It was a big quarter for the Innovadores team. The year started off with our private rooftop New Year's party hosted by one of Havana’s best DJ’s and ended with our organization being featured on the cover of Cuba Trade Magazine (below). But it hasn’t all been parties and photoshoots. We’ve been working hard with our teams in order to mentor, foster, and grow the technology and entrepreneurship communities here in Cuba.
It’s not easy. But boy is it rewarding.
Rise of the Young Programmers
Since the 1980's, Cuba has been producing skilled programmers who ultimately seek opportunities with leading companies overseas. Now, some of Cuba's young entrepreneurs are choosing to stay and develop onshore startups. Will economic reforms and government-controlled internet keep pace with the rising global demand for tech talent?
Back from Havana
I got a memory reminder from Facebook–I generally hate them–but this at least helped me place a watershed moment in Cuban-American relations…the day I met John Caulfield. In the two years since, the Innovadores has blossomed under John and Jono’s efforts, and I have played a small part in assisting them.
The Business Owners Council Visits Cuba with Innovadores
In March, Innovadores led another trip to Havana for some of the United States’s leading entrepreneurs, all members of the New York-based entrepreneurial network the Business Owners Council. The visit explored the breadth and depth of Cuban innovation and entrepreneurship.
John Caulfield: Cuba Presents Risks, Rewards For RE Investors
HAVANA—Cuba is now emerging from some 58 years of orthodox Communist control. With that comes the inevitable question of what role American business and entrepreneurship might play in its re-development. The largest and most strategically located island in the increasingly important Caribbean/Latin American basin, Cuba could emerge quickly as the biggest international greenfield opportunity since China.
John Caulfield: Waiting for change in Cuba
When I took up my assignment as chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana in 2011, my biggest question was how had Cuba survived as one of the world’s last remaining Marxist Leninist systems? Strong and sometimes brutal internal controls were important, but in my experience, not sufficient.
When I started my U.S. foreign service career in 1975, generals who came to power by force ruled almost every country in Latin America. Many of those governments used brutal methods to suppress dissent, but ultimately transitioned to civilian rule. Today, only one Latin American leader wears a general’s uniform. It is Cuba’s Raul Castro.
Amid Isolation, 2 Cubans Develop Island's First Video Game
Between Fidel Castro's death and the new American president, it's hard to know what's next for U.S.-Cuba relations. But partnerships are already underway, including one involving Cuba's first independent video game design company and a U.S. foundation that helped it get started.
Empty Head Games is the company started by two young Cubans, Josuhe Pagliery and Johann Armenteros. In November, the duo launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for their game,Savior. In just six days, the campaign hit its $10,000 goal.
Innovadores Rings in the New Year in Havana
The start of an annual tradition, this winter Innovadores organized a New Year’s trip to Havana Cuba for a group of 10 young professionals in the fields of design, marketing, engineering, tech, and architecture.
In addition to the regular Innovadores activities—including meetings with entrepreneurs, a tour of Old Havana, and dinners with Cuban creators—this trip focused two of the most interesting areas of Cuban culture and industry: Art and Agriculture.
Cuba, in Clothes
Deep in Bauta, a sleepy Cuban town 17 miles southwest of Havana, past rows of billboards painted with portraits of national heroes and narrow streets lined with colorful Spanish colonial houses, sits an abandoned factory on a plot of lush, overgrown farmland.
The Textilera de Ariguanabo was built in 1931 by Dayton Hedges, an American businessman whose family owned a successful textile company. The factory produced cotton and rayon fabric, as well as overalls, shirts, and pants, and was Cuba's largest manufacturing site outside of the sugar industry. In 1940, it employed 1,200 workers; by 1958, that number had more than doubled.
Jono Matusky: Google Signs Deal with Cuba to Speed its Services
Yesterday, Google signed a deal with the Cuban government to increase the speed of service for some of the company’s most popular services. This comes a week after a story leaked indicating that the Obama administration was pushing deals between the Cuban government and both GE and Google.
A Cuban Video Game Creator Seeks to Be First in a Post-Fidel World
A moment that had perplexed and fascinated Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits for decades had finally come to pass. A Cuban visual artist, Pagliery, 35, had been in the U.S. since early November to raise money and gather some publicity in hopes that he and a computer programmer friend might become the first from their island nation to create a fully animated video game.
"It was very shocking, super strange to be here in the U.S. when that happened," Pagliery said from the home of family he'd never met until this visit, his first to the U.S. "This is someone you've known your entire life, and then to see it from another perspective -- it's a very strange feeling."
