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Internet is tricky in Cuba. This is pretty much an understatement, but the “why’s” require a much more expansive conversation to wrap our heads around the stakes.

(Photo credit: Juan Cruz Rodriguez for Resolviendo Exhibit, Annenberg)

I will be visiting LA & San Francisco this month to discuss one of the most fascinating subcultures on the island today – the Tech sector. It’s been a long road for all things New Cuba regarding our gatherings to contemplate contemporary Cuban culture. Three years back, we gathered in the ballroom of The Standard Hotel in 2015 to talk about various creative industries — including music, art, and architecture. This year, it’s all about the Web, which of course affects the fate of all these creative and business endeavors.

(Photo credit: Juan Cruz Rodriguez for Resolviendo Exhibit, Annenberg)

What appears as a fully disconnected country is truly the opposite. Like most things in Cuba, the people have found a way to “inventar”, creating digital solutions, thus turning your average grandma into a hacker, learning to circumnavigate Wifi hotspots in the most unusual ways.

This Feb, two conversations will take place on the US West Coast, focusing on Cuba’s internet and its state of connectivity. RSVP confirmations are required for both.

(1) Annenberg, Feb 10th, Los Angeles

(Jauretsi, Curator/ Digital Strategist. Photo credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images N. America)

An extension of the Resolviendo Exhibit (which launched in Sept 2017), the Annenberg invited The New Cuba to co-host a special panel in Los Angeles on February 10, 2018 entitled Cuba: Sin Limites that gathers experts on the state of Internet in Cuba.

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(Photo credit: Juan Cruz Rodriguez for Resolviendo Exhibit, Annenberg)

The listing reads:

Moderated by Cuban-American curator and digital strategist Jauretsi, speakers will include Dadne Carbonell (Cuban computer systems analyst), “Dany Paquete” (a kingpin of El Paquete Semenal, an underground weekly distribution of pirated international content via hard drives), and Susanna Kohly (Marketing Lead, Google Cuba).

(Dany of El Paqeute in his home in Havana. Photo credit: Jauretsi)

Please visit the Annenberg Wifi Cuba Panel page to confirm your attendance or read more on the event. You can learn more about Dany by viewing the documentary Give Me Future, currently downloadable on iTunes (trailer here).

For a proper headstart, you can also now visit the art exhibit at the Annenberg gallery entitled Cuba Is, which contains a section called Resolviendo, an exhibit that The New Cuba helped curate with Commonwealth Projects. You’ll see photographs of Wifi Parks, a spectrum of videos from Cuba’s famous El Paqeute, and some DIY magazine culture Imagine the streets of Cuba’s content networks transported into an exhibit hall in Los Angeles.

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(Jauretsi at “Cuba Is” Launch. Photo Credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images N.America)

The original launch event took place early September 2017, with a big bash where I was lucky enough to helm the DJ booth with Matthieu Schreyer, host of the excellent KCRW show on Global beats. It was a bonafide Cuba love-fest in the heart of Los Angeles, complete with a “who’s who” of Cuban arts, film, photographers, curators, gallerists, and fans alike. The full exhibit will be up til March 4, 2018, so don’t forget to book out an afternoon to soak in all the beautiful photography before the panel.

(“Cuba Is” Exhibit. Photo Credit: Leysis Quesada Vera)

“Cuba Is” Exhibit
Currently on Display through March 4, 2018
The Annenberg, 2000 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles CA 90067
General Gallery Hours: Wed-Sun 11am to 6pm. Mon-Tues is closed

“Cuba Sin Limites” Panel
Annenberg Space for Photography’s Skylight Studios
Feb 10, 2018
10050 Constellation Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90067

(2) Media Noche, Feb 11th, San Francisco

(Media Noche Cafe, San Francisco)

The next evening, Feb 11th, the topic continues nearby in San Francisco at the charming restaurant named Media Noche. This is a more casual gathering in a cafe setting hosted by a a group called Bay Area Cubans, lead by Project Binario’s Eddy Perez who we recently covered in our visit to Techcrunch.

(Photo credit: Juan Cruz Rodriguez for Resolviendo Exhibit, Annenberg)

We expect our Cuban-American community to come out and celebrate our culture, gather for constructive conversation, and build awareness of future generations. Hermanos unidos. Like most Cuban-Americans, the topic of Cuba is passionate and immersive. Our belief is that it’s imperative for both our cultures, on and off the island, to grow a better understanding of each other for a brighter future. Building bridges, not walls. We invite any curious non-Cubans who would love to be part of the conversation.

