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!

Posted by WeWork on Thursday, February 1, 2018

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

Even before the lights went up on the stage, the WeWork Creator Awards was literally one of the biggest events of the year in Jerusalem. Nearly 4,000 people packed a stadium that usually hosts basketball games, and they came from as far away as Tel Aviv, Herzliya, and Be’er Sheva. It was also the largest regional competition so far for the awards, hosted in cities around the world.

At the job fair and pop-up market held before the awards, there were so many people that it was sometimes difficult to navigate the aisles. People eagerly pushed forward for free samples of food — even crispy grasshoppers.

When WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann finally stepped onto the stage, the event had the feeling of a homecoming. Neumann and his sister Adi Neumann, a model who hosted the event, both grew up on a kibbutz not far away.

WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann and his sister Adi share a moment at the Jerusalem Creator Awards.

“It’s a really special city and really special to be here,” said Adi from what is usually the home court for the HaPoel Jerusalem Basketball Club.

This is the second time the Creator Awards has been held in Israel. In October more than $1 million was awarded to winners at an event in Tel Aviv. In Jerusalem — where a WeWork location is slated to open later this year — a total of $774,000 went to eight winners.

Host Adi Neumann announces the winners in the business ventures category at the Jerusalem Creator Awards.

Here are some of the most unique and exciting highlights of the evening.

Most progressive fashion statement: More than 30 local artists, companies, and nonprofit organizations took part in a pop-up market on the arena’s concourse. There were bright paintings on canvas, glittering jewelry, natural beauty products, and plenty of T-shirts, including some emblazoned with the words “I’m Not for Sale,” part of a campaign against prostitution and human trafficking by the local nonprofit Turning the Tables, which was also a finalist at the Creator Awards.

Best product you can bury: Perhaps the most intriguing items for sale were paper greeting cards that weren’t just recyclable — they could actually be planted in the ground. Made by the Israeli company Paper Bloom, there are nine types of seeds embedded in the paper of the cards, resulting in several types of flowers that bloom throughout the year.

Winners in the nonprofit category of the Jerusalem Creator Awards pose for a photo together.

Best way to attract a crowd: More than 30 companies and nonprofits staffed tables at the event’s job fair, including half a dozen Creator Awards winners from last year’s event in Tel Aviv., The participants, like Yahoo’s Israeli R&D team and Taboola, were looking to hire a total of more than 70 people. Among the most attention-grabbing booths was that of the Israel Innovation Fund, a nonprofit promoting culture and creativity in Israel, whose table was covered with bottles of local wine.

Most popular souvenir: The most intriguing table at the job fair belonged to Hargol, an Israeli company that produces food products made from grasshoppers. The company — the top winner at the Tel Aviv Creator Awards — caught many people’s eyes with jars of roasted grasshoppers. About 40 percent of people who stopped by the table sampled them, leaving their transparent wings and crispy legs in little piles on the table. Many people then pocketed full jars to take home. “People keep taking them when we’re not looking,” said Hargol CEO Dror Tamir. “I don’t blame them. It really is the best souvenir.”

Most practical swag: The most in-demand item of the evening appeared to be bright red bags emblazoned with the words “Work Happy.” These were from Jobbio, the Dublin-based online hiring platform. “Personally I think they are quite eye-catching,” said Jobbio’s account manager Martha Hayes, who traveled from Dublin to attend the event in Jerusalem. “And they are a useful place to keep the rest of your swag.”

Netta Barzilai, who recently propelled Israel to Eurovision champion, is surrounded by fans.

Favorite food: At a moment when Israeli cuisine has been making global headlines, tables filled with local specialties were scattered throughout the event’s pop-up market and job fair. Popular items included fresh pitas stuffed with chicken, lamb, fish, or roasted vegetables and topped with cilantro-infused tahini. There were also tiny jars of creamy malabi pudding topped with pomegranate syrup and pistachio nuts. But the biggest hit may have been the chocolate chip cookies, baked on the premises in a giant oven by Pilpel Catering. “Holy Moses, these are good,” said one person who sampled them.

Most creative cocktail: Open bars served beer, wine, and craft cocktails all night long. People seemed to love the Golden City, a drink inspired by Jerusalem and made from vodka and honey and garnished with fresh cucumbers.

Most mind-blowing performance: For those who could tear themselves away from the party-like scene at the pop-up market, the highlight of the masterclasses was a show by Israeli mentalist Lior Suchard. As usual, the internationally known performer wowed the audience by reading people’s minds. At one point he seemed to know some participants better than they knew themselves. When asking one woman how many letters were in the name of her first crush, she kept saying five. Suchard replied, “Are you sure it isn’t six?” Sure enough, Suchard guessed the name, and there were indeed six letters.

Most tear-inducing moment: After the audience heard inspiring stories from all of the night’s finalists, it was Kaima Farm, which helps teeneagers who have dropped out of school, that took home the top prize for nonprofit ventures. Yoni Yefet-Reich, Kaima’s CEO, immediately handed the prize over to one of the teenagers who said his life had been transformed by his time on the farm.

Biggest winner: The $360,000 grand prize went to Yehudit Abrams, a recent American immigrant to Israel, for her startup MonitHer, which is developing a hand-held ultrasound device women can use for monthly breasts exams. The device will alert them to any changes in tissue, a key to early diagnosis of breast cancer. “I’m empowering women,” Abrams said, holding up her award.

Best show of hometown pride: Moments after Abrams was showered in sparkly confetti, another top figure in women’s empowerment, Netta Barzilai, who recently propelled Israel to Eurovision champion with her song “Toy,” took the stage to kick off the real party part of the evening. The crowd gathered around her, wildly snapping photos.

