Tyler Suiters  0:12 

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Tiffany Moore  2:02 

Thanks for having me. Excited to join you and talk about getting CES ready.

Tyler Suiters  2:07 

Well, I love talking to you about this topic, because it is not only your scope of work, this is your passion. Diversity initiatives are something you have addressed virtually your entire career. And now you're addressing most specifically here in the tech sector.

Tiffany Moore  2:22 

Excellent. Yes, it’s one of the things that we understand, particularly when it comes to tech and when it comes to innovation, is that the most diverse team that you have, the better products that you make, the more solutions, the better solutions you provide. And so, at CTA, we want to make sure that we are amplifying those diverse voices in tech, but also how do we help build the pipeline? How do we make sure that we're amplifying those voices? How are we creating partnerships with organizations who have the same passion? And again, how are we making sure that, you know, diverse entrepreneurs and startup founders have access to incredible showcasing, like we have at CES at Eureka Park.

Tyler Suiters  3:00 

So let's dive into that “how” to some degree, Tiffany. On one hand, you said it really well, which is the tech sector, like many sectors, wants the best, the brightest, the most talented, the best leaders, the most successful because it is cutthroat, competitive in this industry, right? Again, like many others. On the other hand, you have to be active, proactive to make this happen. You can't sit back and wait for the best to rise, right? We have to sow the seeds well upstream within the talent pipeline.

Tiffany Moore  3:30 

I couldn't agree more. I think one of the things that we're focused on, particularly when it comes to CTA. If we talk about pipeline, that's one piece of it. How are we making sure that where we live and work that we are focused on making sure that kids, particularly young girls and kids of color, have access to learning how to code, entrepreneurship skills. We have an incredible program that we support in Clark County, which is where Las Vegas, is that gives those skills to kids with an area to make sure that they're developing that talent, developing that entrepreneur skill set that will serve them well in the future.

Tyler Suiters  4:07 

What about role models? When we look ahead to CES 2019, the keynote stage will host IBM CEO Ginni Rommety, AMD President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su. So there are examples up there. But we're not talking about that as the only platform for role models, right? This is very much, I guess I'll use the term grassroots, even then that's more of an advocacy term, but about getting positive influences in schools, in community centers, and even in incubators, right? The parts that can really influence the success of individuals as well as young companies.

Tiffany Moore  4:47 

Exactly. One of the things that's important is that you aspire to what you see. And so it's important to have women and people of color who are in the tech sector as role models and to be able to see them in so many different platforms. That's the great thing about CES and not just on the keynote stage. But if you look at our conference sessions, they're incredible, talented people in tech who will be on those stages that will provide an opportunity for young kids or startup founders to see and understand that that can be them and that they could be on that stage in the coming years.

Tyler Suiters  5:21 

Right. Tiffany Moore, SVP of political and industry affairs here at CTA, you are the expert in the room on this. So tell you what, although we could spend the entire podcast talking about the tech sector and where diversity stands right now, let's branch out a little bit and talk to some of the other folks who are, as we said, not only advocating but also in the field very much themselves as entrepreneurs. And in one case, as an actual engineer. Joining us now is Elizabeth Vilchis. She is CEO of latinoTech, and not only an advocate, she is an engineer, she is an entrepreneur, and also worked in early-stage investments at a global technology company. Elizabeth, it is great to have you with us today. Thanks for taking the time.

Elizabeth Vilchis  6:08 

Thank you, Tyler. I’m happy to be here.

Tiffany Moore    6:11 

Elizabeth, thanks so much for joining us. We're so excited to hear about latinoTech. But first, let's talk about your career. You've seen from almost every vantage point within kind of the tech sector, as an entrepreneur, as an investor as an engineer. What have you seen when it comes to challenges that are faced within trying to build a diverse tech workforce and what inspired you to kind of engage and build latinoTech?

Elizabeth Vilchis  6:40 

Across the different experiences that I have, one of the things that has been really made clear, is that a lot of entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds have a hard time really building the relationships with investors or previous entrepreneurs that have built companies successfully and are onto their second or third venture. I think really getting the opportunity to network with those individuals and get the feedback on their startups to figure out how to take the next step is really important. And it's something that I've seen a gap in within the ecosystem.

