Making Payments Possible for Small Businesses in Developing Countries

saySquare is redesigning payments in Latin America.  Its trusted platform allows small businesses to accept payments using SMS like a mobile POS.  With their solution, users and merchants won’t need specialized hardware or smartphones to receive payments.

Small businesses in developing countries have many obstacles that don’t allow them to grow economically or reach their core objectives.  One of those main obstacles is the lack of trust that the banking sector has in the niche; this is reflected in the lack of access to POS devices that streamline small business sales and move them in highly competitive markets.

saySquare is an alternative payment method that will allow small business in Latin America to grow.  Specifically, saySquare offers a mechanism to receive payments through a platform using SMS on any cell phone with any mobile carrier in a country – safely and quickly.

Cristian Espinoza, one of the founders of saySquare, was running late to a meeting back home in Honduras.  He didn’t have time to make lunch, so he quickly stopped at a small taco shop on his way to the meeting.  When he was about to pay, the cashier told him that she didn’t have change for a large bill, so Cristian tried to pay with his credit card. Unfortunately, the cashier didn’t have a POS either.  Frustrated, Cristian had to leave without his tacos and with an empty stomach.  Most importantly, the taco shop missed out on a potential sales transaction.

The saySquare founders realized that this sort of thing happens quite often in Honduras and similar places with many small businesses.  As native Latin Americans, the saySquare team saw that there was a great need to support the small business sector, and saw that they could do so through today’s technology. Consequently, by helping small businesses grow, they would foster the progression of the nation’s overall economy.

This was their “AHA” moment.  They felt that there had to be a better way to use technology and allow anyone, anywhere, to accept payments.  They decided to do something for the sake of hungry “taco lovers” and small businesses everywhere.

saySquare applies a 3% fee per transaction.

Financial Services and Mobile Payments for small businesses in developing countries.  saySquare’s SMS platform makes it easy and safe for any merchant to use in their business, as to avoid missing out on potential revenue.

Small businesses in Latin America represent 90% of companies, and there are almost 4 million small businesses operating over a market of 146 million consumers. Furthermore, saySquare is specifically designed for places like Latin America where 80% of the population uses basic mobile devices.  They aim to partner with merchants who seek a better way to increase their sales but whose businesses are too small to work with traditional credit card networks or systems.  saySquare is well positioned in hopes of tapping into the purchasing power of Latinos within Latin American countries and eventually the US market.

In the US, the competition is heating up in the mobile payments market. However, for these companies, Latin America may be viewed as a risky, small market or they wrestle with how to target Latino users effectively.  Solutions like Google Wallet or PayPal may enter the Latin American market to compete.  However, as of now there are no major competitors in Latin America.

saySquare is currently in discussion with various banks to explore potential partnerships.  If you are interested in speaking to saySquare with regards to potential partnerships or collaborations, please contact

Cristian Espinoza, Leonardo Amador, Armando Alvarado and Wilfredo Guevara

Who are your role models?
Answer:  As an entrepreneur, we find inspiration for many in the startup world and we try to learn from them as much as possible, both successes and failures. However, Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square and Co-founder of Twitter, stands out because he did something outside of his comfort zone.  Also, Ev Williams, Co-Founder of Twitter, because he has been an effective leader.  Lastly, Steve Jobs because he always tried to create the best products for customers even when customers did not know what they want.

What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
Answer:  You get to meet a lot of brilliant people and you learn from them.  You learn more from experiencing entrepreneurship than from reading books about entrepreneurship.

What’s the best advice that anyone has given you?
Answer:  #hacelopue – it’s slang that people use in Honduras that means “stop talking about it and just do it.”  When we started hearing this, it motivated us to focus on saySquare and take action to complete it.

What advice would you give to others?
Answer:  Don’t be afraid of taking a leap of faith.  Don’t be afraid of failure, because you learn more from failure than from following the risk-free path.

Quick Pitch features most innovative early-stage startups founded by Latino entrepreneurs from the Manos Ventures program.  It profiles company pitches, interviews and guest columns by experts in the startup scene. 

