Mexico City Creator Awards 2018 – blooders pitch by César Esquivel Tellez

The crowd might have seemed partisan to Antonio Purón. The Hola<code> cheerleaders were out in force, springing up from their chairs, banners in hand at every mention of their organization. The two owners of Ceviche Surf had their raucous fans, as did the all-female team of biotechnology engineers from Ecoplaso. Yet Purón stood undaunted.

He strode to the mic to state his mission in 45 seconds: “TAK-TAK-TAK is a project for children at the bottom of the pyramid to receive an education.” His project, TAK-TAK-TAK by Inoma, has developed 85 video games across mobile and PC platforms to teach children in underserved communities through play.

Asked how he was sure children would play his games, he replied, “We went to Chiapas [one of Mexico’s poorest states] to a remote school with very low connectivity [and] installed our games. We found out the kids asked the teacher to open the school on Sundays to play TAK-TAK-TAK.” The best kind of answer—simple, powerful, and deserving of the US $180,000 Audience Choice Award.

Amid headlines about crime or immigration involving Mexico, the Mexico City Creator Awards was the place to recognize a very different reality. Virtually every creator, nominated and awarded, spoke of a unique and joint commitment: using their ideas, their energy, their very blood to make Mexico a better place.

Every creator spoke of a unique and joint commitment: using their ideas, their energy, their very blood to make Mexico a better place.

This blend of national pride and creative commitment was peppered throughout the first Creator Awards held in Mexico City. The global competition, sponsored by WeWork, celebrates ideas with impact and heads to Shanghai next. Hosted at the Corona Forum, more than 2,700 people gathered to witness the best of the country’s entrepreneurial culture. Besides the Audience Choice Award and a Community Giver Award for those doing good within their WeWork community, prizes were given out in three main categories: the Incubate Award, for great ideas or specific projects that need funding; the Launch Award, for young businesses and organizations that need a little help getting off the ground; and the Scale Award, which is for more established operations aiming to get to the next level.

Watch the whole event on Facebook Live:

Creator Awards México

Sintoniza el próximo jueves 1 de febrero nuestro Facebook Live a las 8 p.m. para ver a algunos de los creadores más inspiradores de México contándonos porque deben ser los ganadores de los #creatorwards ¡Las grandes ideas merecen grandes celebraciones!

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To kick things off, industry leaders hosted master classes before the awards ceremony. The first panel, featuring chef Eduardo García, discussed culinary entrepreneurship.

“I saw Mexico as a country where opportunities didn’t exist,” he said. “But I found a completely different country. I arrived [in 2007] with nothing in my pockets, so I tell my cooks that if they truly want to achieve something, they can do it.” Eleven years later, his culinary mastery has led him to own three renowned restaurants and create more than 100 jobs.

The crowd gave Garcia a standing ovation as he said that despite being seen as “illegal aliens” in the US, Mexicans have every opportunity to succeed.  

Watch the master classes on Facebook Live:

WeWork Creator Awards México Master Classes

¡Los premios #creatorawards llegan a la Ciudad de México! Tendremos a los chefs Eduardo Garcia y Elena Reygadas hablando de sus inicios como emprendedores y cómo se convirtieron en renombrados chefs. Además, la estrella de pop-rock mexicano Natalia Lafourcade Oficial discutirá con la editora en jefe de Vogue México y Latinoamérica, Karla Martínez su camino hacia el reconocimiento mundial a través de su arte. ¡Asegúrate de sintonizar nuestro Facebook Live, no querrás perderte estas interesantes pláticas!

Posted by WeWork on Thursday, February 1, 2018

That energy and participation was the lifeblood of the evening. Shouts of “I love you” accompanied singer Natalia Lafourcade as she sat down for an interview with Karla Martinez, editor-in-chief of Vogue México.

Even Miguel McKelvey, co-founder and Chief Culture Officer of WeWork, was taken aback when he took to the stage. “This is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I gotta take a picture from up here.” Despite his first name, McKelvey apologized for not speaking Spanish before revealing how impressed WeWork had been with the creativity shown in the over 1,300 applications received in the Creator Awards.

The need for such creativity was evident in the range of the candidates for the Incubate awards. Acordando Caminos transports people living in remotest Mexico when in need of medical emergencies. El Pequeño Gran Escritor gathers stories written by children and has them illustrated by professional artists before publishing them. In the end, all six Incubate finalists took home $18,000.

Then came time for the Launch category and a passionate pitch from César Esquivel Tellez. His organization, Blooders, puts those in need of blood donations in touch with potential donors across Mexico via an app. This might seem an obvious solution in the age of crowdsourcing, but, as Esquivel Tellez said, “One in four people will need blood at some point, yet Mexico is the worst country in Latin America for blood donations.”

