Hispanicize HX made an appropriate landing last Thursday in San Francisco’s Runway, a special co-working office space for tech start ups that shares its building with Twitter.
Sponsored by Verizon Wireless and co-hosted by Hispanicize 2014 and LAM in partnership with the Latino Start Up Alliance and Hispanicize Wire, the event brought together more than 200 Latino and multicultural tech, media, music, film and blogging influencers.
The conversations – in Spanish, English and Spanglish– were casual, passionate and free-flowing with networking that featured three TEDx-style talk, a Latino tech start up competition and a musical performance by Los Rakas.
“Part of what our HX events are about is changing the narrative that the nation has about Latinos – immigration, dropout rates, all the things that are usually associated with Hispanics. Our Hispanicize platform is devoted to showing that Latinos have big ideas and dreams worth exploring,” said Manny Ruiz, founder of the Hispanicize.
Martha-Edith Hernandez, course manager of Lean LaunchPad at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, sent a clear message during her talk: “Face-to-face communication and face-to-face interviews work if you work it.”
Motivational speaker Brian Rashid – after joking that he is “Latingo”, a gringo who thinks he’s Latino – gave plenty of nuggets of knowledge to encourage entrepreneurs to follow their wildest dreams.
“You can always come back; but I suspect you won’t want to,” he said, recalling a pivotal point in his life when he decided to leave the comfort of home and accelerate his career in the Bay Area.
Then Rashid brought up a piece of advice he got when he wondered whether he should do something with the little time he had remaining at a job that he left: “Yeah, it’s only an hour, but it’s your hour.”
The entrepreneur competition was fast paced for three startups that got a chance to pitch their ideas to three seasoned judges from the tech industry.
The competition winner was Jose Huitron of crowdfunding platform Crowdismo.com. His award was a round-trip to Miami to attend and present at Hispanicize 2014, the annual Latino trends event, a two night stay at the InterContinental hotel and a free national press release distribution via Hispanicize Wire.
Huitron, 32, of Santa Maria, was grateful for the recognition that will help him achieve his dreams as a tech entrepreneur.
“I’ve always known I was going to be an entrepreneur because I always role-played as a kid,” he said. “I’m like a chameleon and I knew I would be an entrepreneur.”
Even the entrepreneurs who didn’t win the competition walked away with a victory.
“This was our first unveiling. It’s a big step we’re taking,” said Kety Esquivel, a partner in Bay Area-based Lo Ka Monkeys, a game and app that will help young children learn a second language. “It was good to get feedback from people in the business.”
These activities put Hispanicize HX (SF) on par with high-caliber networking events across industries, but a very Latino grand finale set it apart. Oakland natives Los Rakas, whose latest single made it on the soundtrack of EA Sports FIFA 2014, transformed the tech hub into a fiesta with their music.