Latino-Owned & Focused Startups to Keep an Eye on in 2014

By Nicole Akoukou Thompson

Mark Clayton Hand, Oxford SBS Seed Fund co-founder, recently concluded a three-piece series on Latino startups, tracking some hurdles and high points that startups face as they move toward success. The first post questioned where Latino startups were; referring to both Latino-owned and Latino-focused endeavors. The second post explored challenges that Latino startups face, such as failing to find proper funding; and, the third and final post on the subject regards Latino startups that consumers and proprietors should keep their eyes on in the new year.

Startup companies come in all forms, and are generally businesses that deal in intellectual property, as opposed to material property. Successful startups tend to be more scalable than established businesses, therefore attractive to many investors; they tend to utilize internal cash flow and keep overhead costs low. In addition, they are high risk and high reward. Latino startups (Latino-owned, Latino-focused; high growth, small business) tend to face difficulties when it comes to finding funders,networking with venture capital investors, and securing high-risk capital.

The $1.3 trillion dollar U.S. Hispanic consumer market has been tapped by major corporations such as Best Buy, Yahoo, and The Home Depot, but Latino startups have still been able to capture a piece of the mounting market, despite challenges. New Futuro‘s Peter Wilkins found very few investors when he looked to raise venture capital earlier this year, targeting the U.S. Hispanic community, feeling that there weren’t many doing the same. Capitol investors looked elsewhere, as tend they to seek vetted startups with wealthy backdrops, and they rarely seek out-of-network ventures and ideas. That, however, didn’t slow down New Futuro. New Futuro continued to offer its client base -college hopefuls- educational advice, materials, events, resources and an online community in English and Spanish. Their resources reach millions of Hispanics annually. 

HolaDoctor, Xoom, Progreso Financiero, New Futuro and Consorte Media lead the Latino market startup brigade, becoming some of the few startups to build teams, raise funds, and capitalize in the Latino market. Latino startups with a focus on financial services, education, and immigration usually lead in this sphere, financial services being the most active sector. There are a number growing startups that are Latino-owned and/or focused, that have will be of great assistance to Latino families:

Edrizio de la Cruz, Wharton MBA and Echoing Green Fellow, heads Regalii, which is a startup that allows for families to spend remittances in any way that they deem necessary. Bucks Bill Pay is an enterprise which allows customers to pay their bills in cash at designated stations, use for those who don’t have checking accounts or credit. And, a product that motivates Latinos to be more fiscally responsible and will help them track their own expenditures via SMS, Juntos Finanzas, is product that was born at Stanford University.

Education-focused startups are on the rise as education becomes increasingly important in Latino American homes. 500 Mexico City, the Mexico City extension of 500 Startups funds YogoMe, an educational application that will soon branch into language learning. This business draws in resources from both sides of the border in order to ensure its success. Last month, 500 Mexico City selected its latest batch of startups to support, 17 were chosen. Plaza Familia is a bilingual math and language skill tutoring site that’s aimed at assisting educators and parents. The comprehensive education site was founded by social media veteran Ana Roca Casto. Another education startup is Sleek-geek, which developed three tablet apps for teachers.

LexSpot, a startup that functions in the realms of immigration services, offering price quotes from immigration attorneys, rose $750,000 since its inception. The venture also collects client data and compiles relevant documents so that lawyers spend less time handling paperwork. YaSabe is bilingual, local search engine, which is another 500 Startup company. AssuredLabor is a $5.5 million company that’s based in New York, and has outlets in Brazil and Mexico.

Published at Latin Post.