Havana Marathon 2016
This year the Innovadores foundation started an annual tradition and sponsored a team in the Havana marathon, know as the Marabana (catchy). It was a ton of fun and a one-of-a-kind way to see the city. The event drew over 5000 competitors from all over Cuba and the world.
Innovadores Cuba Delegation Winter 2016
In November, the Innovadores team took another trip to Havana with a team of leading entrepreneurs and businessmen to assess the state of tech, design and entrepreneurship. The visit included a briefing from US Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, a roundtable discussion with Cuban entrepreneurs, a meeting with Idania Del Rio at her clothing and design shop Clandestina, visits with entrepreneurs and teams working in Havana, and a trip to the Fabrica de Arte Cubano with the Innovadores interns.
Havana duo launches crowdfunding campaign for first Cuban indie video game
The notion of private enterprise in Cuba usually refers to restaurants known as “paladares,” classic car owners who serve as taxis or homes that offer rooms-for-rent to tourists.
But despite limited access to the internet for the masses, lack of information from outside the island and constrained social media interaction — in a country where piracy rules — two young men from Havana are betting on an almost untapped market: video games.
Jono Matusky: New Indiegogo Campaign Launches to Fund Cuba’s First Indie Game, Savior
Josuhe Pagliery, the designer and artist behind Empty Head Games, today launched Cuba’s first Indiegogo campaign to back his new videogame, Savior. Created by his studio Empty Head Games, Savior is a 2D platformed that, when launched, will be Cuba’s first independent videogame. The $10,000 campaign will fund the development of the playable demo, to be released early next year.
Jono Matusky: The Cuban Uber. Or should we call it Cuber?
A group of Cuban entrepreneurs calling themselves SEIM are attempting to create the Cuban Uber (Cuber?) Though it’s still in its infancy, the app has the potential to change the way Cubans, and tourists, navigate the island. According to a recent article in Cubanet, the group will be releasing the app, called RenC, this October, though they’re already registering drivers.
Jono Matusky: The Struggle of the Cuentapropista
Ask any Cuban what they’d like to improve in their country and most don’t know where to start. A few will rattle off half a dozen ideas, but when pressed for solutions often draw a blank. The most enterprising Cubans, however, have already selected the problems they want to solve and are taking their ideas from idea to invention.
Three lucky computer buffs from Cuba spend summer interning in New York City
One wants to expand Internet access in his country. Another wants to work in software and game development. And yet another is developing an app to help people navigate the capital’s transit system.
They are three young Cubans who were selected from more than 100 applicants to spend six weeks in New York City as part of a program devoted to technological developments and entrepreneurship in math, science and engineering.
La Innovación Cubana De La Fundación Innovadores
[Video] La Fundación Innovadores es el primer y unico programa de intercambio empresarial e incubadora de tecnología en Cuba que ofrece apoyo para temas como la ciencia, tecnología, ingeniería, arte y educación matemática.
In Cuba, seedlings of capitalism
Entrepreneurship might seem like an odd word to associate with Cuba, but it seems increasingly apt, given the individuals I met during a week traveling the island. From the tobacco fields three hours outside of Havana to downtown restaurants that rival the finest Philadelphia has to offer, one can find the seedlings of capitalism and businesses built for profit sprouting everywhere.
The 2016 Innovadores Interns
For the second year of our exchange program, the we’re once again sending three brilliant Cuban students to the United States to work at one of the premier startup incubators in the world. For these young Cubans, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity: a fully-funded trip to New York City for six weeks to intern at Grand Central Tech (GTC) in Manhattan. For us, it’s an opportunity to educate the next generation of Cuba on how innovation and technology development is done in the US.
Cuban Innovation Returns to the U.S. as the Second Class of Cuban Technology Interns Summer in New York
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The sprouts of entrepreneurship in Cuba are taking hold, thanks in part to an innovative internship program that again this year will welcome Cuban young innovators to New York and immerse them in the world of American high-tech start-ups. The first-of-its-kind program, which is sponsored by the Innovadores Foundation, an American non-profit, is again hosting three young Cuban technologists to intern in the heart of Manhattan, at Grand Central Tech, a tech incubator that is giving life to the next generation of U.S. technology companies.
We did this: Innovadores Year One
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. ~Margaret Mead
The Innovadores Foundation just completed the most amazing year of progress, thanks in no small part to that small team, and the support of donors who believed it could be done.
Cuba Delegation Spring 2016: Women, Cuba, and the Business Climate
This past April, Innovadores visited Cuba to meet with the next round of candidates for our 2016 internship program. Below are Innovadores advisor Eileen Scully’s observations on Cuba and what it’s like for female innovators.
