How TV Networks Fail Latinos And What Two Startups Are Doing To Win Them Back.

Over the past few months, two media companies (CNN and NBC) had two major failures in the Latino space. CNN and NBC shut down their media initiatives covering and serving U.S. Latinos.

Within the same time frame, two Latino-focused startups, Hispanicize and LSA, showcased  some major successes. They’re targeting the same market and with infinitely less resources they’ve been exponentially more successful.

Why the giants are failing and how the underdogs are winning will make you think twice about the power of this market and how to approach it.

There’s one thing that is important to understand. This is not by any means a reflection on the market or the journalists that worked for them.  It is rather a reminder that the news business is evolving at every level and for every demographic. This is especially true when you are targeting  Latinos, a demographic that is leapfrogging desktop in favor of mobile.

Let’s look at the giants’ failures first.

NBC and CNN hurried to join the flock into the Latino space. They joined Fox News, Fusion and UnoTV, an Internet-only TV channel back by Carlos Slim’s CARSO Group. NBC and CNN offered a lackluster and poorly designed experience from the start and within the first year of operations they were shut down.

NBC and CNN Latino were destined to failure due to a lack of commitment to the idea. They were the ugly stepchild at the newsroom and to add insult to injury, they were playing within the sandbox of a dying media business model.

The news business is evolving to be real-time, highly collaborative and relevant and the CNN and NBC Latino initiatives were anything but cutting edge.

There is a very interesting  post-mortem in BuzzFeed by an ex-staffer. It reads as a love letter to the tireless and penny-less journalist covering the poor and forgotten. I liked the prose but the analysis left much to be desired. We need critical views instead of romanticized story-telling.  One thing the author has going for him is that he had the good sense to have go work for a thriving media company where his journalistic voice gets amplified exponentially.

Now let’s look at the underdogs.

These startups are attacking the same demographic and they are having much more success with a different and refreshing approach.  Two of the best examples are Hispanicize and LSA (Latino Startup Alliance).

Hispanicize is a technology and marketing conference that has grown exponentially over the past few years. They have been able to secure big brands as committed sponsors including Google, Toyota, P&G, 3M and more.

Thousands of people attend the conference every year.

Hispanicize is lead by Manny Ruiz who built and sold Hispanic Wire prior to starting this conference. He has the drive, the experience and the passion to make things happen.

Then we have LSA or Latino Startup Alliance. LSA is a highly efficient  grassroots networking organization that connects top Latino innovators in the U.S. and abroad. LSA’s founders are more about actions than words.  LSA is lead by Jesse Martinez, a veteran of the technology startup community in the Silicon Valley.

LSA and Hispanicize are lead by tireless entrepreneurs that look at the Latino community not as a token word to accompany a well-known brand, but as thriving and growing community that is part of a multicultural country and not a subset of it and they treat it as such.

Silicon Valley's Blind Spot

Silicon Valley’s Blind Spot

Silicon Valley’s Blind Spot

I think we are at a tipping point. The Silicon Valley has seen the waves of technology innovation from the exuberance of the 1990′s to the boom and bust of the dot com era and to a more sustainable boom of the past few years. We’ve come a long way in understanding how the world can be changed by technology and how to make the progress constant and exponential.

Hollywood and Silicon Valley are starting to build deep ties. This will have a huge impact when new products are launched. You saw a snippet of the possibilities when Sean Parker launched Airtime. From my point of view that was a test to measure the impact and the beginning of a collaboration with endless possibilities. I am sure we will see more of this in the near future after all Kanye just visited Shervin, so something is brewing. Super influential folks like Marcelo Claure and Arturo Duran are setting up operations here. You know big things are about to happen when they show up somewhere. They are innovators and a force of nature all in one. They play well and disrupt mentalities and processes. These are true and tried entrepreneurs who are not afraid to think different.

