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Paying Forward the Goodwill of Others

It's been Proven: Great leaders and entrepreneurs are born, but also made. Pablo Fuentes and his fellow Proven founders strive to hone the skills, develop the ideas and help cultivate the businesses of minority entrepreneurs.

I am a first-generation immigrant from Chile, and I am passionate about technology entrepreneurship. I founded Proven with my partners Sean Falconer and Joe Mellin while I was at the Stanford Graduate School of Business almost three years ago.

Proven helps local businesses hire and quickly figure out which applicants best fit their culture. Every local business has a personality, a flavor, and a need for employees with specific skills. We built an easy-to-use interface where business owners and managers can funnel all of their responses from popular job boards and quickly sort out the really promising candidates--a task that is typically unwieldy and time-consuming. We also help local employers showcase their company cultures with employment branding pages. Candidates also get a great opportunity to showcase and validate their skills and experience free of charge.

Proven is growing and we are excited to continue helping local businesses hire and Americans get jobs across the country. We are filling a big need in helping close the skills gap by improving the flow of information between employers and candidates. Our dream is to become the main resource for local employment in the U.S. and beyond. We take particular pride in helping people showcase their skills and giving them opportunities for social advancement.

We iterated multiple times and tried many “crazy” ideas on our path to developing a product that delights customers. This is a bumpy road and I could not have traveled it alone. Entrepreneurship can be a scary, yet very rewarding journey. It matters to me to know that people have my back. I have had people like Johann Schleier-Smith, the founder of Tagged, who has taught me about adapting when your product does not work. People like Stephen DeBerry of Kapor Capital/Bronze Investments who has helped me refine our product from concept into an actual business. And people like Dave McClure of 500 Startups who has made his extensive network available to help me deal with big challenges. I have also counted on the amazing support of my family and of investors like Tim Draper, David Shen, Morado Ventures, DeeBek Ventures, and Ulu Ventures. Through thick and thin, these people and organizations have had my back. They are active supporters of minority entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and are making a huge difference in the process.

To be clear, my conversations with my mentors are not always pleasant, but they unequivocally help me grow. These people have fed my dreams and have shared with me the battle scars of their own struggles. I have come to learn that it is impossible to succeed as an entrepreneur without the ability to recover from severe setbacks.

I strive to pay my mentors’ goodwill forward with my active involvement with organizations such as Springworks Scholars, Management Leadership for Tomorrow and the NewMe Accelerator, which help fledgling minority entrepreneurs hone their ideas and launch their businesses and products. In between their flashes of brilliance, the entrepreneurs I mentor get scared and make mistakes. I have also been scared and made those same mistakes, and probably many more. I am proud to be there to talk about it when they need it (and to get out of the way when they don’t).

I see a bright future with many more minority entrepreneurs having the support and role models to pursue their crazy ideas. I am honored to carry their voice today, and I am proud to have their backs in the years to come. 

Pablo is currently Founder and CEO of Proven and is also involved with the Springworks Scholars program and the NewMe Accelerator, where he mentors minority entrepreneurs.