Monday, December 2, 2013

'Latinopreneurs': The Importance Of Developing Business Ownership For A Multicultural America

@giorodriguez
Why supporting Latino technology entrepreneurs benefits everyone

A couple of months ago, I got an email from Jesse Martinez — a devoted and tireless leader of Latino entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley — asking me to speak at a leadership summit.  He also asked me what I wanted to speak about.
A great question, because while I have spoken at many events like this, my interest in Latinos in business has evolved.  Or should I say:   Latinos in business have evolved, and so have my views.
There was a time when I used to speak about the special assets that Latinos bring to startups, particularly in the world of social technology.  Now I like to talk about the category itself — Latino entrepreneurship — because the category itself has special value.

New markets

But in case you were wondering, make no mistake:  lots of folks have questioned the strategy of developing entrepreneurship around ethnicity, gender, and other kinds of identity.
To be clear, lots of folks in Silicon Valley have questioned the strategy.

First it began with a conversation about the absence of African American leaders in tech. Then it became a conversation — though we’ve had this conversation before — about the absence of women leaders in tech.  Recently, I found myself in a silly argument with a journalist who had convinced himself that identity-based strategies for empowering people had the ultimate effect of marginalizing them (“ghettoizing them,” is the phrase I believe he used).  I’m happy to report that I got him to see the situation differently … but only after examining a number of ways that identity-specific approaches help everyone, not just the group in question.

First — and this should be obvious — the group in question may actually have access to new markets that typically elude people who are not in the group. When it comes to Latinos, what we are looking at is the access that comes to markets where there is a language barrier or a cultural barrier.  This is, by the way, why more and more businesses — including large tech companies like Google GOOG -0.2% and Facebook– are investing in multicultural marketing. There’s a growing recognition that it’s no longer about the mainstream but the manystreams that make up the new global marketplace.

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