However, in the rush of speed and “move fast and break things” mentality, the Silicon Valley is leaving a few things behind. The diversity of  people and markets that can drive innovation and growth for years to come has not been an important topic at the entrepreneurs table. Frankly, there seems to be no need to think beyond the beautiful box that is the US mainstream market. That fosters a rather homogeneous way of doing things where you have the innovators coming up with the ideas, the imitators trying to cash in the innovation closely followed by the fools.  All of them targeting the same market.

“If you are looking where everyone else is for the next big thing, you are looking in the wrong place.” –– Mark Cuban in his blog post titled, Don’t live in the world you were born into.

So who is going after the unexotic underclass, as C.Z. Nnaemeka likes to call it? Basically no one in the Valley is doing this.

The entrepreneur’s profile in the Silicon Valley, though incredibly good, falls within a stereotype  that VCs call pattern matching, which is successful as long as the pattern followed keeps up with socio-economic progress and assumes an innate curiosity to understand people and markets beyond your close circle.

Because, at some point  patterns change, shattering old ones and disrupting markets and no market is immune.

But why should you care?  “You should care because the unexotic underclass can help address one of the biggest inefficiencies plaguing  the startup scene right now: the flood of  (ostensibly) smart, ambitious young people desperate to be entrepreneurs; and the embarrassingly idea-starved landscape where too many smart people are chasing too many dumb ideas, because they have none of their own (or, because  they suspect no one will invest in what they really want to do).  The unexotic underclass has big problems, maybe not the Big Problems – capital B, capital P – that get ‘discussed’ at Davos.  But they have problems nonetheless, and where there are problems, there are markets.” That is C.Z. Nnaemeka again.

Before you start looking to emerging markets, lets look at the US.

The numbers below tell a story of a market in the US that a handful of Silicon Valley startups are serving properly. Thanks to Isaac Cuevas, VP of Interactive Marketing at Grupo Arenas for the data below.

  1. 88% of the population growth among adults 18-34 coming from this group in the next 10 years. They will be consuming more technology than any other age group before them. The power and influence of this group in the U.S. will be driven by technology. Census data shows that 50% of population growth came from this group. They are early adopters of technology and  reaching them with culturally relevant information will be a must-have strategy for any political message or marketing campaign.
  2. Hollywood knows that they can be the deciding factor in opening weekend especially since this demographic is now outpacing teens as the biggest consumer of movies. The dollars that are spent in marketing blockbuster properties goes much further if the messaging is culturally relevant. Online and mobile is where they find information.
  3. Innovation and the growth of technology means products are better and more accessible at a lower price point. Products like mobile phones and tablets will be more accessible over the next few years. Data consumption will increase and their habits will be forming now and influenced by people in the same social circles.

The Valley continues to hit home runs and it will for a long time to come. However, competition is mounting and other countries are finally putting their money where their mouths are and they have no other option than to target the juicy US mainstream market in addition to the underserved markets that the Silicon Valley is not paying attention to and they have the advantage.

The Revolution Will Have An Accent

garcia-accents

I love the cadence of spoken word, the fast paced hip-hop lyrics, the realism of country music and the stickiness of pop. 14 years ago, when I first came to the US, I listened to NPR while commuting back and forth between Stanford where my wife went to school and San Francisco, where I went to school. I became obsessed with the nuances of pronunciation and I wanted to learn as much as possible about it. I would mimic the pronunciation of the word “what” hundreds of times. I would memorize the cadence and enunciation of their  canned intros. I was fascinated with the diversity of accents I would hear during my daily commute.

I knew I could be at home in a place where different is the standard and I knew that the last thing you want to do is to blend in. As Om Malik says “in most places in the world, outsiders like me don’t have that chance. That simple truth is what makes America so special. A chance – to be somebody even if you are nobody. America is a state of mind.” This is even more noticeable among Latinos,  especially those changing the face of America.

Here are some examples that are my role models and guiding rods. They are different. They have accents and they are successful.

