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A Latina innovator on becoming a successful Tech entrepreneur

Commerce has been in my blood since birth. But being a Tech entrepreneur?

Monica Taher, serial Tech entrepreneur and new Tech Talk contributor at LatinasInBusiness.us

Monica Taher, serial Tech entrepreneur and Tech Talk contributor at LatinasInBusiness.us

As a little girl, I would literally sell anything that came my way to my friends. Unused school supplies, gifts my parents gave me (they still don’t know about this) and fruit from the trees in my backyard were hot commodities. Growing up in a tropical country certainly had its advantages.

It wasn’t about having the extra cash in my pocket. I just loved interacting with people. I still do!

Ironically, I didn’t major in business when I left for college. Instead, I chose to embrace my love for film. While I wholeheartedly support women who are interested in studying business, it’s important to know that you CAN become a tech entrepreneur without a business degree.

Becoming a tech entrepreneur was a matter of feast or famine for me, meaning, I had to put food on the table. Ok, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. Or maybe not. If you haven’t read my story, you can do so here.

I’m not crazy. I have a comfortable job. Worse: I don’t know how to become a Tech entrepreneur!

Yes. If you are thinking of becoming a Tech entrepreneur, all of the above are correct. However, here are a few insightful points to consider:

A. Tech is the future

You are either in the digital era – or you’re not. Some of you might think you need to know how to decipher all of those weird computer languages to become the next Mark Zuckerberg. You don’t.

While I am a fervent supporter of women who code (go STEM majors!), you don’t have to be 100 percent literate in computer code to launch a tech startup.

How do I know? Well, if you are reading this blog, you probably already have a special idea you’ve been pondering in your head. You just don’t know how to go about executing it.

Furthermore, if you’ve always felt for any reason that you wanted to launch your own business, then you have it in you. And if tech is the future, you want to start thinking about that special idea in tech terms: an app or a platform (a service or product) and how it can serve consumers. Become a Tech entrepreneur!

By 2020, entrepreneurship and the need for innovators will be more important than ever. In 2013, men made up 74 percent of the tech workforce in our country. The rest (26%) were women. We need to change this ratio. Now it is your chance!

B. Knowledge is power

Click. Read. Repeat.

Who said that business news is boring? It’s just like watching an episode of the Kardashians. There’s plenty of drama to roll your eyes at and keep you entertained. Don’t believe me? Just ask the guys at Tinder. Anyway, you need to stay on top of trends, new ideas, and what other people are doing and developing by reading and reading and reading.

Yes, but where should you start?

Try getting accustomed to a daily dosage of fun tech articles on Business Insider, Forbes Woman, Entrepreneur Magazine and even the different sections (tech, business, women, etc.) in the Huffington Post. Also follow updates and topics here at the Tech Talk section in LatinasInBusiness.us.

If you want to be cool, create a group on your Facebook or Twitter feeds that contain these publications. Your feed will show you headlines with easy-to-read links.

Latina presenting colorful modern signs Tech entrepreneur

C. You enjoy dealing with people – Even when they are sometimes, Eh, annoying

Let’s be honest. It takes some finesse to deal with people – especially when one single person seems to have multiple personalities. I’ve met a few of those.

Instead of thinking you need to “sell your idea,” believe in your idea fiercely and love it passionately. Be smart and flexible enough to shift gears if something isn’t working quite right. In tech terms, this is called “pivoting.”

Become a “connector.” Don’t sell. Instead, share knowledge. People will appreciate that.

PEN 2014 Literary Gala ©Aslan Habib Chalom Tech entrepreneur

Malcom Gladwell at PEN 2014 Literary Gala ©Aslan Habib Chalom/PEN American Center www.aboutadollar.net

If you still haven’t read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, then you must. It is an inspiring book that can help you shape your perspective on entrepreneurship.

D. Get in there and make it happen

As a woman and single mother, I cannot express to you how fulfilling it is to run a startup. If you have always dreamed about owning a business, there’s no better time than now.

In future posts, I will be blogging about the basics: How to launch a startup, where you can find seed and investment funding, and other provocative topics to help you navigate the world of tech entrepreneurship.

Remember, tech is the future. You are a woman – and you are invincible.
 

Did you miss my CNN en Español segment about women & leadership in the tech industry? You can watch it here.

Follow Monica’s blog at http://www.monicataher.com/

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5 Most read articles on LatinasInBusiness.us

social media iconsJust to start the year with the right foot –or the left one if you feel more power on that one, like many soccer players do-, I took the time to analyze what articles were doing best on our platform and why, so I can give you some tips on how to use our platform. Here are the winners:

 

  1. Modern Day Latinas have a story to tell on Merrick Park

The inspirational story of an accomplished Cuban-American entrepreneur, Aymee Zubizarreta, the idea and message behind the new series aims at changing the traditional image of Latinas in TV series and movies into who they really are: accomplished professionals, well-educated career driven and family oriented women having big dreams, facing and overcoming their challenges and most importantly, thriving on their own in a bicultural and bilingual world. She is now on the funding efforts stage, so we will continue to support her cause!

2. Empanada Fork makes a mark for Latina entrepreneur

Hipatia Lopez “idea” began around the kitchen table during the holiday season when her family was making 100 empanadas. She envisioned a tool that would help with closing the empanadas easily and quickly; found an architect who helped her with perfecting the drawings to make it come to life on paper and patent tool. From the kitchen table to main supermarket chains and wholesalers, for Hipatia the rest is history!