When Raffi Rembrand’s son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4, it was not the worst news the family received that day. The biggest blow came when their doctor said it was too late for the earliest treatments.

So for Rembrand, a chemical engineer by training, finding a way to detect autism earlier became his life’s mission.

Now, more than three decades after his son was diagnosed with autism, Rembrand has founded an Israeli company, SensPD, which he hopes will accomplish just that. 

SensPD, a winner in the WeWork Creator Awards held on June 20 in Jerusalem, is developing a way to detect autism based on physiological signs. The company uses an existing device commonly used to check the hearing of newborns, but has modified it to check for sensory perception. One of the major components of autism, which affects one of every 59 children born in the U.S., is its effect on the sensory system.

“We didn’t reinvent the wheel,” says Maayan Shahar, SensPD’s CEO.  “But we have altered a very known device used in all hospitals that will hopefully provide a standard screening process for all babies.”

The goal is for such a test to eventually become standard for every baby born around the world, allowing the various treatments for autism to start as soon as possible. When started very early in life, some therapies have a success rate of up to 90 percent.

“It’s been known for a long time that it’s early intervention that makes all the difference,” Shahar says.

But the standard diagnosis of autism based on a series of evaluations often comes after a children has reached the age of 3 or 4, which is too late for some treatments.

SensPD is currently preparing to start clinical trials in Israel. It hopes that if all goes well it will get regulatory approval for its device within three years.

Rembrand’s son, now 35 and living in a group home in Israel, remains an inspiration for the company.

“We want to bring this to market as soon as possible, but in the most professional way,” Shahar says.  ”So that instead of being isolated, children with autism can be a productive part of society.”

While Yehudit Abrams was working as a postdoctoral fellow at NASA, her job was to research the potential use of ultrasound to monitor astronauts on long missions to the international space station. But when her cousin, a gynecologist and breast cancer survivor, was killed in a car accident in 2011, Abrams started thinking of other uses for the medical device.

“She was so passionate about the early detection of cancer, and I wanted to honor her for that,” says Abrams, a physician and mechanical engineer who immigrated to Israel last year from California. “That is what got me thinking about using some sort of portable ultrasound for early detection of cancer.”

Abrams founded MonitHer, a Jerusalem-based startup that is developing a handheld ultrasound device that women can use at home to monitor their breast tissue. The device and its potential to change the way breast cancer is detected is why MonitHer was the big winner the WeWork Creator Awards, held in Jerusalem on June 20. Her company took home $360,000.

“I’m empowering women,” Abrams told the crowd, holding up her award.

An early prototype of the MonitHer scanner.

Women using the device will scan their breasts once a month for about 10 minutes. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved software program then scans the images for any changes over time. If the software detects any potential problems, users will be advised to consult a physician.

By monitoring breast tissue over time, Abrams says women will be able to detect cancer earlier than the traditional method of self-exams where women feel each breast in order to find lumps or swelling.

“We are changing the paradigm from breast cancer screening to breast health monitoring,” Abrams says.

Once more than 100,000 women begin to use the device and upload their scans to the app each month, artificial intelligence and machine learning methods will be used to evaluate tissue changes.

While mammography has long been the best way to diagnose breast cancer, it is less effective on certain women, especially those with dense breast tissue. And the current protocols for breast cancer detection have recently been questioned for resulting in the unnecessary treatment of tumors that may never grow in size or harm a women’s health.

“We are wasting billions of dollars of year treating cancer that women don’t have, and this is because we have stopped innovating,” Abrams said. “Medicine is a dinosaur.”

When his friend Joshua Altman suggested that they could help provide clean drinking water to whole villages, Moshe Tshuva was dubious.

“When I first heard his idea, I told him it couldn’t work, because it wouldn’t produce enough water to be worth it,” says Tshuva, who has worked in the solar energy industry for more than three decades. “But it turns out that I was wrong and he was right.”

Together, the two engineers started Tethys Desalination, an Israeli company that aims to turn salty or polluted water into crystal-clear drinking water by harnessing the energy of the sun. Their easily installed device, which fits into a box that’s about a square meter in size, can produce up to 50 liters of drinkable water each day.

The system is scalable, so one device can meet the needs of a family, and a cluster of units installed together can sustain an entire village. Altman says the device could help save the lives of children in drought-stricken areas of Africa.

One device can meet the needs of a family, and a cluster of units installed together can sustain an entire village.

“And ultimately, it will allow those places without water to come back to life,” says Altman.

The device, which is being tested on a kibbutz in northern Israel, was a winner at the WeWork Creator Awards, held in Jerusalem on June 20.

The idea for the device came to Altman back in the 1990s when was teaching a university course about water desalination techniques. He found himself frustrated by the limitations of desalination techniques.

“All of the processes use a lot of energy and are very aggressive toward the environment,” says Altman. “I thought there had to be a better way.”

Altman, who has co-founded several other successful startups, envisioned a cheap, simple, and energy-efficient desalination technique. The idea has garnered a lot of attention in recent months, with cities like Cape Town, South Africa, seeing their water supplies nearly run out.

The device is basically a weather system in a box, Altman explains. The sun causes the dirty water inside the box to evaporate. It then turns into mist and eventually drips down, producing clean water. This process, which mimics how clouds work, is repeated four times per cycle to maximize the amount of water produced.

“Basically we see how clean water is created in nature, through the water cycle of evaporation and rain,” Tshuva says.  “So we want to use this to solve the water shortage problem in a natural way.”