Feb 11, 2018
Media Noche
3465 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
To confirm your attendance, please click on the EventBrite page listing. Enter code “givemefuture” for 30% discount


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I’m thrilled to announce a cool music festival happening in Cuba this March called Havana World Music. What’s more exciting is that The New Cuba will be hosting guests from abroad to come attend the festival with VIP access. There will also be a few days of fun to explore Havana’s best and brightest spots.

But first… what is Havana World Music?

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(Eme Alfonso. Photo: May Reguera for Garbos Magazine)

“We were a group of friends, talking one day” said HWM Founder, Eme Alfonso (pictured above). “We thought, in Havana, there is nothing like an event for young people where we can enjoy ourselves and say this is the music that I listen to, this is the music that I want my friends to listen to. Then we said to ourselves, we have to do something. Let’s do something.”

Enter Havana World Music. Three days of unfettered music, art, culture, diversity, people, emotions, and energy. It’s a mix of artists both inside and outside the island, bringing fresh sounds to the forefront while honoring ancestral roots. This March 22,23,24 marks the 5th year of this gathering of international music buddies throwing it all down hard in Havana.

This years lineup includes:

The Orishas

The Orishas are Cuba’s most globally known Cuban Hip Hop band, having exploded onto the scene in 2000 with their premiere album, A Lo Cubano. The record defined the sound of what Cuban rap would be — a mix of local flavor, traditional Afro-Cuban nodding & rhymes on the motherland. For those that haven’t heard the album yet, give it a listen here.

Gato Preto

Gato Preto is a tropical bass thunderstorm. The booty shakin’ beats are produced by Lee Bass, who rolled out the perfect sound carpet for the Emcee Gata Misteriosa and her Portuguese power punchlines. The collective members members unveil African sounds reflecting their roots in the polyrhythm of Bass from Ghana, the Portuguese slang of Gata’s Mozambique and the incredible Djembe Power of Moussa Diallo from Senegal. Dive into their sound here.


If you’ve been hanging out in the Havana music scene the last few years, it’s impossible to have missed Interactivo, who hosts one of the most well attended weekly parties, a live jam featuring a rotation of band members.

Interactivo is a music collective begun by Roberto Carcasses, Yusa, Francis de Rio, William Vicanco and Telmary Diaz. The bands Director, Roberto, prides himself on Interactivo’s free-form, experimental, and collaborative nature. The mix of Jazz, Funk, Salsa, Hip-Hop and general Cubaneo is swirled up into an audio feast.

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Hailing from Spain, Marinah dons a flamenco skirt and head wrap representing Afro-Cuban spirit — think Flamenco Latin Jazz. She is the ex-singer of the Catalan band Ojos de Brujo for over a decade. In 2016, Marinah & Chicuelo launched the album “Sintonias” where, with his flamenco guitar, they infused sounds of rumba, flamenco, Afro-Cuban and Caribbean music. More here.

…And now for The New Cuba Travel package to attend festivities.

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Our weeks program will be held from March 21-26, with 3 of those days attending the Festival (22,23,24). The trip includes 5 nights & 6 days of sight-seeing, music, art, culture, and the best food spots in town. The advantage of our package is that we will schedule you to be at the right place at the right time every day this week.

Price: $2,200 per person. Payment must be complete 3 weeks prior to trip.

Price Includes:
_5 Nights stay in a Casa Particular
_VIP Access to Music Festival & After parties
_Full Time Guide/Concierge, English Speaking
_Curated activities for the week (please reach me for specific itinerary)
_Welcome Package
_Private Transfer to and from Havana International Airport with Guide
_Private Transportation for all activities of the week
_Pre-Trip Concierge (Additional pre-trip planning such as flight purchase assistance and pre-departure information)

Price does not include:
_Airfare & Visa  (we can assist/advise this process)
_Tips for Vendors – Driver, Waiters, Housekeeping, Guides, etc
_Rooming Incidentals – Minibar, etc.
_Meals/Drinks – Note: From past experience with seasoned travelers, I’ve noticed that NOT including dinner fees is a better offering for the traveler. It means the guests can avoid “cookie-cutter” price fixes, and order more luxuriously to their liking. We reserve you at the best restaurants, and you order as much or as little as you’d like.


Special Deal:
For the first 8 people to confirm, I will offer a 15% discount, and personally guide the crew myself all week.

To assure proper attention for all visitors, anyone beyond the first 8 reservations will still be guided by an expert and cool local from our crew of “new Cuba” tour leaders. Groups are capped at 10 people to insure best attention. Keep in mind, all groups will be celebrating together anyways for opening cocktail event, as well as all Festival events & after parties.

