Capital flows towards growth, so one of the biggest mysteries in the history of capitalism is how little capital has flowed to the U.S. Latino cohort. The Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (SLEI) says if Latino entrepreneurs had access to a proportional amount of capital as the overall market, it would add $1.5 Trillion to the country’s GDP. Of course, that would also mean there would be a lot more wealth in the Latino community. Clearly, we all have a stake in solving this problem.
A few months ago, Sol Trujillo and I launched L’ATTITUDE Ventures. At first, we thought it would be great to have a little capital to invest in the companies that were showcased at Match-Up. Match-Up is the “Shark Tank” inspired session that had its first event at L’ATTITUDE in 2019. However, we quickly realized our original vision would only be a drop in the bucket to what was needed and we didn’t want to wait for other venture capital firms to finally “get with the program”… This week L’ATTITUDE Ventures received a $25M investment from a major financial institution, which brings our total raise to $40M. With this start, L’ATTITUDE Ventures should reach its goal of raising $100M by the end of the year, and it would make us the largest fund solely dedicated to Latino entrepreneurs in the world.
Two decades ago, I was a small mortgage banker, with very little capital and no connections whatsoever. I started NAHREP to create a platform where people like me could make those connections. Most of NAHREP’s 40,000 members see the organization as a place to learn and make business relationships, but there have been a few like Jason Madiedo, Patty Arvielo, Leo Pareja, Juan Martinez, Felix DeHerrera, and Armando Tam who thought bigger, and recognized the enormous power NAHREP has as a platform for ambitious entrepreneurs. I want to build on this.
For years, I have been thinking about the next iteration for NAHREP. The Hispanic Wealth Project and L’ATTITUDE have helped evolve the organization by expanding the vision of many of our members, but I think the next big thing has to be institutionalizing the process of helping Latino entrepreneurs scale their businesses. NAHREP has many members who own successful companies, and we want to expand that, but my goal is to also create billion-dollar companies…transformative companies. The types of companies that revolutionize industries and create multi-millionaire founders. To accomplish this, mentorship is important, and academic training is great, but capital is king. Latino entrepreneurs need capital.
The world of angel investing, private equity, SPAC’s and venture capital are relatively new to me. Like a lot of people, my only knowledge was what I read about in Forbes magazine. Silicon Valley is ground zero for venture capital and is known for providing early funding for companies like Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Amazon, and hundreds more, but you will see more Latinos in Antarctica than you’ll see there.
Latinos are prolific at starting new companies, but the large majority of those companies are small and tend to stay small. One of the reasons this is true, is Latino entrepreneurs have historically had very limited access to capital. The world of angel investing, which is money for very early-stage companies that generally comes from individuals or small funds, is all about relationships. A friend of mine asked me to stop using the phrase “access to capital” and instead use the phrase “connection to capital” because the entrepreneurs who get capital don’t just have access – they usually have a personal connection to someone with capital. Latinos need those connections, but rather than wait for them to come to us, Sol and I decided to raise the capital ourselves and invest it in the most promising Latino entrepreneurs in the country. I’m super excited. Stay tuned for a big announcement on L’ATTITUDE Ventures!
Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to speak at the T3 Conference in Florida…I surprised the audience when I explained how the issue of diversity has been framed incorrectly, and has for the most part alienated the business community.
Elon Musk dropped by the Real Time with Bill Maher show recently for an interview with the host. Maher, who considers himself a liberal is an obvious fan of the CEO of Tesla and Space X. The centerpiece of their conversation was their discussion regarding what Musk called the “woke mind virus” or what I prefer to call “cancel culture”.
People sometimes get me wrong. They think that because I talk a lot about giving back and living modestly, I must not care about money. On the contrary, I care a lot about money because I understand how our system works.