Elizabeth Vilchis  7:18 

And for us, we've actually been able to leverage our relationships with investors to start to build those relationships. And that, again, it's not just to get feedback and advice and kind of where they're at, what steps should they be looking at, but also to in the future as they start to show traction, and then they can really hit their milestones to start to pave the road for investment, which is another big challenge for the entrepreneurs that we work with.

Tiffany Moore    7:43 

Elizabeth, I couldn't agree with you more. And that's one of the reasons why we have Eureka Park so that we have an opportunity for startups get that access and that exposure. And one of the reasons why we're excited to partner with latinoTech. But as you kind of -- what we believe is that you just, you know, they're incredible startups with the first rounder, building incredible platforms and companies, but you just have to kind of broaden your lens. And one of the things that I thought about, you know, tech is that you all are supporting so many different startups who are building incredible products, and you all are amplifying them, you're supporting them. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the companies that you're working with? 

Elizabeth Vilchis  8:23 

Yeah, absolutely. And they really range in different things that they're working on. One of the, the, I guess like, the most fun in that it was like kind of like, why doesn't this product exists already, is the founder that's working on building a gaming application that is like the equivalent of like Bingo, but for the Latin community, called Loteria. It's a very traditional Mexican game. He had done his research, he had showed me all of the different apps. And I was like, yeah, they have terrible user experience. And so he was really building a first product that actually scaled, that scaled for an unlimited amount of users and different types of complicated interactions.
So he definitely also had some work to do on the UI. But he's like, he's building the backend for source to be able to scale and really create community. He wants this thing is like ready to go live. And to me, that was so fascinating, because it was something that I grew up playing, and I had such a strong connection to it. It was like, you know, what I want to see, something like this come to life. And again, as simple as it might seem to others, is that it really resonates within the Latin community. It's something that is so close to us. And so we were excited to see like, OK, what can we do to help? Is there like, would you like feedback on how the product is developing from investors, and what kind of next steps that we'd like to see before they’d consider funding something like this. So that was something that we were excited to try to help along his journey.

Elizabeth Vilchis  9:51

Another one is a group that's working on trying to change how individuals are getting engaged within policy. They're building a platform that allows you to indicate what your interests and what you would like to know that is going on in Congress in terms of topics, whether it's like health care or education, or anything around like voting. And as bills are being voted on in Congress, they actually send alerts to you on what are the bills that are upcoming, and they asked you how you would like to vote, and they actually help voice your opinion. Even though if you can't do it, they've created a service where they'll call Congress on a regular basis to explain where you stand on the issues. And they'll call your specific representative, and then let you know what kind of feedback they got. And again, this is something for those that want to be engaged by may not have specific time to give it a call every day, or every other week to be able to voices concerns. They can just schedule it and actually act on their behalf. And it's a subscription model that they're playing around with, which I think is really interesting. And given the climate that we have now, right, I think, which is listening to – I was just reading an article around how the Latinx vote this time around in the midterms, it's grown so much. And it's because a lot of things that are happening.

Elizabeth Vilchis  11:16

So to have somebody from our community working on that which is not so relevant, again, it's something it's like, the really interesting space to see how they start to develop that idea. Now that the view on being active within policy is changing, and people are becoming more engaged. I love that. Yeah, there's just a range of different companies, but they're all really incredible. And again, on our end, we're trying to figure out how to push more of the work that they're doing, because we feel like it's now more than ever starting to come still relevant. And you know, we want to be able to help them to capitalize on the momentum around the issue.

Tiffany Moore  11:52 

Excellent. And one of the things we kind of talked about, it's kind of the growing phase of Latino voters, but also a population. And one of the things that we believe at CTA, and I am sure you believe, that the more diverse workforce that you have, the better products that you make, the better decisions that you make. And can you speak a little bit to that with your career about, you know, as you're trying to build products for the changing demographics of the American public, the importance of making sure that you have a diverse team building those products?