Our itinerary and program is compliant with US Treasury Department regulations. This trip is permitted through the “people-to-people” general license category authorized by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. Our program of activities offers meaningful interactions with the Cuban people under an authorized tour leader according to US regulations. For more details, visit US Treasury Gov.

For any further questions, I’d be happy to get on the phone and discuss deeper. Please email to open dialogue.

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(Eme Alfonso. Photo: May Reguera for Garbos Magazine)

“That’s it” in the words of Eme, “Music is the excuse. We are going to meet and we will have a great time.” About the musician herself, having been raised in a legendary family of recording artists, and part of the successful band Sintesis for two decades, Eme is formally breaking out on her own this month with a fresh solo album. To read about Eme’s vision and voice for music, download the latest issue of Garbos Magazine.

We look forward to celebrating the best of this new Cuba together.

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(Un Traductor. Foto: Gabriel Guerra Bianchini)

It’s that time of the year again, where we shout out Cuban filmmakers being featured at the Sundance Film Festival. Given the fact that there is really not much of an independent film scene in Cuba (more on that later), I find it miraculous when I discover a new name risen from obscurity, defeating all odds, slaying dragons, and making it to the top of that film mountain…. Park City, that is. Bravo to these mavericks.

In 2018, the Cuban stories screening seem less about the changing country today, and more about backstories drawn from their childhood. Specifically, both these tales were inspired by their father (this is an unrelated coincidence, and just an observation).

Last year, 2017 Sundance saw many more stories about Cuba TODAY, from short docs at the Wifi Park, to the new home-buyers market, to a well-attended English language school awaiting “la Yuma”. Let’s not forget Give Me Future, about the Havana concert performance by Major Lazer. The 2017 Cuban slate were all about the future.

This year, however, Sundance selections force us to view Cuban narratives from the inside, that is, personal stories. Here’s two to keep an eye on.

Un Traductor (A Translator)

(Un Traductor)

In Competition for International Features is Un Traductor. Director Sebastian Barriuso tells the brave (and soul-crushing) tale of his father in Cuba during 1989, “a professor of Russian literature who was ordered out of the classroom and into the hospital”, to serve as a translator between dying children, their parents, & medical staff after the Chernobyl explosion. Rodrigo Santoro (of Westworld) plays the lead. In those years, Cuba developed a program for hospitalizing and treating the children from this international tragedy. If you don’t know about the real life incident, read about the Chernobyl Disaster, which is a cautionary tale on Nuclear accidents. Un Traductor is the story of a family man pulled into the center of this trauma. “Whether Malin’s life was enriched or destroyed by his assignment was never part of the greater equation” reads The Hollywood Reporter (read the full review here). The film was a Canadian-Cuban production, produced by Creative Artisans Media.

Screening Times at Sundance:
Fri. 1/19, 2:30 p.m., Prospector, PC
Sat. 1/20, 1:00 p.m., Redstone 2, PC
Sat. 1/20, 11:59 p.m., Tower, SLC
Mon. 1/22, 6:00 p.m., Sundance Resort, Provo
Thu. 1/25, 6:00 p.m., PC Library, PC
Fri. 1/26, 10:00 a.m., Holiday 4, PC
For more info on cast & crew, visit Sundance listing.

El Pescador (The Fisherman)

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(El Pescador)

El Pescador is a short film about a fathers love and sacrifice to put his daughter before himself. Of all the information I’ve sought on this film, the most striking overview was an article and Q&A by Remezcla. “Well, my dad is a fisherman. This is a story that’s very much about us.” says the Director. “So this was a way to give my father a kind of gift because he sacrificed so much for us. In fact, he’s an economist but in the 90’s things were so difficult here in Cuba that professionals everywhere had to find other sources of income.” And so this short story begins…

Fri. 1/19, 9:00 p.m., Temple, PC
Sat. 1/20, noon, Broadway 6, SLC
Sat. 1/20, 9:30 p.m., Redstone 1, PC
Fri. 1/26, 1:00 p.m., Holiday 4, PC
Will play with a few other shorts, details here.

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(El Pescador)

Manuel Betancout interviews director Ana A. Alpizar about the deeper context of indie filmmaking in Cuba. “Well, the short was financed by money coming from foreign — actually European — embassies. That’s what is mostly financing independent cinema in Cuba right now.” says the aspiring female Cuban director. “The Netherlands embassy gave us some money. A contest called GO CUBA!, it’s a very famous contest. Then, there’s a fund set up at the Norway embassy which also gave us some financing. And there was also some money from a fund for young Cuban filmmakers. The thing is, as an independent producer, you don’t really exist at the legal level. You’re not accredited that way.”. To read more details on this conversation, visit Remezcla’s Q&A.

