The Latino Startup Alliance and Hispanicize are going to crown one lucky (i.e., innovative and hard-working) startup with the first ever "Startup of the Year" award, later this week at Hispanicize 2014. But at the beginning week, the four finalists for the competition were selected and announced.

The Latino Startup of the Year is the first nationwide competition for tech startups founded or led by a Latino living in the U.S. The Latino Startup Alliance (LSA) and Hispanicize Wire (with sponsorship by Strayer University) teamed up to create the competition for Latinos in technology. The finalists got to go to Hispanicize 2014, the annual conference for Latino media, technology, and entertainment held in Miami this week. Latin Post is in Miami this week covering the grand prizewinner, as well as lots of other Hispanicize events.

"In a world of many tech contests, ours stands out because it will provide Latino startups with tangible national exposure, media coverage and other benefits that are significantly stronger because they take place within the Hispanicize event," said LSA Co-Founder and Co-Chair Jesse Martinez, when announcing the competition earlier this year.

Contestants with two-year old (or younger) startups in the fields of social media, journalism, film, music, marketing and entertainment were all invited to submit their pitches online, with finalists awarded free airfare, hotel stay, and a full pass to Hispanicize 2014, as well as the opportunity to pitch their startups in person in front of top Latino professionals at the event.

Final Four

"We're excited to welcome four top quality candidates that represent the diversity of Latino startups our competition sought," said Martinez, announcing the final four, who will present their startups live in front of investors and entreprenuers this Wednesday.

The four finalists are Crowdismo, New Force Media, Interesante and Oye!. Originally there were only going to be three finalists, but competition was fierce and all of these finalist startups were particularly impressive. "We had a very difficult time deciding on the third startup so we decided to have four startups pitch because the competition was very tight," said Hispanicize Wire CEO Bill Gato.

Crowdismo is a Latino crowdfunding platform whose goal "is to provide Latinos everywhere the ability to fund their passions, dreams, and ambitions," according to Hispanicize Wire's release. It's been described as "serving the Hispanic entrepreneurial marketplace" by Forbes, and not only provides an online platform for fundraising and awareness for tech companies, but offline engagement on a larger range of Hispanic ventures.

New Force Media is social media and marketing company that "empowers niche communities, provides user experiences that members crave and builds hyper-targeted consumer networks for the savvy advertiser."

Interesante's motto is "Discover and share the most interesting things in the world." The app for iOS (soon on Android) looks like a Pinterest for Latinas but is geared towards Latino small businesses and Latin American marketplaces, giving them a platform to post their products transnationally and find a network of interested Latino shoppers. The startup has previously gotten attention at Dream Big America, the "Shark Tank" for radio.

Oye! is an analysis company that monitors online social media conversations of Hispanics in real time and provides intelligent analytics and marketing data to businesses.

Here Come the Judges

These final four startups will have five minutes to pitch their startup live on stage in front of a panel made up from four out of these five judges:

Christina Henley of Strayer University

Mario Tapia, founder of Momentum Accelerator

Derek Beckmann of Plura Ventures

Beau Ferrari, Executive VP of Operations for Univision Networks

William Crowder of Comcast Ventures

A five-minute question and answer session will follow each pitch. After that (what must be an incredibly stressful, but exciting session), the judges will decide which of the four finalists is the grand-prize winner. That winner will receive guaranteed national media coverage and multimedia press distributions worth a total of $2,500 from Hispanicize Wire, as well as a Samsung tablet and Galaxy Gear watch from Strayer University. Even better, the Latino Startup of the Year will be introduced to possible investors. Good luck to all four!