Elizabeth Vilchis 12:23 

Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that I tell our community members and I talk to every time I get an opportunity to speak on it, is that if there's one thing within the Latinx community that I see as a type of superpower, and really in any community that starts to blend, or merge cultures or backgrounds, right, is that a lot of Latinx individuals and entrepreneurs come from growing up within an environment where they're asked to have two identities and understand the world from two different perspectives. It's usually the heritage and the background that they come from, and usually that means speaking another language at home. And then growing up in the U.S., they start to understand other norms and habits and, again, they take on the language and customs. But they often have to bounce back between these two worlds and understand things from two different perspectives. And I think that’s something that allows them to really build a product that can speak to multiple audiences. And as we're starting to see the demographics change in the U.S., where there are a lot of people that are starting to blend backgrounds and cultures, and we are becoming more of a blend within our own households. Where the different ethnicities and nationalities and cultures that we embody, it's like being able to understand why it's important to see something from different perspectives before you actually push it out into the world is such an important skill, because you can put something out there that's only seen from one lens, from one perspective. But somebody else might take to it completely differently, or not use it as expected. But if you can bring that understanding, OK this is how somebody from this type of background or understanding would approach it, this is how somebody else would do it. And again, being part of the population that, again, is poised to become one of the largest populations within the U.S., just bringing that perspective. But already knowing that you have to understand things from two different perspectives because that's how we grew up. I think it's so important to build things that are really relevant to people, and in the way that the U.S. is changing to just be multi-dimensional in different ways around culture, and in our heritage and our norms. So to me, I think that's really important. And again, this is something where the Latinx community has a little bit of an edge. I can really leverage that to build really, really amazing products.

Tiffany Moore    14:42 

Excellent. Now you talked a little bit about kind of the challenges that Latinx entrepreneurs face, particularly when it comes to media and getting people to know about their products. But there's also an issue of VC funding. Can you speak a little bit to kind of, unfortunately, the dearth of investment when it comes to women and underrepresented communities in tech when it comes to startups?

Elizabeth Vilchis 15:08 

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s only less than 2% in venture capital funding that really goes to founders that are from underrepresented backgrounds. And again, that is something that is incredibly -- it's a big problem, and we need to figure out how to address a lot of the issues from what I see really stem from the fact that in the venture capital world, a lot of the individuals that make those decisions, that source startups, really don't come from within the networks that the underrepresented founders come from. Often they come from Ivy Leagues, or they are entrepreneurs that have built multiple companies and that are bringing their friends to the venture capital circle. And again, it's something that doesn't, it doesn't reach because of the methods of who gets involved within venture capital. It doesn't often touch our community and give us that access that we need to build relationships with those individuals. What is exciting to see is that in the last couple of years, there's been more of a push to really diversify the venture capital space. And there are organizations, such as Chocolate Ventures, and, what is the other one. There’s the K4 Center out in Oakland, California. There's a couple of venture capital firms that are coming up that are focused on really funding underrepresented founders and giving them that opportunity to gain access to capital. One of the things that we're also tracking is the number of Latina and venture capitals, as of right now 35, and my list is growing. And we're trying to build relationships with each and every one of those so that, again, we can learn from them and what our founders should be doing, as well as give our funders access to them and their experience and just learn what should they be doing, who should they be talking to. And hopefully, as they build relationships with them, that they can also open doors and give warm introductions for the people that will make a big impact in development of their companies. And so again, I think it's something that's -- it's been a big problem in the past and slowly people are starting to pay attention and starting to change those things. And we're monitoring those things closely so that we can open those doors for our community.

Tiffany Moore   17:15 

Excellent. Now, you know, I would ask you, based on, again, your incredible experience in almost every kind of role, what type of advice would you give to a startup founder who has a great idea, and they're trying to figure out what's next?

Elizabeth Vilchis  17:33 

Yeah, absolutely. It's one of the things I'm a big proponent of, and I always tell people: challenge and test your idea, really prove that you're solving a problem. Because technology nowadays, it's so fascinating. It's so interesting, it's really cool. And a lot of people like one idea of it as want to engaged with the tech and see what they can do with it. And that's great, it's great to have that excitement. But again, we have to really be mindful that when we create a product for a company, it's really to address a need that somebody has, it's a pain point that you're trying to solve for others. And it's not just an opportunity to test something cool. Like, it's really, I'm going to solve a problem in and use technology in a way it hasn't been used before. And then build a cool product in the process, but the need of the user and the customer comes first. And all along the way, make sure that you're really understanding their needs and how your product addresses it. In the very beginning, there's a lot of people that are like, hey, if I sell you this product, would you buy it? Or how would you use this product? And I really coach people to really try to understand, Hey, what's your biggest problem? Don't try to sell them first, really try to understand what that problem is, and then see how it relates to your product.