So just like that, in an effort to dive inward into people’s backstories, we find ourselves once again faced with Cuba TODAY. In order to understand how each filmmaker actually made their film, you have to understand the legal barriers they face today.

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(El Pescador)

For example, by todays law, a non-Cuban and a Cuban are not allowed on a boat vessel together in Cuba (this obviously posed a conundrum for Ana’s shoot schedule, thereby disallowing her sound guy to jump on board). Also, in order for both these films to have been made, Cuban filmmakers had to seek financial support from outside. Independent Cinema is not quite recognized according to Cuban Institutions, yet it is this exact indie scene on the island that is bubbling with creativity. “But what is happening still is that the Cuban government still won’t recognize them; they won’t play their movies. They have no legal standing. You, as an independent producer, don’t exist. You can’t apply to any kind of grants or funds [in Cuba]”, she tells the writer.

So how easy is it to just apply for outside grants? “These Dutch funds — you actually have to apply to them as an individual, not as a film producer. You can’t apply to these bigger funds unless you partner up with a foreign producer or set up a production company outside of Cuba” says the diligent filmmaker who finally formed a film collective outside of Cuba called Fila20. She loves her homeland and stresses that she’d like to tell more stories from inside the island. There is supposed to be an official body called “Ley de Cine” (Law of Cinema) to oversee all filmmakers but she mentioned that the government doesn’t really adhere to those standards. “And in that sense, Cuban independent cinema is wholly excluded, which is very sad. Because what happens is that a lot of talented people just end up leaving”.

The other director Barriuso moved to Toronto Ontario while his brother Rodrigo still spends lots of time in Cuba. So after wrapping my head around both these films, I actually walked away with a deeper understanding of their struggles. Not only the yesteryear struggles, but todays struggles.

Welcome to Sundance, aseres. To infinity and beyond.


If you’re a fan of Major Lazer, here’s a doc you’ll appreciate. If you have no idea who Major Lazer is, yet have a deep curiosity for Cuban youth culture, then this doc will equally intrigue you. In full disclosure, I worked on this film as one of the Producers, with the excellent team of Matador films (shout-out to Director Austin Peters), who visited Cuba to document this band on their most epic journey.


Let me say that working on this project, as a Cuban-American, has been the most therapeutic process in facing my proverbial brothers (and sisters) on the other side of the pond. For me, it has been a long soul journey returning to the motherland, with an insatiable appetite to better understand the future of this country through the eyes of its youth. What we discovered was an island nation in transformation, full of curiosity and creativity, with an equal appetite to absorb American culture as well. For one shining day, ideologies didn’t matter, and instead, music was the glue.

As Major Lazer entered Cuba, our whole team expected maybe 20,000 to 50,000 fans to attend. As you will discover from watching the film, approximately half a million cool young folks showed up on on the streets that day, eager and excited to enjoy the show.

Here’s 3 reasons you should watch the doc:

(1) Meet Young Cubans

Artists like Iliam Suarez are bold, eloquent, and have something to say. Give Me Future enters their home and minds… a portal into youth culture that is generally overlooked.

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(2) People Power in Action

The big question we always get is, “How did Cubans know about Major Lazer?” and “How did you promote the show?”. Enter the Paquete. If you understand the birth of Paquete, you can better understand the ingenuity, resilience, and innovation created by the younger generation. By the middle of the documentary, we arrive to the actual day of the show. We see the crowds beginning to collect on the streets in droves. Slowly but surely, it was evident this was going to a BIG show. Finally, while gazing at the crowd of 450,000 fans, the bands manager, Andrew McInnes, says, “Well, the Paquete worked!”.

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(3) Real US/CUBA Cultural Exchanges

During Major Lazer’s quick sojourn into the country, the director of Musicabana, Fabien Pisani, brought the band to the Ludwig Foundation to introduce Cuban DJ’s and Producers to the trio of DJ’s for a discussion on software, production resources, and give an overall general pep talk. It was a lovefest exchange between Cuban and US artists. The wholesome interaction acted as a bit of healing balm between two nations previously estranged for half a century. The concert and DJ panel occurred during Obama’s reconciliation days (March 2016), however now that Mr. Trump has iced our relations yet again, it is important to continue these healthy artistic exchanges more than ever.

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The Synopsis of the film is as follows:

In March 2016, following the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, electronic dance music trio Major Lazer made history, becoming one of the first major American acts to play in the communist state. Unsure how their descent on Havana would be received and hoping to reach a few tens of thousands, the epic concert unexpectedly drew in close to half a million fans. Much more than a garden variety music film, “Give Me Future” begins as a behind-the-scenes look at the historic concert and evolves into a masterful exploration of Cuba’s inspirational youth movement and its ingenious DIY information culture. Capturing exhilarating performance footage and authentic stories highlighting the country’s cultural growth and desire for inclusion in the global community, director Austin Peters conjures a transcendent, rhythm-laced depiction of the powerful catalysts driving a country on the brink of change.

