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Carol Fenster

I am CEO and co-founder of Baby Abuelita Productions LLC. We are a certified majority woman owned company that launched in 2005 with a line of singing dolls, electronic books and animated DVD's that highlight the iconic role of grandparents in preserving Hispanic musical culture, heritage and tradi...

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Baby Abuelita Productions

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03/23/2011 11:00am
Capital Sources: Venture capitalist conference focuses on the Americas

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Capital Sources: Venture capitalist conference focuses on the Americas
Wayne Tompkins

Baby Abuelita Productions is a Miami company with both an unusual name and an unusual line of products.
"We create, manufacture and distribute a line of plush singing dolls, musical books and animated DVDs, and we target Hispanic families — children, parents, grandparents," said Carol Fenster, who co-founded the business in 2004 with Hilda Argilagos-Jimenez. They sold their first dolls in Miami a year later.
"Our signature dolls actually are two grandparent dolls, Abuelita Rosa and Abuelito Pancho," Fenster said. "What we wanted to do is combine the warmth and closeness of a baby doll with a nurturing grandparent."
The company works on an outsourcing and consultant model — the dolls are manufactured in China, animation is created in India, it now has sales in Panama and Chile, and is opening up the Mexican market, all in addition to the U.S.
Baby Abuelita is the sort of small enterprise Irma Becerra-Fernandez wants to spotlight at the Nov. 17-18 Americas Venture Capital Conference, where 15 companies will make presentations to venture capitalists from throughout the hemisphere.
"We're really looking forward to the opportunity to tell our story to a large group of savvy investors who will hopefully understand and appreciate the opportunity with Baby Abuelita," Fenster said.
"We're really targeting the two fastest growing segments in the U.S. population, which are Hispanics as well as the senior community. On the face of it, it looks like it's something just for children and in fact, the impetus for the idea was to preserve musical traditions and cultures for children. But adults respond very strongly to the dolls."
Fenster said Baby Abuelita is looking to raise $1.5 million.
Becerra-Fernandez spent a year and a half making the conference a reality, selling the idea to administrators at Florida International University, winning over doubters, making a pair of trips to the Silicon Valley and another to New York to meet with venture capitalists, partnering with top Latin American business schools and working with three successful conferences at Stanford, MIT and Rice University whose executives helped her design her program.
Next week, her goal of bringing venture capitalists from throughout the Americas together with innovative ventures from South Florida and Latin America is slated to come to fruition. Leading venture capitalists, international business experts and entrepreneurs will convene in Miami for the first venture capital conference of its kind to focus on Latin American enterprises.
The 15 companies were selected from 70 applicants to make presentations at the conference at FIU's College of Business. It's theme is Latin America: The New Mainstream. About 380 participants are expected to attend.
"The Latin American focus is a first for an American venture capital conference, and Miami is the ideal place to bring the parties together," said Becerra-Fernandez, who direct's FIU's Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center. She calls the conference "an important step in building a global community to support Latin American ventures."
The presenting companies have already had some early stage success and are looking for a second round of funding. They're also competing for four prizes of cash and in-kind investment banking services.
The Tres Mares Innovation Prize awards $10,000 to the conference's most innovative company and an artistic rendition of innovation by Miler Lagos valued at $5,000; the FedEx Access to Global Markets Prize awards $10,000 in-kind service prize to a company with a commitment to expanding global trade; the CP Capital Emerging Venture Prize awards $10,000 in investment banking services, awarded to the most promising company and the CP Capital Inflection Venture Prize offers $10,000 in investment banking services, awarded to the company


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