This Hispanic Heritage month, Project W is excited to introduce you to three of our 2022 Tech Equity Hub Accelerator cohort’s Latina founders: Meghan Cano, Patricia García, and Dr. Rocío Raña.
Meghan Cano grew up in affordable housing. The daughter of a single mom who worked as a Catholic schoolteacher earning $28,000 or less a year, Meghan believes her life would have turned out very differently if not for affordable housing and some of the programs available to her family. In 2018, Meghan and her husband (and now business partner), were both serving on the Mayor's Housing Task Force in San Antonio, TX providing industry expertise on how to remove the barriers to developing more affordable housing and then accurately placing people in that. It dawned on them that there had to be a better way for residents to locate housing on their own, without having to travel all over town from property to property. On top of streamlining the search for tenants, they knew there had to be a better way for a local government to keep track of what is being built and offered in their community. That was the birth of Housing Base.
Housing Base is the first web-based tool that centralizes a city's affordable housing inventory, serves as a resident facing housing locator tool, and provides predictive analytics based on resident engagement for future development.
Patricia García is a graduate student at the University of Southern California (USC) pursuing a Master’s in Product Development Engineering. As a 2021 Graduate Engineering Minority (GEM) Full Fellow, she combines her interests in engineering, business, and design. Prior to venturing into the world of entrepreneurship, she worked on various hardware and software (machine learning) projects at organizations across the US including at MIT, UC Berkeley, and Google. As an undergrad, Patricia noticed there was one thing higher education institutions had in common: inaccessible collegiate gear. She wanted to bring a piece of these places back home with her but couldn't afford anything as a low-income student. Patricia’s lived experiences and passion for a circular economy instilled a passion in her to create a solution for all the students who find themselves detached from their college communities because they lack the financial resources, yet want to feel part of a community larger than themselves. Enter: Unithrifts. As an underrepresented founder, Patricia felt first-hand the inequities that exist in the entrepreneurial space- especially when raising friends and family funding. When those in her immediate circle were more focused on putting food on the table as opposed to supporting her “crazy ideas”, she knew she had to get to work. Her tenacity and ability to overcome adversity has resulted in various national pitch competition wins and features in various media publications such as NASDAQ, The Dayton Business Journal, Miami Herald, and others. This spirit to overcome has funded the venture thus far.
Unithrifts is a gamified peer-to-peer platform for students/alumni to buy/sell secondhand collegiate gear and track their environmental impact. Ranging from game day gear to Greek life swag from students on their way out of college, Unithrifts is creating and enabling a model of circular consumption on college campuses.
Dr. Rocío Raña was inspired to become an entrepreneur by her experience with her own children who were born in the U.S. and grew up speaking Spanish at home. When they started school, they faced many challenges because schools didn’t have adequate tools to assess bilingual children. She co-founded LangInnov to address the need for educational equity for Latinx bilinguals. Dr. Raña has received awards from the National Science Foundation and NewSchools Venture Fund. Currently, she is looking to positively impact the life of more bilingual Latinx children by expanding the network of schools that use LangInnov’s first product, the BLAST app.
LangInnov is an educational technology company focused on improving outcomes for bilingual Latinx children. LangInnov’s first product, the BLAST mobile app (www.BlastBilingual.com), is a bilingual literacy assessment that helps educators make informed placement and instructional decisions, reduces the number of multilingual learners misplaced in special education, and accelerates literacy development.
Project W is proud to support Meghan, Patricia, and Rocío as they build and grow their businesses and scale their impact on the community. If you’d like to support them on their journey, please join us on October 3rd for the 2022 Tech Equity Hub Live Pitch event. Contact Emily Baum at firstname.lastname@example.org to request an invitation