Elizabeth Vilchis  18:42

But don't set the user – you just have to think about what you're building first before they actually think about what the problem that they have is and what is the most challenging thing they would have to overcome for that problem to get better. And once you can do that, really continuing to test it with the user along each stage of the development and look for that validation. So whether it's somebody that gives you access to their information, or to their clients or to whatever it is to let you pilot that idea. That's a sign that they are interested enough and invested in seeing this that they're giving you access to their information. They're giving you access to their clients as if it's a B2B, right? It's like, that is validation that this is something interesting. And then, look for that next step of, are you getting customers that are willing to pay for that product? Really be clear on how your product is developing and the validation points at each of those stages. Because then that really sets up to have really interesting conversations with people that want to support the work that you're doing, and give them a sense of where they can be a resource to help support that growth.

Tiffany Moore   19:47 

Excellent. Excellent. And I think maybe one last question. So Elizabeth, one of the things that I read an article about you not too long ago that talked about your personal experience, as a undocumented immigrant coming to the country. And as a dreamer, your experience and how that plays a role, particularly with latinoTech, and making sure that the dreamers have access to build companies, but also just the idea that entrepreneurship is important, particularly given the state, the current state of affairs.

Elizabeth Vilchis  20:24 

Yeah, that is something that is -- it just could not be more true. I think that's one of the other reasons why we're really passionate about entrepreneurship. It’s not just about the innovation and the impact you can create with the product. But for me, it's something that I've seen as such an incredible solution to be able to continue to develop, myself and my community, really, when it seems like all other doors are closed, and there's no other way to go about it and really make contributions to your communities and to your country, in a large way.
And for me, entrepreneurial really opened that door where, as long as you could innovate, there was less limitations on that. And you actually -- I actually got the opportunity to take part in this without creating a conflict with anybody else or any of the policies that exists because entrepreneurship really is pretty accessible to anyone here in the U.S.

Tiffany Moore   21:20

Excellent. I couldn't agree more. And I think that grit and determination, we need more of that in our tech sector and our entrepreneurs in our company. Elizabeth, thank you so much for joining us. We're really excited to hear what latinoTech is doing, and we can't wait to hear what's next.

Elizabeth Vilchis  21:36

Thank you so much, Tiffany. It's been a pleasure to be part of this podcast.

Tyler Suiters  21:40 

Tiffany, hey, I know you've gotta run too, but before I let you go, we have heard from latinoTech, and we're about to hear from Alice as well. Two groups that you've developed deep relationships with here at CTA. Talk a bit about the importance of partnerships, not just for us here at the Consumer Technology Association but within the tech sector overall.

Tiffany Moore  22:00 

Exactly. One of the things that we found is that we all understand that diversity is not going to be solved by one person in one organization. It takes a team; it takes partnerships. And that's the value of organizations like latinoTech and Alice, which are focused and passionate about how do we make sure that women and diverse entrepreneurs and tech employees are in the mix, are valued and are amplified. And we're excited to partner with them and that mission and in that cause.

Tyler Suiters  22:33 

A lot more to come before CES, in the intervening month or so. Tiffany Moore, great to have you with us, my friend. And I know lots of good work ahead for you and the CTA team.

Tiffany Moore  22:44 

Thanks, Tyler.

Tyler Suiters  22:48 

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Carolyn Rodz is founder and CEO of Alice. She is joining us today from Houston. And Carolyn, real pleasure to have you with us. Thanks for taking the time.

Carolyn Rodz  23:21 

Thank you for having me.

Tyler Suiters  23:23 

So I mentioned Houston and I mentioned Alice in the same sentence. And there's a reason that you founded Alice there, deep in the heart of Texas, not just because it's your hometown, but because of what Houston is and has become, correct?

Carolyn Rodz  23:38 

Correct. Houston is the most diverse city in the country. A lot of people call it the future city of America because of our demographic makeup. And we have really great diverse representation here. A burgeoning innovation scene, but I think it's a great landing spot for Alice in terms of really highlighting what an inclusive ecosystem could look like.

