Entrepreneurs Giving Young Latino Business Owners a Helping Hand
Entrepreneurs making inspired strides to galvanize, empower & bolster underrepresented young Latino business owners; Annual ‘LatinX Travel Summit’ convenes businesses and professionals in the fields of travel, music, tech, media, and health and wellness to drive awareness, visibility, networking, mentorship, resources and other support opportunities for young Latino entrepreneurs and Latin American-focused companies at large
What started out as two socially-minded entrepreneur’s idea to foster, promote and highlight the beauty, power and diversity of young Latino entrepreneurs has blossomed into a bona fide movement—one that’s capturing the hearts and minds of some of the world’s leading multinational brands.
When best friends Michael Watson and Pablo Segarra, both of Puerto Rican descent, were growing up together in the Bronx, New York, they never envisioned spearheading an organization helping Latino Gen X and Gen Z professionals establish closer ties with each other...and their origins through travel, tech, music and other cultural platforms. This is exactly what Watson, a former Global Director of a Fortune 500 company, and Segarra, a retired New York City police officer, have accomplished amid long-standing careers advocating for the Latin American and Caribbean community and culture and, more specifically, going over-and-above to advance young Latino entrepreneurship. This lamenting that, despite representing a significant sector of the U.S. population, this group of professionals disproportionally represents less than 5% of the U.S. population although the majority of Hispanics in the nation—a full 61%—are Millennials according to the Pew Research Center.
Case in point is Watson’s current endeavor as CEO of Ventyour Inc.—the holdings company of the LatinX Travel Club young Latino entrepreneurship advocacy organization that he co-founded with Segarra. Despite their strength in numbers, it has been well-reported that Hispanic Millennial small business owners face unfortunate challenges that are “unique to their age and cultural demographic groups” like staffing, scaling, accessing capital and lack of opportunity-creating personal contacts or relationships.
Also underscoring the disparities for this group is a Guidant Financial Millennials in Business study finding that only a quarter of Millennial small business owners are Hispanic—18% of which represented by Gen X specifically—which further fractionalizes down those owned by the Gen Z set, Hispanic women and other sub-groups therein. Also revealing from The Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey is that a full 20%--one in five Millennials overall—feel discriminated against all of the time, or frequently, because of an aspect of their background. Further to that point, this survey also exposed that a majority of Millennials and Gen Zs believe we are at a tipping point on key societal issues to include inequality and discrimination.
Overtly sensitive to the extent to which Gen X and Gen Z Latino entrepreneurs have felt marginalized—and amid a glaring lack of formal advocacy and representation despite this group’s collective size, scale and contribution to the U.S. economic picture—Watson and Segarra launched the LatinX Travel Club as a way to connect and promote both cultural immersion travel and general interaction among this unique group of aspirationals...one one of the youngest, most diverse and fastest-growing populations of the Western Hemisphere.
Also noteworthy is Ventyour’s first annual October 2021 LatinX Travel Summit during Hispanic Heritage Month—a multi-day event in Miami, Florida. The summit, which represents the culmination of the organization’s efforts in the realms of tech, travel and media, is both a celebration and a means to bring the Gen X and Gen Z Latino entrepreneur community together, face-to-face, to gain insights, network, connect with brands, be inspired and grow professionally together as a unit. The event features business showcases, entertainment and performances, access to LatinX community thought leaders and both media visibility and business funding opportunities. At the summit, Ventyour will also debut a new tech app to showcase underrepresented Entrepreneurs and Businesses.
“We are cultivating a community that empowers and recognizes LatinX entrepreneurs and celebrates their ingenuity, innovation and significance to the national economy—and brands are now taking notice and better appreciating the fiscal power of this population,” said Watson. “This summit will galvanize our members further on both a personal and professional level while serving as a platform for connecting them with other businesses, organizations and thought-leaders that focus on, and advocate for, Millennial and Generation Z audiences.”
“Somewhat stylized as the cultural SXSW of Miami, we intend each annual LatinX Travel Summit to be a conglomeration of travel; film; interactive media; music; entertainment; entrepreneurial, start-up and tech talks; and an expo—all in a single, comprehensive yearly affair held in one of America’s premier Latin American-oriented cities,” Watson continued.
Relative to the choice of Miami as the summit’s location, Watson noted the city was selected due to its large Latin American and Caribbean population and for the city’s growing reputation as “the next tech hub.” “More entrepreneurs and investors are relocating from traditional tech cities to the emerging startup ecosystem in Miami,” he said. “The city also has a vibrant LGBTQ community and a non-Spanish-speaking LatinX diaspora community that includes Haitians, Brazilians and Jamaicans. We relish having all of them represented at the summit.”
Also philanthropy-minded, portions of the proceeds from summit ticket sales will go toward fund local charities and the allied Nexus LatinX 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which provides scholarships allowing LatinX college students to travel on cultural immersion trips.All told, Watson and Segarra’s vision of creating a holistic platform that connects entrepreneurs, organizations and thought-leaders focused on Millennial and Generation Z audiences has come to fruition, all courtesy of the LatinX Travel Club that’s dutifully filling a glaring gap. By aptly facilitating business collaborations, exploring diversity, enhancing connections, celebrating Latino culture through the arts and supporting LatinX youth, this membership organization is making a meaningful mark.
Forbes Business Council Member Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand analyst, strategist and futurist who reports on cultural shifts and trends as well as noteworthy industry change makers, movers, shakers and innovators across all categories, both B2C and B2B. This includes field experts and thought leaders, brands, products, services, destinations and events. Merilee is Founder, Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List” as well as Host of the “Savvy Living lifestyle TV show that airs in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta and other major markets on CBS, FOX and other top networks; as well as the “Savvy Ventures” business TV show that airs nationally on FOX Business TV and Bloomberg TV. As a prolific lifestyle, travel, dining and leisure industry voice of authority and tastemaker, Merilee keeps her finger on the pulse of the marketplace in search of new and innovative must-haves and exemplary experiences at all price points, from the affordable to the extreme. Her work reaches multi-millions worldwide via broadcast TV (her own shows and copious others on which she appears) as well as a myriad of print and online publications. Connect with her at www.TheLuxeList.com and www.SavvyLiving.tv / Instagram www.Instagram.com/LuxeListReports / Twitter www.Twitter.com/LuxeListReports / Facebook www.Facebook.com/LuxeListReports / LinkedIN www.LinkedIn.com/in/MerileeKern.
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