All posts by Mas Wired

We created Más Wired to show the incredible contributions Latinos are making in the digital space. As the largest growing demographic in the U.S., Latinos are more than just a market and are making important contributions in technology.

VIDEO: 5 Things to Know Before Learning to Code

Learning to code isn’t easy, but you can do it. Check out this video with 5 things you should know before learning to code.

I’m on week five of Sabio’s .Net developer training program and while I am beginning to understand a lot about the Internet — I still have a ways to go.

I do know enough, though, to be sure that you, dear reader, could probably also learn to code if you had enough “ganas” or motivation to get through the frustrating bits. Coding isn’t what I thought, but there are a few things I wish I would have known before I started.

I wanted to make this video to share those thoughts, please share with anyone you know who might be learning to code and tweet me @SaraChicaD if you have questions. Happy coding!

Sabio sets sights on creating Latino, women developers

Sabio is a developer program run by two Latinos aiming to create more women and minority web developers. What’s the best way to get more women and minorities great tech jobs? Train them yourself.

So goes the logic of Sabio co-founders Liliana Monge and Gregorio Rojas, who are set to graduate their first class of four trained web developers in February. Sabio was created in 2012 and the first class was in session in September of 2013.

The 20-week class includes training in a variety of development specialties. Specifically: front end development (HTML5, CCS3, JavaScript); back end development; database development; source control; native mobile development, and more. Plus, mentoring and assistance finding a job, for a cost of $10,000 that participants pay up front.

The idea for Sabio first arose when Rojas and Monge were discussing the need for more women and minorities in the tech industry. Rojas has been working in the Los Angeles tech scene since 2000, and knew from experience that diversity was an issue.

So, with Sabio, Rojas decided to make a dent in the tech industry’s diversity problem and train women and minorities in web development himself.

“It is a win-win,” said Monge. “It is a win to have an underemployed, or unemployed young adult empower themselves with high-tech skill-set. They can literally create a multi-million dollar application with their bare hands.”

Sabio’s two Latino co-founders are proud to be graduating two women and two African-American developers in their inaugural class. The tech industry is dominated by white men, and different people and organizations have many different reasons for why this needs to change.

For Sabio, the main reason is economic.

“The USA must keep its competitive edge,” said Monge. “To do this, it must harness the expertise, and talents of all its citizens: black, white, Latino, male and female. So that we, as a nation, can continue to lead the tech revolution, that is creating an unprecedented amount of wealth and opportunity.”

Ultimately, the tech industry can benefit from all types of creators — not just “young, affluent Caucasian men,” said Monge, noting that one of the most important lessons she’s learned teaching the first cohort is that tech companies will hire people without a formal Computer Science degree. What they want are people who can code, who are willing to learn, work hard, be motivated and do the work.

And people who don’t come from a tech background and work as entry-level programmers if they are dedicated and willing to learn, she said.

Sabio’s first cohort is already being hired as full-time developers, and the organization is gearing up for its next cohort. In the future, Sabio is hoping to create a weekday, and weekend, course to help accelerate the learning process for people who are unemployed, or looking to transition more quickly.

For more information visit Sabio’s website here.

HUB101: startup accelerator for diversity

HUB101 strives to be a different kind of startup accelerator, one focused on upping the diversity quotient and bringing the accelerator model to new groups of folks, such as veterans, women, Latinos and others.

A new startup accelerator in the Los Angeles metropolitan area is looking for creative people who aren’t “fresh out of college and eating ramen”.

HUB101 is trying to create a mentor-driven program that helps user-entrepreneurs make the first step into bringing their ideas to the real world. HUB101 provides entrepreneurs with experienced mentors, programs to bring their product to life, and office space. All of this will be available at night and weekend – allowing the entrepreneur access to these valuable assets on their own time.

MásWired and HUB101 co-founder Ginger Zumaeta sat down recently to discuss the program, its services, and what makes Hub101 stand out from other startup accelerators.

Zumaeta’s group is seeking, in particular, “Entrepreneurs who are building scalable businesses (startups) that are focused on top-end growth. I’m talking about the types of businesses that want to make a so-called ‘dent in the universe’. Really big solutions that solve big pain points.” They do respect small businesses, however, Hub101 is seeking to ensure that big solutions for big problems can begin to grow.

MW: What exactly is a “startup accelerator,” and how do they work?

GZ: For HUB101 what it represents is a structured mentor-driven program wherein we help startup founders work on the elements that will position them for success over the course of 12-15 weeks. At the end of the day, most startups fail because of a lack of customers, so we spend a lot of time validating how the business will acquire paying customers.

MW: What kind of entrepreneurs does HUB101 take on?

