Thursday, December 18, 2014

Latin America Venture Capitalists: Searching for More Than Just a Good Idea

It is a known fact that Latin American entrepreneurs embarking on startups are constantly on the lookout for financing to back their business ventures, with the hope of making the enterprise more profitable and boosting its growth on both a local and a global scale. It is equally true that the organizations that possess said funds are also on the lookout, but as it turns out, being an entrepreneur with a good idea for a venture is not enough – they want someone who goes above and beyond, showing commitment and good business vision.

Read full article by By Norberto Gaona

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Venture capital is facing up to its diversity problem

SAN FRANCISCO — For decades the venture capital industry — made up almost entirely of white men — has had the distinction of being the most exclusive club in Silicon Valley.

Now the financiers who have funded some of the world's most powerful companies and minted hundreds of billionaires are trying to face up to their diversity problem.

The trade group for the venture capital industry said Monday it is forming a task force to brainstorm ways to bring aboard more women and minorities.

Read full article

Monday, November 10, 2014

IBM Wants Startups on its Cloud

The tech giant will announce Monday that it is offering up to $120,000 in credits–$10,000 per month–to entrepreneurs who are willing to use IBM’s cloud software to launch their companies or develop apps and services. Entrepreneurs will also be introduced to IBM customers, receive advice on how to go to market and get tech support.

“Our mantra is speed and our mission is to grow out our cloud business,” said IBM General Manager of Ecosystem Development Sandy Carter, who proposed the program, called the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program for Cloud Startups, about two months ago. “…There’s so much potential in the global economy for entrepreneurs

Read full article

Monday, November 3, 2014

Struggling in the shadow of Silicon Valley wealth

EAST PALO ALTO, Calif. — A few miles from Facebook's sprawling, opulent headquarters, police officers cuff a suspect in a hardscrabble neighborhood, while sirens wail not far away.

Bars frame windows. Patrol cars crisscross the streets near Cesar Chavez Academy, where school children frolic. Homeless people wander.

They share the same zip code with Facebook, but live worlds apart.

Throughout Silicon Valley, fences and roads divide the rich from poor, the powerful from the powerless.

Read full article

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Social Marketing Startup Thismoment Raises $17.6 Million

Thismoment, a San Francisco-based content marketing startup that helps brands create content for sharing to social media, has raised $17.6 million in new venture funding, according to CEO Vince Broady. The series D round was led by existing investors Sierra Ventures, Trident Capital and UMC Capital.

Read full article

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Marc Andreessen Aims to Solve Tech's Diversity Problem with $500,000 Donation

Prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and his wife, philanthropist and entrepreneur Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, announced a $500,000 donation today to support diversity in technology. In an interview with USA Today, Andreessen and Arrillaga-Andreessen said that their donation would support the efforts of three tech non-profits, including Code2040, Girls Who Code and Hack the Hood, all of which are driven by the mission to decrease gender and/or racial gaps in the field of technology.

Read full article

Friday, October 3, 2014

Why Marriott wants more diverse hotel owners

In 2009, the Biagas family made an investment that the faint of heart likely couldn’t stomach. In the wake of the financial downturn, John and his siblings Mark, Randy and Evette (along with four other investors) put down $3.8 million to build their first Marriott-brand hotel in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The SpringHill Suites by Marriott would be the family’s first venture into the hotel business.

“Our father was an entrepreneur and he taught us not to put all of our eggs into one basket, so we’ve made a number of different investments,” John told Fortune.

Read full article

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Palladium Makes Investment in Pronto Insurance, a Leading Provider of Non-Standard Auto Insurance to the Rapidly Growing Hispanic Market in Texas

NEW YORK and BROWNSVILLE, Texas, Oct. 1, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Palladium Equity Partners, LLC (along with its affiliates, "Palladium"), a private investment firm with over $2.5 billion in assets under management, today announced that it has made a significant investment in Pronto General Agency, Ltd. and its affiliates ("Pronto Insurance"), a leading managing general agency ("MGA") providing sales & distribution, underwriting, and claims administration services focused primarily on the non-standard auto insurance market segment in Texas.  As a result of the investment, Palladium holds a majority ownership interest in Pronto Insurance, while the company's leadership team, comprised of members of the Varela family and other executives, has retained a significant minority ownership interest.