To watch the whole film, download here: APPLE MUSIC.

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As a foreigner in Cuba, I’m always fascinated with the trends taking hold of the once isolated island. Halloween, for example, is only recently catching on the last few years. If you google Halloween in Cuba, you’ll see zilch, maybe a few scattered pieces, but really, it’s not a big thing.

(Trump finally makes a “better deal” with El Comandante)

In Havana, children certainly don’t wander the streets dolled up in outfits, ringing doorbells, amassing buckets of candy. In Miami, however, Cuban-American culture strongly embraces “Hah-Low-Weeen” with a latinized “Tric o Tri!”.

Just a mere 90 miles away from the States, but feeling like on another planet, I found myself crippled with ideas after being invited to a local bash. “Getting a costume can be a problem because there are no specialty stores and such parties are not a habit in Cuba”, resident Yunior explains to OnCuba Magazine about the usual limitations. “In the end you always manage to invent and some put on makeup that mimics a film character, others create a mummy with toilet paper or a ghost with sheets”.

This particular year exhibited laugh-out-loud archetypes clinking rum glasses in Roma, a breezy rooftop bar in Havana Vieja, with a party-train that followed to Bar EFE afterwards. The outfits were in full force. Here’s just a tiny taste of the faces out that evening.

(Bank robber Robin Pedraja of Vistar Mag with Celia Mendoza as Blink 182’s naughty nurse)

(Anonymous representing the Hackers)

(Marla Recio Carbajal of Havana Reverie w/CET’s Collin Laverty)

(Unidentified Ogre)

(Plot Thickens. Russians in the house)

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(Cuba Educational Travel’s Isabel Albee doing her Amy Winehouse)

(Religion is Back. And it’s pissed)

(Airbnb provider Yasser, who offers Bike Tour experiences, and his wound to the chest)

(The Bartending Squad)

(Filmmaker Joey Carey & soon-to-be “cuentapropista” in Havana Vieja, Lauren Fajardo)

(Luisa Ausenda of Arte Continua as Helen of Troy)

(Twin Fridas. P.S. That’s me on the right. )

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(Marta Deus & Jauretsi of The New Cuba at Media Noche, San Francisco)

“This past week was truly phenomenal” gushed Kyle Maloney, founder of ChefMade, a startup that is trying to bring healthy economical meals delivered into homes of his island, Trinidad. Kyle was invited to Techcrunch DisruptSF by Project Binario, a San Francisco based company whose mission is to provide opportunities for thought leaders. “Being in San Francisco is very inspiring” explains Kyle. “Around every corner you get the opportunity to meet some very interesting people that are very passionate about their view of the world and the opportunity to do something that will be globally impactful”. He grins with the knowledge he can be the next Blue Apron of the Caribbean, “I dont think you get that feeling in high concentration anywhere else in the world”.

(Invitees: Veronica from Barbados, and Marta Deus from Cuba at Techcrunch Disrupt SF)

It’s easy to see how young hungry tech minds get hooked into the city. Kyle’s “life-changing” week (I’m using his words, not mine), was part of a larger vision conceived by Eddy Perez, a Cuban-American with a burning belief that Caribbean tech talent is being overlooked by Silicon Valley. Thus the birth of the “Caribbean Pavilion”, a sort of greatest hits sampling of the most promising startups in that region assembled by his team at Project Binario. The mission? Identify talent, and invite them to participate in the worlds largest startup conference, Techcrunch Disrupt. This includes a trip to San Francisco, a trade show booth on the coveted floor, mentor conversations, meeting high-impact investors, pitch opportunities, and networking events. Below are the 5 startups chosen for this journey.