Jorge Ramos

(…on the launch of Fusion, a TV station for US Latinos in English)

“What’s happening politically is also happening on TV,” Ramos said. “You can’t win the White House without the Latino vote and you can’t win the ratings war without Latinos anymore. It’s a parallel universe and it’s happening at the same time. The same way in which the number of Hispanic voters is growing, the number of Latinos watching television in English is growing. For political parties, and for television networks, and for digital platforms, it’s a matter or survival. If you don’t have Latinos, you’ll die. That simple.”

Pitbull

Pitbull is giving back by opening a charter school in the Miami neighborhood where he grew up.

The SLAM or Sports Leadership and Management school will focus on preparing young scholars for careers in the sports field.
Born Armando Christian Pérez, Pitbull explained that his own positive experiences with teachers inspired him to get involved in education.

Jennifer Lopez

Remember your block. Among the sea of blond-haired and blue-eyed leading ladies of Hollywood, Jenny from the Block has never forgotten her roots as a Puerto Rican Latina from The Bronx. In fact, she’s actively supported her community to further define her personal brand, and in doing so has broken down some notoriously strong stereotypical racial barriers in the entertainment industry. Fellow actress Jessica Alba has claimed the entertainer “opened doors for ethnic girls like me,” while Latin pop singer DeLuna also acknowledged how JLo “paved the way” for Latinas. Most recently, JLo has openly supported rising Latina teen artist Becky G. The key takeaway? Acting as a weaker version of someone great will rarely pave a path to a powerful personal brand, so be confident and embrace your DNA. Just as there is only one JLo, there should be only one you.

Understanding 50 Million Americans, That Happen To Be Latino.

The market is a summary of the current standing of 50 million Americans that are undervalued. The second point deals with why big brands are confused when targeting this market and the success of Yahoo! US Hispanics. The short answer is that they have folks who understand the general market but do not know how to deal with a differentiated market. We need more people who can relate to the market and evolve with it. Next we deal with how to fix it and why The US Latino Market Needs A Better Elevator Pitch. We analyze the fact that Latinos In Power Have A Responsibility and we are falling behind. We need to band together and claim our rightful place in the new and more colorful America. To do this I argue, that we need to focus in business and not so much in politics. Last but not least, I urge you to believe and then act. 

The Market

There’s a market as big as India’s right here in the United States and it remains largely untapped and severely undervalued. That market has $1 trillion dollars of raw purchasing power right now and it is projected to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2015. This market has been forgotten, underserved and undervalued for decades. The dismissal has a few pillars that are more folk tale than hard science. So rather than emotional rebuttal of folk tales, I want of offer my point of view as a market observer and entrepreneur living in the Silicon Valley.

 

A sobering data point is that 1 in 6 Americans identified themselves as Latino/a.  Latino purchasing power is about 9.6% of the total in the US and is growing at an astonishing rate. By 2015 it is projected that the purchasing power of Latinos would be $1.5 trillion. Please, don’t take my word for it, check out the Forbes article, The Next Media Jackpot: The Fight For The $1 Trillion Hispanic Market and draw your own conclusions and consider what Alex Ruelas, cofounder of the Austin-based ­marketing agency LatinWorks says: “The Hispanic ­market is no longer being viewed as a niche, minority market for a lot of companies. It’s becoming a fairly major part of the mainstream, and it’s helping to reshape the overall ­universe of consumers in a way that’s a bit surprising to people.”

Consider this, “Hispanics lead the Recovery by Occupying Walmart, not Wall Street. Research indicates that online consumers, and Hispanics in particular, are influenced by value-added impressions that target them specifically. We need only look at Amazon to see how successful this approach has been with the general population. It is a model that other retailers can follow as they extend their online efforts to target and serve the Hispanic market. As the fastest adopters of new technology, Hispanic consumers provide myriad opportunities to reach them online, via mobile devices, and through social media.” –– Glenn Llopis.

 

Why Are Big Brands Confused?

The categorization of a diverse demographic into a single low value profile is widely accepted as industry standard. This diminishes the value of a consumer. It must be noted that it is partly a self-inflicted wound. Not making it a priority and hoping that large brands would simply notice is not working and will most likely not work. We need to simplify the message and make it appealing to big brands and industry verticals like entertainment or fashion.

