Latinas Think Big Launches Startup Communities to Catalyze Latina Entrepreneurial Culture
Silicon Valley's diversity problem goes beyond the dearth of underrepresented minorities in the ranks of the industry's workforce. Part of it has to do with the white-male dominated makeup of the startup scene, where women and minorities have fewer opportunities to grow their ideas into businesses.
Now Latinas Think Big is taking a crack at that problem by launching startup communities, designed for Latinas, across the country.
"Today, more than ever, an entrepreneurial mindset is critical to achieve professional and business success," said Dr. Angelica Perez-Litwin, Founder and CEO of Latinas Think Big, in the organization's announcement.
To help promote that entrepreneurial mindset and support Latina entrepreneurs, Perez-Litwin launched a Latinas Think Big startup community in San Francisco in early October, with a New York City community launching Nov. 13 at the New York Institute of Technology. Further down the road, in 2016, Latinas Think Big plans on launching five new communities in locations including Los Angeles and Puerto Rico.
The Latina startup communities take the form of bimonthly gatherings where local entrepreneurs can present their startups or ideas and receive feedback from peers, as well as mentoring and support from advisors and professionals, as well as the chance to impress investors.
In addition, the gatherings will feature conversations with successful entrepreneurs and professionals, giving aspiring Latinas starting up their own businesses the chance to explore possibilities and ideas through the experiences of those who have been through it all before -- as well as the chance to network with those influencers.
Access to the Latinas Think Big online social platform and virtual accelerator accompanies the in-person community gatherings. It offers the flexibility of resources and networking opportunities anywhere and at any time of the day -- designed for busy Latinas with jobs and families who are building a startup in their off-hours.
As previously noted in Latin Post's interview-profile of Perez-Litwin -- in which she exclusively previewed this year's expansion of Latinas Think Big back in April -- time-flexibility and locality are the key issues for any organization hoping to foster startups led by Latinas.
The standard "one size fits all" startup accelerators, she told Latin Post, can often "mean a three-month relocation to another city, not to mention the costs associated with this temporary relocation." It's a barrier for Latina entrepreneurs, many of whom have full-time jobs and can't afford more than two weeks off of work.
And it's one of the reasons why, as Perez-Litwin noted, "the percent of women, especially Latinas, that get into these programs is absolutely dismal." Instead, she suggested the answer to debugging the startup scene's diversity problem was to "bring the incubator/accelerator to her."
And that's exactly what Latinas Think Big ended up doing with its new startup communities.
Latinas Think Big dubs itself a "society of progressive Latinas" that helps women launch and grow their careers and businesses, and the new startup communities are definitely to meet Latinas' needs. But as diversity is all about inclusion, they're open to men and women -- professionals, entrepreneurs, and aspiring entrepreneurs -- of all backgrounds.