Beyond having helped 13,000 people receive blood in 2017, Blooders also uses a novel idea: get them while they’re young. By visiting schools across the country, Blooders raises awareness among kids about the importance of blood donation and gets them to bring in their parents to donate. In his 45-second pitch, Esquivel Tellez said he hoped to reach 30,000 people in 2018. The $180,000 Launch prize will help him meet that goal.

Finally, the big winner of the evening was Someone Somewhere, which won $360,000 in the Scale category. The idea for Someone Somewhere arose when Antonio Nuño and his friends visited artisans around Mexico and saw the poor conditions they lived in. “There are 7 million artisans living in poverty in Mexico, often because their products simply are not useful on a daily basis,” he said.

Fifteen years later, Someone Somewhere has, on average, tripled the revenue of its suppliers, making T-shirts, hats, and backpacks designed for everyday wear. Nuño’s win in the Scale category was sealed when he encapsulated the next step for his company: the lucrative US market.

At a time of division and doubt, what could be more meaningful than improving the lives of Mexican craftsmen than by tapping the neighbor to the north of the Rio Grande? McKelvey asked for an XXL shirt on the spot.

César Esquivel Tellez of Blooders delivers his pitch.
Holacode gets a standing ovation.
Miguel McKelvey and Antonio Nuño celebrate Someone Somewhere's Scale Award.
Tak-Tak-Tak by Inoma takes home a prize.

Winners of the 2018 Mexico City Creator Awards

Scale – $360,000

Someone Somewhere

Launch – $180,000


Audience Choice – $180,000

Tak-Tak-Tak by Inoma


Incubate – $18,000

Acortando caminos

Amigos sin Frontera a.c.

Ceviche Surf Co


El Pequeño Gran Escritor

KROKIS diseñando experiencia


Community Giver Award – $18,000

Documentalistas Sin Fronteras

Voluntarios México


Photos by Katelyn Perry

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“I was the butt of many jokes,” says Jiliang Ma, an entrepreneur based in Suzhou, a Chinese city about 90 minutes west of Shanghai.

When he saw a friend lose a baby late in her pregnancy, he got the idea for a fetal monitoring device. Friends teased him because he wasn’t even married, let alone a father, but he persevered.

Three years later, Ma’s wife Rebecca and 15,000 other pregnant women around China have used his device called Modoo, which tracks their babies’ development. The device — a flat, cordless disc that attaches to a mother’s belly with silicone gel stickers — measures fetal heart rate and other vital stats, and relays the information via a smartphone app.

Modoo inventor Jiliang Ma celebrates with his wife Rebecca and son Yoyo.

The device also monitors the strength of a baby’s kicks. The name Modoo is adapted from the company’s Chinese name Meng Dong, which means “adorable performance” or “cute kick.”

“During my wife’s pregnancy, she used my product every day,” says the 29-year-old entrepreneur. “I got data instantly on my mobile phone. I could see how hard the baby kicked, his heartbeat.”  

Even though he was traveling a lot for business during his wife’s pregnancy, Ma was happy that he could help monitor the progress of his son Yoyo. Ma laughs as he recalls one time when Yoyo’s kicks became quite intense: “I said to her, ‘He kicked you too hard. We are going to have to kick his ass after he comes out!’”

Modoo inventor Jiliang Ma jumps for joy when he wins at the Shanghai Creator Awards.

Modoo connects to an app that allows users to share data via social media sites like WeChat and Weibo. Ma says that makes it easy to help family and friends feel more connected.

At the Shanghai Creator Awards, sponsored by WeWork, Ma and his company took home the Business Venture award. Ma’s first reaction when he won the $360,000 grand prize was to jump for joy. The award, Ma said, “gives me confidence and energy to compete more.”

He also expressed his gratitude to his team of 30, which is based out of Beijing’s WeWork Wangjing. “I know how hard it has been for all of us these past three years,” he says. “We all work 20 hours a day. I’m really thankful to them.”

The prize money, he said, will help the company expand into new markets like Canada and the United States. But first he wants to take a while to savor the moment.

“I’m going to stare at the trees, the lakes, and then visualize our next step — New York — and beyond that, how we will conquer the world!”

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Nick Lim understands firsthand the life-changing power of a pair of pants.

Growing up in a humble household in Singapore, Lim loved singing but was unable to participate in school concerts because he didn’t have the right clothes. When he was 10 years old, his choir teacher asked him to meet her after school. They visited a shop where she purchased him a pair of slacks and a crisp white shirt.

Recalling that moment more than three decades later, Lim says his teacher’s generosity “allowed me to express myself onstage and develop self-respect.” It was occasional moments like this throughout his life, he says, that restored his faith in humanity.

