Feb 5 2014, 1:00pm CST | by Forbes
I’ve been following Jesse Martinez — founder of the Latino Startup Alliance — for a couple of years now. Each time I run into him, I walk away impressed. Not just because he’s quiet and unassuming (a rarity in Latino tech). And not just because the quality of his work is good (it is). Mostly it’s because each time I see Martinez — or speak with him via Skype or by phone, as I did recently — he’s leveled up in a game I’ve been following. And leveling up in this world — which sometimes tends to get stagnant — is everything.
The news last week — see the press release here – is that LSA is partnering with Hispanicize – one of the fastest-growing Latino marketing-and-media orgs — to take his operation to a national stage. LSA, which has worked hard over the past two years to develop the infrastructure and capital to support Latino technology entrepreneurship — a marketplace that has recently gotten the interest and financial support of VC firms and funders like Andresseen Horowitz and Mitch Kapoor — will now ply its trade in other cities, starting with Miami and New York City.
For LSA, hanging with Hispanicize, and going national, will not only generate a lot of buzz (it already has). The move actually matters.
First, the new capacity that Hispanicize brings — founder Manny Ruiz has proven himself in the media business, the events business, and now he is focusing on entrepreneurship — will make LSA’s national debut newsworthy. While the story of Latino entrepreneurship has been brewing in a number of local markets (Silicon Valley, Miami, New York, San Juan, Mexico City), it has yet to take shape in a big way in mainstream media.
Second, by fielding activities in California, Miami, and NYC, Martinez and Ruiz are looking to cross-pollinate Latino entrepreneurship across markets that don’t really connect very much today. I know this to be true. I have spoken to leaders in each of those locations, and it’s surprising how little they connect.
Finally, the news matters because the new cross-pollination surfaces the diversity of entrepreneurship that’s emerging for Latinos throughout the Americas. Hint: it’s not just about tech. As last week’s press release notes, the National Latino Startup Alliance will support entrepreneurs in media, journalism, social media, film, music/entertainment. But while the opportunity is not limited to tech, it is almost certainly inspired by tech. And there are not very many people who can perform the task of bringing tech values to other markets. Martinez may be the first to even try this.
It won’t be smooth sailing; as I’ll explain very soon in an article about the Silicon Valley startup machine, Latino tech has its challenges. But with a partner like Ruiz, Martinez may have the wind at his back. Let’s see how he fares in the coming year. Been studying this, and assessing this, for a while. It’s not a leap year for everyone, but perhaps it is for Latinos. Time to level up.
Source: Forbes Business
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