How One Latina Entrepreneur Is Building Up Oakland
AN ONGOING SERIES PUTTING A SPOTLIGHT ON LATINAS MAKING BOLD CAREER AND ENTREPRENEURIAL MOVES. WE LEARN WHAT MOTIVATES THEM, HOW THEY GOT WHERE THEY ARE AND WHAT’S NEXT FOR THESE BOLD LATINAS.
The entrepreneurial spirit is alive with Latinas in the United States. Latina entrepreneurs are creating an economic power shift across the nation and the future technology workforce that can’t be ignored. We had the opportunity to speak with a trailblazer, Martha Hernandez who is on both sides of the table – both a technology entrepreneur and a founder to an impact fund to build generational wealth in Oakland. More on Martha!
Martha Hernandez, SHRM-SCP is a triple threat founder bringing her HR and People domain expertise to her role as CEO of madeBOS, Inc., an HR infrastructure software with an employee development approach. Recently, she became a Co-Founder and CPO of ESO Ventures, an early-stage incubator that provides confidence, competence, and capital to Black and Brown Oakland entrepreneurs. Martha received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Spanish Literature from Occidental College. She later became a graduate of Mills College Institute for Civic Leadership Program, as well as Management Leadership for Tomorrow, and the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs. Martha has an AI Business Strategy certification from MIT and the highest Human Resources credential recognized as an expert and leader in the HR field.
And if you think that was enough on this ambitious Latina entrepreneur ‘s plate, Martha is a best-selling author! Her book I Have What it Takes now at Amazon, Target and Barnes & Noble is a combination of stories and principles aimed at igniting underrepresented and under resourced talent’s natural leadership. Martha wrote heart and soul about her entrepreneurial journey and highlights her learning while in the Camelback Fellowship in 2018. Martha is a boxing trainee and a talented singer and songwriter. Known as Martha Soledad, she released her first album “Prefiero Mandar en Falda” 🎶 featuring her own corrido to inspire political action on gender equity and inclusion. Martha is an Oakland California and Chavinda, Michoacan native.
More on Martha below!
BoldLatina: What inspired you to create MadeBOS? What can an AI driven career pathing platform do for the community, in particular Black and Brown employees?
Martha: Manual, informal development plans based on the manager’s ability to identify and develop talent are inefficient and often biased. As a leader in Talent acquisition and talent management I witness the transparency gap between internal applicants and managers driving thousands of amazing talented employees out of potential professional growth opportunities. Disproportionately impacting black and brown talent – which unfortunately, are more likely to be fired than promoted.
madeBOS’ vision is to unlock people’s potential by driving their own career path and facilitating planning and collaboration for professional development opportunities.
Our mission is to democratize career pathing and empower each user to drive their own development.
BoldLatina: What struggles and successes have you experienced as a Latina in tech? How is the tech world changing for WOC (Latinas in specific)?
Martha: At the beginning, everybody loved my tech idea. People made promises. My network wanted me to succeed, but when I followed up, nothing happened. I can’t tell you how many times I was so deeply disappointed. When it comes down to it, no one’s going to move the finger to make anything significant happen for you unless they benefit personally—that’s reality. So, the work became the focus, and eventually, we found our market fit.
I am not sure if the tech world is changing for WOC. I do think, however, that we’ve expanded the tech world with tangents that include solutions for communities that we represent. We are not mainstream yet, but we will. It’s a matter of time. The numbers will drive that shift. In the meantime, we must not give up.
BoldLatina: What tips can you provide our audience if they want to build their own tech platform or pursue a career in tech?
Martha: In the book I Have What it Takes, I literally write about this in detail because we need more of us to ideate, build and influence the way our community consumes tech. For those venturing into entrepreneurship, I think the first tip is – don’t build your own platform. Go get experience building something else then focus and build a people’s platform – who is this for, for what, for when? I say this because our ideas without user/customer validation (as expected from funders) will turn to frustration. Latinas, specifically, have such a hard time raising capital – and to build rapid growth tech, we must raise. What I’ve learned through this process is that the solution has to be aligned with a business return. I started building the tech but struggled with the business model. It was impossible to raise. Then I did a 360 and focused on the business model, acquiring customers, growing my monthly recurring revenue. Now we are adopting the tech. We’ve become experts in our field.
BoldLatina: What other interests/passions/activism have you pursued? What most recent project have you been working on?
Martha: Aside from focusing on my physical and mental health via boxing, fighter fit training, singing, writing music, dancing and most importantly spending quality time with my teenager, Joaquin, family and friends, I am constantly looking for ways to deepen my impact in the communities I care about. End of 2020 I got a call from a friend I admire. He was working on a pitch competition for East Oakland entrepreneurs, working closely with a city council member and a local community college. Together, we turned what was supposed to be an event, into a program that a few months ago we formed into an actual company, www.eso-ventures.com. My background with madeBOS, my experience as an entrepreneur, my love for my community and simply, the GANAS to make significant contributions and forming a badass team, this new venture went as bold as to writing legislation to create a fund for black and brown entrepreneurs at the ideation stage who are not able to access capital because of traditional systems that alienate them. Well, the legislation passed and this month we are celebrating that Oakland will receive $8M from the State for a two year pilot.
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BoldLatina: Can you share insight with us about your book, “I Have What It Takes?”
Martha: Writing a book was not on my list of priorities. Like most of the amazing things that happen in my life, the opportunity presented itself and I went for it. In fact, when I was raising capital via Republic.co for madeBOS, it required me to inspire my community to invest. At the time, a friend recommended I share stories about me so that people could connect and in turn invest. The crowdfunding campaign was live for about 3 months, so during that time, I began writing a mini novela for my facebook followers. Every Tuesday I would release a mini-chapter. Well, that mini-novela opened the door for what is now, “I Have What it Takes.” I got a call from an experienced author who read it and invited me to join a group of amazing Latinas collaborating to write an inspirational and practical “how to” book. When I heard the pitch, I was in. It was an opportunity to tell my story in a way that would make my strategies for goal achievement, background developing myself as a leader and entrepreneur real for others to do the same despite our fears and constant challenges.
BoldLatina: What are you personally looking forward to as a serial Latina entrepreneur with MadeBOS or any other projects in particular your building of an entrepreneurial local ecosystem in Oakland?
Martha: I look forward to waking up every day and seeing that the madeBOS model and the ESO way work. I love seeing the progress we make. I enjoy the daily learnings and even the difficult moments and conversations – these are all part of the journey that help me and my team grow into better leaders and followers. Impacting the local, Oakland, entrepreneur ecosystem is a privilege. We know the rest of the nation will be watching. I can’t wait to do more of what we do globally – that’s the big dream.
BoldLatina: Any advice for other BoldLatinas out there you would like to share as a Latina entrepreneur?
Martha: My advice is simple.
1) be creative in seeking alternatives to get a yes,
2) create a specific plan to not give up,
3) focus energies on objective factors, and finally,
4) surround yourself with people who believe in your vision and are inspired by your solution proposals.