GZ: There are many startup founders who are still in regular jobs and working on their companies on the side or who have recently left steady jobs for one reason or another. That’s a really difficult path for a host of reasons. HUB101 was built to serve this unique type of entrepreneur.

Research has demonstrated that most startups that survive past 5 years are actually started by people who have had a significant amount of work experience. They’re called user-entrepreneurs. They’ve seen different types of challenges and are more likely to have business ideas that solve big problems. We like that.

At HUB101 diversity is in our DNA. I’m a Latina in my 40s and my cofounder is a Marine veteran. We’re really committed to upping the diversity quotient among startups and bringing the accelerator model to new groups of folks. That was a big factor driving our “after-hours” model and mentality.

MW: What are the prerequisites (if any) for an interested entrepreneur to take advantage of HUB101’s services?

GZ: We don’t have any prerequisites per se beyond understanding the difference between a startup and a small business. Ideally you should have at least one additional co-founder, but it’s not an absolute requirement.

MW: What kind of support does HUB101 offer to entrepreneurs?

GZ: Our support hinges around three core elements.

1) We surround the entrepreneurs with experienced mentors from a wide range of industries. Often the most important thing a startup team needs is perspective and access. Our mentors provide that. They really get involved.

2) We offer a rigorous program that takes founders through the process of finding product-market alignment and most importantly doing customer validation to ensure they’re building a product or service that customers will actually pay money for and that is scalable.

3) Finally, we provide office space where the entrepreneurs can interact. We’ll be at great co-working space called OfficeSlice that is hosting HUB101 on nights and weekends so founders can get away from distractions and focus on building their business, but also so they can interact with other startup founders

MW: Are mentors tailored to the entrepreneur?

GZ: Absolutely. Mentorship is harder than it sounds. It’s vital that there’s real mentor-entrepreneur chemistry, so the mentors will meet with teams and there will be a mutual agreement for mentorship based on both parties wanting to work with each other. In reality, most entrepreneurs will likely have several mentors that help them in different ways along the journey

MW: Does HUB101 offer any starting finances to entrepreneurs?

GZ: We’re not offering seed money upon sign-up. At HUB101 the value we bring is more in mentorship and helping find product-market fit. However, we will be actively engaged in helping the entrepreneurs access funds when they need it, and we will have a demo day at the conclusion of the program where we’ll invite angels and VCs to learn about the businesses.

MW: How much does HUB101’s services cost?

GZ: HUB101 doesn’t cost anything for the founders, though we will look for a nominal equity stake in the startups we accept into the program.

Learning to Code: 6 Things you Need to Know

If you want to learn to code, there are a few key things that you should keep in mind, no matter what your level or what your goals are.

After two weeks of in-class prep, and months of pre-work, the start of my Sabio web developer training is this week. While I am nervous, I’m more excited, and in conversations with my fellow Sabio Fellows and professional developer friends, there are a few key things that you should keep in mind if you’re learning to code.

1.) Just start.

Start something. Lots of people make up excuses for why they can’t start learning to code: they want to “make sure” they learn the “right” thing or don’t know where to start. Once you start learning something you’ll have a better idea of where you want to go, don’t make up excuses for why you need to wait.

2.) Get used to being frustrated.

Every profession has its quirks, and from my very limited experience, and the much more extensive experience of my friends, it would seem that one of the quirks of working as a developer is that you are always frustrated in trying to solve the puzzles presented in your code. That’s part of the job.

3.) Always be learning.

There’s more than one way to do just about everything it seems, so you have to keep yourself open to learning if you want to be a developer. The learning, according to my friends with more experience, never stops.

4.) Give yourself a break.

You may not understand everything the first time, or the second time — or the third time. But maybe on the fourth time it’ll all make sense, and then you can build on that the next time. It’s ok if you don’t move as fast as you think you should, as long as you keep moving.

5.) Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

How are you going to learn if you don’t ask questions? The more you ask, the more you know.

6.) Google it.

This is related to question #5, it seems like every developer has a blog, there is so much information out there to answer your questions, if only you would look.

Photo by  Michael Pollak

8 things harder than learning to code

Coding is hard, but it’s not as hard as other things I’ve already done. So even when I get discouraged, I remember that I’ve already succeeded at many harder things than coding.

Recently I was chatting with someone about my experience learning to code and they asked me a point-blank question I think lots of us often wonder but never say out loud: “Is it hard?”

I thought it was a good question, because I think we often make the assumption that it is hard before we even ask. The truth is, I told him, coding is hard, but it’s not as hard as other things I’ve already done. So even when I get discouraged, which is more often than I’d like, I remember that I’ve already succeeded at harder things than coding.

In that vein I wanted to share a list of things that I personally think are more difficult than coding. Read this list and think about the amount of energy, brainpower, time and failure it takes to learn these things. Compared to most of this list, learning and memorizing a specific way of presenting information to a computer is almost easy!

