UF-inspired group helps startups during the pandemic

Published: May. 26, 2020 at 4:43 PM EDT
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OneSixOne is an organization created to help entrepreneurs and startups connect with the resources they need to grow. It's a process that the co-founders, Pablo Casilimas and Justis Mendez, know well.

It started as a small group of UF students and their mentor -- and it quickly grew.

"Little by little, we started adding more successful entrepreneurs, more investors. Now we have a really big network of venture capitalist, investors, entrepreneurs, speakers, mentors, and industry experts," Casilimas said.

The group would usually hold in-person workshops or round-table sessions at spots like UF Innovation Hub, but since the pandemic started, even those are going virtual.

"We decided ... since we can't do any more in person events ... we can't control that," Casilimas said, "so let's just use our time to create value for our members, for our companies, for our network, in the meantime. So, we launched the OneSixOne Report immediately."

The OneSixOne report is the platform they use to put on virtual events that they can no longer do in person.

But virtual or not, the company takes pride in its home base.

"There's some of the best talent in the world at UF. Companies like Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn are all coming together here to recruit. Some of the best programs and talent in the world are here ... some of the smartest, brightest and forward thinking," Mendez said.

And the criteria for joining the group is simple.

"It's not so much that we are looking for you to have an idea like Airbnb or Uber … we are looking for people who are going to build something. Even if their first idea fails, even if their third idea fails, maybe their fifth or six idea will succeed," Casilimas said.