In a recent article about the success of the Yahoo! US Hispanic, Javier Garcia defines the diversity of these audience as an asset that needs to be understood and that needs to be addressed by a multi-channel and bilingual marketing strategy.

When you compare the U.S. Hispanic market versus the U.S. general market, Hispanics tend to embrace and consume more, so they’re generally over index in a lot of things. They also behave a lot like the general market, but in general terms we see a more engaged type of audience. For example, Hispanics may be enjoying “American Idol,” but they also may be going to Yahoo! Colombia or Yahoo! Argentina for the latest news. So it’s like this mix that you really need to know how to program towards. [...] The U.S. Hispanic market has the mix so it’s trickier. You need to come up with content that resonates with them, calls their attention. The trick is how do you find that angle on the particular event that reaches everyone. If we cover baseball, maybe one of the pieces that we write we focus it on a Latino player and not necessarily on the team.

The US Latino Market Needs A Better Elevator Pitch

Many times when pitching Interesante.com to potential investors, I actually need to do a pitch about the value of the US Latino Market. My pitch often focuses on things that reflect the astounding success of the Latino community coming together rather than focusing on acculturation. We are driving trends not being absorbed by a culture. We are shaping it.

Companies like to know who they are targeting in a simple way. The message needs to be succinct enough so that it can travel up the chain of command and continue to carry weight. The problem is that this simplicity creates narrow thinking and turns potentially big campaigns into cheap localized (and often wrongly translated) copies of the mainstream marketing campaign.

Latinos In Power Have A Responsibility

Latinos in power have to own the responsibility of paving the way for the rest to follow. There needs to be a lot more people like Sol Trujillo speaking out Latinos as the next engine of growth in the US. Be this,  Sergio Romo who threw the series-winning last strike out in the 2012 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, strode through the city during the team’s celebratory victory parade wearing a t-shirt with the words: “I just look illegal.” or the latest Rolling Stones Magazine cover.

Find Role Models Not Heroes

Cesar Chavez is fantastic and he is a great role model and in addition a hero. But culture moves faster and we need symbols of our progress and future while respecting our past. Google honored Cesar Chavez and I was ecstatic. But we are more than Cesar Chavez. We are Calle 13 and Elena Ochoa.  We are Sonia Sotomayor and Geraldo Rivera. We must highlight the role models of today who are actively creating a brighter tomorrow. Jennifer Lopez, Louis C.K., Sofia Vergara and many other multidimensional Latinos that offer a clear path for the rest of us to follow. People like Solomon Trujillo who speaks regularly about the business value of Latinos.

Focus In Business Not Politics

Yes, we have an immigration problem. Yes, it is unjust and something should be done about it and yes we should all be part of the solution. But there is a reality in this country: business dictates policy. We are, to a great extent part of the 99%, fighting every day to build a better future. We chase the American dream and we expect no volume discount. We came here to work hard and to build a better future for us, our families and the ones that will come after us. We need to build ourselves into a financial pilars fo our communities and then build a road and lend a hand to others that want to follow your lead.

Believe, Then Act 

Stop seeking “mainstream” approval. If anything, mainstream publications are validating Latino influence as you can see in the covers of Time , Rolling Stone  and Forbes Magazines. We are shaping what being American means. Our hunger to improve, our deep confidence in the American Dream and a fast growing community influence mainstream American culture in a deep way. From subtle signs in e-commerce, like the success of a large internet retailer like casa.com (owned by Amazon) that is using a Spanish word to sell to moms and dads across America. Latinos need to stand up and represent us at all levels of business and politics.

Interesante.com and NORTEC Partner To Provide Better Artist Discovery on iPhone.

I am so proud to announce two very important milestones for Interesante. First, the partnership with NORTEC Collective and second, the newly updated Interesante for iPhone. Yes, it has been only two weeks since the last update as we keep furiously moving forward making our core features better in order to provide a superb user experience.

