Serial Latino entrepreneur wins $50K for his business software solution
Eric Diaz is a passionate fan of sports, particularly basketball. So, when his turn came for the prolific, serial entrepreneur, to take the stage and give his five-minute pitch that could result in $50,000 for his newest business venture, he turned to his knowledge of the game for guidance.
The self-pep talk paid off, with interest. On Thursday, Eric, 36, beat his nine fellow competitors in the inaugural Phoenix Street Pitch startup competition to take home the coveted prize of 50 grand for OYE! Business Intelligence’s software solution to help brands and companies track real-time conversations and develop culturally-relevant communications.
Diaz’s triumph was featured in the Phoenix Business Journal.
Laurita Tellado of Hispanic PR Blog had the opportunity to chat with Eric about his big win, how he overcomes stage fright, and– the $50,000 question– his plans for the prize money.
Photo courtesy of Eric Diaz
LT: What does OYE Business Intelligence do?
ED: We are a SaaS software solution that provides brands and organizations with a better way to understand the Hispanic community. Clients use our software to provide them a competitive advantage when creating communications with this important and growing market which has over 1.5 trillion dollars in purchasing power.
LT: Why did you decide to enter?
ED: We entered the street pitch contest as we have done well in previous competitions, but felt that now would be our time as a number of things have recently been going our way in regards to new clients and advances with our software. We felt that this opportunity would be a great momentum piece for us as we look to close a round of funding of $500,000 this year.
LT: How did you prepare for your pitch?
ED: I prepared like it was game 7 of the NBA finals. I locked myself in a hotel room last Friday in order to prepare the final draft and I stayed up till 3 in the morning just to get it right. I practiced at least 7 times a day. They recommended 6, but I wanted to go a little further. On the big day, I practiced it 20 times with 5 different people.
LT: How did it feel on stage?
ED: It was a nerve-wracking feeling! [There were] 500 people looking at me, but so many friendly faces that I felt encouraged along the way. I almost forgot my lines on page one! However, I recovered, and my attempts at humor one by one started landing which allowed me to gain confidence with this audience. The rest was a breeze.
LT: Can you share your top three takeaways from this experience?
ED: 1.Know your numbers cold. If somebody unplugged your projector deck you should still be able to recite what your numbers are in front of any audience. It needs to come from deep in your mind, and soul.
2. Stuff an ace up your sleeve. Do whatever it is that gives you that extra piece of confidence. For me, it’s a new bowtie. It puts me over the top confidence-wise. Have your secret weapon for the big day.
3. Make friends with competitors. If there are 10 presenters, that means there is a 90% chance you will lose. Make sure that you meet and learn from the other competitors as they can turn into long-term partners or be a great source of connections for you. As the odds are that you will lose, don’t make it a zero sum game.
LT: What does it mean to you to achieve this success as a Latino-owned startup tech company?
ED: To me, the best thing is being able to meet with the college and high school kids (many of them latino) that approach me with questions after an event like this. I offer advice to all of them (and occasionally mentoring) as I am impressed by their goals and by their courage in introducing themselves. I think it helps for them to see my Latino face on a stage, as it confirms to them that ‘I can do that, too.”
LT: What will you do with the investment?
ED: This $50K will be part of a larger raise of $500K. The plan is to split the investment focusing on 80 percent product development and 20 percent sales. We will ensure software development talent, further UI visualization, and automated reporting. Additionally, we will add a Chief Sales Officer.
LT: What’s next for you?
ED: [We're] going to close out this round of $500K and finish version 3.0 of OYE which includes a new product which provides real-time competitor comparisons for brands that want to know their standing among Hispanic consumers of all levels of acculturation.
Eric Diaz is a Phoenix area business owner in the Marketing/Technology Industry. Since 2010, Eric has led Nativa Multicultural Communications by focusing on the needs of the client in order to deliver the best long-term solutions. In 2014 he co-founded OYE! Business Intelligence, which is a platform that segments and monitors real-time online Hispanic conversations allowing clients to make educated business decisions and develop culturally relevant communications with the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S. Eric owns Coworking on 15th Ave in central Phoenix as well.
Eric has worn many hats throughout his professional career. He spent parts of 2007 and 2008 in Shanghai, China’s economic capital, serving an important supply chain development role to support exponential company growth in the region for Staples, Inc., a Fortune 500 retailer. Eric completed his Masters Degree in Finance at Northeastern University in Boston, obtained a Marketing degree from The Ohio State University and has a passion for helping people.