves to use the metaphor of someone who climbed to the top of this hill and was enlightened, got to see the world from a higher vantage, and saw the light. “So I see The Virgen is just The Light; his tunic is a painting, so if you think about it Juan Diego was painter.”

Today in his naturally sky-lit studio, with a large flat screen displayed high in one corner, house music playing in surround sound, Franco, known for his murals and calacas paintings says, “My art evolved, developed symbiotically and started with what they (commissioned employers) wanted. I was lead in a direction that gave me a chance to explore my own heritage.”

He continues, “I did not want to be a quote-un-quote Chicano artist and resisted it. Now I am realizing that I was pulled into it.” His art is collected by a diverse group of collectors of various ethnicities and backgrounds.

“There was a void there. I speak for mi gente as Americans, as a unique American experience.” His father is from Chihuahua, Mexico and immigrated here when he was around 14 years-old. His mother was Native American and Mexican, so both parents spoke English and Spanish fluently. “I am Native Californian and Mexican.”

“I did not want to be the Day of Dead painter but I embraced it. Now it’s natural I could have fun with it. It has made me more of a whole person,” explains Franco, as he paints two vibrant art pieces; one of singing icon Selena using peoples and another of a vixen (Especially created for the January 19, 2012 Grand Opening at Chacho’s Restaurant in San Jose, Calif.) painted in luscious reds.

Franco’s ties to iconography also extend through his travels and higher education. Not only was he born el dia de San Francisco (his Saint’s day), but by some landmark occurrences. He attended Modesto Junior College after high school, traveled with his mentor to 27 major cities in Europe just to look at art, was accepted to University of California at Berkeley’s undergraduate program with a full ride (tuition scholarship), studied anatomy at the Ruskin School of Drawing  & Fine Art at Oxford University, and New York Academy of Art for his Master’s. At the age of thirty and just out of grad school, he developed gluten intolerance and for two years he thought he was dying because the doctors could not diagnose his illness. Naturally, he questioned life.

“Not only that…, I was in New York when the Twin Towers fell … I saw them fall. I became mortal all of a sudden and it bothered me. Life took on a meaningless thing. Before that, life had an order; there was a destiny for me.” He dwelled on the topic of death.

“I came to the conclusion … You can’t have life without death. We are the walking dead, the living dead. Let’s have a party. Let’s enjoy life. Eat, drink, dance, and know that it’s short and sweet. And it became a philosophy.” Franco declares, “Live a good life and leave something behind.”

To learn more about Fancisco Franco’s exhibits, workshops, and how to purchase his art visit:

La Otra Familia Movie Review

La Otra Family | Photo Courtesy of Cinequest

At the 22nd Annual Cinequest running February 28 to March 11, Family is redefined in the film La Otra Familia (The Other Family) by director and writer Gustavo Loza.

Set in Mexico (in Spanish with English subtitles) the film centers around the fate of a young boy abandoned by his drug-addicted single mother and the fate of a wealthy gay couple who try to care for him. The film also contrasts the social and widening economic disparities in Mexico, a country with very distinct social classes where people know their place or suffer the consequences as they do in this wrenching film.

The drama begins when Nina (Nailea Norvind) once again abandons her son Hendrix (as in Jimi played by Bruno Loza) in order to spend days getting high at her boyfriend/dealer’s apartment. Coming to the boy’s ill-fated rescue is Nina’s friend Ivana (Ana Serradilla) who hands off the boy to Jean Paul (Jorge Salinas) and Chema (Luis Guzman) a recently wed gay couple. The story thus is set in Mexico City as this is one of only two places where same-sex marriages are allowed in the entire country.

Nina played by Nailea Norvind in La Otra Familia | Photo Courtesy of Cinequest

The gay couple, at first, is apprehensive of taking in this child especially Chema, played convincingly by Guzman, but it is Chema who eventually bonds with the child and becomes his most vocal defender. The newlywed couple soon confronts another hurdle, one of many for openly gay individuals in a traditionally conservative Catholic country, when they try to enroll Hendrix in a private Catholic school. Here the director offers us another glimpse of Mexico’s social disparities where the very rich can dictate who has access to what and exceptions can be made for the right price. Even representatives of the church are not above playing this game when it is to their benefit.

The story’s heart is sealed during the scenes that take place inside Jean Paul’s and Chema’s fittingly upscale and exclusive home. Here the men are presented as a loving couple, a nurturing family- exactly what the boy lacks from his biological mother who once she discovers he has been “kidnapped” from her begins a crazed effort to get him back even if she cannot care for him as he deserves.

The film picks up steam when Nina’s boyfriend has his own plans for Hendrix involving another couple who have recently lost their own newborn son. A side story involving Ivana and her lesbian lover explores another definition of family when Ivana’s brother is approached to be a sperm donor for a child Ivana and Gloria (played by Ana Soler) wish to conceive.

Director Gustavo Loza | Photo Courtesy of Cinequest

Those viewers who are seeking to peel back the curtain of life inside modern Mexico City, who want a glimpse of the criminal element that lurks behind every door or rooftop, who have long suspected injustices in the way things are done, and how life works in Mexico won’t be disappointed in this challenging, at times troubling but in the end life-affirming film.

La Otra Familia is one of many productions shown in Latino Film Showcase at Cinequest February through March 2012. Trailer:

The Passion of Rose

“I wanted the shop to be a combination of traditional folk art and contemporary Latino art. The goal being to preserve the Latin American tradition many of us grew up in.” Rose answered when asked what her goals were in opening up her store, smartly named Ay Dios Mio! (exclamation point included).

“But I also wanted our products to appeal to three generations of Latinos in our community – our parents, adults and younger generations.”

For long time California native, Rose Mendoza, collecting and selling Latino art has been her passion. The perky Latina is always excited at the chance to travel to Mexico, stopping in Oaxaca, Mexico City, Tlaquepaque (near Guadalajara) or San Miguel de Allende to visit familiar artists and purchase their merchandise for sale back here in the USA.

What started as a website, evolved into event sales (like the Mariachi Festival in San Jose or Day of the Dead festival in Oakland) has blossomed into a boutique retail store in San Pedro Square in downtown San Jose. There Rose offers up unique merchandise from artists both internationally and locally. One can find works from artisans from Mexico as well as Peru, from Texas and also Los Angeles.

Rose Mendoza in her store Ay Dios Mio! located in the San Pedro Square Market | Photo by Eydie Mendoza

Her products, both originals and replicas, include such things as handbags in the shape of pan dulce conchas, dinnerware plates painted with Lotería cards, paper mache items popular on Dia de los Muertos as well as seasonal items like Christmas tree ornaments designed by Casa Q, plus many more.

Rose learned about knowing her customers with her first business venture called La Fina Cocina. There she sold Latino-inspired kitchenware but soon found that her customers were more drawn to the art related products thus Ay Dios Mio! was born.

She and her sister, Betty Campos, tend to the shop that Rose believes reflects positively on her Latino culture. Rose looks forward to her annual shopping excursions in Mexico to bring back new, fun and unique arte popular that connects emotionally to her growing customer base.

Rose advices other Latina entrepreneurs: “Feel passionate about what you want to do, ask yourself, is it in my DNA? Also, find out who, really, is your audience, your customer, know them well, because knowing them will help you to develop your business model. Know your industry and what customers want and what your competition offers. Lastly, build partnerships and collaborate with others that can help your business grow.”

Visit Rose Ay Dios Mio! in San Jose’s new San Pedro Square Market or online