Headquartered in Brownsville, TX and founded in 1997, Pronto Insurance has experienced significant growth since launching its MGA in 2005, expanding its business model from retail insurance distribution to multiple channels of distribution, including captive locations, franchisees, and independent agents.  As of today, Pronto Insurance's collected premiums are approximately $100 million.

"We are excited that Pronto Insurance has joined the Palladium family of companies, and we look forward to partnering with a firm that has significant experience in growing Hispanic-focused businesses," said Rafael Varela, founding partner of Pronto Insurance.  "We share a vision for Pronto Insurance's great potential and we intend to pursue a course of strategic growth and focused investment in the months and years ahead."

"Pronto Insurance has established a terrific position in the non-standard auto insurance space, with a strong brand focused on the Hispanic market, multiple channels of distribution, and an attractive Southwest footprint," said Erik Scott, a Managing Director of Palladium.  "We look forward to working with the Pronto Insurance leadership team to continue to grow the company organically by delivering a compelling mix of innovative services to its clients, as well as by pursuing acquisitions that make strategic sense both within and outside of Texas."

Pronto Insurance was advised by Sica | Fletcher.

About Pronto Insurance
Pronto Insurance is a provider of auto insurance solutions and other insurance products.  The company, which is headquartered in Brownsville, Texas, has approximately 100 locations statewide in Corpus Christi, the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, San Antonio, El Paso, Houston and Austin.  For additional information about Pronto Insurance visit

About Palladium Equity Partners, LLC
Palladium is a middle market private equity firm with over $2.5 billion in assets under management. Palladium seeks to acquire and grow companies in partnership with founders and experienced management teams, and focuses primarily on buyout equity investments in the range of $50 to $150 million.  Since its founding in 1997, Palladium has invested over $1 billion of capital in more than 20 platform investments and over 50 add-on acquisitions. The principals of the firm have significant experience in financial services, business services, food, healthcare, industrial and media businesses, with a special focus on transitioning founder-owned businesses and investing in companies it believes will benefit from the growth in the U.S. Hispanic population. In April 2014, Palladium announced the final closing of Palladium Equity Partners IV, L.P. at $1.14 billion, significantly exceeding its target.  Palladium is based in New York City. For more information, visit

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Biggest Venture Capital Players Investing in Travel Startups

There are all sorts of entities funding travel startups these days, including prominent angels, accelerators such as Y Combinator and Start-Up Chile, public company funds such as Concur’s $150 million Perfect Trip Fund, private equity firms such as TPG, hedge funds looking to diversify, and venture capital companies investing in all stages of the travel startup lifecycle — or eventual death spiral.

Venture capital firms active in travel include Thayer Ventures, Accel Partners, General Catalyst Partners, Battery Ventures, PROfounders Capital, Benchmark Capital, Sequoia Capital, Google Ventures, Sutter Hill Ventures, Altimeter Capital, Menlo Ventures, PAR Capital Management, and dozens more.

Read full article

Friday, September 26, 2014

Cultural Realities Of Latin American Entrepreneurship

One of the brilliant things about tech leaders and pundits in Silicon Valley is their true passion for entrepreneurship and their belief in the power of the human spirit and intellect. Surrounded by the sight of so many motivated and talented founders in the Valley itself, they assume that this optimistic sensibility can override nearly any obstacle for a dedicated entrepreneur.

However, outside of the Valley and particularly in the rest of the world, the reality is more nuanced. Truthfully, as a means of understanding startup culture in the rest of the world, this viewpoint does international entrepreneurs a disservice.

Read full article

Thursday, September 25, 2014

LatAm Online Shopping Mall Iguama Appoints E-Commerce Pioneer Bruce Matthews as Executive VP of Business Development

MIAMI, Sept. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Iguama announced today that ecommerce pioneer Bruce Matthews will join the company as Executive Vice President of Business Development. 

