Startup Weekend Miami | Latinx in Tech

    Friday, September 21 - 23, 2018

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Speakers
  4. Judges
  5. Coaches and Mentors
  6. Sponsors
  7. Organizing Team
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Startup Weekend Miami | Latinx in Tech

Friday, September 21 - 23, 2018

Friday, September 21 - 23, 2018
Event starts at 6:00 pm

CIC Miami
1951 NW 7th Ave #600
Miami , FL 33136

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Your idea in 54 hours

Techstars Startup Weekend Latinx in Tech brings exposure, awareness, and an experiential way to learn about tech to the community.We aim to inspire potential entrepreneurs in the Latinx community to breathe life into their ideas and learn how to bridge the gap from ideation to prototype with customer validation.

We're gathering 100 Latinx entrepreneurs in the making and allies over 54 hours, in different cities to identify and design technology solutions to problems disproportionately facing the U.S. Latinx community.

Our main focus is on tech solutions, but we welcome all ideas that will help to create a future fueled by Latinx leadership and experiences.

Do you have an idea you'd like to pursue or a problem you'd like to solve but don't know where to start or who to start with?

Techstars Startup Weekend is the place to look for a team, create a prototype of your idea, validate your business idea, and receive feedback from experienced entrepreneurs, all in one weekend.

What do you need to bring?

Lots of energy! You'll pitch your own idea or listen to others, then vote on the most interesting ideas and form teams with diverse skill sets. You can come with friends, but you’ll get the full experience if you participate in separate teams. Remember, it’s all about the team.

Your idea should be something you have not previously worked on. The idea you pitch and the problem you set out to solve can span social, educational, financial, environmental, or other issues. Over the course of the weekend you'll be challenged to create a prototype of your MVP, or minimum viable product, that fits the needs of your target customer. You'll get feedback, iterate, and likely pivot your approach entirely! Important: You cannot have worked previously on your idea.

Techstars Startup Weekend is a full weekend long experience. Your ticket includes:
  • 7 full (and delicious) meals over the course of the weekend
  • Benefits and discounts from our global partners
  • One-on-one time with amazing mentors
  • A new network of developers, designers, and entrepreneurs eager, like you, to change the world.
  • All the internet and coffee you can consume.

Watch the video below to see what you can expect, and if you’re feeling inspired click on the “Buy Ticket” button now!

Still have questions, feel free to reach us at “”.

Don’t wait any longer and join the Techstars Startup Weekend movement!

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Friday September 21st

6:00 pm
Arrive at the venue and get checked in

7:00 pm
Dinner & Networking
Eat food, share ideas, practice pitches, get to know fellow participants. The menu is posted on our EventBrite page here:

7:30 pm
Welcome & Speakers
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce speakers, coaches, and community leaders

8:00 pm
1 minute Pitches Start
Optionally line up to give your pitch

9:00 pm
Attendees vote for the top pitches

9:15 pm
Form Teams
Teams start forming and discussing ideas

10:00 pm
Begin Work
Start to formalize teams and take an inventory of skills. Be honest, and direct about what resources and skills are needed for the weekend. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow

11:00 pm
End of day 1
Venue closed.

Saturday September 22nd

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee. The menu is posted on our EventBrite page here:

9:30 am
Begin Work
Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend

12:00 pm
The menu is posted on our EventBrite page here:

1:00 pm
Check-In 1
After-lunch check-in, status reports, call for help

2:00 pm
Coach Meetings
Coaches help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!

3:00 pm
Snack Attack!
Take a break, stretch, enjoy a snack.

6:30 pm
The menu is posted on our EventBrite page here:

7:30 pm
Check-In 2
After-dinner check-in, status reports, call for help

10:00 pm
Finished for the day. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow

11:00 pm
End of day 2
Venue closed.

Sunday September 23rd

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

10:00 am
Check-in, status reports, call for help

12:00 pm
The menu is posted on our EventBrite page here:

12:30 pm
Coach Meetings
Coaches arrive… ASK QUESTIONS

2:00 pm
Snack Attack!
Take a break, stretch, enjoy a snack.

3:00 pm
Presentation Prep & Tech Check
Final hours of worktime should be focused on perfecting your presentation, tech-check for final presentations also takes place

5:00 pm
The menu is posted on our EventBrite page here:

6:00 pm
Final Presentations

7:30 pm
Judging & Awards

8:30 pm

9:00 pm
End of day 3
Venue closed.