Augmented Reality Sees its Way Through a Contact Lens

LENS is redefining reality through the first augmented system built into a contact lens called IRIS.

IRIS will use photographic image generation to project virtual objects onto the physical world around them. By using a cubical environmental grid emitted from a beam projector attached to the user, IRIS will be aware of the movements of the user allowing the user to manipulate and interact with the images.

For augmented reality to become an integral part of our society the devices must be aesthetically appealing. They must be discrete and non-obtrusive allowing for users to feel like the system is an extension of them. A contact lens is a perfect platform for AR to exist in. By studying the wearable space, the idea started with how to subtly integrate smart systems into clothing. We took it a step further by asking how wearables can be used in a rapidly emerging virtual/augmented reality market, thus bringing to life the idea of IRIS.

The entirety of the consumer electronic market. By bringing an affordable device to the market we will be able to take a significant chunk out of smart phone sales. Super imposed images will make physical screens obsolete.

The virtual reality market has existed for decades but has only saw a re-emergence in the past two years. This is due to technological advancements of 3D printing and advancements in nano systems. The entirety of the consumer AR market is valued at 6 billion dollars with an expected exponential increase over the next ten years.

Magic leap will be our primary competitor in the mixed reality market. With their development on smart goggles and 3D stereoscopic imagery we believe we are taking AR one step further.

We have connected with the Netherlands based augmented reality company Cinoptics. Other collaborators on IRIS include TalosX, Texas Instruments, Stratasys, IMG Tech, and IBM.

Nick Reyes, Maryam Fakhrizadeh, Diego Torres, Shanmugesh Buhvanesh, Bohan Lin, Amanda Nemec, Elio Angile.

Our role models encompass a wide range of individuals in different fields. All have the same thing in common: the belief that their ideas and their existence can help progress humanity forward. These are people no different than you and I, who aspired to help out the masses no matter what the personal repercussions would be. Against all odds they followed their dreams and used their respective platform to make a better day. Martin Luther King Jr, Steve Jobs, John Lennon, Mahatma Gandhi, Buddha, Mohammed Ali, Oprah, Tupac Shakur, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Edgar Allan Poe, Aubrey Graham, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Paulo Coelho, and Steven Spielberg.

Creating and working for the people. There is a feeling that what you are doing isn’t just feeding into a stagnant system but that you are truly producing something of value. Do not mistaken all work does have value and is important but entrepreneur work allows for an unparalleled amount of freedom. That freedom is also what makes being an entrepreneur so terrifying because there is truly a freedom for anything to exist, good or bad. When you find balance as an entrepreneur it allows for your own personal unique creativity to flow into your work that really can change the world.

Love. Embrace everything that comes your way good or bad because it all has a reason. The universe never wants to defeat you it only wants to cement your values and make you a stronger person.

Be yourself and believe in what you love, always. Truly find out what makes you happy and pursue it with every ounce of your energy. The hardest part is understanding yourself and your place. Once you can conquer yourself, you can understand and sympathize with any person because you realize we are all not different, we are all the same. Let your imagination run wild, love with all your heart, work hard, smile, anything is possible, and your job is to help as many people as possible.

Sacramento Team Helps Latinas Manage Their Memorable Birthday

MakeMyQuince is the first to bring online event planning and crowdfunding to Quinceaneras.

Users will be able to sign in to Make My Quince website/app using their instagram account where they can brainstorm ideas for their quinceanera by creating “dreamboards” from the most popular quinceranera hashtags. Once they are ready to begin planning, they can create a custom planning check list and budget that fits their Quince needs. Make My Quince will provide recommendations on items they have chosen on their checklist. They will also have the option to have “Madrina crowdfunding” where they create a custom page and invite family and friends to contribute to various items needed to have the perfect quinceanera.

Our team met at StartUp Weekend Sacramento in November 2014. Co-founder Fatima Ruiz pitched the idea of “crowdfunding for Quinceaneras” and as a team we developed a business plan, revenue streams, brand identity and won 2nd place that weekend. We have continued as a team since November 2014. We have had three focus groups and each one lead to big “AHA” moments – these have shaped our direction and validated the need and desire for our service.

The company will make a money from two distinct revenue streams. The first is through a percentage of the crowdfunding for the quinceaneras (5% of the money collected for the event through the site), and the second is through vendor advertising.

Make My Quince brings Quinceanera planning to the digital/mobile age and provides an empowering tool for our users to plan a once in a lifetime event all in one place at any time.

The business could have a negative impact on event planners, as girls and their families take more control of more details involved in putting on the event.

The business could have a positive impact on many of the local businesses that serve quinceaneras. Families may have more money for the event as the financing for the event is confirmed.

We look to provide a service to anyone planning to celebrate a Quinceranera.

The market size is determined in part by the population we serve. It is a niche market consisting of girls from Latin American backgrounds in their early teens, and their families. The primary markets include the U.S. market (market size estimated at 400,000 quinceaneras per year), as well as girls in Latin American countries (approximately 6,500,000 fourteen year old girls).

WeddingWire, an online marketplace, connects event planners with merchants and creative professionals servicing weddings, reunions and more.

Pinterest is a social bookmarking site with a virtual pinboard interface that visually showcases the user’s interests.

Latina Magazine, Quinceanera Magazine

Indiegogo is a global crowdfunding platform empowering people around the world to fund projects that matter to them.

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform for creative projects such as movies, music, art, theater, games, comics, design, and photography.

Instagram is a free photo sharing application that enables its users to take photos, apply filters, and share them on social networks. We are a visual content discovery & social commerce platform for wedding industry, bringing bridal community and vendors together. (Malaysia)

WeddingLovely is a collection of wedding tools and directories for promoting small business, local and independent wedding vendors. (US) is an online platform designed to find the best wedding vendors in town ! It’s a one stop solution for all the wedding needs. (India)

Wedding Channel is a wedding portal, including planning, checklists, dresses, photos, etc.(US)

The Knot ( is the Internet’s most-trafficked one-stop wedding planning solution. (Pre-launch: The Knot provides a number of resources for couples looking to plan their weddings) (US)

Manos Acelerator & Google for Entrepreneurs

-Fatima Ruiz:
-Chris Cacciatore:
-Ramona Maurer:
-Laura Gonzalez:

As a team, we value time for our families and sharing our family history. All of us honor our families in pursuing this start-up and making Make My Quince a successful service that our users enjoy. Our role models are our families, youngest to oldest, all supporting our dream.

In entrepreneurship, there are no limits to making your vision become a reality. It takes continuous commitment (hour by hour) and the ability to bounce back from every failure and roadblock. Ironically, at these lowest moments is where a vision is reignited with energy, hope, and the passion for executing better.

Fail Quick and Fail often. Failure shapes your vision, deliverables, experience, and execution.
People will tell you what they want, all you have to do is listen.

Be open for all feedback and learn to get comfortable asking for feedback, advice, time, and money. Do not be afraid to ask for things your team needs to create amazing products and services – be fearless in your asking. You will get turned down, but you will also meet people who believe in your vision and will help you see it through.

Companies and Nonprofits Connect, Share Smiles thanks to Bay Area Startup

Quick Pitch
SmileyGo is about making mutually beneficial connections between nonprofits and companies, and helping to create lasting relationships between them.

The Business
SmileyGo is revamping the concept of sharing through entrepreneurship. We motivate corporations to invest more of their CSR (corporate social responsibility) via smarter ways to create a win-win situation between them and nonprofits. SmileyGo’s market approach is about closing the gap between the public and private sectors. The idea is simple, yet revolutionary. Nonprofits are constantly underfunded, while large companies have a surplus of resources. By creating a platform to connect these two together, SmileyGo helps both businesses and nonprofits. SmileyGo is the filter for nonprofits at a global scale. SmileyGo’s ultimate goal is to make kids smile by getting businesses to sponsor NGOs all around the world through its interactive website.

The “A-ha” Moment
SmileyGo started as a class project in Engineering 145, Technology Entrepreneurship at Stanford University. It was one of the only social ventures in the class, and is the only one to have kept going after the end of class. It is also the only incorporated corporation to come from the class. Forever an entrepreneur seeking to improve the world, Pedro Espinoza has evolved the company from a class project into a corporation.

How does it make money?
We plan to get 10K benefactors (companies & individuals) and 30K nonprofits by 2016. In the first couple of years we will generate revenue of $35M per year with our platform by charging a finder’s fee to the nonprofits. In addition, we will annually charge a premium SmileyGo Benefactor membership to the companies and individuals, which will not only give them access to the entire database but also marketing services with media & press releases for their company.

Businesses it could disrupt
SmileyGo’s aim is to make it easier for businesses to donate to nonprofits, which would greatly help both sectors. It could disrupt large organizations that already have a donation system in place, such as the Red Cross, though SmileyGo aims to bring companies into donating, and not just individuals. Therefore, the negative impact of SmileyGo is minimal.

Market Size
SmileyGo’s market is international—it targets big corporations as well as small businesses, and on the other side of the spectrum, targets local nonprofits as well as global nonprofits. SmileyGo’s reach is around the world.

Likely Competitors
SmileyGo is the first of its kind, as no other websites currently have SmileyGo’s vision for a globally connected donation system.

Partnerships or collaborations
SmileyGo’s first customer, in terms of nonprofits, is Pan Peru (, which has already received funding and sponsorship from SmileyGo. One of our first customers in terms of businesses was the Wealthing Institute in Menlo Park, CA ( Wealthing Institute donated 100 textbooks about personal finance and entrepreneurship to Pan Peru, which were given to the underprivileged in the Peruvian Andes. Other corporations that have already pledged to SmileyGo’s cause include Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and Toyota.

Management Team
Pedro Espinoza, Chairman; Dante Alvarado Leon, CEO; Madhav Goel, COO; Christina Luk, Chief Policy Consultant; Michelle Hong, CMO; Michael Ingraham, tech advisor; Ben Medler, CTO; Lei Tian, Secretary

Contact Information; Cell phone #: (786) 479-2146

Who are your role models?
Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Guy Kawasaki, Ernestine Fu, Tina Seelig.

What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
Smiling, laughing, being proactive.

What’s the best advice anyone’s ever given you?
Be proactive.

What advice would you give to others?
Success comes from teamwork.

Unsigned Artists Share Music, Receive Feedback & Build Fan Base on Latino-Led Platform

Interview with DreamTuner

Quick Pitch…
Dream Tuner is a music platform that combines data analytics and music discovery in order to empower unsigned musicians.

The Business
Dream Tuner is a technological platform meant to help independent and unsigned musicians achieve their dreams. A main issue for musicians is getting their music heard by the right people, obtaining instant feedback and at the same time having specific analytic data to help them achieve their dreams/goals. Dream Tuner is combining an online radio with detailed metrics so that musicians will be able to not only get their music out to the public and receive instant feedback, but also have substantial data that can be used for planning tours and marketing campaigns, identifying new fans and acquiring leverage when dealing with key industry players.

The “A-ha” Moment
It started while I was doing my MBA in the University of Texas at Austin. I was visiting my family in Miami and was giving my youngest brother a ride to the University of Miami radio station where he was dropping his band’s demo hoping that the DJ would like it and maybe play it sometime. That is when it came to me, why are there so many tools for musicians and yet they are still getting their music out there the same way for the past 40 years. I got back to Texas with the idea of empowering musicians with all the information that can help them. I talked to my other brother and a couple of friends and we started devising what would become Dream Tuner.

How does it make money?
Dream Tuner will (after beta) have three revenue streams. Advertisement,corporate accounts and membership accounts charged to musicians for detailed metrics.

Businesses it could disrupt…
It will have an impact on the music industry and all that derive from it. From record label companies to the corner bar where musicians hope to play on a week night.

Market Size
The idea of Dream Tuner is that unsigned musicians will learn to use this tool in their favor when negotiating, be it a small bar, an indie festival, a new record label or going up to a local radio station to get their art out there. Also, there are many early adopters searching for new music,we want to bring them to our platform to discover new music and promote it.

