Three Mexicans Take AngelHack Global by Storm

Three months ago, two coders and one designer out of Mexico quit their jobs to fundraise to compete at AngelHack Global. The risk was worth the reward.

Three months ago, a team of two coders and one designer out of Mexico quit their jobs to fundraise for a trip to San Francisco. And the risk was worth the reward, because they just won AngelHack’s global competition, going head to head with the world’s top teams.

I managed to get the three of them – Edgar Hernández, Jose Alberto García and Abraham Cornejo – on the phone to get the story behind their win and their project, HostSpot.

angelhackThe HostSpot team got to San Francisco by way of AngelHack Mexico City, which they won. AngelHack is a hackathon that happens in different parts of the world (more than 50 cities in total), the winners picked solely on the quality of the code of their products. The global competition was held in San Francisco on September 5th, where the winners of each chapter came together for the ultimate showdown.

Getting to San Francisco was a challenge for HostSpot even after winning the Mexican competition, since they had to pay for their trip on their own. They created a campaign with Karma Shop in hopes of inspiring with their story, wanting “to show that if you’re focused and driven enough, you can make it,” said García.

They received overwhelming support from the community, including radio personalities, companies like Diverza, associations and individual influencers, such as Eduardo Torreblanca (Director of Universo PYME). Torreblanca also personally introduced them to many key players.

As far as the product goes, HostSpot is a simple tool that measures consumer behavior in shops and restaurants. It gives owners and managers access to relevant information, such as time spent in the shop, return rates and most visited areas, thus evoking smarter and more accurate sales and business strategies.

García, Hernández and Cornejo built the first demo of their product in less than 24 hours. When asked about how they came up with the idea, García explained that he went into the hackathon set on building it, after discarding a few other concepts “that had less potential.”

The team had bounced around the idea of working together before. They met while riding the Mexican bus during the 2013 edition of StartupBus for SXSW. During that time, they were encouraged to participate in AngelHack by Eme Morato, a fellow buspreneur.

Dividing the work came naturally to them (they all have a few hackathons and the epic bus under their belts). Cornejo worked on the design end, including the logo and brand. García and Hernandez coded the demo and final product. They worked for three months full-time, having quit their jobs because of the confidence they had in the project. During our interview, they mentioned over and over how passionate and strongly they felt about it, while laughing and joking about the amount of weekend and late night hours they put into building an amazing product.

When I asked if they had felt nervous or intimidated when they saw the list of participating cities (places like Silicon Valley, New York, London, Paris and Seoul), they were quick to mention that this wasn’t their first rodeo. However, nerves were, of course, present. Cornejo noted:

I was intimidated then. I knew we were up against the best, but then we did really well, and we saw that we were up to their level and we could even surpass it. So we just came and did our thing.

… And blew it out of the water. They’ll return to Mexico as AngelHack’s world champions, with US$25,000 to spend and a lot of bragging rights.