Joel Gandara
Entrepreneur | Entrepreneurship

Joel Gandara is a bootstrapping entrepreneur who owns Morro Capital, LLC. Today his company owns 18 men's apparel brands and many different e-commerce sites. Over the last five years the company has acquired 8 competitors in the apparel industry.

Joel was born in Cuba and came to the U.S. on an overcrowded boat at the age of 4.  He grew up in the San Francisco area where he began his business by selling clothing at the flea market shortly after high school.

Joel grew the brands and businesses within Morro Capital's portfolio to make for a very comfortable living while at the same time building a team to run operations.  Joel then slipped into retirement while still in his 30s.

Now, Joel's latest venture is called Freedom Experts, this company was formed to help business owners succeed and grow their businesses while providing them freedom from the many day-to-day stresses that running a business can give owners.

Event Judges

Nelly Farra
NMFarra + Co

Nelly M. Farra is native Miamian, established young community leader and the Founder of NMFarra + Co., a relationship-driven business development firm. Whether she's representing her clients or pushing for a new community initiative, her driving force is centered on continuing to contribute to Miami's bustling economy and philanthropic scene. Nelly is a graduate of the University of Miami and holds an MBA from Babson College. She is an active angel investor and Co-Founder of AMINTA Ventures, a coalition of female leaders focused on closing the funding gap for women by activating more female angel investors in South Florida.  Most recently, she was the Founding Director of Babson College’s WIN Lab Miami. She serves on the alumni boards of The Ransom Everglades School and Babson College South Florida. Nelly is also a member of The United Way of Miami-Dade's Tocqueville Cabinet, Vice-Chair of the Red Cross Spectrum Awards for Women and the Entrepreneurship Chair for the local chapter of the Elevate Network.

Alejando Sanchez
Managing Director of 4Geeks Academy

Computer Science Engineer with 20 years of experience coding apps and architectures for Seed and Series A startup's. CEO of 4Geeks (software accelerator) and Managing Director at 4Geeks Academy: Coding School with hundreds of graduates around the world. Javascript & Python expert and advocate.

Maria Derchi
Refresh Miami

Maria Derchi Russo is the Assistant Director of The Launch Pad at the University of Miami, where she provides the UM community with mentorship and access to resources needed to launch and/or grow their business.

Maria is also the Executive Director of Refresh Miami, Florida’s oldest and largest tech and startup community with over 10,000 members, and is the founder of Women in Miami Tech, a group dedicated to supporting and advancing women in technology in South Florida.

Maria has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Boston University Questrom School of Business. She is also a proud Miami native.

Johanna Olsson
VC Analyst

Johanna is currently an analyst at FAN Fund, an Orlando based venture capital firm investing in early stage technology companies in Florida. She graduated with her MBA from Rollins Crummer Graduate School (Winter Park, FL) where she also completed her BA in International Business.

As an Entrepreneurial Scholar of Distinction, Johanna had the opportunity to work with the angel group venVelo throughout graduate school. Johanna is born and raised in Sweden. 

Alexis Jonama
CEO/ Founder

Alexis is an Engineer and MBA graduate for whom having lived in 6 countries and having worked several years at McKinsey was not thrilling enough, so he decided to start Payklever, a payments company aimed to change the way we pay when we purchase goods or services from our cars.

Coaches and Mentors

Paula Celestino
Co-Founder | Marketing Consultant

Paula Celestino is the co-founder of, an award-winning digital agency specializing in bridging technology, brand experience, and best practices to help clients achieve measurable results.  
She also founded Kloset Karma APP and is a former Startup Weekend winner and community leader. 

Cecilia Gamboa
Founder at Nawal and Mayanful

Law studies from 2009-2015 in Guatemala, Certified Paralegal in Florida , Sworn legal translator (Spanish-english) (English-spanish)
Entrepreneur in the fashion field, started my company Nawal Boots on June 2014.
All of our products are handcrafted by Guatemalan artisans, through fair trade we empower indigenous women ,give back to the community and children living in extreme poverty through our "In their shoes project" working hand by hand with Passion Asociación.

Launched my second company Mayanful recently , the first e-commerce platform and fulfillment center for Guatemalan products.

Matt Sampson
Cloud Development Manager | Citrix

After studying for my Masters in CompSci at University of MN, Twin Cities Graduate School, I started a long career at Microsoft. While there I was lucky enough to be a Software Engineer on some exciting projects in both Visual Studio and Azure.  