NORTEC Collective, a collective of avant-garde artists in electronic music lead by Ramón Amezcua (Bostich) and Pepe Mogt (Fussible) and twice Grammy nominated artists, are now part of the group of advisors to Interesante.com. NORTEC collective provides the artistic point of view and opens the doors for up and coming artists to be a crucial part of the discovery engines of the future, where the crowd discovers the hidden gems in platforms like Interesante. Video is key in the discovery of new artists and music and we are committed to taking video discovery to a new level. Interesante has integrated YouTube’s API, enabling video content recommendations.

What a better way to show you some of the news than using our embed feature. Here are some interests that have been published by our users on Interesante.com. Enjoy!

Interesante for iPhone: A beautiful new update is available for download now!

I’m very excited to communicate that Interesante for iPhone has an update available in the App Store.  There are a few big things that makes this update something that you should check out and download now.

  • User interface revamped –  The user interface has been revamped – More swipe gestures to make the experience more natural for the user. We did this so that our users are more comfortable when interacting with the features we’ve just released. Also, we believe that the UI should get out of the way of the user and be measured by its ability to deliver the highest value to the user and not by simply aesthetic beauty. We, however, are shooting for both and striving to achieve a balance of function and beauty. Also, there’s a new gaming component. Every time that there you use Interesante and you press “Interesante”, we track that and rank you against other active users. We do this daily, so if you are dropping in the rankings and want to be #1, you can always try the next day. This is only on the iPhone app. Check it out and let us know what you think.
  • More social sharing –You can now share via facebook, twitter, e-mail and Google+
  • Interesante profile now available – The Interesante user profile lets you see other user’s interests.
Interesante for iPhone

Interesante for iPhone

Interesante for iPhone

Interesante for iPhone

Interesante for iPhone

Interesante for iPhone

Interesante for iPhone

Interesante for iPhone

Interesante for iPhone

Interesante for iPhone

Interesante for iPhone

Interesante for iPhone

Building mobile websites: Critical issues that every developer should know

Some time ago we published a blog post with tips on developing a mobile web. That blog post generated new inquiries from readers, which were answered by the Tangelo’s developers. They are experienced professionals in the field who daily confront difficulties, generate solutions and constantly refine their work.

Based on these consultations we have produced this blog post, delving in some critical points that Tangelo’s developers have found necessary to excel in their projects for world-class companies.

We hope you enjoy it and continue asking us questions, because we are here to help you be better.


Limitations on the transfer speed, in 3G networks

Something very important when developing a website is to reduce the loading time to a minimum. Each second delay to download a web site is equivalent to 10% loss of new users. While this is important for every development, in the case of mobile websites, this is an even more sensitive issue because people do not always use a wifi network to access your website.

In addition, the waiting time to download “heavy resources”, such as images or videos, means normally an extra cost for users.

Limitations because of the screen size and navigation on mobile devices

Screens of mobile devices are small, so surfing the Internet can be difficult in certain devices, such as those which use the keyboard to surf the Net. The content of the website must be concrete. Thus, the user will do only a few keyboard strokes to get the desired information.

Variety of devices

On the market there is a large variety of mobile devices.

The greater the support desired by the developer (for differents devices), the greater must be the simplicity of the site developed. For example, if a site has flash content, it will not be 100% accessible from Apple devices. The complexity of the Javascript code is also a limitation for some devices, which will can not correctly render this code.
Juan Cruz Ghigliani, one of our developers, acknowledges that the Yahoo and Google sites (search engines and e-mail)  are very well adapted to the limitations of browsing in a mobile device: “Google’s site is very simple and fast, even this is 2 or 3 times faster than Yahoo, said Juan Cruz.

Remember that you can follow Juan Cruz on Twitter (@juancruzmdq).

He will be happy to answer your questions, just like us do it through our blog.

Top 5 most curious and interesting uses of iPad in 2010

Throughout the year I’ve been collecting articles about unusual uses that some technology fans have given to the iPad, one of the most beautiful of Apple’s toys.

Despite the limitations that many people attribute to this tablet, some creative users could use it in a very original way.

