OUR HISTORY

When ZFunction University was founded, there was no tech entrepreneurship program in Silicon Valley with a unique Latin American focus. In a rapidly growing market, we see an enormous opportunity in Latin America.

OUR MANIFESTO
  • Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to current resources.
  • We don’t believe in isolated and protective “incubation”.
  • We select smart teams with great ideas.
  • We invest our time, talent and resources in the startups we select.
  • Not all solutions to the world’s problems will come from Silicon Valley but there is a lot to learn from the most innovative and entrepreneurial place on Earth.
  • We work with world class startups who understand and see opportunities in Latin America.
MEET OUR TEAM

With more than 20 years of international experience starting, building, coaching, advising and investing in tech startups, we founded ZFunction University. We are happy and lucky to have some of the brightest entrepreneurial minds supporting ZFunction University’s startups to help you succeed.

Management Team
Consuelo Valverde M.Sc., M.Sc. in Entrepreneurship
Founding Partner and Chief Startup Strategist

Entrepreneur turned VC, co-founder & managing partner of SV LATAM Fund.
Consuelo is an Electrical Engineer with a Master’s Degree in Computer Science and a Master’s Degree in Science Entrepreneurship. She was granted an O-1 Visa – for “Aliens with Exceptional Abilities” by the US government.

Consuelo has been founding tech companies since she was 20 years old. She founded and sold a PC manufacturing company in Mexico and later on an IT training institute prepararing programmers and software developers. In the 90’s she was the youngest professor at the Tech Institute of Monterrey’s School of Engineering, Morelos Campus.

Before co-founding ZFunction University – Latin America’s tech entrepreneurship program in the heart of Silicon Valley, and SV LATAM Fund, Consuelo founded Expansion Bridge, providing software development teams to startups seeking to accelerate time to market, and to fast growing enterprise and mobile companies. Expansion Bridge partnered with GradGears, a startup in the education sector in California, to participate in Melinda & Bill Gates Foundation “College Knowledge Challenge Award”, winning a grant to build GradBadges.
Among other companies Consuelo has founded are:

  • FOMIX Morelos – Built and raised funding for this S&T Investment Fund in Mexico;
  • CEMITT – the first public Innovation Center in Mexico;
  • STiEX (Science Technology and Innovation Exchange) – UK – Mexico innovation program;
  • STiEX Ltd, – a tech transfer consulting company in London, UK;
  • PROSOFT – Papel de liderazgo en la participación del estado de Morelos en el programa nacional de PROSOFT, siendo Morelos el primer estado en ser parte de dicha iniciativa;
  • Morelos Museum of Science – Cofounded this science museum. Fundraising, concept, strategy, and location;
  • Hypatia – Founder of this science awareness magazine that has celebrated its 12th year anniversary;

Consuelo played a leadership role in the Mexican National Initiative PROSOFT,
promoting the development of the software industry. She launched AISAC – the Association of the Software Industry in Mexico

Angelika Blendstrup, Ph.D.
Founding Partner and Chief Entrepreneur Evangelist

Co-founder of SV LATAM Fund, the first VC fund born in Silicon Valley with a unique focus on Latin America, and ZFunction University, Latin America’s tech entrepreneurship program in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Having moved 34 times across 3 different continents, and speaking 5 languages (German, French, Spanish, Portuguese and English), Angelika leverages her background to help international executives and start-up entrepreneurs find their voice in Silicon Valley via US business communications and pitch training.

Over the years, she has worked with international executives and entrepreneurs from Cisco to Facebook, coming from Russia, Brazil, Spain, China, India and Chile, to name a couple, to help translate these executives’ business stories and start up pitches into structured, understandable messages for the US business audience. In addition, she gives seminars to international MBA students at UCLA’s Anderson School of Business and UC Berkeley’s HAAS School of Business and teaches classes at Stanford University’s Continuing Studies.

Angelika is a regular mentor at 500 Startups, Endeavor (Global), UpWest Labs (Israel), Imagine (Spain), Deep Dive (Russia) and mentor and advisor at Brazil Innovators, Silicon House (Brazil) and Startup Embassy. She has also been a judge at Startup Chile.

She has received a Master’s from UC Berkeley and a PhD from Stanford University. Angelika also holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Tübingen, Germany.

Author of “They Made It!: How Chinese, French, German, Indian, Iranian, Israeli and other foreign born entrepreneurs contributed to high tech innovation in the Silicon Valley, the US and Overseas”, and co-author of “Communicating the American Way.”


