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Women in tech startups mobile apps

8 Steps to launching a tech startup

First of all, what is a startup? In simple terms, it describes any small tech-related company that has the potential to become something big. It can be an app such as Snapchat. It can be a combination of an app and a platform (website) such a Pinterest, and it can belong to any industry: health, fashion, food, entertainment, social good, etc.

tech startup mobile app

If you have an idea for a tech startup, I will be discussing how to launch one in a few steps. Make sure to stay tuned for this 8-part series:

  1. Planning
  2. Leveraging Contacts
  3. Team Formation
  4. Business Strategy
  5. Execution
  6. PR & Marketing
  7. Pitching & Funding
  8. Exit Strategy

Part 1: Planning your tech startup

So you’re a woman and you have a great idea. But maybe, like many other women, you lack the necessary support system or don’t know how to execute your idea and turn it into a viable business. And sister, if you are a woman of color, it’s even worse. Who are we kidding?

Don’t worry. You’re not alone.

It’s 2016, and although we live in a world where 54 percent of college students are women, the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) majors are still overwhelmingly male dominated.

It’s not really surprising. I mean, how often are little girls really encouraged to go into business, math, and science?

But this disappointing trend is on the mend! Thanks to the efforts of Sheryl Sandberg’s LeanIn Organization, Nely Galan’s Adelante Movement and Angelica Perez-Litwin’s Latinas Think Big Innovation Summits more and more women seem to have embraced the entrepreneurial surge across the country.

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Latina entrepreneur Nely Galán SELF-MADE an inspiring story of empowerment and self-reliance

Ok, Monica. Get to the point. How the heck do I launch my own tech startup?

Planning, Planning, Planning.

First of all, what is a startup? In simple terms, it describes any small tech-related company that has the potential to become something big. It can be an app such as Snapchat. It can be a combination of an app and a platform (website) such a Pinterest, and it can belong to any industry: health, fashion, food, entertainment, social good, etc.

Women in tech startups mobile apps

Remember Facebook’s story? Who would have thought that a simple idea in a college dorm room could lay waste to MySpace and Friendster and become the social media giant that it is today? Other sites you’re currently using such as Twitter, Instagram and YouTube began as “just an idea” and became a tech startup. It took a lot of trial and error and a LOT of planning.

It may sound tedious, but this was perhaps the phase I enjoyed the most when I developed ClipYap. If you haven’t read about my upcoming app, you can do so here.

I was excited, but I was also very secretive and mistakenly thought that if I shared my idea with a lot of people, someone might steal it.

Wrong.

In fact, let me really tell you what a dork I was and how I learned about the beauty of careful planning.

I started developing my idea backwards. Instead of methodically following the steps that I will be focusing on in this blog series, (Planning, Leveraging Contacts, Team, Business Strategy, Execution, PR & Marketing and Pitching & Funding) I went straight into execution. What a novice! Better yet, #dummy! I started building the darn thing without doing the necessary research. I spent money and lost it because I didn’t plan well.

Planning involves asking the right questions and diving into research, whether online or “in the field.”

Consider these questions:

  • Does your idea already exist?
  • What makes your idea unique?
  • Who are your competitors – and what’s worked for them?
  • Who are your users? (Millennials? Women 18-34? Gay men?)
  • What will your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) be? (A fancy term for the first feature your users will see in your startup.)
  • How will you measure your MVP’s success? (Metrics: Number of users in the first 6 months or first year? Raising $500K in the first 6 months from angel seed investors?
  • How will your idea be profitable? (Hey, a business is supposed to make money, right?)

These questions are incredibly important because they will allow you to look ahead and from a critical thinking standpoint. Do research! Get on Google and research how many startups out there are similar to yours.

After all, why would you want to launch another social media site similar to Facebook or another disappearing app like Snapchat? Who the heck wants to reinvent the wheel?

My friends, innovation is key, but saving money is cooler and planning helps you do just that!

Till next time!

For tech & money tips, follow Mónica Taher’s blog at: www.monicataher.com

 

 

Ana Maria Fernandez-Haar at the 2nd American Latino National Summit

NAA’s Fernandez-Haar on Latinas shaping history

Ana Maria Fernandez-Haar at the 2nd American Latino National Summit

Ana Maria Fernandez-Haar at the 2nd American Latino National Summit

For three consecutive years, I had the opportunity to interview the Chair of the Board of the New America Alliance (NAA) Institute Ana Maria Fernandez-Haar at their annual Wall Street Summit. Having done hundreds of political and business Latino leaders’ interviews, Ana Maria’s friendly personality and savvy approach to the topics at hand made my work extremely easy every time.

