Taken from the UTEP The Prospector article by Michaela Román on December 04, 2017.
El Paso’s own Silicon Valley has emerged downtown. Now heading into their fifth month open, CoWork Oasis is a space for those interested in the world of tech to work together and gain traction from national investors.
Tech startups have become the cheapest startups to get off the ground, thanks to cloud platforms such as Amazon and Google, which all offer cost-affordable ways to market and sustain apps.
CoWork Oasis began with a meeting between venture capitalists Robert Herrera and Beto Pallares.
“I was visiting El Paso from LA, and I said what does a venture capitalist invest in here? There’s nothing to invest in here,” Herrera said.
CoWork Oasis is located at 114 Texas Ave. in the center of downtown and includes a kitchen, living room, showers and other amenities for a 24-hour working space. There are also conference rooms for meetings, but the space is purposely designed with no offices as a way to better connect with one another.
“The goal of this is to help startups get better funding, not just from El Paso investors but from external investors,” Herrera explained. “The only way that El Paso’s wealth can increase is through high-growth startups that are successful and a lot of other cities are doing this to spur innovation, but we don’t see a lot of that here, so we wanted to help spur that ourselves.”
Ivan Huerta, a computer science major looking to continue his degree at UTSA, is the CEO of Parabeac—an app that allows users to interact with their environment.
“If you go to one of the restaurants that we’re working with, you would walk in and it will ask you ‘are you sitting at this table?’ and the whole menu is there to select items and request refills,” Huerta said.
Parabeac uses IoT (the Internet of Things) and beacons to function. Phones and tablets can be connected to the service of a restaurant and buy the signals the beacons send out, which are essentially Bluetooth. The beacons at the restaurant use a language to talk to the customer’s phones.
When looking more into the technology of the devices, Huerta noticed there was a big convenience issue.
“We’ve actually had to do lots of testing because there’s not a lot of research on these technologies,” Huerta said. “Nobody has really set a standard for it. Google has tried, Apple has tried, but no one has really hit a groundbreaking point for the technology yet.”
Brands of El Paso is a sector of Brands of, a Puerto Rico based e-commerce platform, which serves as a middle ground for small business owners to market their products globally. The app caters to local entrepreneurs who want to sell products such as t-shirts, jewelry and anything small enough to ship.
Anna Jacques, regional manager for Brands of El Paso, uses CoWork Oasis to meet with companies and recruit them to sell their product on the app.
“Knowing that we’re working out of this space gives us credibility,” Jacques said.
Pallares is working to recruit other El Paso startups and provide them with resources at the coworking space.
“The reason I particularly like tech is because tech has the ability to create wealth much faster and rapidly larger than many other things,” Pallares said. “It also has a much higher failure rate.”
Pallares said the way to avoid that failure rate is by stopping the problem before it happens. He hopes to see innovative startups begin to emerge in the next three to five years.
“It takes a lot longer than people think and you’re probably not going to make money at the beginning right away,” Herrera said. “The reality is it takes a lot of time to get to that first customer.”
Additionally, the business incubator offers the possibility of daily and weekly networking opportunities to further grow the entrepreneurial community in El Paso.
CoWork Oasis rates start at $3 per hour or $150 per month. For more information, you can visit http://www.coworkoasis.com
Michaela Román may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.