Mentors
Wedge Martin
Former CTO & Co-Founder of Badgeville and Arqetype
Gamification & Platform Development

Former CTO and Co-Founder of Badgeville, currently Co-Founder of Arqetype, an augmented reality platform which aims to bring social networking back into the real world by fusing social media with physical surfaces viewable by mobile devices.

In previous lives, developed web applications and constructed high availability platforms for Shopping.com ( now Ebay ), Reuters NASDAQ, the DoE, IBM, and Cisco. Designed the energy communications network for the power deregulation effort in California, and extended the network to cover the western half of the US.

Loves working with web app platforms, databases, and wide area networking.

Was a pioneer in the VoIP industry helping to build the first SaaS based iPBX system, now sold as 8×8.

Shari Foldes
Head of Marketing for Draper Fisher Jurvetson, ex Ustream, Popchips
Communications

Shari Foldes is head of marketing for DFJ. She provides strategic marketing and communications counsel and support for DFJ’s portfolio companies.

Before joining DFJ, Shari led marketing and communications for several startups including Ustream and Popchips. At Ustream, she was responsible for the company’s external marketing and communications efforts including partnership and event announcements, social media, and outbound demand generation campaigns. She oversaw Ustream’s marketing efforts behind the Shiba Inu Puppy Cam, the most viral video of 2008. Shari began her career in brand marketing and communications at Ketchum in San Francisco.

Shari graduated with a B.A. dual degree in journalism and political science from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications and has lived in the Bay Area since 2003

Frederik Hermann
Director of Digital Growth at Jawbone
Marketing Strategy

He is currently Vice President of Global Marketing at Swipp and mentor at UpWest Labs.

Marketing executive with expertise in corporate communications, public relations, social media, word of mouth, brand development and product management in technology startups.

Frederik had immersed himself in computer science and business at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), then relocated to Berlin, where he gained experience creating viral marketing campaigns with vm-people.

Before joining startup Swipp, Frederik was part of the initial team launching Austrian telecommunications company JAJAH spearheading its marketing and public relations efforts from launch in 2005 to acquisition by Telefónica/O2 in 2009. Subsequently he also worked with JAJAH co-founder Roman Scharf on launching and growing social media engagement entity Talenthouse. He has found his new home and family in Silicon Valley and enjoys being part of its vibrant startup culture.

Catalina Girald
Founder of Naja and Moxsie (now owned by Fab.com)
E-commerce

Entrepreneur with experience building and growing consumer Internet companies with a concentration on retail/ fashion e-commerce. Strategic thinker with leadership expertise in business development, marketing, social media, product development, Internet strategy, operational execution capital raising, cross-border transactions with a specialty in Latin America. Skilled at motivating and leading cross-functional teams to deliver results in a timely manner. Extensive contacts in Silicon Valley and New York.

Recently founded Naja. Naja is reinventing lingerie by creating premium lingerie, with unique designs at fair prices and employing single mothers.

She previously founded one of the first online fashion companies focused on independent fashion–it is now owned by Fab.com. Passionate for the Internet and new ideas that change the world. Loves creating companies and helping others create and finance their own companies. Obsessed with product design and beautifully designed things that are ingeniously functional.

Catalina Ruiz-Healy
Founder of Gradgears
Education

Catalina is Founder + CEO of Gradguru.org and Gradgears. Social entrepreneur, philanthropy executive and civic leader. Vice President of the Rappaport Family Foundation.

Catalina was also founder and CEO of Catalista LLC. Catalista –launched and featured at Google’s 2009‘s I/O Developer Conference– is a mobile platform that allows users to find local volunteer opportunities in their neighborhood in real-time, rate them, and track and share their good deeds with their social networks. Since 2009, Catalista has been downloaded over 40,000 times, named one of Forbes Magazine’s “ Top 10 Apps to Change the World”, and listed as USA Today’s “Best Apps of 2009.”

Catalina earned a Masters in International Affairs at Columbia University, and a B.A. from Pomona College.

Sonia Oster
CEO and Founder, Aprentica
Visual Communication Design & Education

With a vast international background (living in Argentina, Spain, Austria, Mexico and USA; and working in over ten countries), Sonia embraces this cultural diversity and translates it into her vision towards universalization of education.

Sonia received her MFA at The Ohio State University as a Fulbright scholar, studied in Spain with a scholarship from the Spanish Government and graduated with honors in Argentina during her undergraduate studies.

Sonia worked extensively in the field of technology for companies as Sony, CompuServe and IBM and her passion towards design, technology and education led her to become the founder of Aprentica, an Open Social Learning platform which helps democratize higher-education and an EdTech innovator leading new web and mobile trends and transforming education of the future. Sonia has also been a professor in Mexico, Argentina, Austria and USA, collaborated with organizations such as the European Commission and United Nations, and is currently the President of the Argentine Fulbright AlumniAssociation.