In this blog post we will share with you the Top 5 most curious iPad uses in 2010, the year of its launch.

1- The latest Gorillaz album was done in an iPad.

Gorillaz mentor, Damon Albarn, developed “The Fall” during his tour through the United States. Albarn, also lead singer of Blur, only needed 32 days and his iPad to create the 15 tracks included in the new Gorillaz album, which can be downloaded from the band’s website.

Albarn, who normally work 4 years on each album, is really happy with this new experience. He said that this is a completely different album ever and called it “a daily route”, because it is closely linked to the places the band visited during its American tour.

It would be interesting to know which applications were used by Albarn for this last album. Any ideas?

2- iPads used at University of Madrid

The Open University of Madrid and Vodafone Spain Foundation is working on a pilot project on the use of new technologies in the distance learning mode.

For that reason the project managers gave an iPad to 50 of their students. The device’s uses were monitored for one semester by researchers, who are now performing a qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the experiment. They expect that the results give answers to several issues, such as the degree of student’s satisfaction, the possibility of eliminating paper and the development of specific technological applications to facilitate the student’s learning process.

3- An iPad received a presidential autograph

At a political meeting in Seattle WA, Sylvester Cann IV, using the Adobe Ideas aplication, wrote: “Mr. President, sign my iPad ”. Just that was what Barack Obama did, who found the idea great.

Then John shared with everybody the scribbles that President Obama did on his iPad, under the wary eye of the Secret Service.

You can see it here!

4- The iPad in the operating room

Japanese and technology have a strange relationship which is often related more to abuse than use.

A group of doctors from the Kobe University used an iPad as a screen during a surgery. When we see on this video one of the doctors using the zoom feature of the device (despite the film wrap and latex gloves it works great!) we can easily wonder if the presence of the tablet in that room is because of medical purposes or just the simple doctor’s pleasure.

5- iPads to draw portraits

David Newman became increasingly popular because of his presence in technology events, drawing attendees’ portraits.

Newman impressed people with his art in events such as the conference of Pius Twitter, DevCamp PayPal and several Google’s events. To achieve these stunning portraits, this artist only needs an Autodesk’s Sketchbook ProPogo stylus and loads of creativity.

The B2B Twitterer of the Year Awards

The B2B Twitterer of the Year Awards (@B2BTOTY in Twitter) recognizes and encourages the efforts of distinguished B2B professionals on Twitter. The winner will be selected by a committee of judges with professional experience.

Tangelo‘s founder, Antonio Altamirano will be part of the jury, which makes it even more exciting for us.

You’re encouraged to nominate professionals and companies you think deserve recognition for their outstanding contributions to the B2B community via Twitter. The deadline for nominations is December 18, 2010.

You can nominate and vote for the candidates at the B2B Twitterer of the Year Awards website. This year ten new categories were added to make it more inclusive. For example, “Boss Tweet” and “Business Journalists” which aim to recognize the individual contributions within the B2B arena on twitter. Check out all the categories here.

Unlike the social media “popularity contests,” the goal of B2B Twitterer of the Year Awards is to create a community and shine the spotlight in the movers and shakers in the B2B arena.

Joe Zuccaro, president of Allinio and the force behind B2BTOTY, was also kind enough to tell us a bit more in depth about the event “We created this Award program to recognize the efforts of B2B professionals and organizations since much buzz on Twitter relates to consumer-oriented brands (Zappos, Comcast, Gap, etc.) and personalities. Since Twitter is a relatively new tool and is still being experimented with, we wanted this website and award program to highlight best practices and serve as a place to the community to share experiences and recognize each other,” Joe said.

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The First Week at the Tangelo Startup House

How much have we accomplished so far? The first week of the Tangelo Startup House is already behind us.

As usual, here is an update on our progress. This time we present it graphically to be able to see at a glance how much we worked this past week and how far we’ve gone.

Work during the week is very intense and every advance motivates us more. We are having an amazing experience. We want to thank you all for following on Twitter comments and photographs of Tagelo Starup House (#tsh).