Iguama is the online shopping mall where Latinos can discover and buy all the things they can't get at home. The marketplace provides a social environment in which US brands and stores can connect with consumers in Latin America directly and handles every aspect of fulfillment out of the United States including: international shipping, customs and international tax.

From 1990 to August 2014, Bruce was Vice President of Business Development at TigerDirect, a publicly listed retailer of computers and consumer electronics that has been selling online since 1996. He was a key member of the executive team that took TigerDirect from ground zero to being one of the top 25 US internet retailers and has more than 20 years' experience in the web retail space.

Read full article

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Latino small biz owners face challenges securing financing

A new study found that Latino small business owners and entrepreneurs across the U.S. often struggle to get business loans from banks and often turn to non-bank lenders with higher interest rates to secure financing, according to

The online platform for small business finance examined annual revenue, credit scores, age of business (in months) and operating expenses from more than 1,000 Latino-owned businesses with less than 250 employees and less than $10 million in annual revenues.

Read full article

Friday, September 19, 2014

Banks Go Digital -- In Layers

Banks are struggling to become digital, said a recent conference report sponsored by Adobe.

That seemed a little puzzling — what are banks besides digital? Money, after all largely consists of computerized records and transactions.

So when I was asking Steve Ellis, executive vice president and head of wholesale services at Wells Fargo, about the bank’s fintech accelerator program, I asked what he thought about digital shortcomings at banks.

Read full article

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Protector Holdings Acquires SavePro Insurance Solutions

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Protector Holdings, LLC, a joint venture of EPIC (Edgewood Partners Insurance Center) and Dowling Capital Partners, announced today the acquisition of Northern California's SavePro Insurance Solutions.

SavePro (formally Bains and Woodward Insurance) was founded in 2008 in Yuba City, Calif. by Roger Bains and Paul Woodward, and has expanded to Chico, Eureka and Oroville, Calif.

In 2012, SavePro added David Rosenberg to bring Commercial Lines expertise to the agency, which has resulted in significant growth for the company.

Read full article

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

4M fewer uninsured as Affordable Care Act kicks in

There were 41 million Americans lacking coverage in early 2014, down from 44.8 million last year, according to the National Health Interview Survey, the first official government look at the uninsured after Obamacare policies kicked in on January 1. The uninsured rate fell to 13.1%, from 14.4%.

The survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, interviewed more than 27,600 people from January through March and asked them their coverage status. It also detailed whether they have private policies or participate in government programs.

Read full article

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Two San Diego colleges receive federal grant aiding low-income Hispanic students

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego Mesa College announced today that it won a $2.6 million, five-year federal grant to assist Hispanics who are first-generation, low-income students.

Mesa and Southwestern College in Chula Vista were two of only 20 colleges and universities around the country to win the grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

Read full article

Friday, September 5, 2014

Building a giant? Rocket bets big on new online markets

SINGAPORE/MOSCOW/BERLIN, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Germany's Rocket Internet faces daunting logistical challenges and rising local competition from Lagos to Laos as it races to capture customers in emerging markets before e-commerce titans Amazon and Alibaba can catch up.

That spells mounting losses as the venture capital company gears up to launch an initial public offering (IPO) this month that will help provide the war chest it needs to build and defend what it hopes will be the largest online shopping empire outside the United States and China.

Read full article

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Chase Celebrates Its Support For Small Business With $3 Million Mission Main Street(SM) Grants Program

NEW YORKSept. 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Chase continues its ongoing commitment to small business with the launch of Mission Main StreetSM Grants, a program that will award 20 grants of $150,000 to small businesses nationwide. Qualifying businesses that apply for a grant will gain access to a marketing Toolkit and a$150 coupon toward one market research study with Google Consumer Surveys from Premier Sponsor, Google. In addition, the 20 grant recipients will receive a trip to Google for an exclusive small business marketing workshop, a Google Chromebook Laptop computer and a $2,000 coupon toward one market research study with Google Consumer Surveys.
Today through October 3, any for-profit business in the U.S. with fewer than 100 employees and which meets all other eligibility requirements may apply. Full eligibility requirements are available
"Small businesses are invaluable to the growth of our economy and represent the lifeblood of the neighborhoods and communities they serve," said Jennifer Piepszak, Head of Sales and Strategy for Chase Business Banking. "This year, we've expanded our grant program to help even more small businesses by contributing to their success and offering them insights and access to the best tools to fuel their growth."
Everyone is invited to show their support for their favorite registered small businesses by voting through their Facebook account at Businesses must receive at least 250 votes to be considered for a grant. The public voting period is open from September 3, 2014 through October 17, 2014.
"The Internet has proven to be a vital pipeline for small businesses, and it continues to connect more businesses to their customers every day," said Jon Kaplan, Vice President of US Sales & Operations, Google Inc. "We're excited to join Chase once again for the Mission Main Street Grants program to recognize some of the great small businesses around the country and help them make the most of the Web." The 20 grant recipients will be selected by a panel of experts representing a diverse group of organizations with a passion for small business.
The panel of judges includes: 
  • Darla Beggs, National Board Chair, National Association of Women Business Owners
  • Nick Cannon, Entrepertainer, Ncredible
  • David C. Chavern, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Mark Garzone, Senior Vice President, Marketing, National Federation of Independent Business
  • Carla Hall, celebrity chef and owner of Carla Hall Petite Cookies
  • Jon Kaplan, Vice President, US Sales & Operations, Google Inc.
  • Chance Mitchell, CEO & Co-Founder, National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
  • Marc H. Morial, President & CEO, National Urban League
  • Marc Nager, Chief Executive Officer, UP Global
  • Matthew Pavelek, Director of Communications, National Veteran Owned Business Association
  • Andres Pena, Vice President, External Affairs, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Jennifer Piepszak, National Head of Sales, Chase Business Banking
  • J.P. Torres, PR & Communications Director, U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation
  • Candace Waterman, Chief of Staff, Certification & Program Operations, Women Business Enterprise National Council
  • Joset Wright-Lacy, President, National Minority Supplier Development Council
"Small businesses are driving opportunities in their cities, recruiting talent from their communities and contributing to the ongoing growth of our economy. This program is a unique way to find remarkable enterprises that are ready for their next stage and we invite all businesses who qualify to consider applying," said Javier Palomarez, CEO of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
The program application is in English. Chase bankers are available to assist applicants who speak other languages complete the process. Mission Main StreetSM Grants recipients will be announced in January 2015.
About Chase and Small Business The grant program is part of Mission Main Street (#MissionMainSt), a campaign that celebrates growing American businesses and raises the profile of select entrepreneurs to help inspire others. For more information about the campaign visit
Chase serves 4 million American small businesses, and was named the nation's No. 1 SBA lender for 2013, marking four consecutive years of approving a higher number of SBA loans and lines of credit than any other lender in the United States. Chase also remains the No. 1 SBA lender to women and minority-owned businesses. Businesses interested in expansion, hiring or working capital should contact a Chase Business Banking or
About Chase Chase is the U.S. consumer and commercial banking business of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.5 trillion and operations worldwide. Chase serves nearly half of America's households with a broad range of financial services, including personal banking, small business lending, mortgages, credit cards, auto financing and investment advice. Customers can choose how and where they want to bank: 5,600 branches, 20,000 ATMs, online, mobile and by phone. For more information visit

Friday, August 29, 2014

MetLife Named Top 50 Company for Hispanic Women

NEW YORK, Aug 27, 2014 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- MetLife has been selected by LATINA Style Magazine as one of the 50 Best Companies for Latinas to Work for and is featured in the magazine’s 2014 LATINA Style 50 Report. Now in its 17th year, this annual report is one of the most respected sources of employment and career information for Hispanic women in the United States.

“At MetLife, we are committed to growing a diverse workforce that reflects our customers, shareholders and communities and to creating a culture of inclusion – both of which are essential to meeting our business goals,” said Elizabeth Nieto, MetLife’s global chief diversity and inclusion officer. “We’re proud that LATINA Style has recognized MetLife’s strong track record of attracting, developing and retaining a diverse workforce.”

The 50 Best Companies are selected based on their efforts to promote diversity and provide career advancement opportunities, with special attention this year to programs that recruit veterans and military personnel. MetLife is focused on gender diversity through efforts to strengthen the representation, talent development and advancement of women in senior leadership roles. In addition, the company has an ongoing campaign to recruit veterans and military personnel.

“This year LATINA Style is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in providing the Latina community with information that makes a difference in their everyday lives, and we are happy to honor MetLife in this year’s Top 50 Best Companies for Latinas,” said Robert E. Bard, president and chief executive officer of LATINA Style, Inc. “MetLife was chosen for its commitment to advancing Latina women in the workforce and sets an example that other companies should follow.”

The LATINA Style 50 Companies will be honored during LATINA Style’s Awards Ceremony & Diversity Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C., on February 5, 2015.

About MetLife
MetLife, Inc. MET, +0.55% through its subsidiaries and affiliates (“MetLife”), is one of the largest life insurance companies in the world. Founded in 1868, MetLife is a global provider of life insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management. Serving approximately 100 million customers, MetLife has operations in nearly 50 countries and holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, visit

SOURCE: MetLife, Inc.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Jessica Alba's Startup Honest Co. Valued at Nearly $1 Billion

Nearly two years after its launch, Jessica Alba's startup The Honest Co. is now valued at nearly $1 billion.

Co-founded by Christopher Gavigan, Sean Kane and Brian Lee, the company sells natural, non-toxic items, ranging from household cleaning supplies to baby products. The products are available for purchase either online or at select retail stores in the United States and Canada.

The business raised $70 million from Wellington Management Company so far, with the help from existing investors, including ICONIQ Capital, General Catalyst Partners, Institutional Venture Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners. According to industry experts, it is worth nearly $1 billion as it moves toward an initial public offering.

Read full article

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Latin American countries dominate retail growth

While the U.S. may be seen as the world's hub for all things retail, a recent report suggests that this title may be a better fit for one of several countries in Latin America - if not the region as a whole.

In its latest Global Retail Development Index, strategic and operational services company A.T. Kearney found Chile to be the best country in the world when it comes to the growth and development of retail, supplanting Brazil as the top destination for retail expansion. In addition to Chile and Brazil, six other Latin American nations - namely Uruguay, Peru, Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico - were also included in this year's Index.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bank of America Merrill Lynch Publishes Report on Latin America Market, “Driving Growth in Latin America”

SANTIAGO, Chile--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Global Transaction Services business at Bank of America Merrill Lynch has published its annual report on the Latin America market, entitled “Driving Growth in Latin America.” The report, which appears in Treasury Management International magazine (TMI), includes a series of articles summarizing the challenges and opportunities for companies conducting business in the region.

“Clients around the world increasingly tell us that Latin America is a crucial part of their strategic growth objectives. It’s no wonder. Foreign direct investment (FDI) is booming. Latin America and the Caribbean hit a historic high of $184.92 billion in 2013 – 5 percent more than in 20121,” said Juan Pablo Cuevas, head of Global Transaction Services for Latin American and the Caribbean. “In addition, Mexico – which has just implemented a number of investor friendly reforms – is expected to enjoy a significant boost to FDI, perhaps overtaking Brazil as the largest recipient of FDI in the region. Meanwhile, Chile, Peru and Colombia now have economies that rank as some of the most open among emerging market countries.”

“Driving Growth in Latin America,” which is available to BofA Merrill clients and through TMI, features articles on the following topics:

  • The impact of the expanded remit of the treasury function.
  • The growth of non-bank financial institutions and public sector entities doing business in the region.
  • Best practices of in-house banking.
  • The appeal of Latin America to U.S. middle-market companies looking to expand internationally.
  • The role of escrow in managing risk, including M&A-related risk.
  • What treasury professionals should look for when investing in money market funds.
  • How the integration of trade finance and foreign exchange can lower a company’s costs and risks.
  • A new era for supply chain finance in Latin America.

“Facilitating the Growing Strategic Role of Treasury” examines the parallel evolution of the growing importance of the treasury function with the expansion of companies into international markets, including Latin America. “Corporate treasury has become a linchpin in supporting a company’s growth strategy in an increasingly complex global environment,” states the article, which goes on to offer guidance on managing risk, enhancing visibility and control, and knowing when to centralize treasury operations.

The regional opportunities for non-bank financial institutions and public sector entities are examined in “Latin America’s Growth Drives Search for Global Solutions.” The article notes that one driver of this trend is the increase in consumer spending, particularly on auto, health and other insurance products. This in turn has been fueled by the growth in the region’s middle classes, which it is estimated, will outnumber the region’s poor by 20162.

“In-House Banking: Is the Time Right for You?” looks at how the changing regulatory landscape and the desire to harness internal liquidity is spurring companies to restructure their cash management structures. The article provides an explanation of in-house banking and identifies the characteristics of best-in-class models.

In the article, “Latin America Opens Up to the U.S. Middle Market,” Brazil and Mexico are identified as the primary expansion targets for many U.S. companies given their size. However, as noted in the article, the two countries have different characteristics. Brazil is a complex and challenging country in which to operate while Mexico is generally seen as the easiest. The article further discusses that Chile, Colombia and Peru are often secondary target markets once a company is established in Mexico and Brazil.

“Mitigating Risk in Latin America” examines the crucial role of escrow services as a risk management tool for multinationals as they increase their business in Latin America. Escrow services can be effective tools to manage M&A-related risk, as well as transaction, regulatory and counterparty risk.

Money market funds historically have been among the most liquid and stable investments available. Despite this, treasury professionals need to carefully vet funds’ investment risk to ensure a fund manager’s risk appetite aligns with their risk tolerance. “Dissecting Risk in Money Market Funds” details how to assess and select approach that selection.

In the article, “FX and Trade Finance Convergence Delivers Benefits,” the author explains how integrating trade finance and foreign exchange can lead to lower costs and reduced risks. For example, purchasing goods in local currency can allow companies to negotiate more competitive local pricing and avoid overpaying for their imports.

“Supply Chain Finance in Latin America: A New Era” discusses the current environment for supply chain finance in the region, where banks have successfully adapted their products and support to reflect the specific needs of buyers and suppliers in Latin America.

1 Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean 2013, Economic Commission for Latin America (United Nations), May 2014

2 Social Gains in the Balance, World Bank, February 2014

Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world's leading financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small businesses, middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 49 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 5,000 retail banking offices and approximately 16,000 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 30 million active users and more than 15 million mobile users. Bank of America is among the world's leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in more than 40 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch is the marketing name for the global banking and global markets businesses of Bank of America Corporation. Lending, derivatives, and other commercial banking activities are performed globally by banking affiliates of Bank of America Corporation, including Bank of America, N.A., member FDIC. Securities, strategic advisory, and other investment banking activities are performed globally by investment banking affiliates of Bank of America Corporation (“Investment Banking Affiliates”), including, in the United States, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated, which is a registered broker-dealer and member of SIPC, and, in other jurisdictions, a locally registered entity. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated and Merrill Lynch Professional Clearing Corp. are registered as futures commission merchants with the CFTC and are members of the NFA. Investment products offered by Investment Banking Affiliates: Are Not FDIC Insured * May Lose Value * Are Not Bank Guaranteed.

Bank of America N.A., Oficina de Representacion (Chile), is a representative office in Chile of Bank of America N.A., supervised by the Superintendencia de Bancos e Instituciones Financieras and authorized to promote in Chile select products and services that Bank of America N.A. provides outside of Chile. Neither Bank of America, N.A., nor its Representative Office in Chile, is authorized to carry out in Chile any activities that are reserved by Chilean law to locally licensed banks.

Copyright 2014 Bank of America Corporation. All rights reserved. Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Broadcort and their logos are trademarks of Bank of America Corporation and/or its affiliates.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Hispanics Seek More Financial Knowledge

Growing up with little to no financial education, Hispanic investors today say they are hungry for more investment knowledge, according to a new Wells Fargo survey.