This year, NAA’s 15th Anniversary took central stage. Looking back as one of the leaders who was involved in the organization since its inception, Ana Maria believes issues related to Latino political and economic participation are still on the table; however, Latino representation cannot be underestimated. We have made great progress, especially among Hispanic women. Fifteen years at the NAA give her a unique perspective and time frame from which to evaluate progress.

“We live in a data and research-driven environment where no detail of consumer or voter behavior seems too insignificant to measure. Yet at the same time, the democratization of information through social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram has created countless new ways to communicate and connect. All the messages and images are out there, constantly shaping the perceptions that weave the very tapestry of our society,” she said.

Looking at all research available, from the U.S. Census Bureau, Nielsen reports, The Pew Hispanic Center, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and other reliable sources, they show extremely favorable trends for Hispanics, Ana Maria believes.

Their consumer, political and economic clout is clearly on the rise. According to 2013 Census Bureau figures, the drop in the poverty rate among Hispanics – from 25.6 percent in 2012 to 23.5 percent in 2013 and the only demographic group to have increased its economic power–, has impacted the decline in the nation’s overall poverty rate for the first time since 2006.

Who are the Latina pioneers?

“Especially for U.S. Latinas, the future looks promising. Many of our NAA female founding members broke glass ceilings on their own. In fact, Pilar Avila, our first Executive Director, was deemed to be CEO material from the start. It came to pass,” she said.

“In 1999, a Latina Supreme Court Justice seemed but a dream. Justice Sonia Sotomayor has since inspired legions of American Latinas who can now see themselves in law careers. Latinas in business can have a role model in Maria Contreras-Sweet, the head of the Small Business Administration (SBA), and a NAA member. Her inspiring story has already impacted Latinas in banking and now she’ll show the way from a larger platform,” Ana Maria stated.

This progress in no small part is due to their achievement in higher educational attainments. Dr. Antonia Novello, the first Latina Surgeon General, was an unusual occurrence in 1990, Ana Maria recalls. Today, Elena Rios, MD, is the President and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association, surrounded by many other Latina physicians.

Pilar Avila NAA CEO

NAA CEO Pilar Avila

“On a personal note, when I was 12 years old I couldn’t even imagine a Latina such as Anna Maria Chavez leading the Girl Scouts. If I had, perhaps I wouldn’t have felt so intimidated. Nely Galan’s Adelante Movement is also making a huge difference. She is business, leadership and service in action. And so it goes,” she shared.

Looking for role models in every industry

As a former marketer, Ana Maria never underestimates the power of role models, for that is the first way most young women feel validated and inspired when considering their own paths towards success. If they remain invisible among the high achievers –with media visibility as a measure in the wider society–, that is a message in and of itself.

“But what they see in their own environments counts just as much. No doubt, those who were ‘first’ to arrive are often considered icons; perhaps even statistical outliers. Still, what it possible for one is possible for others. That is a very powerful message, and the message that all NAA women convey every day,” she said.

In the Latina universe those positive representations are increasing much more rapidly now; for instance, among Fortune 500 CEOs, only 50 are women, four are women of color, none Latina. “But if we look at the pipeline, we cannot help to be impressed with the powerful Latinas already in place. That is not counting those making their mark in STEM, tech entrepreneurs, elected office and other areas of government,” she said.

In private industry, women are assuming CEO positions in family enterprises, which used to be unheard. “Remember when companies were named with the family name and added, ‘e hijos’ (and sons)? Adriana Cisneros now leads the Cisneros Group, global leader in media and entertainment, and Doreen Dominguez does the same for the Vanir Construction Group. As I have noted, there is progress on every front,” she remarked.

Political gains also merit mentioning: Susana Martinez, an attorney and governor of New Mexico; Leticia R. San Miguel Van de Putte, a pharmacist and Texas Senator representing the 26th District in San Antonio, and Nelda Martinez, Mayor of Corpus Christie, TX.  “Look at these mid-term elections, a record number of women will serve in the incoming Congress!” she said.

And Ana Maria’s last thought, “Every Latina in the United States is connected to Latin America in some way. So while we wait for the first woman to become U.S.  President, we should keep in mind Latin American presidents such as Cristina Fernandez, Dilma Rousseff, Laura Chinchilla, Michelle Bachelet or think back to Violeta Chamorro. Could this be considered predictive?” she concluded.