“When you grow up poor in a dysfunctional family, you think the world is cruel,” he says. “You grow up thinking, ‘Why is the world so unfair?’ Every once in a while someone helped me though they had no obligation to, and that made me look at the world with a different perspective.”

Lim says those acts of kindness helped him stay on track at school and succeed as an investment banker. But as he excelled in his career, he began to question his life’s value.

WeWork Shanghai
At the Shanghai Creator Awards, Nick Lim accepts his prize from WeWork founder Adam Neumann.

“At the end of the day, we only live once,” he says. “What am I put on this world for? Definitely not to make as much money as possible.”

Five years ago he started baosquared, an organization that collects used clothing and other items and sends it to needy children in rural China. It also partners with brands like Vans to make sure their surplus merchandise doesn’t go into incinerators or landfills. So far it has helped 4,596 children.

“If people could help me the way they did and push me in the right direction,” he asks, “why couldn’t I do it for someone else?”

 The organization takes care to distribute only clothing that is not torn, stained, or otherwise damaged.

“You don’t want to give children something that makes them feel devalued,” he says. “If you give them something nice, it makes them feel loved. Checking a piece of clothing takes an extra 20 seconds, but makes a huge difference. If they grow up to be kind, generous, and loving, then we have a better chance.”

The same person who wore his first formal suit to perform with his school choir took the stage in front of hundreds of people at the Shanghai Creator Awards to receive the WeWork Community Giver award. The event celebrates and provides funding to innovators and entrepreneurs who are making an impact on their communities.

“It’s great to know there is an organization out there like WeWork looking for guys like us and shows its appreciation to little guys doing what we’re doing,” he says.

Lim feels that he’s helping to change the world one child at a time.

“When I visit the children, they try to show their appreciation,” Lim says. “I say to them: ‘What I would like you to do instead of thanking me is to someday when you are in the position to help someone, pay it forward.’”

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Kate Wang’s daughter Tingting loves to sing, socialize, and meet new friends. She also loves makeup, often taking herself to the hair or nail salon. She is like any other 25-year-old girl living in Nanning City in Guangxi, in southern China — except that when Tingting goes out, she does so by electric wheelchair.

Tingting was born with cerebral palsy, a muscle disorder that in China is considered an illness, rather than a disability. Wang struggled to find appropriate long-term resources and support networks for her daughter.

“People think of children as angels,” said Wang, “but when they see a disabled child or a family with a disabled child, they think of it as a burden or even a disaster.”

When Tingting was rejected by local public schools, Wang and her husband, Lvijiang Li, started AngelHouse, which provides housing, physical training, education, and counseling for around 90 children and young adults with cerebral palsy.

“I want to tell everyone that children with disabilities are still angels,” Wang said.

When it was started in 2002, the nonprofit encountered a host of unexpected challenges. As disabled children are sometimes considered bad luck in China, neighbors petitioned to evict AngelHouse from one of its locations. They’ve had to move five times in the last 16 years.

AngelHouse founder Kate Wang: “I want to tell everyone that children with disabilities are still angels.”

Relying on her family for childcare, Wang tried to balance the nonprofit and her work as a TV reporter. She was left with no time for herself or her daughter. “I was not only very tired,” she said, “but also very conflicted.”

But this period didn’t last long. “I was sure my daughter needed this, and others like her needed it,” Wang said. “Without AngelHouse, they didn’t have a future.”

When Wang swept both the Nonprofit and the Audience Choice awards at WeWork’s Shanghai Creator Awards, it was the culmination of her hard work over the past 16 years. “When I looked down at those two awards in my hands, so many images came to mind — the work of so many years, the faces of our AngelHouse children,” she said.

Winning the Audience Choice Award was particularly momentous. “That one felt amazing,” Wang said. “And it was such a surprise.”

AngelHouse started as a means for Wang and Li to do good for those in need. But today, after having helped thousands of children and families, Li says that she herself has been the ultimate beneficiary. “I can’t say that I’ve helped them,” she said. “It’s more accurate to say that they’ve helped me.”

Just after winning, Wang talked to her daughter and received yet another gift. Tingting exclaimed, “Thank you, Mom! Your efforts keep reenergizing us, and you always keep reenergizing me.”

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The inaugural Shanghai Creator Awards took place in a massive former aircraft factory transformed into an art exhibition space, the West Bund Art Center. The entire area along Shanghai’s southern waterfront was developed seemingly overnight five years ago as part of the city’s ambitious plans to kick-start its arts scene onto the global stage.

