Quick-- name three startups with Latino founders. Who did you come up with? Latinos have an incredibly strong entrepreneurial spirit, but they are under-represented on the global startup stage.The Manos Accelerator in San Jose is poised to change that. It's both a great challenge, and a great opportunity. Manos is championing a new generation of Latino entrepreneurs by providing access to early-stage capital, mentorship support and resources that will enable them to build and grow their startup companies. I caught up with Jim Weldon, the COO of the accelerator to find out more about their programme.
In just one sentence, what is your accelerator called and what do you do?
Manos is a mentorship-driven accelerator located in Silicon Valley focused on supporting startups with at least one Latino founders.
What makes your program different or unique? And related, what’s your primary value-add?
What makes us unique is our founders learn how to become better entrepreneurs first and foremost. Generating a return from our cohort’s equity is a secondary driver for us. We operate Manos like we are one big family of founders and CEOs-- not an arm's-length investment fund.
In order to better serve our community we have two new programs that are outside our 90 day cohort that we have created in response to the needs of our founders. The first new program is our “Founders Mentor Program” which enables startups to leverage our mentor and angel networks as well as our startup resources on an as-needed basis. Secondly, we created a new LATAM program that immerses new startup founders for a week-long stay enabling them to participate on a schedule that accommodates them best. These two new programs have enabled us to expand our reach by 10x.
What do you love most about working with startups?
Seeing the moment when they finally start to get traction. Its one of the most difficult things to do in the startup world, taking an idea from conception to commercialization.
What is the hardest or most surprising part of working with startups?
Impressing upon them that speed is critical and going slow will be the death of them. Hand in hand with this is focus. So much of our time is spent getting them to limit what they want to attempt to achieve each month. They attempt to stuff a years worth of objectives into a week. It's one thing to move fast; its another to waste time spreading yourself to thin.
Do you have a success story to share? Who are the most notable or interesting companies to go through your program?
HostSpot and SmileyGo are two firms that come to mind. They have both been able to get to market and make significant differences in the categories they are going after. I love both the teams and their ability to execute.
How, if in any way, has Foundersuite helped your companies?
We have been using Foundersuite on a trial basis to track investor traction. So far so good hope to have more to report soon.
Finally, what is your best tip for running a startup?
Learn the funding continuum. It's the notion that funding your company involves more than raising capital. There are twenty other ways to fund your company with selling your product or service as the best and most enduring path to follow. If you are unable to "sell your way to success" then find non-dilutive sources of capital like State or Federal Grants. Another is co-op marketing dollars, NRE funds, etc.-- the list is endless. Raising capital is one option-- not the only one. As the CEO, it's their responsibility to understand the paths and tools available to them.
Thank you, and have a great day!