President Obama’s bold new course on Cuban policy is paving the way for emerging tech to blossom in the country. A new entrepreneurial competition, 10x10KCuba, hopes to uncover Cuba’s best and brightest tech minds with an offer of mentorship and potential financing.
The idea is to prevent brain drain and help boost Cuba’s economy, says 10x10KCuba’s Ricardo Herrero.
Herrero is also the executive director of #CubaNow, a political organization advocating for growth and economic expansion in Cuba and forging relationships for the country in the United States.
The new initiative teams #CubaNow with the Cuba Emprende Foundation, 500 Startups and TechStars and will provide to 10 fledgling startups web services, laptops and guaranteed internships with accelerator programs in the U.S. and Latin America.
10x10KCuba is a bridge for struggling Cuban founders, but also helps angel investors and accelerator programs scout out hidden talent in a country that has been largely isolated from modern technology and has had to take a different approach to technological problems.
The country is struggling to communicate with the rest of the world and with each other. Broadband Internet doesn’t exist there and cell phones are rare (about 11 percent of the country has a mobile phone). The competition is a chance to help develop the tech ecosystem and bring Cuba into the 21st century.
While funding isn’t guaranteed — under current Cuban and U.S. law funding in Cuba is not yet legal — it will give Cubans who may not otherwise have those opportunities the means to pitch and get needed mentorship.
In addition to the competition, AngelSummit Americas partners and additional supporters will give entrepreneurs the following:
- Experience with leading accelerators Techstars, 500 Startups and Boomtown
- Servers, cloud credits and Android devices from Rackspace
- Dell laptop computers via EMC
- Online English and/or Chinese-Mandarin lessons by iTutorGroup
- Mentoring from NXTP Labs
- Cash for travel, out-of-pocket expenses and customs duties on imported equipment
Those interested in more information on the contest can visit www.10x10KCuba.com.