Please share and feel free to leave your comments.

1.)  Not learning to code

I don’t know about you, but I want to be part of the current and future professional world — which is increasingly about technology and gadgets and computers. To me, it would seem that being left out of this loop would, in the long run, be much worse than not being a part of the loop.

2.) Getting a college degree.

It’s reasonable to assume that we all had different experiences in college, either harder or easier, but the fact that you work at a singular goal for four (or more years) to yield just one result is pretty difficult. If you did years’ worth of work to get a degree, you can learn to program a computer.

3.) Becoming fluent in another language.

As someone who considers herself bilingual, I’m also painfully aware of the fact that my English is light years better than my Spanish. The sheer amount of work it would take to learn Spanish as well as English seems astronomically more difficult to me than learning to code.

4.) Learning calculus and trigonometry.

I really struggled with these subjects when I was in high school but I was determined to figure them out, between three high schools, after school tutorials and copious hours of exasperated frustration. But I did it!

5.) Becoming a great cook.

I’m not a huge fan of cooking, but I know enough to be healthy and get by. I have friends and family, however, who take cooking and baking to the next level by making things from scratch, messing with recipes, adjusting temperatures, letting things marinade a certain way, and a seemingly infinite number of other techniques that, while yielding a delicious result, seems just baffling to me. Considering there are people who spend years learning to cook a particular cuisine, or have spent years learning to cook multiple cuisines, picking up a few programming languages seems easy by comparison.

6.) Learning how to responsibly manage your finances.

Since we don’t learn this in school, and many of us may not be well schooled by our parents, learning to navigate finances between credit cards, school loans, car payments and bills can be super difficult. In my case it took several years to learn to do it well — but I did it!

7.) Being in a serious romantic relationship.

Learning about another person — everything from their likes, moods, memories, families, thoughts, feelings, preferences and whatever else — is exhausting. It takes time, it takes energy, it takes a lot of willpower, patience, and understanding. Ultimately, this is something most of us will do, and something that takes years, and in some cases lifetimes, to do well. If you can figure out how to make it work with another person whose thoughts you can’t read, learning to code is a cakewalk.

8.) Figuring out what you want to be when you grow up.

I didn’t study journalism in school, but became a journalist. I didn’t study digital media, but began working at digital media start-ups. I’m not sure I want to be a code monkey for the rest of my life, but I’m going to study it and figure it out! If anything, coding — like journalism and digital media — will be one more skill in my professional tool box that will help me in my current endeavors, as well as my future ones.

What do you think of this list, anything you would add?

Image by Remko van Dokkum

Latina learns to code: JQuery, JavaScript, SQL & frustration

Learning to code has been a very humbling experience, one that’s teaching me how to learn in a totally different way, and I’m grateful for that.

If I’ve learned anything about coding the past few weeks it’s that you have to make some very real mental adjustments to the way you approach learning. As a lifelong overachiever and typical “Type A” personality, I’m used to being able to learn new things pretty easily and with minimal effort.

Recently I ran into some serious frustration with some of the advanced JavaScript classes I was taking online and felt like I’d hit a wall where I could no longer learn anything because I was so frustrated. The last time I remembered feeling that level of frustration was when I was in fourth grade and I couldn’t figure out how to divide and multiply fractions! I remember crying about it, but eventually I learned how to do it, and to this day I still know how!

Through this frustration, though, I’ve learned a new and very important lesson: just because something isn’t easy, doesn’t mean it’s not something I can do. Perhaps I’ll get it the second time, or the third time, or however many times it takes until I figure it out, but I’ll get it.

Learning to give myself the space to fail a little bit, and be okay with frustration and confusion, is probably one of the best gifts I’ve given to myself since I began my coding journey.

Learning to code has been a very humbling experience, one that’s teaching me how to learn in a totally different way, and I’m grateful for that.

There are times when I feel like I don’t know anything, but then I’ll click on a website or have a conversation with someone, and I’ll know how the website is working or be able to explain a concept using technical terms. It’s in those moments when I know that, despite the frustration, my perseverance will pay off.

Learning to learn in this new way has actually helped me see the world from a whole new perspective, similar to when I lived in Mexico and learned Portuguese in college. I’m looking forward to starting my Sabio classes so that I can continue to grow as a coder, and as a person.

Textter is a real-time texting app from Miami

Textter is a live messaging system allowing users to users to chat in real-time, letter by letter. The Miami-created app also has some great privacy features, allowing users to see each others’ messages without ever having to press “send.”