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Arriving one night early, Cuban entrepreneur Marta Deus and I decide to slip into town before the convoy began. To get warmed up, we get scooped up by Susanna Kohly, Google’s Multicultural Marketing maven, who was one of the figures responsible for Google Cuba, with visionary Brett Perlmutter. Words cannot describe the massive undertaking with installing Google nodes on Cuban soil this year, providing faster internet on all Google platforms for Cubans. This was an achievement of historical proportions between Cuba/US relations. As a celebration of our arrival, we toasted in the Mission District at Media Noche, a Cuban-inspired cafe (where else would you expect us to toast our arrival?). Susannah shared the story of her immigrant family leaving Cuba, with the will and determination to do great things in their new country, the United States. Half a century later, it’s poetic to be gathered with this young blood, still determined, pushing boundaries, and fostering innovation on the island. Marta shared her take on Cuba’s business culture today, and all the “cuentapropistas” she lends a hand to with her business Deus Expertos Contables. Marta is a fascinating figure because of her perspective on entrepreneurship in Cuba. The landscape is too broad and complex to summarize into one statement here, but for those interested, you can begin to scratch the surface through her magazine Negolution , the sum of “Negocio” (meaning “business”) and “Evolution”. I have my own exile story, full of restaurant history with Centro Vasco, and now a newfound attachment to the island through the lens or arts & culture via The New Cuba. It’s been a long road for us all. As we ramped up on this girls night, we waxed poetic for hours on the state of Cuba today, what we had hoped for, and where we dreamed it could be. Although all of our backgrounds varied, with a variety of upbringing, distinct hometowns, we still held on strongly to our roots over a scrumptious tropical cocktail, and toasted to the beginning of a fruitful week.

(Cuban-Americans: Google’s Susannah Kohly, Mano’s Ric Herrero, Binario’s Eddy Perez)

The following day, was officially Day 1, when all the startups trickled into the city, and met each other for the first time. Eddy dutifully papa-beared the entire week starting now. Kyle of Chefmade joined 4 other startups who were invited to partake in the same perks of the week. There was Khalil Bryan and Veronica with their startup Caribbean Transit Solutions, paving the way to make Barbados public transportation easier to use. Second startup was Alfonso Ali, founder of the Cuban app called AlaMesa which has become a must-use application for both locals and foreigners on the island. Alfonso understood a few years ago that the most dire need in the Cuban market are “offline apps”, due to the disconnected nature of Cuban society, constantly chasing Wifi. The idea of having all the best Cuban restaurants, phone numbers, addresses, menus, and photos in the palm of your hand offline was a coup for the young entrepreneur. Alfonso is also active in Cuba’s programming community, having helped to launch Havana’s Linux group and he continues to be an advocate for open source technologies.

The next startup were women from the Dominican Republic named Katherine Motyka with Luci of Jompéame, an innovative crowdfunding platform aimed at social causes. Forbes selected Jompéame as one of the most promising businesses in her country. The charismatic Gordon Swaby attended with his startup, Edufocal, an innovative exam prep and testing platform, with thousands of users in his native Jamaica. BBC named Edufocal a “Digital Disruptor”, while the World Bank and IDB have already acknowledged the humble startup. Marta Deus joined the crew as a cherry on top, not as a tech startup, but more to represent in the field of Cuba’s young entrepreneurs with her magazine, which is akin to the Fast Company of Cuba. Marta is also responsible for bringing dreams to life with her firm Deus Expertos Contables, which handles accounting and advisor work in the nascent field of Cuba’s private sector. Google’s Susannah Kohly refers to Marta as “Bossbabe”, which I can easily concur describes the young business lady in Cuba today.

Upon arriving into San Francisco, Eddy and Caribbean Pavilion co-founder Meghan Stevenson assembled their invitees into a hip loft to self-introduce themselves, pitch their business to peers, and receive feedback and questions. I’d say by the second evening, the group began to let their hair down after a smartly held “Happy Hour” event at a place called Cigar Bar — cue the Cuban band & Binario cocktails specials, and now you have a tight crew. Added to the party were old friends that flew into town to join the “magical mystery tour” as Eddy described it. This included Ric Herrero, of Mano Organization, another urban support system who we wrote about last year for their support in Cuba Tech with 10X10K competition (which we covered last year). Add Jesse M. of the Latino Startup Alliance who would later invite us to visit the Impact Hub. Add a few boxes of Cuban cigars freshly flown in from the island (thank you, Obama, for lifting those restrictions), and voila, now we have a Caribbean souffle pumped for the week.

(Rodolfo Davalos, AlaMesa’s Alfonso Ali. Marta Deus, Binario’s Meghan Stevenson,Jauretsi)

In addition to the three trade show days of “meet and greets” and pitch meetings, one of the cornerstones of the trip was the mentoring sessions led by a spectacular new person I’ve recently met named Jesse Sullivan. What can I say about Jesse? He is a ray of light and somebody born to execute an enormous vision. CNN named him “Most Intriguing Person of the Day” for his earthquake relief efforts with the Haitian Ambassador. But Jesse keeps moving, to places that need entrepreneurship the most and he doesn’t pick easy places. Think Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Haiti. Note: Alter is eyeballing Cuba now. Thank the Lord. Because we need it. His social venture aims to scale the champions of these countries to build their businesses efficiently. How do they do this? Alter finds leaders in these least developed regions and matches them with Silicon Valley resources, including sector experts, management training, talent recruitment, markets and capital. He’s almost like a business fairy knocking on your door, armed with the most seasoned advisors and investors from Silicon Valley. Jesse was accompanied by his colleague, Orlando Zambrano, who both opened up their hearts and rolodex to curate a robust day of mentor talks.