WeWork, a network offering space, community, and physical and virtual services that currently has physical locations in 21 countries, was introduced to China less than two years ago but aims to move in a similarly explosive and transformative way. The scale and energy of the company’s signature event, the Creator Awards –– which celebrates entrepreneurs, nonprofits, community leaders, and performing artists –– was testament to the likewise outsized dreams, plans, and successes of the featured entrepreneurs from China, as well as to WeWork’s unprecedented growth in the country. It was a night that celebrated, as Shanghai itself often manifests, the glimmering vision of the future.

Here are the biggest, best, most touching, and most awkward moments of the night.

Best swag: Original T-shirts emblazoned with the night’s logo “Created in China,” available from a live screen-printing station run by Shanghai’s IB Print Club. Created in China and right in front of your eyes (drying made more expeditious via a hand-held hair dryer.)

Tiniest item for sale at the pop-up market: Jelly, billed as the world’s smallest smartphone –– about as compact as a deck of cards.

Best reason to freshen up your LinkedIn profile: A crowd lined up for free professional headshots offered by WeWork’s photography team at the job fair, best selves delivered to inboxes that very night.

Members of the Yuedong Jumprope troupe amazed the audience.

Dream job for Netflix bingers at the job fair: Writer for Pink Koala, a feature film screenwriting company.

Dream jobs for the fashionista at the job fair: Farfetch, Lululemon, Yoox Net-a-Porter, NuSkin Beauty, and Coty were marketing dozens of positions.

Most relaxed: Lululemon, the global athletic wear company that houses offices in Shanghai’s WeWork Weihai Lu, set up a dome in the far corner where visitors were invited to try out meditative VR programs.

Highest torque: William Li, founder, chairman, and CEO of NIO Car, which produces premium electric and autonomous vehicles as well as sports cars. In a master class on mobility, Li, the oft-monikered “Elon Musk of China,” said that mobility was a matter of space, speed, and time. “Cars have thus far given people access to more space more quickly, and the next transformation in transportation would give back to people the time and freedom to do what they want to do [instead of driving].” Li also pointed out that taxi drivers are facing stiff competition with new ride sharing apps, as many drivers are illegally sharing licenses. “Don’t do illegal things in the name of ‘sharing’ or ‘doing social good,’” he urged.

Best selfie: Taken in the middle of the selfie-hungry crowd by Li and NIU Technologies founder Token Hu. In the photo are the smiling faces that master class moderator Chen Yao of IDEO called “the godfather and the genius” of China’s startup scene.

WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann (right) walked onto the main stage to kick off the night with “Shalom Shanghai!”

Biggest gauntlet thrown: WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann walked onto the main stage to kick off the night with “Shalom Shanghai!” After announcing in passing the news about WeWork’s acquisition of Chinese-based community-based shared workspace and lifestyle brand naked Hub, he issued a challenge: “I’ve got a message to every global company on the earth: If you’re not in China, you don’t exist.”

Most tear-inducing scene: AngelHouse’s founder Kate Wang, who started a nonprofit that provides housing, education, and care for children with cerebral palsy, brought the audience to tears when she introduced the reason for her project: her daughter, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and couldn’t find entry into normal public schools in Guangxi. “Because this wouldn’t have happened without her, I can also say that my daughter is a creator,” she said.

Most awkward comment from a judge: “You look like a teenager,” Mary Ma, CEO of fashion company Maryma Haute Couture, said about the youthful appearance of 33-year-old Nonprofit finalist Jie Xiao, founder of E.G.G. Walkathon.

Most acrobatic: Performing arts winner Yuedong Jumprope gave an athletic performance of jump rope tricks, flips, and moves set to dance music. The crowd let out a collective gasp and then a cheer when two members grabbed another by the arms and legs, swinging her around like a human jump rope.

Toughest grilling: Business Venture finalist Jiliang Ma of Extant Future, which produces the Modoo fetus monitoring device, was peppered with questions from the two female judges –– and mothers –– Angela Dong, GM and VP of Nike Greater China, and Mary Ma.

Kate Wang of AngelHouse swept up both the Nonprofit as well as the Audience Choice awards.

Biggest winners: Ma’s Modoo took home the Business Venture award, and Kate Wang of AngelHouse swept up both the Nonprofit as well as the Audience Choice awards. Wang, who previously told WeWork that she felt she had been “preparing for this moment for 16 years,” was overcome with emotion at the unexpected windfall, throwing her fist into the air in a jubilant gesture.

Catchiest catchphrase: “Created in China” was the big slogan of the night, plastered in oversized letters on the walls as guests arrived, projected onto the screen in the auditorium, and live screen-printed on swag. To those who say China lacks creativity, the night served as an in-your-face challenge to the hackneyed label.

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