MANOS Accelerator is San Jose, CA based startup accelerator that provides “hands-on” mentorship, support and guidance to early-stage startup companies through a 3-month program. Below is our interview with Edward Avila, Founder of MANOS Accelerator:
Q: For those who have never heard of it, tell us something more about MANOS Accelerator?
A: MANOS Accelerator started more as a response to need in hi-tech sectors. Many editorials have theorized why so few Latinos are graduating with engineering degrees, qualify for high-tech positions, or are starting their own ventures. With less than 1% of venture-backed startups founded by Latinos, there is a huge opportunity to develop this community and accelerate the growth of startups through this untapped entrepreneurial talent.
With so much innovation going within the Silicon Valley startup ecosystem with entrepreneurs, mentors and investors, the question we kept asking ourselves was, “Where are all the Latinos?” These observations frustrated us and it invigorated a sense of purpose. We dared to ask ourselves a simple question, “What if?” We concluded that the correct response to these studies and speculations was to take action by developing a tech accelerator program that identifies and mentors a new generation of Latino entrepreneurs. Thus, the idea of MANOS Accelerator was born.
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Q: What is your main goal by helping startups?
A: We find that many early-stage founders are seeking help to flush out their product or services, validate their business model or introduce them with industry experts to scale their ventures. At MANOS, the main goal is work with early-stage startups by providing them with “hands-on” mentorship, support and guidance through a 3-month program that ends in a demo day.
Q: What are the main things you look in startups? How do you know which ones have potential?
A: With the support of our founding partners, Google for Entrepreneurs and other strategic partners, MANOS Accelerator has developed a robust program that incorporates all the necessary aspects of launching and maintaining a successful business venture from product development to pitch strategy.
Our selection team is made up of VCs, technical experts and entrepreneurs. We review business plans and interview the startup teams. Through a selection process, we identify up to 7 early-stage startup teams and have them participate through a “bootcamp” style program of intense collaboration designed to help them increase their business potential.
We look for entrepreneurs who have the following traits – creativity, an innovative spirit, a “can do” attitude and a desire to win. These are components for diversifying the local economy, building businesses and creating jobs. We look for startup teams that have diverse backgrounds and are developing innovative solutions that are solving real problems in both the Hispanic and general markets.
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Q: How can anyone apply to your program? What are the requirements?
A: We look for startup teams that are led by Latino entrepreneurs in the high-tech industry from across the US and in Latin America countries. We look for are early-stage startups with working prototypes with some level of traction (not necessarily revenue). These startups range from having solutions in ecommerce, entertainment, media, education, enterprise to healthcare. We are interested in product-focused companies in the consumer internet, mobile devices and cloud computing space.
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What is your message to entrepreneurs?
A: Starting a business is not easy to do – it takes a lot of hard work. I meet many entrepreneurs who pitch or present great ideas but they are typically all over the map. Something that I stress all the time to entrepreneurs is to stay “laser focused” on what you are trying to achieve so that you can deliver results.Activate Social Media: