When did you arrive in the United States and why did you come?
I came for college, moved back to Mexico City for work after I graduated, and then returned in my mid 20s on an investor visa to open a branch of my Mexico-based production company in Los Angeles.
Beatriz Acevedo, 47
Company: mitú Inc., Santa Monica
At the time, did you intend to eventually return to your home country?
Absolutely! I actually kept both my apartment and my office in Mexico City thinking I was just opening up this branch and then moving back. The thought of speaking English full-time for the rest of my life was not something that I ever necessarily envisioned.
Why did you start your business in the United States instead of back home?
The mid 1990s were a time when all American cable networks decided to launch feeds into Latin America, and my production company was the only one creating content specifically for these audiences. U.S. Hispanic audiences were expected to grow in the next few decades, so I had a long list of clients here in the United States who wanted to attract this demographic via their cable slate of content.
What’s the hardest thing about starting a business here?
Having to convince people that Latinos are not a niche but mainstream, and that they need to invest the same amount of money to target them as they do for non-Latinos.
And the easiest?
That there is so much opportunity – especially within our demographic. Young Latinos are trendsetters, consume more digital content than anyone else, share more on their social feeds, buy more, and the list goes on and on. It is such an underserved demographic that anything you do to show them that you “get them” pays tenfold.
What have been the biggest surprises?
How we still have to over-explain why Latinos matter. It’s baffling to me, even with all the data and insights, how hard it is for many people to understand why our young U.S.-born Latino audience doesn’t really care about Spanish programming or TV as their main source of entertainment.
Would you tell someone from your home country to start a business here or there?
Digital video is booming with Latinos both here and there. There has been very little reinvention or innovation in media for young Latino audiences both in the United States and in Latin America in the past 50 years, so the opportunity is in both places. That being said, the United States certainly monetizes at a much higher rate than Latin America.
Do you go back often?
Yes, at least six times a year. We have a mitú office in Mexico City and a production studio in Baja Mexico.
What did you know about the United States before coming here?
That it was a very “politically correct” country, and that being a woman and a Latina was a good combination to get ahead, as I fulfilled the beloved “double diversity” in a very male and white-dominated entertainment industry.
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you as a foreign-born entrepreneur?
That I would become an expert in U.S. digital millennial audiences in less then five years. When I started mitú along with my partners, I would Google all the digital terms that people would quote in our meetings as I had no idea what they were talking about (coming from TV). It’s pretty funny that only a few years later, I’m now invited to speak at major events all over the world as a U.S. digital expert. I constantly ask myself, “How did I crash this party?”
– Omar Shamout
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