Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.
In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In launched The Future 5 across 11 major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of Chicago’s rising startups from last quarter here.
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Small businesses have had it hard these last couple of years. The Covid-19 pandemic stretched their resources thin and inflation is it making harder to make a profit. Besides having to pay for retail space and utilities, there are other costs businesses need to consider such as marketing and e-commerce enablement, something many companies were forced to do during the pandemic.
But even after deciding to do online sales, e-commerce services like Squarespace and Shopify cost hundreds and thousands of dollars a year and are not meant for everyone, especially for folks doing e-commerce sales as a side hustle. To provide a platform for small businesses and those with side hustles, Latino tech entrepreneur Ruben Flores-Martinez launched CASHDROP, a platform that lowers the barrier to entry for e-commerce sales and services.
Flores-Martinez immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico and after not being able to attend college due to the financial aid limitations placed on undocumented students, Flores-Martinez tought himself to code and design websites.
“I realized that launching an online storefront is challenging for aspiring entrepreneurs and mom-and-pop companies who don’t have the resources for the massive undertaking that creating apps and websites required at the time,” Flores-Martinez told Built In.
Founded in 2020, CASHDROP is a free-to-use e-commerce platform meant for young entrepreneurs and business owners looking to sell and market their products or services online. Through the app, users can create an online storefront in under 15 minutes that can be used to sell everything from food and clothing to tickets or services. The platform has no seller or monthly fee and can process payments through its integrations with Stripe and Heartland.
“CASHDROP prides itself on a user-friendly interface, which allows anyone to own and operate their own business regardless of technical skill level. From a 13-year-old entrepreneur who started selling slime from her smartphone to a husband and wife duo who turned their candy side hustle into a full brick-and-mortar business, CASHDROP allows anyone to make their business idea a reality, fast,” Flores-Martinez said.
As a minority, you often have to work twice as hard to get half as far. But I’ve found there’s a breaking point where working twice as hard has an exponential compounding effect on how much brighter you shine and [the] progress you make.”
Another challenge Flores-Martinez had to overcome as a Latino entrepreneur was venture funding. Repeated studies have revealed that on average minority-founded startups receive less funding than startups founded by white men and are also more likely to launch without any funding.
Soon after launching, CASHDROP closed its first round of funding to the tune of $2.7 million. With that capital, the company made several hires to grow and create content for its platform.
“Breaking through is very difficult as a Latino founder — only about 1.5 percent of venture dollars go to minority-led startups — so I’ve felt a responsibility to build a system that works for me and find a tribe of people who can help me connect with the right resources,” Flores-Martinez said. “As a minority, you often have to work twice as hard to get half as far. But I’ve found there’s a breaking point where working twice as hard has an exponential compounding effect on how much brighter you shine and [the] progress you make.”
Post raise, the e-commerce startup has been developing new solutions for small businesses. Recently it launched a point of sales (POS) platform for restaurants that aims to be an alternative to services such as Square and Clover, which both have high implementation costs. CASHDROP’s POS doesn’t charge a yearly fee like other services; instead, it charges a 5 percent processing fee at checkout. With the platform, restaurants are able to take online orders as well as process payments from digital wallets and credit cards. It can also run on any Apple device.