Desafio Intel in San Francisco: Catching Up with Whelmo’s Adriana Ascencio


Adriana Ascencio is an electrical engineer, entrepreneur, and one of the founders Whelmo, the winner of the Colombian leg of Desafio Intel. Ascencio shared her experience with us while at the YouNoodle Camp in San Francisco.

Whelmo is a wireless health monitor for babies, registering vital signs and reporting them to parents’ mobile devices via an app for iOS and Android. The product is currently in the development phase, Ascencio explained, “We’ve got the first functional prototype finished, and in a month, we want to start user validations.”

Ascencio described her Desafio Intel win as a gratifying victory:

It’s exemplifies the teamwork, effort and passion needed to execute your ideas and dreams. Desafio Intel is a launch pad for entrepreneurial projects that generate innovative solutions and improve well-being. Having won in our country motivates us to continue on. This is a joint effort with my co-founders. We are engineers and entrepreneurs who want to introduce our life projects into the world of entrepreneurship and innovation.

See below Ascencio’s interview with PulsoSocial’s Camila Carreño.

Camila Carreño: How have things been going in San Francisco?

Adriana Ascencio: This has been one of the most incredible, educational experiences I’ve had in my entrepreneurial career. I’m confronting something completely new, and it’s an inspiration to keep working on Whelmo and continue as an entrepreneur. Being able to observe an entrepreneurial ecosystem like this one, which is developing every minute, is inspiring. Each and every day, you meet people who have brilliant ideas and are driven by their passion for their work.

CC: What’s impacted you most so far?

AA: Being introduced to spaces like Dropbox, IDEO and others. It’s great to see how they’ve created huge companies with unconventional concepts and structures. They run on ideas and entrepreneurial spirit. Being in this city gives us access to networking opportunities that feed into our knowledge in relation to our startup. In every café, on every corner, you meet someone who’s working on an idea or startup, and it’s really inspiring.   

CC: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received during the camp?

AA: Thanks to YouNoodle, we had the opportunity to meet Susan Hwang, our mentor in San Francisco. We met with her over coffee to talk about Whelmo. She’s a great person and gave us a lot of valuable advice. Two things really stuck out to me. First, because we’re in the early stage, our team is considering participating in an acceleration program. Susan told us about existing programs that focus on health, such as Rockhealth Healthbox, which could help us deal with specific issues we face. Second, in relation to investors, she advised us to establish relationships now and keep potential sources of funding informed as our business evolves. This will eventually facilitate the funding process.

CC: Of the startups you’ve seen and courses you’ve had, what’s been most useful for you?

AA: Every visit and class has contributed something that will be useful for the future of Whelmo. The Scribd visit was particularly interesting for us. Hearing from one of the founders about the changes they’ve made in the business prepared us for what we may have to do later with our idea. Sometimes, it’s necessary to make changes, even in the business model or technology of your business, in order to keep users happy and ensure profitability.

CC: Would you recommend others participate in Desafio Intel?

AA: Yes, because it is a space that helps you to advance in your entrepreneurial ideas and projects. It’s an opportunity to build or accelerate your company or concept and execute. For us, with Whelmo, it’s a chance to start the process and bring it to a new level to eventually start selling our product.