One of the first things you notice upon arrival in Havana is how highly Cubans value their artists. Starting in primary school, art and music are a core element in education–not an optional or occasional indulgence as in the US.
What’s in a Name?
Sometimes you hit it with a name. Often, you don’t.
After much thought, we decided to rename our recently named CAA Foundation as the “Innovadores Foundation” . This was to not to confuse ourselves further with the CIA when dealing with an island nation whose last fifty years were spent not exactly loving that branch of our government. Seems prudent, no?
Spring 2016 Visit: To Do Business in Cuba, Think Small
Greg Matusky traveled to Cuba in February 2015 as an advisor to Innovadores, for a chance to meet with some of the promising innovators on the island.
Cuba represents a huge, untapped market for American businesses and marketers. Located only 90 miles from Key West with a population nearly three times that of Puerto Rico and a literacy rate higher than here in the US, Cuba holds vast promise. But is it even realistic to pursue business in this island nation? I was fortunate enough to travel to Cuba with the Innovadores Foundation this past February to assess the risks.
Innovadores de Cuba: Chapter One
We said goodbye to our three interns: Gabriel, Gabriella, and Raul a few hours ago after touring AAAS in Washington DC. If all goes well, they will touch down in Havana in 24 hours, totally transformed by their time here.
Cuban teens intern in New York to create Silicon Island back home
Gabriella Rodriguez remembers the moment she first heard there was a tech internship opportunity in New York. Details about how to apply were posted on the U.S. State Department’s Facebook page, but like the majority of Cubans, she didn’t have regular access to the Internet. Luckily the news spread by word of mouth in Santos Suárez, the small suburb of Havana where she lives...
Cuban interns get taste of NYC startups
A taste of U.S. innovation could go a long way for young Cuban entrepreneurs. At least that's the thinking behind a New York City-based initiative called Innovadores. The program, founded and funded by nonprofit C.A.A., is connecting four Cuban entrepreneurs with internships at tech startups. The U.S. is flooded with incubators, accelerators and resources for entrepreneurs. But Cuba has very little institutional knowledge on how to run a startup -- it only recently loosened restrictions for privatized businesses. And access to online resources are also hard to come by: only 5% of Cubans have access to the Internet...
Cuban interns tackle American entrepreneurship
While many young Americans can launch start-ups with a strategic collection of resources, would-be entrepreneurs in Cuba face many hurdles launching ventures. In the communist nation, mentorship opportunities—and even basic necessities such as consistent broadband connections—can be scarce...
At A Manhattan Incubator, Cuban STEM Students Embrace Tech Startups
Gabriela Isabel Rodríguez Campo, a 19-year-old native of Havana, arrived at the city’s airport, carrying $300 in cash for plane fare mailed to her from a donor in the U.S. Nothing would have stopped her from pocketing the money, which was more than three months of the average Cuban’s salary. But instead, she used it to buy a plane ticket to New York City. “My dad said, ‘I knew something like this would happen to you someday,’” she recalls. No one in Campo’s family had ever left the island – but with the recent reestablishment of U.S.-Cuban ties, that may soon change...
The Cubans Are Coming…to New York’s Grand Central Tech
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The U.S. and Cuba are ending their Cold War, and technology may be an early beneficiary.
By the start of the weekend, four Cubans ages 17 to 25 will have arrived in New York to a six-week internship at Grand Central Tech, a New York-based incubator for technology start-ups that receives funding and expertise from Google, Microsoft, IBM and Goldman Sachs, among others...
Cuban Innovation & Entrepreneurship Front and Center after President Obama’s Announcement
On the heels of President Obama’s announcement reinstating diplomatic relations with Cuba, C.A.A., a privately funded, not-for-profit foundation based in Greenwich, Conn., has announced Innovadores, the first-ever initiative to promote entrepreneurship, opportunity, networking, mentoring, and resources for promising innovators in Cuba. The program will host young Cuban innovators in the fields of Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEM) and expose them to American entrepreneurial practice inside the Grand Central Tech incubator, located at the former Facebook headquarters in Manhattan...
Cuban Innovation & Entrepreneurship Front and Center after President Obama’s Announcement
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--On the heels of President Obama’s announcement reinstating diplomatic relations with Cuba, C.A.A., a privately funded, not-for-profit foundation based in Greenwich, Conn., has announced Innovadores, the first-ever initiative to promote entrepreneurship, opportunity, networking, mentoring, and resources for promising innovators in Cuba. The program will host young Cuban innovators in the fields of Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEM) and expose them to American entrepreneurial practice inside the Grand Central Tech incubator, located at the former Facebook headquarters in Manhattan.