> We Tha Plug

Advocating for & empowering pan-african & latinx tech entrepreneurs

We Tha Plug works with Pan-African Latinx founders and startups at all levels from Ideation Phase to Pre Seed and Series A Round phase. We Tha Plug is a global community of Pan-African, Latinx and other underrepresented founders, Venture Capitalists, and Angel Investors in the startup, tech, and innovation space. The overall mission of We Tha Plug is to raise the awareness of Innovation in Pan-African and Latinx communities in technology and create an ecosystem for entrepreneurs from grassroots to professional levels. We provide a global ecosystem that gives founders access to startup fundamental education, mentorship, programming, resources, and funding. We have over 100 PanAfrican and Latinx Founders in our organization across the US and abroad.

We Tha Plug was founded by Founder/CEO Luis Martinez, MSOL, and Partner/Chief Operating Officer Christiana Russell, M.Ed. The duo sought to build a community to support Pan-African and Latinx founders in the tech and innovation space, based on their own experiences in San Diego’s startup ecosystem. “Ninety-nine percent of what we’re building is based on what Luis and I experienced as budding entrepreneurs,” said Russell, who runs a consulting business for small business owners and entrepreneurs. After getting a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership, Luis, a US Navy veteran, looked to get more involved in the local startup community. He spent the last two years volunteering with Startup San Diego and more recently began serving as Chapter Director for Startup Grind. Luis’s original plan was to build an ecosystem in the San Diego area for Pan-African and Latinx founders; however, this vision changed after hosting a meetup during Startup Grind Global Conference in Silicon Valley, February 2019. During this meetup, over 70 Pan-African founders attended the meetup where many topics were discussed, including starting a venture fund and creating an environment where tech and innovation events culturally mirrored the group being targeted. As a result, We Tha Plug was born.

Since its inaugural event in Silicon Valley, We Tha Plug has helped bring awareness and empowerment to Pan-African and Latinx founders in the San Diego innovation ecosystem while expanding domestically and eventually internationally. We Tha Plug’s initiative is broken down into 3 stages: 1) help 1,000 Pan African and Latinx founders start a tech and innovation company, 2) help 100 people get jobs in the tech and innovation space either through those 1,000 founders we’ve helped launch their startup or through our corporate partnerships, and 3) partner with other organizations in 10 cities to expand and build this initiative abroad. Most recently, We Tha Plug have expanded into the secondary and higher education sector by partnering with the San Diego Unified School district and Mira Mesa Community College to implement workshops focused on The Lean Canvas Business Model.

Success Stories
We Tha Plug (WTP) has dramatically expanded its outreach over the last year by partnering with key  organizations in California, specifically San Diego, Los Angeles, and Silicon Valley. However, our  reach  extends across the United States and beyond. Internationally, We Tha Plug have partners in Europe and  Africa where we hold monthly Zoom  calls to secure resources and services for WTP  members. “It is important that we reach across the aisle and champion other underrepresented groups to ensure equity is present in the startup ecosystem,” Russell said. Unfortunately, inequity is further confirmed by a report  conducted by the San Diego  Regional Economic Development Corp.

which showed Latinos were grossly underrepresented in San Diego’s innovation economy, accounting for 17% of the innovation workforce when they make up roughly 34% of the population. The numbers are even more egregious for Pan-Africans within the workforce. Russell further asserts that “changing the narrative can only happen if we take action by unifying and sharing resources and knowledge with one another.” This has been demonstrated over the last months WTP has been in operation. They have successfully mentored early-stage startups such as Lift Your Eyes, a VR/AR startup; Edifius, an AI computer software company; ands Teach the Geek, an online course for engineers to better equip them with public speaking platforms. “A lot of times, the first thing founders talk about is funding,” Martinez says. “What WTP does is help founders understand what customer discovery is, as well as customer acquisition cost, which is key to their early-stage success. We have to get down to the fundamentals and build a proper business model before even thinking about money and investors. It’s about playing the long game. This is a real pain point of founders.”

Next Steps
For 2020 and beyond, Martinez and Russell are focused on building a bridge between investors and underrepresented founders that are prepared and ready for funding. In addition, they have begun to develop a curriculum that will launch within the WTP incubator created for early-stage founders and an accelerator that specifically targets Pan-African and Latinx current and future founders. WTP will continue to host its signature events domestically and internationally. These events will be used to launch a conference in San Diego, attracting the Pan African and Latinx tech and innovation community locally and beyond. Moreover, Russell and Martinez want to build a global ecosystem where founders can support each other through the successes and challenges related to building a startup and an ecosystem in their community.

We Tha Plug

www.wethaplug.com
[email protected]
San Diego, California 92124, US

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