Author: Priscilla Rodriguez

For Startup Weekend first timers, the process could be intimidating and for some day two and three may never come to be, but for Ashley Ruiz, a Nogales High School junior this meant, challenge accepted. Arriving at the event at Churea Espacio Creativo in Nogales, Sonora, she was a volunteer helping with registration but not before long she was encouraged by other participants to share her idea during the pitch fire sessions, it's then when she broke out of her shell and decided to take a new step forward and stand before everyone to share her social impact idea. To her surprise, the idea she pitched was voted on to advance and she began unfolding a startup offering a digital technology solution, which includes building out a smartphone application aimed to help street dogs in Nogales, which the team cleverly named “Ayu-Dog”.

After the intensive process of validating and building a business model to develop a minimal viable product, Ashley and her team created a very promising prototype of what the application would look like, what features it could have and other possible extensions to the social impact app. On day three of the Startup Weekend, the official final pitches were up for judging and "Ayu-Dog" proudly placed third, something Ashley wasn't expecting but that opened her eyes to a whole new world of possibility.  

For young entrepreneurs like Ashley, Startup Weekends work as hands-on extensive training where she learned to build her very first business model and how to unfold a startup pitch to an audience of community members and investors, while practicing speaking to potential clients. Ashley's experience definitely marks a before and after for her who wanted to become an entrepreneur and the opportunity allowed her to have an actual feel of what being an entrepreneur really is.

When interviewed about her experience at Startup Weekend Nogales, Ashley said the following, “I learned that I have to build a structure for my idea. How to organize it and how to present it to the public, and to disregard if someone tells me I can’t do something, if I fail I will not feel bad about it, because failure will lead me to success".

She mentioned she plans to continue her education and is exploring options at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University for a career focused on business administration or in the health field.