“I don’t eat dessert,” Pedro Espinoza joked, explaining his success. Kidding aside, Espinoza runs SkyDeck’s newest and most promising start-up: SmileyGo. Described as a ‘Yelp meets Salesforce’ data platform, SmileyGo is a desktop analytics tool for corporations to find, partner with, and fund nonprofit organizations. Its index of over 1.7 million tax exempt entities allows businesses to focus on their specific philanthropic interests. Espinoza wants to use the digital world to help millions of people through connections that lead to new laws, programs, and partnerships.By eschewing on dessert, Espinoza successfully juggles finishing his Haas degree, traveling to Chamber of Commerce meetings, presenting as a keynote speaker, working with Congress to change business, leading/pitching/and growing SmileyGo, golf and tennis meetings, and somehow getting nine to ten hours of sleep every night. All of this was sparked in 2014 by Professor Ross’ business-ethics description of the back and forth between Congress and top corporations. Espinoza was inspired and saw an opportunity to use corporate social responsibility, lobbying, and politics to support philanthropic partnerships, laws, and regulations.
Now Espinoza has been successfully funded by SharkTank investors, established offices at SkyDeck, hired a new team of technical operators, and is this year’s UC Berkeley winner of the statewide ‘I am a UC Entrepreneur’ competition. The young CEO spoke at Berkeley’s Post-Doctoral Entrepreneurial Program this past Wednesday and will be flying to Peru later in the month to address executives at Toyota Latin America. Big accomplishments perfect for someone motivated to help take on life’s biggest challenges.
Espinoza emphasizes the importance of young entrepreneurs pursuing professional endeavors that help solve national or global problems. He hopes fellow future leaders are ready to take on issues are pertinent as cyber security, infrastructure, preservation of democracy, and pure water accessibility. By tackling these problems step by step, Espinoza is confident our generation has what it takes to create big solutions.
Perseverance, positivity and realism are key for Espinoza. SmileyGo applied for funding and incubation at Citris Foundry, one of the Bay Area’s largest accelerators, earlier this year. When it wasn’t able to secure a spot, Espinoza, undeterred, met with the founder (and UC Berkeley Alum) Patrick Scaglia for guidance. Espinoza’s enthusiasm, determination, and unique business platform set a series of fortunate events in motion for SmileyGo. Scaglia’s mentorship and advice led to a spot in SkyDeck which introduced SmileyGo and Espinoza to the UC’s entrepreneur competition, gaining Congressional recognition, and now showing promise of becoming a leader in facilitating corporate social responsibility. Despite his early success, awards, and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, Espinoza stays modest, happy, and grateful for his opportunities at Haas and the inspiration, guidance, and love his family has given him.
SmileyGo strives to build value in communities. Espinoza and his team lead by example. Together with CTO Joseph Pereria, SmileyGo employees volunteered over for 300 hours in the bay area last year. The company and its people want to serve something great: inspire millions of companies to fund millions of non-profits to help millions of people. It’s no small task but Espinoza’s big family, global upbringing, and earnest yet joyful and loving personality combine to make the dynamic force that drives SmileyGo.
With all he has on his plate, it’s no wonder Espinoza has no time for dessert.