Likely competitors
Currently there are huge competitors such as Spotify and Soundcloud where artists can upload their music and hope to get discovered. However, when you are a small pop band and U2 is in the same genre as you, it is pretty hard for you to get discovered. We want to clear the noise and let the unsigned bands showcase their art on a leveled playing field.

Partnerships or Collaborations
We have as an advisor Dae Bogan, have collaborated with InfinixSoft, and have been part of the Made in the LAB Miami program.

Management Team
Alejandro Carrasco – Cofounder and CEO; Gabriel Carrasco Co-Founder

Contact Information;

Who are your role models?
Our role model was our grandfather, a person who had to support all his family as a teenager and who taught us that honesty, loyalty, perseverance and family are the most important things in life.

What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
The best part about being an entrepreneur is not knowing what the next day, month, year will be like. Every day is an adventure, which can be overwhelming but at the same time makes life a whole lot more interesting.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Don’t be like someone else, inspire others with your actions so that someday they will want to be like you.

What advice would you give to others?
Don’t be a lion, a fox or a shark. Be the salmon swimming against the current.

 Click here to watch Dream Tuner’s official video.

Future Airline Stockholder Began Career at Manos

Interview with Manos intern, Adriana Torres.

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Hollister, Ca.

What do you aspire to accomplish in the future?
I’ve always had an interest in airplanes and airports. My ultimate dream goal is to be a stockholder of an airline. If that does not work out I would love to work in Wall Street as an investment banker.

How did you hear about Manos Accelerator?
I heard about Manos through Ed Avila on LinkedIn.

What was your role at Manos?
With Manos, I was an operations intern. I was in charge of coordinating calendars, scheduling sessions with Advisers, scheduling meals for startups while maintaining a balanced budget and keeping documentation of all expenses. I was also in charge of hosting a 20+ group of entrepreneurs from Mexico and scheduled tours to companies like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and other big tech companies.

How has Manos helped you grow personally and professionally?
During the Manos internship, I went to many networking events. Since then, I feel more confident being at a networking event and being able to network with others.

What did you take away from your experience at Manos?
I networked a lot with Manos, which is how I got my new and current job.

How has your internship with Manos prepared you for a future career?
Prior to Manos, I had not worked in a job culture like the culture Manos has. This will help me in the future when and if I work in a bigger company, I will be able to not take things personal and focus on my job.

What was one thing that you were exposed to at Manos that you would not have experienced anywhere else?
The culture of Manos. More than coworkers, and bosses, the people of Manos became more of a family to me.

Share a memorable experience. 
My most best memorable moment with Manos would be our trip to NCLR in Los Angeles. It was amazing to see how Latinos can come together and do have amazing events such as NCLR.

How did you change during your internship from your first day to your last day?
I feel like I matured in my career. Manos was my first internship, so this was all a new experience to me.

What was your favorite part about being an intern?
My favorite part of being an intern was being able to visit big companies, and being able to learn about the entrepreneurship industry.

Describe your relationship with your bosses and the startups. 
We became a family. Not only with bosses and some startups, but also with my co-interns.

Where are you now? What are you doing?
I am now in my last year as an Economics and Finance major at San Jose State. I am currently working for a supply chain and logistics software company as an executive administrator and data analyst.

Manos Intern Ready for the Real World

Interview with Manos intern, Sofia Wang.

Where are you from?
Caracas, Venezuela

What do you aspire to accomplish in the future?
Short term: get a Masters degree in Applied Mathematics or Data Science.
Long term: I’d like to start my own company.

How did you hear about Manos Accelerator?
A friend mentioned to me about it and said it would be a good idea to apply.

What was your role at Manos?
I am an intern, whose main role is to organize the day-to-day operations/logistics.

What did you take away from your experience at Manos?
Met great people, had a good time with my co-interns.

Describe your relationship with your bosses, and the startups.
My bosses definitely challenged me. I have learned a lot of skills that can prepare me for the real world, such as making quick decisions because of last minute changes. People from the startups are great, never thought I would bond with them from all these daily one-hour lunches.

Where are you now? What are you doing now?
I just graduated this weekend, ready to go into the real world.