Juan Acosta Helps Catholics Stay Digitally Connected

A social app for faith communities

This young founder is on a mission to bring people closer to God with a tech platform. 

Juan Acosta is the founder and CEO of Tabella, a free social app for Catholic communities to digitally connect to their churches. 

Juan Acosta
Juan Acosta.

Tabella

Acosta describes Tabella as the "Nextdoor of religion." Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Acosta launched the social app in 2019 after deciding it was time to put his skills and talent behind his faith. Users can join ministry groups, connect to their parishes, create and manage events, and tap into an array of Catholic content from articles to podcasts, audio prayers, and videos. 

"I want to bring the world closer to God," Acosta told Lifewire. "We are a social app for faith communities to grow closer together and in their faith.

Quick Facts

Name: Juan Acosta

Age: 29

From: Acarigua, Venezuela 

Random delight: He boxes and dances a lot!

Key quote or motto: "Nothing is impossible with God."

Saying Yes

Acosta is a Latino immigrant who first broke into entrepreneurship when he was forced to drop out of secondary school due to financial reasons and health hardships at home. He was always interested in science and robotics and even entered a competition in high school where he built a bionic hand controlled by brainwaves. He went on to study aerospace engineer at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Acosta was poised to become a robotics maven, but that all changed when his father fell ill and Acosta moved home to help his family. 

After working different jobs, Acosta started working his way up the chain at an entrepreneurship accelerator called Draper University. Acosta was the accelerator's entrepreneur in residence in 2016 before being promoted to chief operating officer in 2018. He held this role until 2020 when he began dedicating himself full-time to Tabella.

"I started working odd jobs and saying yes to opportunities," Acosta said. 

Acosta launched Tabella when faith communities called for modern solutions to keep them connected. The social app connects priests, church go-ers, faith believers, and ministry leaders in new ways. Institutions can quickly update communities on events, mass times and changes, and more. Tabella also can manage monetary donations for institutions. 

Juan Acosta
Juan Acosta.

Tabella

Acosta didn't share specifics about how much funding Tabella has raised, but he said the company had secured early investments from Silicon Valley investors and venture capitalists, including Ignite XL, Manila Angels, Verve Capital, and more. Tabella's CEO said he and his team had hundreds of Zoom calls with investors before locking down some funds.

"I recorded video pitches so that they really got to see my energy and that I wasn't just another pitch deck in their inbox," he said. 

Side note, if you're wondering what Tabella means, it's a Latin word that translates to writing tablet, picture, or small board. Acosta shared in a blog post that he chose this word to represent his company because it has Latin origin and represents the app's purpose of helping Catholic communities write and communicate with each other. By the way, he spent hours looking through a Latin dictionary before reaching the T section and finding Tabella. 

Advantages and Expansions

Tabella has a team of eight full-timers, all of which are Latinos and Latinas. The company is currently looking to fill a couple of roles, including a front-end engineer and digital marketing specialist. Acosta said he's eager to grow his team as Tabella focuses on expanding to more users. 

When it comes to growing a tech startup as a Latino founder and CEO, Acosta sees this as a plus. 

"I want to bring the world closer to God."

"It has been a massive advantage over competitors as our brand understands the Hispanic population the best, which is one of our target demographics," he said.

Acosta's most rewarding accomplishment as an entrepreneur has been going from a flower shop delivery driver to becoming a COO of a leading entrepreneurial accelerator in a few short years, to now leading his tech startup. He didn't envision this would be the life he'd be living, but he's leaning into it confidently. 

Acosta ultimately wants Tabella to be the leading tech solution for Catholic communities and institutions. Aside from hiring, he's also looking to expand the Tabella app to more communities, secure more funding, and become a champion and mentor for other Latino founders. 

"We are focused on growing from our initial pilots with churches to expanding across the USA," Acosta said. "We want every church to know we exist and that Tabella is the best digital solution."

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