Tyler Suiters  24:02 

Yeah. So how does that fit in, that location with your mission statement at Alice?

Carolyn Rodz  24:08 

Alice really started as the answer to what I wish I would have had when I started my first business. I left investment banking, I had absolutely no idea how to grow a company. I knew a lot about business; I knew very little about entrepreneurship. And I learned just about every lesson the hard way. And for me, after I ultimately ended up closing that business down, I call it my unofficial MBA, because it took me about as long, cost me about as much. I turned right around, and because I'm an extra slow learner, started a second business and ultimately ended up selling that company to one of our clients. And it wasn't until I started seeing a lot of traction with that second business that doors started opening, my mind started broadening in terms of what a company actually could look like, being able to go out and raise capital. I was invited to go speak at events and the get involved in these different networks and communities. And finally, I felt like, gosh I was like, if I had had this on day one, imagine the sort of business that I could have run the first time around instead of taking so long and doing this path so slowly. And so in creating Alice, it really was, you know, how could we create and scale the idea of the advisor, friend and mentor for a business owner that really helps every entrepreneur, regardless of who they are or where they come from, navigate this experience of entrepreneurship.

Tyler Suiters  25:34 

Let me delve just briefly into your chops. As an entrepreneur, you have helped raise billions of dollars in capital for a number of innovative organizations. You launched a global marketing firm, and all that is built upon your remarkably successful retail line that sold all over the country. So with that as a basis, when you look in the mirror, Carolyn, what do you see as an entrepreneur? And do you, in your mind, represent the changing face of who an entrepreneur is in the United States right now?

Carolyn Rodz  26:11 

Yeah, I certainly -- and if you'd asked me 20 years ago if I would be sitting here running a tech company, I would have laughed because I was not capable of writing a line of code,

Tyler Suiters  26:22 

It would be something .com 20 years ago.

Carolyn Rodz  26:25 

Exactly. I was, you know, really saw myself, frankly, climbing the corporate ladder. I was in investment banking, you know, really envisioned myself always in some corner office. It's a big corporation. And, you know, following that career path. So I think, yes, do I represent what I think entrepreneurs are today? 100% in terms of, you know, I'm a Latina woman, I grew up in Spring, Texas, the daughter of a Bolivian immigrant. I'm not typical, I think, what a lot of people would think of when they think of an entrepreneur in technology.

Carolyn Rodz  27:01 

But I think today, what we're saying is that there is opportunity, everywhere, absolutely anybody can become an entrepreneur with the right resources behind them. And that means having access and knowledge to what's available out there. And that's really gets to the core of why we created Alice.

Tyler Suiters  27:18 

So let's go down that path, Carolyn. One of the verbs that is used very often in this space is to democratize that access, right? Whether it's knowledge, whether it's opportunity, whether it whether it's capital, frankly. But democratizing these things to a broader community. What exactly does that does that mean to you? Is that more of a buzzword or more of a practical application?

Carolyn Rodz 27:43 

You know, I think there's democratizing access and then there's scaling access. And for us, it really is about scaling access. There are lots of great organizations out there that are very focused on diversity and inclusion. Lots of great programs that are trying to continue to diversify, you know, who they're bringing through their programs, and doing a great job at it. But what we saw was that most of those programs are accessible to, you know, 20 or 30 or maybe 100, or maybe even 1,000 business owners. But the problem is there is, you know, there are millions of entrepreneurs out in this world, that they're all dealing with different things. Some of them are running small businesses, some of them are running technology companies. And while the issues they are dealing with are very much the same, everybody's trying to build their team, everybody's trying to manage cash flow, everybody's trying to create a good sales pipeline.

Carolyn Rodz  28:38 

The answers and solutions to those problems very much depend on who an entrepreneur is, where that entrepreneur is located, their level of sophistication in terms of running a business, you know, the people around them and networks that they're involved in. But if we could open those doors, say, “You know what, we're going to figure all of this knowledge, pool it all in one place, and then make sure that you have every piece of what you need, when you're ready for it to get you to the next level.” How can we start to then scale this access in a really smart way? So it's not just saying, “Look, you can find anything on the internet these days,” but it's overwhelming. And so we're going to give you the 10 things that you need to know today to solve the problem you have right in front of you, so that you can get to the next level and start to think bigger.