3. SHCC of NJ Awards Luncheon Photo Gallery

This fabulous annual event featured the who’s who in New Jersey Latino entrepreneurs, included awards, workshops and an exhibit floor with over 250 expositors. Well done, Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey and Carlos Medina, Prezi!

4. Talent and innovation at Latinas Think Big™ Summit

Dr. Angelica Perez-Litwin, a top national influencer devoted to advancing and supporting Latina innovators, is leading Latinas Think Big™. Dr. Perez-Litwin’s intention is to bring to a national debate the disparities in Latinas’ career development in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), with an emphasis on technology, and to address the digital divide in this country. Congratulations, Angelica!

5. Monica Taher when crisis sets the path to financial freedom

Monica Taher, a Latina in business who defines herself as a serial entrepreneur, faced the turmoil of splitting with her lifetime partner in 2011. Today, she shares some tips on how she came back from the ashes and acquired financial freedom doing what she loves. Fabulous come back story, all the best to brave Monica!

 

All these articles were successful readers not only because of the value of their stories but also because the Latinas featured on them understood the value of the tool we provide and took the time and effort to share with their communities and social media.

LatinasInBusiness.us has been designed to provide a space, a window of opportunity, a platform for Latinas who want to share their concerns, expertise, strategies and achievements. We also want the site to be a productive possibility for those who would like to promote their product or service, attract customers to their businesses, learn about social media, give business advice or ask for business advice, be a “madrina,” become a minority vendor or find business to business trade opportunities. Thank you! Sign up for our exclusive newsletter

We will continue to do so by bringing excellent tools that you can use to promote your story, your business or your cause. Watch out, 2015, here we come!

Monica Taher when crisis sets the path to financial freedom

Monica Taher

Monica Taher

A scary moment in our lives: who has not had it? But when everything crumbles around you, then it seems hard to see where to start and how to keep it going. An emotional crisis is usually the first step into a series of disasters that can include deep financial problems.

Monica Taher, a Latina in business who defines herself as a serial entrepreneur, faced the turmoil of splitting with her lifetime partner in 2011. Today, she shares some tips on how she came back from the ashes and acquired financial freedom doing what she loves.

“As much as I was devastated when she deserted me with a mortgage to pay and a daughter to take care of, today I can look back and find a real blessing in that moment,” Monica said.

Despite the emotional pain caused by their separation, she quickly realized that a huge part of the impact was financial. “I had enjoyed the flexibility of a dual income household and suddenly, I needed to reevaluate my personal finances, assets and most importantly, the business I wanted to launch. My partner of 13 years was never supportive of my vision, and that moment of cruel realization was a turning point in my life,” she said.

Like Monica, many Latinas do not think in terms of protecting their personal finances. It is a cultural “treat,” a behavior that is passed on from generation to generation by most women in our families. We trust that our partner, husband or significant other will take care of us, and eventually, we expect our children to do the same.

However, life is not as stable as it used to be and children have their own plans and problems to worry about. “We can’t make excuses not to prepare ourselves for the eventual situation of facing a crisis,” Monica said.

The first thing she did was to dive into research about personal finances and entrepreneurship strategies. “At first, I really didn’t understand much. However, the more I read, the more it made sense,” she shared. Finally, the opportunity to launch the startup of her dreams became an obsession.

She was taught by her parents that education was the path to financial freedom. But how would she manage to continue her studies while supporting her family, saving money for her daughter’s college education and her own retirement, and graduating without getting into further debt?

“Instead of taking out student loans, I founded fellowships at the university in exchange for registration fees, and consequently graduated with zero debt. I finished my Masters degree at UCLA while working full-time,” Monica said.

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Monica Taher at her house in Los Angeles, CA

Appointed in 2009 as Director of Business Development at a leading digital multimedia producer, Getty Images Latin America (GILA), Monica invested in that company some money she had put away and became a partner. In her current role, Mónica supervises the penetration of GILA’s digital assets in the US Hispanic and Latin American markets.

“I turned into an avid reader of financial literature, raising my credit scores from the low 600s to the 800s and realized I had increased my chances of maximizing wealth for my daughter and me,” Monica said. “It took about two and a half years to get out of the woods but now I own two properties and I’m financially stable.”

She is now in the process of launching a second startup, ClipYap, an app that would allow users to chat using movie and TV shows’ lines and actions in the form of motioned GIFs seamlessly put together.

These are some tips Monica shared with LIBizus about facing a life crisis and how to make the best out of it:

  1. If you own assets with a husband, partner or significant other, your name should be on every deed or investment;
  2. Do not make excuses; you cannot be so busy that you cannot take care of your own financial protection;
  3. If you have a vision, a dream, if you are an entrepreneurial being like I am, educate yourself and focus on it;
  4. Although it is easier said than done, you cannot be with a partner who is not supportive of your ideas or do not help you fulfill your dreams.

“I know I’m in a much better place today that I would have ever been if I had stayed in that relationship. As Latinas and as immigrants, we have to fight harder to get into places and prove that we have a brain. We need to make conscious decisions, and have the courage to work through the pain with tenacity, resilience and creativity,” she concluded.