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The Challenges Latino Technology Startups Face, As Explained By the Latino Entrepreneurs Facing Them

First Posted: May 11, 2015 03:30 AM EDT
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A study from IHS Global Insight, an economic forecasting firm, said Latinos may account for 40 percent of the U.S. job growth by 2020, and a big part of that will come from Latino entrepreneurs.

During the last two decades, Latino entrepreneurship has tripled, and Latin Post spoke with entrepreneurs who have striven to build the groundwork for Latino community to succeed, particularly in the ever-competitive tech sector, where opening up to more diverse voices is still a promising goal, rather than a reality.

"Latinos should be everywhere," said Tania Cuevas, a marketing consultant with TestFire, which helps to simplify mobile-app testing for iOS and Android operating systems and allows developers to monitor what users are doing in hopes to detect bugs faster.

"We should at the cutting edge of all innovative markets. It can be from art to tech, to any industry we feel that is going to diversify our culture and show any messages to really just be able to show the gamete of what we're capable of doing," added Cuevas, who attended TechCrunch's DisruptNY 2015 conference in Manhattan.

Ramona Ortega, CEO and founder of Mi Dinero, Mi Futuro -- a financial-tech startup working on personal finance and advice for Latino millennials -- said she developed her startup after noticing the racial wealth gap.

"Latinos having 18-times less net wealth than most white families, and I said, 'Why is that? We work really hard, we earn dollars and we're more educated these days ... why are we not building wealth?'" said Ortega. "I looked around and there wasn't any solution to this problem."

So she came up with her own. Ortega's mission is to make finance accessible and simple to people on one easy platform: the mobile app.

"We really want Latinos to build wealth and make it simple for them to build health," she added, "and we're that bridge by bringing information and videos and access to financial services on one platform."

Regarding the Latinos' engagement in business, Ortega said there is plenty of discussion about Latinos in small business, but stated there needs to be a greater commitment to transforming them into larger enterprises. Ortega said her startup has focused bridging Latinos together with Latino entrepreneurs in order to promote their startups with investors and pitch-contest events.

"It's really important that we create our own networks because it's extremely hard to get into [startup] incubators without having a strong tech team or without having angel money," said Ortega.

Cuevas noted there is a large Dominican presence within the tech startup world, and along with a sizable number of entrepreneurs from countries like Argentina and Brazil.

At DisruptNY, Latin Post met with Brazilians Arthur Luiz and Angélica Reis of Hypefy, a mobile app that keeps users updated about the latest market releases in the gaming, movies and television.

Reis, marketing director for Hypefy, said she joined the startup because it was an interesting concept, and saw it as a "good way to brand and be connected" with the consumer.

Luiz, the company's CEO, shared the ups and downs of running a startup, specifically with Hypefy's relatively lonely journey so far.

"We are from Brazil, [and] the government doesn't help us... We have some problems with money, we don't have funding right now. We're trying to grow (Hypefy), but we don't have any help," said Luiz.

Despite the lows, Luiz noted there are positives to evolving a startup, ranging from learning marketing skills and developing the product.

When asked to describe the task of developing a startup, Reis summed it up in one word: "Challenging."

She explained, "We have many difficulties. We don't have investments. We are here by ourselves, so it's a challenge ... but it has a bright side because when you are challenged, you are getting better, you are learning things."

For Latinos and Latin Americans in the evolving, still-diversifying world of technology startups, getting better seems guaranteed -- since major challenges still abound.

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For the latest updates, follow Latin Post's Michael Oleaga on Twitter: @EditorMikeO or contact via email: m.oleaga@latinpost.com.

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