A large majority of Hispanic investors wish they knew more about investing in mutual funds, stocks and bonds (72% of surveyed Hispanic investors versus 64% of U.S. investors overall), according to the survey.

Read more

Thursday, August 21, 2014

El Pollo Loco: PE 'Bust-Out', 20+ Years Of Failed Domestic Expansion, Pre-IPO Window Dressing Make An Ideal Short


More like a ‘Pollos Hermanos’ than the Chipotle media comparison it is currently getting.
20+ years of failed domestic expansion track record.
Two-year comp momentum is largely average check growth driven, and thus should be heavily discounted.
Existing equity holders will be very motivated sellers at lockup expiry.
There should be ZERO bid for this stock anywhere north of $20.

Read full article

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Economy survey: Most Hispanic business owners plan to save more, spend less

Sept 11, 2012 | by Becky Yerak

Chicago's Hispanic business owners say they're conserving cash and cutting spending amid worries about taxes, the federal deficit and health care changes, according to a PNC Bank survey released Monday.

In its first survey of Hispanic entrepreneurs, the Pittsburgh-based bank conducted 402 interviews nationally from May 18 to June 12, including 101 in the Chicago area.

Read full article

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hispanic Communities Are Largely an Untapped Market

August 12, 2012 | By Natasha Chilingerian

Credit unions might believe they’re doing all they can to target valuable demographic groups, but there’s one market that many are neglecting, said one consulting firm and its credit union clients. Hispanics are a rapidly growing market, according to Des Moines, Iowa-based firm Coopera Consulting. And they are hungry for financial services and carry an abundance of new business opportunities for credit unions.

Mexico-born Miriam De Dios, CEO of Coopera, said that while many credit unions naturally serve Hispanics as a result of their member service area locations, not enough of them implement comprehensive plans to win over the ethnic group. Coopera opened five years ago and has helped approximately 70 credit unions court their Hispanic communities to date.

Read full article

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Frontera Investment Raises $10 Million of New Capital

SAN DIEGO, Calif., Jun 21, 2012 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) -- via PRWeb - Frontera is an alternative financial services company that serves the large and fast-growing low-cost consumer finance market. The company uses advanced technology and business processes to offer competitive prices on a wide range of financial products and services, including check cashing, loans (payday and gold jewelry loans) and money transfers. 

The first transaction is a new $5 million senior credit facility from Salus Capital Partners ( ). The proceeds of this credit facility will be used to repay existing, higher interest rate indebtedness and to provide the company with additional lending capacity to grow the gold buying and gold pawn business lines.

The second transaction is a $5.0 million preferred stock investment from MRC Capital Group ( ), an existing investor in Frontera. The proceeds of this equity investment will be used to repay existing indebtedness and to finance growth in Frontera's core business through a series of new store acquisitions.

"We are very pleased to announce these two transactions," said Gilbert Partida, Frontera's president and CEO. "They mark an important step in our business as we look to leverage the systems we have built over the past nine years to accomplish our mission of providing our customers with products that reduce the cost of basic financial transactions for the un-banked market in the United States."

As contemplated in the preferred stock purchase agreement, representatives of MRC Capital Group will occupy three of Frontera's five Board of Director seats with Benjamin Yogel, MRC Capital Group's Managing Partner, becoming the Co-Chairman of the Board along with Gilbert Partida.

"We are thrilled to expand our existing investment in Frontera," said Benjamin Yogel. "Two years ago we made an initial investment in the company and have been impressed with the company and its management team during the tenure of our investment. We see a clear market opportunity for Frontera to leverage its existing systems by adding new stores through acquisition onto the company's technology platform. Our new equity investment, coupled with Salus' new credit facility, will provide the company with the liquidity to accomplish this growth strategy."

"We are excited to partner with Frontera and its sponsor, MRC Capital Group," said Marc S. Price, Senior Vice President, Loan Originations and Corporate Strategy of Salus Capital. "As a subsidiary of Harbinger Group, Inc., we seek to align ourselves with companies and sponsors that have a unique business model that differentiates them from the competition. Frontera's advanced technology and commitment in providing financial services to the un-banked consumer is consistent with our approach."