Tyler Suiters  29:28 

So measuring success, and I don't mean metrics as much as, you know, arrival, if you will. Fairly straightforward when you're talking about yourself as an entrepreneur, for example, the business you're starting, the company that's growing. Maybe it's an eventual IPO. What though does success look like to you when we're talking about inclusiveness and inclusive business? How do you know or feel when you're there?

Carolyn Rodz    29:56 

Inclusion is this really nebulous thing. We talk a lot about. It is -- I'm talking about buzzwords. I think diversity and inclusion are huge budget buzzwords today. And it is both, I think, very exciting and a great opportunity, but also instills a lot of fear in people, that they're going to miss stuff, that they're going to do the wrong thing. So for us, when we think about success, it is the idea that every single entrepreneur knows what they need to take that next step. And I think right now, it really is so much. And it's amazing to me that here we are in this industry of innovation, and to me, it's one of the least innovative industries of all. We still share everything through word of mouth. It's very much about your network. The way you get in front of a venture capitalist is about who you know, the way you're able to apply to certain programs, pitch competitions, is really were you in the right place at the right time to see that opportunity. For me inclusion it's very nebulous, it really is a feeling and making sure that somebody knows they belong when they walk into a space or when they join a conversation. I think there's this, these buzzwords today that we throw around in terms of diversity and inclusion, and they're great opportunities. And I love that it's becoming a much more important part of the conversation and a part of the narrative.

Carolyn Rodz      31:17

But at the same time, I think it's instilling incredible fear in the community as well, in terms of people being afraid that they're going to misstep or say the wrong thing. And to me, that's almost a step backward. And so where I think there's a great opportunity, and what we are continuously and always driving forward with at Alice, is ensuring that every single business owner knows, when an opportunity is available to them, that they understand what they need in order to qualify for that opportunity. And that it becomes more about the type of company that you're running, you know, the heart and passion behind those founders and their skill set, instead of who they know and who they're sitting next to, because I think that's where we start to see a lot of these barriers happening. It's just awareness and access at the end of the day. And

Tyler Suiters  32:12 

Now I want to make sure I'm not oversimplifying here, Carolyn. But part of that decision is a recognition, right, that inclusiveness is part of a healthy business strategy. So when a company decides to move in that direction, and entrepreneur wants to move toward that, then comes step two, and there may be many more micro between. But it's, OK, how do you find, how do you recruit, how do you keep a diverse talent base, one that yes, is inclusive, but it also is the healthiest thing you can do for your business?

Carolyn Rodz  32:47 

When it was when I first started Alice, it really started with a conversation talking about inequities in entrepreneurship specifically. But really seeing that we talked so much about this, but there's a massive opportunity here. We felt like nobody was acting on that opportunity – yet. I think that conversation is starting to shift, which is exciting. But when you think about inviting in and retaining talent, the first thing that we always encourage a lot of the companies to do, and that we do ourselves, is to get out of our own bubble. You know, it's so easy to go post a job posting on Indeed and see what comes through or to shoot a post to your network. And we certainly do those things as well. But it's also important to reach out to partners. To go pick up the phone and call the Black Chamber of Commerce or pick up the phone and talk to Empresarias Latinas and see who they have, might be interested in an opening or a position. Get out of the circles and broaden your network to go to the places where you know those diverse candidates are.

Carolyn Rodz  33:52

The other thing is not just to stop when you find one good candidate. To really think about, you know, is this good for your team from all perspectives? Are they bringing a really diverse viewpoint to your company? What are the things and the gaps that you see in your team that aren't just the core skill set needed for that job?
In terms of retaining talent, I think it's really important to show a commitment to inclusion at the highest levels. And that means, you know, hosting a roundtable and doing a check-in periodically with people within your company whose perspectives might be different from the norm and making sure that they feel like they're being heard, and they feel like they have a voice there. It's not just, you know, I think so many times we see people kind of checking the boxes of diversity and inclusion but not being genuinely committed to it.
I would say, I'm like, hosting a panel with the word diversity in it does not make you an advocate for diversity. Making sure that you're looking somebody in the eyes, that you're hearing their conversations, that you're inviting their voice into the conversation, that is inclusion.