Oliver Hanisch
COO at German Silicon Valley Accelerator
Entrepreneurship & Market Entry

Oliver is an entrepreneur, business developer, and consultant based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He builds trans-Atlantic bridges and supports international startups in tapping into the US market opportunity. Further, he advices organizations and governments on entrepreneurial programs and incubation models and scouts for the latest innovations and emerging trends in the ICT arena.

In the course of his career, Oliver launched countless initiatives and projects and founded several companies. He is Co-Chair for Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital at the German-American Business Association. Further, Oliver mentors startups and spearheads business development and partnership programs at the German Silicon Valley Accelerator, a startup program funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology in Germany.

In 2010, Oliver launched the Founder Institute Berlin, a training and mentorship program for entrepreneurs. Prior, he was co-founder and CMO at SnipClip, a social applications and games company and Director of Business Development at Red Herring, a Silicon Valley based publisher providing products and services for the startup and venture capital community.

Besides understanding the challenges that startups face on both sides of the Atlantic, Oliver’s experience in working for corporations such as HP, Siemens and Merck also lets him relate to large multinationals.

Throughout the years, Oliver has produced countless events, bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, corporate and government representatives. Conferences include Red Herring East, The European Technology Roundtable Exhibition (ETRE), the Global Investment Symposium (GIS) at the Harvard Club in New York City, The World Investment Conference (WIC) in La Baule, France, and many more.

He is a graduate of Business Administration and Economics with a major Marketing from Pforzheim University of Applied Sciences in Germany and received his Master’s Degree with Distinction in Service Management from CTF Research Center at Karlstad University in Sweden.

Andreas Ramos
Manager of Global SEO at Cisco, Professor of Marketing at the Silicon Valley Business School (SVBS)
SEO, Startups, Entrepreneurship

Author of nine books on SEO and digital marketing. Manager of Global SEO at Cisco. Professor of Marketing at the Silicon Valley Business School (SVBS).

Andreas has worked at SGI, SUN, Brio, and Acxiom in Silicon Valley.

He co-founded two digital marketing agencies. The second agency got investor funding, grew to 175 employees, and was sold in 2012.

Andreas is on the advisory board of six Silicon Valley startups.

Andreas has been an SEO consultant for Stanford and manages PPC for MIT.

He earned his post-graduate degree at the Universität Heidelberg and speaks four languages fluently. His books have been published by McGraw-Hill in the USA and Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Francine Gordon Ph.D.
PChair of SVForum Tech Women & co-Organizer of the TEDxBayArea Women
Women Founders and Communication, Organizational development

Francine is Chair of SVForum Tech Women and co-Organizer of the TEDxBayArea Women program. A pioneer in the modern women’s movement, upon completion of her PhD from Yale she began her professional life as one of the first two women on the faculty at Stanford Graduate School of Business. She’s held senior management roles at several high tech firms, spent 5+ years with Boston Consulting Group as a Global Organization Manager, and co-founded a professional repertory theatre.

Francine works with global companies addressing innovation, teamwork, leadership, and the advancement of women. She’s also organized several conferences for Fulbright scholars and teaches at Stanford Continuing Studies, Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business, and at Infotec in Mexico.

Diego Favarolo
Founder of Bumeran.com and Nautor Pharma, Co- Founder, DIYRockets, SIngularity, GSP, 2011
Entrepreneurship

Diego is based in Silicon Valley and has over ten years of experience in entrepreneurship, building online industries and applying technology to benefit humanity.

He founded Bumeran.com the largest job search engine in Latin America when he was 18 years old helping millions of people to find jobs in Latin America.

At the age of 24 he founded Nautor Pharma, a technology company that develops new solutions for disinfection and water purification with presence in seven countries in Latin America and Europe.

In 2012 co-founded DIYROCKETS, a space company that is revolutionizing the space industry.

He is Director and Advisor of several companies around the world.

Diego studied Economics at the Catholic University of Buenos Aires, and GSP at Singularity University in the Silicon Valley in 2011.

The IPADE (Mexico) published a case study about Diego in the field of innovation.

In 2013, he was selected by the World Technology Network as one of those creating the 21st century in the space category, together with Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Tamara Solórzano
Startup Embassy
UX Design

Tamara holds a BS in Marketing from Tec de Monterrey (Guadalajara, Mexico) and a Web Design and Internet ProgrammingCertificate from UCSC – Extension Silicon Valley. She was part of Coding Dojo’s first boot camp, where she learned Web Development fundamentals.