Among the meetings was a visit to Endeavor, an entrepreneurial organization who has Edgar Bronfman Jr as a partner. We met with Managing Director, Allen Taylor, who schooled us on how one focused company can transform the economy of a nation with a “mentor-investment-pay-it-forward” philosophy. For the disbelievers, he had a map to prove it.

(Endeavor’s Allen Taylor. Caribbean Pavilion crew at Facebook)

Enter the map. Picture, if you will, the “Endeavor Multiplier Effect”, a sample of one of Buenos Aires’ Tech Sector, one of their work cities. At first the map looks like a calming geometrical post-modern piece of art, filled with circles encircling other circles. Big bubbles giving birth to baby bubbles. Upon closer inspection, you discover that each time an entrepreneur is cited as an influencer, their bubble grows. Endeavor builds a culture that encourages and accelerates this pattern. The key to their success is a dedicated group of entrepreneurs who, beyond scaling their business, is committed to supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Here is the general thesis of the map. From 2000 to 2010, Argentina experienced severe economic challenges, including the devaluation of its currency and double digit inflation. The tech sector in Bueno Aires, however, grew significantly to become one of the largest and most successful in Latin America. Hundreds of new companies launched in the city and Google opened its 3rd International headquarters office there. Several exits occurred too such as Digital Ventures sold to Fox, and went public on the NASDAQ.

What the network map illustrates is that more than 90% of the companies connected to this network were founded by Endeavor Entrepreneurs or were influenced by their companies. Each of the bubbles had colored arrows pointing to other bubbles. The colored arrows represented how they influenced the other bubble, for example “mentorship”, “inspiration”, “former employee starting another venture”, and “investment”. The lesson learned here is that all these organized actions created companies that eventually employed 80,000 people (by 2010). Now picture them doing this in Instanbul, Cairo, Medellin, and Denver. This Endeavor model is leading the “high-impact” entrepreneurship movement around the world. Clearly, Endeavor is all about big bubbles.

(Startups: Gordon from Jamaica, Kyle from Trinidad, Veronica from Barbados)

“I’ve learned so much this morning”, articulated an intrigued Gordon after the visit. “I’ve got insight into the future of innovation from companies in Silicon Valley and what they are working on”, said the Caribbean dreamer. “I’m going back to Jamaica to inspire my team to work on being better and doing better”.

Minds blown and tummy’s rumbling, we headed to Facebook campus for a personal tour, and then a feast. One of the perks of a cushy Silicon Valley job is the abundant lunch rooms, flowing endlessly with salad bars, international cuisine, and baked cookies. Back in the headspace for more, our crew headed to meet Scott Brady, one of the areas resident visionaries. One of Palo Alto’s heavyweights, Scott has served as CEO, Chairman, and Advisory Member to big league ventures. Suffice it to day, that Google’s Eric Schmidt looks to Scott Brady when picking top talent to invest in. Scott is also the Chairman of the MSx Advisory Board of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and a Member of the Advisory Council of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Did we mention he holds numerous technology patents? Scott Brady is king.

A pragmatist with a nose for passion, we’re graced with his presence for a solid hour. “Being tenacious is necessary” says Brady, “but not sufficient” to building a great business. As a Professor at Stanford with a class “Formation of New Ventures”, Brady shares a wealth of concrete tips, and healthy discourse about risks, failure, examples, the how and why. Once he makes his point, he opens the field to abstract thinking. Dream big, he tells our team.

We hear this term always, but how does that translate into actual business practices? Brady explained it this way. There is local way to solve problems and there is a global way to solve problems. Just jump in the game. “There is no clear path to find an idea, or fund an idea”. If you have no idea what the hell you want to do, just begin your journey and start incubating your big idea. Think of solutions to global problems, take lots of chances, create experiments, learn from them, and refine your process. According to Scott, the fabled “struck-by-lightning” phenomenon is a fantasy. “Finding a great idea is a process, not an event”. His message: Do not let the lack of an idea prevent you from being an entrepreneur. Scott also spoke about one of my favorite topics – Intuition, and the importance of it. Do NOT be paralyzed by your lack of what you DON’T know. Some of the best founders had no idea what their final product would be at the start.

