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Hispanics still face barriers to tech startup network

Hispanics still face barriers to tech startup network

Posted by Juan Gavasa on January 24, 2015

Digital business has become a booming new frontier. But for Latinos, developing new tech companies is virtually an uncharted field.

While Latinos excel in the business world in say, opening a restaurant or building a brick and mortar company, Latino entrepreneurs don’t yet have much of a presence in the digital arena.

“They tend to open businesses two to three times faster, and make up about nine percent of businesses in the U.S. However, we do see decreased numbers when it comes to digital or technology,” said Denisse Olivas, director of the Center for Hispanic Entrepreneurship and marketing lecturer at UTEP

According to a 2014 report by Partnership for a New American Economy, between 1990 and 2013 the number of Hispanic entrepreneurs in the U.S. more than tripled from 321,000 to 1.4 million. Hispanic immigrants, many from Mexico, played a key role in this growth.

Connecting to supportive networks

While the trend to shows Hispanics are at the forefront of creating businesses, access to funding may be an obstacle in pursuing tech ventures.

“Hispanics tend to come from families and places where there is not a lot of wealth, or education, or work where they can draw capital from,” Olivas said.

Other challenges are that Hispanics aren’t connected to networks that foster digital culture.

“A lot of Latinos don’t have those big networks that a startup in a place like Silicon Valley has,” Olivas said.

Tech entrepreneur Ricardo Garcia-Amaya found that to be true when he developed Donortap, a platform for political and non-profit fundraising.

Transitioning into entrepreneurship

Chris Dell, whose family background is Italian and Colombian, did find support for his path from sports reporter to app developer when he worked on his master’s degree in entrepreneurial journalism at City University of New York (CUNY).

 “There is such a small percentage of start up founders from non-white backgrounds,” said Dell, who is the founder and CEO of Go Baller, a sports social media app. “We brought in people from diverse backgrounds who came to the U.S. who are successful entrepreneurs and start up founders.”

Dell earned his bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of South Florida and worked as a sports reporter for the Sarasota Harold Tribune and New York Daily News before exchanging his press pass for a business plan.

That is what led to the idea for GoBaller. The pitch for the company landed Dell a fellowship with the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism,

“Go Baller is social discovery app for sports fans which collects the most viral sports content on social media and we aggregate it in one place,” Dell said. “This allows users to personalize content based on their favorite players.”

In August, Dell joined up with Bizdom, a start up accelerator based in Detroit and Cleveland. He received $25,000 to launch GoBaller.

Learning how to go after funding

For many Latinos getting a tech startup funded on a large scale is still a rarity.

Pallares works in funding high tech digital ideas such as medical devices or therapeutics. He evaluates investments based on different criteria such as industry sector, the size of investment that has to be made, the stage and maturity of the company and other factors.

“Every year there are about 300,000 looking for venture capital, but only about 300 get venture capital,” Pallares said.

For Pallares, it doesn’t matter what your background is when you come to him. “I’m looking for the best ideas that have the best promise to make a lot of money for my investors,” he said.

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