For the past 10 years she has been working in the Tech Industry with companies from Mexico, China, India and US., assuming different positions in marketing, sales, management and product design.

In 2008 she participated in the creation of the consumer electronics brand Space, one of the few Mexican brands in this industry. In 2010, she led product development and branding of its main product line, Space LivePad.

In 2011 she joined an Indian tech startup in Chandigarh to create and manage the Social Media Marketing department. After 6 months in India, she moved to Silicon Valley, and joined Yogome Inc., an educational mobile games company, and participated with them in 500 Startups’ accelerator program in Mountain View.

She is Community Manager at Yogome Inc, (a 500 Startups company) and an independent UX/UI design consultant. Tamara’s specialties include UX, web and mobile design, product development and branding. Continuously looking to grow her skills and experience base, she is currently studying UX Design at General Assembly in San Francisco.

Ignacio Rovirosa
@500 Startups Alumnus
Tech Entrepreneurship & Software Development

Ignacio holds an Electronic Engineering degree with a specialty in Mechatronics from Buenos Aires Institute of Technology (ITBA in Argentina). For the past 10 years Ignacio has been working in the Tech Industry with companies from Argentina, Mexico, India, Spain and the US. Assuming different positions in technology, sales, business development, operations and finance.

Ignacio started his career in 2004 as a software engineer developing distributed control systems for TGN, a gas transportation company, later moved to India for a year to work as an analyst in the Corporate Strategy Group at Satyam Computers (now Tech Mahindra) where he developed analytical models to determine the outsourcing potential of Eastern European countries.

In 2006 he became Project Leader at Invensys Systems Argentina where he coordinated and implemented distributed control systems (DCS) and emergency shutdown systems (ESD) projects for industrial processes.

In 2008 he co-founded WePow (formerly Wowzer and Ovia), a leader in the recruitment communication space. As a true entrepreneur, following the startups growth he managed operations, finance, sales, business development and customers.

In 2011 went through the 500 Startups Accelerator program in Mountain View and later raised a $3M series A from DCM and Kapor Capital among others. During this time, he also invested in 500 Startups funds.

In 2012 he was part of Coding Dojo’s first boot camp, where he perfected his Web Development skills. At the same time he joined Perzo Inc., a highly secure personal communications platform for professionals, as Head Engineer. He is responsible for managing the development team, testing and release management.

Ignacio’s specialties include Entrepreneurship, Lean Startup, Agile Methodologies, Backend Development, Google App Engine and Data Encryption.

Carlos Gomez
Google
Go-To-Market Strategy

Carlos is a Googler, with 7 years of experience at Google, working in Europe, Latin America and USA. He has solid experience in Cloud Computing, Enterprise, Mobile and Hardware. His working experience ranges from Sales Management (he managed 15 sales people at Google), Business Development and Go-To-Market Operations & Strategy.

Given Carlos’ experience, he helps startups develop and optimize their overall Go-To-Market strategy, focusing on specific areas such as Sales, Business development, Partnerships, Monetization model, Customer Value proposition and Internationalization.

Originally from Spain, Carlos has lived in 5 different countries, and has travelled to almost every country in Latin America. He has a double degree in Business Administration and Law from ICADE (Spain) and Gothenburg School of Economics (Sweden), complemented by a Executive Master in Design Thinking at California College of Arts.

Finally, Carlos is a startup enthusiast, and has years of experience working as a mentor, advisor and investor to several startups.

Elodie de Marchi
Silicon Valley Bank
Business Development

Elodie de Marchi works with Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) within the Private Bank division. SVB works with key influencers of the innovation ecosystem in Silicon Valley and worldwide. Prior to joining SVB, Elodie worked with Marketing Méditerranée (Junior Consulting Firm) as a Business Development Manager where she also worked with startups.

Elodie earned a BS in Business & Management as well as Financial Market Authority certification from the CFPB (investment advisor certification). She is also a candidate for a Master’s Degree in Science of Management – Finance major at Kedge Business School. Elodie speaks fluent French, English and Spanish.

MANAGEMENT TEAM


Consuelo is an Electrical Engineer with a Master’s Degree in Computer Science and a Master’s Degree in Science Entrepreneurship. She was granted an O-1 Visa – for “Aliens with Exceptional Abilities” by the US government… MORE

Co-founder of SV LATAM Fund, the first VC fund born in Silicon Valley with a unique focus on Latin America, and ZFunction University, Latin America’s tech entrepreneurship program in the heart of Silicon Valley… MORE


MENTORS