(Alter’s CEO Jessie Sullivan leads the group in discussion at Endeavor)

Other standout comments of Brady was his advice to be VERY careful when picking founding partners. I’ve always been surprised at how quickly some people jump into [business] bed with each other, sometimes upon meeting one weekend. But if you look at their marriages, think how long they dated their spouse before saying “I Do”. For business formation, marrying the wrong person could make or break you, so choose your founding partners wisely.

And the final golden nugget he offered. Always develop the skills of great storytelling. “This can advance you in moments of funding, recruiting, and selling”. If you want to move mountains with your words, sharpen your ability to tell a good story. I think we can all see this through orators like Steve Jobs or Richard Branson.

Brady was so captivating and magnetic in his talk that the whole team left on a cerebral high. It’s one of those experiences where one witnesses the force of words, encouragement, mixed with hard-boiled instructions. One can only imagine the hundreds of thousands of ventures Brady has doula’d over the years.

(Alter’s Orlando Zambrano with Project Binario founder Eddy Perez)

After the last fruitful day of meetings, it’s clear the startups have all been bit by the Silicon bug. Dominican Founder Katherine echoes the sentiment “I have learned that my business [Jompeame] can be global and not local. I want to come home and I want to work hard to see if I can actually come here [to San Francisco] and expand and create something bigger than what I am creating now”. Her partner Lucy responded, “I literally had one of the best times of my life”.

Each of the mentor talks were truly mind-expanding. By the end of the trip, I asked Marta what she had gained these past few days. “The truth is I didn’t expect anything more than coverage for Negolution” she estimates, “but I didn’t expect to learn so much about innovation and about all the companies that are coming out now, the apps, the websites”. Marta, who is frequently quoted in international papers for her views on Cuba’s youth market, absorbed additional technique from watching pitch meetings. “So absolutely yes”, she laughs, “it was very productive and I felt very inspired”.

As we jump in the vehicle after the last meeting, I see Kyle quiet in the back seat, brewing in his head. He takes a deep breathe and sighs, “Mahn” he reveals in his Trinidadian island accent, “the projects [Brady’s] working on, or helping to catalyze through venture capital, are things that I can only dream of being a part of or investing in. Things that are really changing the landscape of how we as human beings interact, or how we access things, or how we are able to be more productive”. Kyle’s bar for problem-solving has just been set higher than 1 week earlier. “He embodies so much of what I want to become”, he says about Brady. “That definitely was major light bulb moment.”

Overall, mission accomplished. Tenfold. The Caribbean Pavilion marks the first official activity by newcomers Project Binario. Each of the 5 startups and the supporting teams are all heading back home a bit transformed for the better, thanks to the work of Eddy and Megan, sparking a deeper impact for world solutions. And an extra shout to all the Cuban-American minds merging with Cuban talent today, all part of this interlacing beautiful network I like to call “the new Cuba”. Keep heads up.

(Facebook Lobby)

Thank you: Jacob Van Winkle for the Design/Logo for Caribbean Pavilion (another cool Cuban-American in support of “la causa”. Special Thanks to Project Binario, Caribbeans in Tech, Latino Startup Alliance and TechBeach for empowering entrepreneurs from Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Recently, we wrote about the big Cumbancha Irma Relief bash we’re throwing in New York, with proceeds going to The New Cuba, featuring the best Cuban DJ’s floating around the big apple right now. It’s going to be a booty shaking set of Afro Cuban Deep house and a proper Latin & Cuban mashup of sounds that will keep you hooked on the weekly event. This one will take place at Trophy Bar, 351 Broadway, Brooklyn 11211.

The door funds will personally be distributed by me (Jauretsi) from Oct 25-30th in Cuba, as I embark on a 3 city tour with CubaOne Foundation into the cities most deeply affected by Hurricane Irma. The relief work will be held within 3 provinces — Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus and Santa Clara. Signups are officially closed for that trip, but if you’d like to be involved in any other way, email to inquire.

The DJ crew includes: BJoyce (CUBA), Mey (CUBA), Derek Turcios (USA/CUBA), Edgaro Gonzalez (CUBA), Mickey Perez (USA/CUBA) with friends equally committed to “la causa” Marcus Aurelius Rosario (USA/PR), Sabine Blaizin (HAITI), Andrew Licata (EUA), and RioBamba (ECU). Expect some live percussion as well.

Can’t make it to the trip? Imagine yourself in Brooklyn that night, play this mix at home, and deposit money into our GoFundMe campaign instead. See how easy that was?

The fund is our backup plan collector for those who are missing the party, but want to help. Anything counts — $5, $25, $50. All the money is coming to Cuba into direct hands. Sending mad love to all our supporters who have contributed so far, in each and every way.

See you on the NY dancefloor, then Cuba. We shall document the progress report as it occurs.