In my spare time, I co-founded my own startup (SquareSharp) with some other Microsofties that focus on custom mobile applications. 
I've also been active for a number of years as a volunteer Computer Science teacher in local area high schools through the TEALS program.

More recently, I made the switch to come work at Citrix, where I've been managing a group of engineers focused on a great Device and Application Management Software that is cloud ready.

Jared Husch
Product Manager | Nearpod

Jared Husch- PM at Nearpod. Formerly COO of LiveNinja. Originally from Lawrenceville, NJ. A Richmond Spider '08. A Miami Hurricane '10.

Enjoys reading, eating, data, science, sports, traveling, problem-solving, and his dog Dakota. 

Jason Blilie
founding attorney of Blilie Law.

Jason is the founding attorney of Blilie Law. His practice areas reflect his passion for technology and entrepreneurship. Jason plays an active role in Miami's tech and startup communities and is the Co-Chair of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce's Law Council. Through Blilie Law, Jason has worked with many of Miami's premier startup companies. As part of Jason's effort to support the startup ecosystem of South Florida he formed Tech Beach, a technology and startup community group. Tech Beach advances technology and entrepreneurship by holding monthly events for its members. Jason is also a venture coach at the University of Miami's Launchpad and speaks to Wyncode Academy cohorts regarding startup law and legal issues involved with freelance software development work.   

Candis Hickman
Personal Branding Coach at

 I'm a Personal Branding Coach and Digital Marketing Strategist based in Miami Beach. I find that most new coaches are overwhelmed by the competition in their industry, so I help them simplify their message and bridge their personal story so they can cut through the noise and become known online.

I have a unique range of experiences that have led me to my role as an online coach and community leader. They include an Occupational Therapy degree, certifications in Personal Styling and Coaching, and a brief stint as a TV host for a local Chicago station.

I am passionate about inspiring my audience to illuminate their talents for the service of others and believe that becoming known is the secret sauce to unlocking a world of possibility. I look forward to getting to know you!

Joan Godoy
Strategy & Impact Manager | Radical Partners - Curator | Global Shapers Miami - Advisor | INDESGUA

A resourceful connector who works to promote and provide opportunities, especially for minorities and disadvantaged groups, through empowerment experiences and intercultural exchanges. A true believer that success in life should not be measured with the things you obtain, but with the lives you are able to transform.

Clinical Psychologist, with a master degree in International NGOs, and 10 years of intercultural and international work experience in social development (Guatemala, The Netherlands, Costa Rica, Chile and the United States). I am currently based in Miami, working as Strategy Manger for Radical Partners, a social impact accelerator.

I continue to be a Global Shaper at the Miami Hub, a volunteer member and advisor at INDESGUA, and founding member of the Holland Alumni Association in Guatemala. Dance, yoga & travel are also important part of who I am.

Mylene Garot
Chief Operations Officer at VIAC Luxury Real Estate

A dedicated professional with 7+ years of experience in management, business development 3+ yearsin real estate and marketing. 5+ in sales. Specializes in initiating strategies to maximize profit andimprove branding.

Nicholas Tomlinson

Nicholas Tomlinson is a co-founder for Miami based startup Travelastic - a marketplace for tour operators that empowers its users to boost sales and expand their network.

Previously, Tomlinson was the Director of Technology at Metropolitan International School of Miami (MET), where he developed an interactive curriculum for more than 200 elementary and middle school students. Prior to joining MET, Tomlinson was an assistant producer for various documentaries featured on national cable networks, such as WLRN, National Geographic, Smithsonian Network, and the Discovery Channel. He has a passion for technology, the environment, and the education of today’s youth and is trained in geographic information systems, computer programming, and UX design.

Tomlinson received his bachelor's degree from the University of Florida. He also took part in Harvard’s CS50X computer science course at Miami-Dade College thanks to a scholarship provided by the Knight Foundation. He is a lifelong student, mentor, and educator. Tomlinson is a team player with a strong work ethic and an entrepreneurial spirit. 

When Tomlinson is out of the office, you can find him on a soccer field or at the beach with his dog, Oynx. 

Kartik Rallapalli
Ceo and Founder

Kartik is an entrepreneur, solutions architect and mentor.

He founded Travelastic, a SaaS solution for tour experts.
 As a solutions architect, he converts business ideas into software design.

He has over 20 years of  programming experience across multiple technologies. Worked extensively in cloud architecture, networking, security and high availability implementations. He lead and delivered multi-million dollar projects for fortune 100 companies. Also recruited and managed development teams for these companies.
 He has bachelors in Electrical and Electronics engineering. He is a technology evangelist and loves to motivate startups and guide them.

