About Our Efforts
PandoLabs went through changes in leadership in 2017, former director Ted McAleer stepped into a board chair position and granted his position to a new director: Juliana Duran. Aside from running 4 entrepreneurship programs, Juliana Duran put a team together to ensure that meaningful apprenticeship and mentorship opportunities were made available to students from underrepresented backgrounds in 2018.
Pandolabs is partnering with the Park City Community Foundation and Bright Futures this summer (2018) to align up to 10 high school students with meaningful local apprenticeship opportunities. More details and updates will be posted here soon!
The PandoLabs Institute Apprenticeship Program is expected to expand Fall 2018. This effort builds on existing programs established by PandoLabs in May 2017 providing high school students over 400 hours of experiential learning opportunities. The program will also expand momentum from the efforts carried on during the summer. The PandoLabs Institute Apprenticeship program expands our reach to specifically help 1st and 2nd generation immigrants, and the general Park City population gain exposure local professional networks and embark in 7 meaningful apprenticeship experiences within our organization. We fill gaps that are complementary to existing local resources but cannot be fulfilled by the school district or government institutions alone.
About Our Project Leaders
“After leaving my country and settling in the US, I struggled to find a place where I fit in. It took me a full year to learn English, and another year to be able to apply it in the context of American culture. I was introduced to the sport of skiing through a wealthy aunt that sponsored my first lesson. This was my first introduction to passion. However, this passion drove me to skip school and drift my focus from education aspirations.
Finding a job as a 15 year old in Park City was easy, keeping a job was rather difficult. In a 10 year span, I held 19 jobs, again focus and discipline was a huge factor. My mom knew that my only post high school vision was skiing, it was reflected in my report card displaying mostly B’s and C’s. My mom is extremely hard working, aside from working 4 jobs at a time, she found the time to seek a hispanic college recruiter at the University of Utah that guided her through affirmative action sponsorships, college applications, student loans etc…
My mother applied to college for me, once accepted, she begged me to sign the papers. My second introduction to passion stemmed from my father. After working at the local Walmart for 5 years, he had a vision to start a taxi company in Park City. However, his English wasn’t fluent, so he asked me to conduct interviews for him. This made the lightbulb go off. I thought to myself… I could skip the “moving up the latter concept” and become the boss immediately through entrepreneurship.
Since that moment I’ve started more than 5 entrepreneurial ideas through a program led by Quatere called “Foundry”, my grades skyrocketed in college, and I was able to graduate with an Entrepreneurship Degree from David Eccles School of Business. Shortly after, I used some of my network connections and business structuring tools learned at the Foundry program, to draft a 90 day plan with my job application for PandoLabs. I joined PandoLabs (Park City’s Innovation Center) as Marketing and Program Manager. Most recently I was promoted to Associate Director of PandoLabs while spearheading the Park City Angel’s operations. Now, my biggest desire is to spend the rest of my life inspiring others to find and follow their passion, to take leadership roles, improve communities and use entrepreneurship as a force for good in the world. Yet, if it wasn’t for the parental support, professional network, and experiential learning opportunity at Foundry, I would most likely be bumping chairs at the resort.” –Juliana Duran, PandoLabs Associate Director.
“My name is Jesus, and I am the founder of Cultura Ventures. Up until some months ago, I was one of the “DREAMers” / DACA recipients you have been hearing about lately. I came to America on my own, as an unaccompanied minor. It was the daunting challenge I faced at 14 years old, supporting myself while working two full time jobs and attending high school that gave me the courage and conviction to find a way to enroll and pay my way through the University of Utah, where I graduated with two engineering degrees with honors and a MBA, all while taking care of my son as a single father.
That same courage also led me to find a path to fight my immigration case, all the way to the highest level of immigration authorities. A year ago, I left the U.S. for the very first time in 20 years to present my case and tell an immigration officer about all of my contributions to the Venture Capital and Startup community and why those efforts were so unique and national in scope that it merited that this country, the only country that I know as my home makes an exception and awards me permanent residency. We often talk about 1’s or 0’s as entrepreneurs. There is no better way of knowing what it’s truly like to experience what a 0 could mean until your entire life is hanging on one decision – a decision that for immigrants is totally out of our control. I was either getting my Green Card or kissing the last 20 years of my life goodbye and having to start from 0 without my son in my native Mexico. I decided there was only one option, gambled on myself and bought a one way flight to go to the U.S. Embassy in Juarez, Mexico.
To the surprise of many, including my own attorneys and dozens of nation’s top lawyers who in the past told me this was impossible the immigration officer told me the words I had only dreamed of hearing. “Your visa has been approved. Your case is what the American dream is all about.” These are words that have changed my entire life, I became the first DACA recipient to ever self petition and receive an EB-2 visa. A visa that finally allows me the opportunity to be able to once again put everything on the line and pursue another long awaited dream – now that my immigration status is no longer a barrier, I started a seed fund, Cultura Ventures. We value diversity, immigrants, and the need to reach beyond our established Silicon Valley ecosystem for talent. We actively recruit founders from nontraditional backgrounds and are passionate about being active agents for change at every stage of the talent pipeline that fuels tech.
I have been in VC for over 6 years and have advised a total of 49 startups and a couple VC firms across the west coast and the mountain west. I have helped them raise $40.6MM in funding. I have helped create hundreds of jobs while managing to do work that is close and dear to my heart such as serving as the former Bay Area Director for FWD.us – a non-profit created by entrepreneurs and VCs, including Reid Hoffman and Mark Zuckerberg along with other key leaders in tech to advocate for immigration and education reform. I served as the link between the organization and notable leaders in the tech community, White House officials and members of congress which were critical in the formation and enactment of the “International Entrepreneur Rule” and the H4 visa which was proposed by the Obama White House. I bring with me a network of entrepreneurs, some who have, in their own way also been in the shadows as they seek to obtain the necessary connected capital to take their startup to the next level.
Furthermore, I’ve been fortunate to have grown up in Utah and always be surrounded by great mentors I met along the way through school (Park City High School and University of Utah) and leading organizations that I’ve had the opportunity to join including, Park City Angel Network, Pando Labs, the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute and others. I believe in paying it forward and in empowering other entrepreneurs, some who have, in their own way also in the shadows as they seek to obtain the necessary resources and network to take their ideas to the next level. I believe this is not just a good cause, it’s also a good business.”