Carlos Cueto created Textter after watching his two teenaged daughters texting. They text constantly, he said, and so are constantly frustrated by having to wait until their friends respond to their texts. With Textter he found a way to address this issue: instead of watching as texts are being composed, Textter allows users to see texts being written in real-time.

Cueto told Más Wired that the company was recently contacted by a large medical device maker, requesting a group chat function in order to see which emergency responders are available. He also said Textter’s live delete function can aid with privacy, given that users can read and share messages without having to ever press send; they can simply delete their messages after each has seen them.

We spoke with Cueto about his business, enjoy and share this interview!

Más Wired: What is Textter?

CC: Textter is a live messaging system (LMS), which allows users to users to chat in real-time, letter by letter. A beta version is currently available on the Apple App Store and Google Play for free. It’s completely free — no ads. We are releasing a major update in approximately 30 days which will include sharing pictures, as well as copy/paste function and many [other] improvements.

MW: What’s the story behind Textter?

CC: I created the app because I was frustrated with the SMS (Short Messaging Service). When you are engaged in a conversation via text, it is extremely annoying for me, and a waste of time, to wait for the other person to finish typing, fix typos and re-editing their text. Then they need to wait for you to read their text, come up with a response, type, fix typos and edit your message. Cut your texting time in half with Textter because you will finish the other person’s answer halfway through them typing the question.

MW: Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

CC:  I decided to become an entrepreneur when I realized the management I worked for were not forward thinkers. Their idea of planning for the future was looking ahead three-to-six months.  I am always working on a two-, five- and 10-year plan. Out of frustration I quit my job and decided to start my own business because I knew my growth was stunted. Twelve months after I left, the company closed, laying off 350 employees.

MW: What are some lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?

CC: I started my first business in 2004, thankfully it was successful and it is currently funding my startup Textter. It’s not easy to gain exposure and traction. I thought it was going to be extremely easy. Once you can prove your numbers, the money will follow, hence allowing you the ability to take your time and hire the best candidate as a co-founder and team of developers. Hiring offshore is not the best way to go, you can not control their hours and its easy for them to simply ignore you.

Wire Framing is extremely important. Look at other apps, mimic the best in the industry, use as a blueprint for simple task such as login, creating an account etc.

Don’t rush to release — test, test and test again. There’s nothing worse than losing a customer because of glitches.

Manos Accelerator selects another 7 Latino startups

Manos Accelerator has selected its next class of Latino-owned startups. They include everything from wearables, games to payments and more.


Manos Accelerator has selected its next batch of Latino startups, and they are listed below. As you recall, Manos partners with Google for Entrepreneurs, and helps Latino-owned startups take their products to the next level. We recently interviewed CEO Edward Avila about his work, especially since less than 1% of venture-backed startups are founded by Latinos.

Bandbazaar (San Jose, CA): Bandbaazar connects music enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels — It is a web app that’s pioneering a new way for people to convert their skills, musical instruments & gear and space into a source of income.  Represented by:  Alex Murillo and Sophia Boettcher

CoupleCare (Mexico City, Mexico): CoupleCare is the first app platform guide to fertility.  It allows couples to track, monitor and manage monthly menstrual cycles together as a team.  Represented by: Alonso Salcido, Sebastián Abramowicz and Alfredo Reyes

Cycle Money (Guayaquil, Ecuador):  Cycle Money is a web and mobile application that helps people to recycle their electronic waste.  It connects directly the recyclable elements from people’s e-waste with the recycle companies, redefining in this way, the Urban Mining.  Represented by: Luis Bajaña (Palo Alto, CA / Bogotá, Colombia): is an Internet platform that allows users create questions to leaders, organizations or people of influence.  By supporting these questions, they become relevant, inspiring leaders to provide answers.  Represented by: Alejandro Quintero

FashionTEQ (Aliso Viejo, CA):  FashionTEQ is a fashion-forward, wearable technology company, created Zazzi, a smart and stylish jewelry collection that allows women to remain connected to their smartphone.  This stunning line of smart jewelry disguises your tech as a fashionable accessory and offers a discreet way to stay connected while allowing you to leave your phone inside a purse, bag or back pocket.  Represented by: Judy Tomlinson and Nancy Banuelos

My Bigame (Bogotá, Colombia):  My Bigame is a company that innovates, so does your API users to bet on your favorite platform game in multiplayer mode. My Bigame is the unique system that offers the possibility of realizing bets in way multiplayer in different games and different platforms. Represented by: Jesus Contreras, Roger Diaz, Jorge Meneses and Armando Saenz

saySquare (Tegucigalpa, Honduras):  saySquare is a payments platform that allows fast social electronic transfers and lets small business accept money using mobile devices as POS.  Represented by: Cristian Garner, Leonardo Amador, Wilfredo Guevara and Armando Alvarado.

Congrats to all the startups selected!