Tyler Suiters  34:58 

Are you seeing progress? As you mentioned, you're in the tech sector now, which surprises yourself, I think. Are you seeing progress though, Carolyn, when you look around at your peers and the companies you're now considering to partner with?

Carolyn Rodz  35:13 

I see progress. I mean, I think I'm on all ends what I would like to see more of is an acknowledgement that we are -- there are going to be some serious missteps along the way. We are all trying to figure this out, and, you know, in full transparency, I think when we started Alice, look, I represent one voice of one Latina in technology with one experience. I do not represent all Latinas in tech. I don't understand all of the other tech. I certainly don't understand what it's like to be a black founder, you know, in manufacturing, or, you know, a native founder in retail. And so, I think there's so many diverse perspectives here. We think about startups and business in general in terms of diversity, that was an important that we acknowledge fully along the way that we're going to screw up now. And again, so bear with us, we have the best of intentions, and we're trying, and we want to invite everybody else's opinion to the table. And people share them all the time with us about things that we could do better ways that we could challenge ourselves, and I appreciate that fully. And I think the more we start to open up that conversation and let people know that we're all going to mess up here, we're going to say something that's going to piss somebody off. But let's correct people versus, you know, knock people down for doing the wrong thing when the intentions are good, and teach them and use these as teachable moments that we can share and improve. I think that's where we're going to start to see real change happening, because I think the thing that makes me nervous is that there isn't, like I said, there's a lot of fear in the space in a lot -- which creates a lot of hesitation to take certain steps. And I think the more that we starting to work together on all sides, I think we're going to see this change happen a lot more rapidly.

Tyler Suiters  37:05 

So startups are, of course, such a rich environment to find a diversity of entrepreneurs and founders, Carolyn. Alice will be at CES 2019, which is the largest startup event on the planet. How do you and your team go about finding these entrepreneurs, hearing these stories, discovering these founders’ narratives that really do represent the entire ecosystem, entire cultural makeup of the country? Maybe, you know, in some senses with all the international attendees the world as well. How do you seek them out and find them effectively and efficiently?

Carolyn Rodz  37:46 

For us, it's you know, we always say we keep sort of one foot in the mainstream ecosystem, which I think is so important, and then one foot really looking into more traditional business environment. And I think the more that we can start to bring those worlds together, we see really, really great businesses. And one of my favorite startups is a mother-daughter team that started in Lake Oswego, Oregon. It’s totally disconnected from, you know, the world of Silicon Valley, and -- but an incredibly successful business. So I think starting to just look outside those places where we see the most diverse and unique stories, but being able to connect them to all of the riches of the resources that exist at a place like CES, I think is so valuable. And so for us, it really is, you know, kind of looking and being present in all worlds and looking at our job as if we can help navigate and understand the ecosystem and spend 100% of our time doing that with the goal of bridging those gaps where they exist. You know, that's the value that we're really looking to provide.

Tyler Suiters  38:57 

Insight from an expert voice, Carolyn Rodz, founder and CEO of Alice, and so much more. Carolyn, don't want to go through your bio again, we’d lose even more time. But what a what a terrific conversation. Really appreciate you sharing your time and insight with us.

Carolyn Rodz  39:14 

Well, thank you very much. I appreciate you chatting with me.

Tyler Suiters  39:18 

So a fascinating conversation on this episode of CES Tech Talk. But I'm pretty confident we're going to hold your attention for our next episode, because coming up next time: the future of robotics. Yeah, and among our guests is an organization that has a distinct interest in robotics, and you may not have thought of them as being so active in the tech sector. We're talking about AARP. All right, that is coming up next time on CES Tech Talk, and we want you to be CES ready. So step one, subscribe to this podcast. That way you won't miss any of our episodes leading up to the show. Number 2, make your plans for CES 2019 January 8-11 in Las Vegas. And maybe this is 2a, I don't know, you could call it three. It's go to the website CES.tech, that’s CES.tech for all the information on who's speaking when, which exhibitors are located where. Map out your show, get your strategy together to be CES ready and make the most of the most influential tech event on the planet. As always, none of this as possible without our true podcasting stars: our in-studio engineer John Lindsey, and our producer Tina Anthony. You are both the best. I’m Tyler Suiters. Let's talk tech again soon.