Techstars, the Boulder, Colo.-based accelerator known for their startup weekend events in cities across the globe, will for the first time this weekend host one in Chicago, specifically designed to attract Latinx participants.
The Latinx Chicago startup weekend, running Sept. 29-Oct. 1, is one of several Latinx startup weekend events happening across the country that are aiming to encourage more Latinx entrepreneurs, coders and techies to become engaged with the startup ecosystem in their city, said Cynthia Macias, the lead organizer of the event.
Participants will break into teams, develop startup ideas and pitch them to a panel of judges—all in only 54 hours. Judges at Chicago’s startup weekend will include Samara Hernandez, an investor at MATH Ventures; Cate Costa, founder of Venture Catalyst Consulting; Nicholas Delgado, the founder of investment bank Dignitas, and Eric Vazquez, the CTO at Chicago’s city clerk office.
Throughout the weekend, teams will receive guidance from venture capital and industry experts who will help them execute marketing, design and business strategies. Weekend events will take place at local startup incubators, including 1871, CODE 2040 and mHub.
Latinx startup weekends are also taking place in Oakland, Los Angeles, New York and Miami this weekend. Across all the cities, chosen because they have high Latinx populations, about 500 Latinx entrepreneurs and allies are expected to participate, Macias said. In Chicago, about 50 people have signed up as of Thursday afternoon.
“The event basically empowers young generations of Latinx aspiring entrepreneurs and technologists,” Macias said. “It’s really more about the learning experience than who wins the pitch competition.”
By 2060, more than a quarter of the U.S. population will be Latinx, representing more than a trillion dollars of economic power, according to 2015 U.S. Census data. But many Latinx people are still not fairly represented in the tech industry as a whole, Macias said.
“We all know the Zuckerbergs and the Steve Jobs. People admire them. People know who they are,” Macias said. “But if you don’t see somebody who reflects yourself, then you’re not going to be as aspirational to say, ‘I can do it, too.’”
Tickets to the event can be found here, and were about $37 as of press time.