Vanessa Santos
Biz Dev Exec @MasterCard, Co-Founder @ Bodega Music Group, Writer/Blogger, Creative Strategist & Thought Leader

Vanessa is an award-winning business development executive and marketing leader with extensive success in driving digital innovation, revenue growth and commercialization, with over 10 years of partner marketing, business development, and start-up experience. Vanessa Santos is now leader of Business Development for the Commerce Platform Group at Mastercard leading the Latin American region within the retail, IoT, entertainment, mobile payments & digital innovation categories. Previously, Vanessa served as head of brand partnerships for Observer Media, a leader in the luxury publishing space. Additionally, Vanessa is Blogger-In-Chief and Founder of La Vida Glamour, a bi-lingual lifestyle, and fashion platform. During her time at Gilt Groupe, Vanessa developed and executed award-winning first-to-market campaigns across North America, garnering over 1 billion press impressions combined. Most recently Vanessa co-founded Bodega Music Group based in Miami, FL with the aim to shatter mainstream stigmas associated with major labels and working with artists on a 1:1 basis. 

Angel Silvestrini
Business Attorney | Business Law

A.J. is an entrepreneur, business attorney and mentor. He runs Genesis Green Light, a consulting firm focused on innovative tech startups with vertical integration in the healthcare, medical cannabis, and legal field. He has advised multiple tech companies in Florida, Massachusetts, and Puerto Rico, in the areas of operations, IP and marketplace entry strategies.  He has also worked with companies to identify customer acquisition, marketing, and go-to market strategies in order to scale their businesses.

Additionally, A.J. is licensed to practice law in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida, and Puerto Rico, and is a principal and a shareholder of a virtual law practice with offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Weston, Florida and Puerto Rico. The firm was an early player in the virtual field, disrupting traditional law firm business models by leveraging technology to maximize communication, personnel output, and productivity, as well as fostering a holistic approach to building a new corporate legal culture.

A.J. has worked closely with founders in building their businesses and teams as well as helping them select the best situs for their startup operations and locations for their IP assets. He has advised cryptocurrency clients, tech companies, startup accelerators and e-commerce companies as to expatriation of business assets to foreign jurisdictions in order to maximize operational and revenue growth. In addition, A.J. has advised clients as to business immigration issues, such as acquisition of international talent through immigration channels.
He volunteers with the University of Miami's The Launch Pad as a mentor/coach helping founders mature their ideas into viable operations. Before embarking on his business and legal career, A.J. worked for several years for a design firm in the educational field.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Startup Weekend Miami | Latinx in Tech team is grateful for the support of local community partners without whom this event would not be possible.
Learn how to become a sponsor here.

Initiative Partner




Organizing Team

Techstars Startup Weekend Miami is 100% led by volunteer community leaders.
Learn how to get involved here

  • Marc
  • Marcelo
  • Tatiana
  • Angel
  • Juan


Roxanne Diaz
Product Marketing Manager, Congenica

Event Staff

JC Carrion

Juan Carlos describes his entrepreneurial journey as a chance to grow and to share his experiences and adventures with others.

Juan Carlos holds a degree in Computer Science. He is a graduate of the StartupNow Incubator Program from the InnovationHub@BrowardCollege. He is also the founder and CEO of A data-drive mortgage marketplace geared for first-time home buyers.

Arzu Tekir
Co-Founder @ URBANARBA

Arzu Tekir is the Co-Founder, Head of Strategy & Business Development of URBANARBA Smart City Marketing & Communications, a full-service strategic communication, and marketing firm with expertise in smart cities, sustainability, and urban innovations.

She is a business strategist working with the leaders of the cities and organizations to create a positive change. She has eighteen years of work experience in strategic planning, business development, strategic partnership development, and record of raising millions of funding dollars for large-scale public and private sector projects.

As the Executive Director for World Resources Institute Ross Center for Sustainable Cities in Turkey, Arzu and her team partnered with national government and sixteen cities in Turkey and two cities in Africa to improve the quality of lives and to create a positive impact on urban mobility and urban sprawl and urban efficiency. Previously to WRI, Arzu advised companies to develop innovative IT projects in Istanbul. She worked as European Union Projects Coordinator and External Relations Director for IT companies producing technology solutions for the cities, directed the financing of the projects and established strategic partnerships. As the new manager, she rebuilt a management consultancy company which had been inoperative for the previous three years when she started in 2003 and ran it for about two years.

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