Forward-Looking Statements

Such forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks, assumptions and uncertainties that could cause the company's actual results to differ materially from those projected in such forward-looking statements. These risks, assumptions and uncertainties include: the ability to complete expansion within currently estimated time frames and budgets; the ability to compete effectively in a rapidly evolving and price competitive marketplace; ability to raise capital to support its growth strategy; changes in business strategy; and the successful integration of newly acquired businesses.

About Frontera, Investment, Inc

Frontera FRNV +153.52% is an alternative services company utilizing advanced technologies and operational systems to provide a growing array of low cost, one-stop-shopping financial services to the "unbanked" and "under-banked" consumer markets. The company offers competitive prices on a wide range of financial products and services, including check cashing, loans (payday and gold jewelry loans) and money transfers.

Frontera's primary target market is the Hispanic sector, which is currently estimated to be more than 40 million customers. Over half of these Hispanic consumers do not use any form of banking service. Frontera's immediate mission is to be the first full-service Hispanic financial services brand.

In addition, approximately 35 percent of all households in the United States across the board are either un-banked, under-banked, or regularly use alternative financial services. Frontera is a prime, low-cost, high customer value option for consumers in these markets.

Frontera currently operates ten stores in California and two stores in Florida.
To learn more visit  

SOURCE: Frontera Investment, Inc.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Private equity, venture capital fundraising could hit at least US$10bn in Latin America in 2012

Sept 15, 2011 | by Jorge Porter

Fundraising for Latin American private equity and venture capital (PE/VC) could hit at least a record US$10bn in 2012 given that global investors are more willing to increase their exposure to the region, Cate Ambrose, president and executive director of the Latin American Venture Capital Association (LAVCA), told BNamericas.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

10 ways to add sizzle to your Online Marketing

These days every new entrepreneur understands that an innovative product or service is necessary, but not sufficient, to start a business. You have to build a web presence with marketing content to get visibility above the 50 million other new websites created every year, and attract the customers you need. But most entrepreneurs don’t know where to start.

Of course, there is a plethora of “experts” emerging out there, who are anxious to lead you down that path, for a large price. So I’m always on the lookout for some real experts, and some pragmatic guidance on how to attack this issue. 

Recently I was reviewing a new book on content marketing, “Accelerate!” by an expert and friend in this space, Arnie Kuenn, which offers guidance and examples on new and modern approaches for the rest of us:

1) Build a blog. According to Hubspot, websites that have blogs get twice as many inbound links, 400 percent more indexed pages, and a more than 50 percent increase in traffic, compared to websites without blogs. Search engines and people love blogs these days.

2) Join the conversation with Community Forums. A forum is a discussion site on a relevant subject, hosted and moderated by you, which adds authority, content, and traffic to your website. The registration process to join can give you a very targeted email list.

3) Curation, the most efficient content. Curation is humanly aggregating, filtering, and re-posting the best-of-the-best content on the web, relative to your product or service area. This shows your knowledge and positions your company as a thought leader.

4) Win with engaging contests. Not a new idea, but when used creatively, can entice new prospect traffic and backlinks to your site. People these days love to submit stories, vote on other entries, and receive the recognition of even small prizes or product rewards.

5) Traditional publishing out, self-publishing in with eBooks. You don’t need a real book as a base for electronic books, as people now prefer something akin to a “white paper” on steroids. It’s just another way to demonstrate credibility and attract traffic.

6) Keep them engaged with eNewsletters. These are regular updates, usually monthly, via website and email that help with customer retention, and again remind your customers that you are the expert in your industry. Supplement text here with video and audio.

7) Widgets and badges. A widget is a mini-app that displays or updates data either locally or on the web – to share something of value and interest. A badge is a simple graphic designed for fun, to show support, or promote certain standards online. All highlight you.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Daily Deal Sites Attract 1.6 Billion in Venture Capital Investment in 2011

TROY, Mich.—July 13, 2011—Over the past six months, daily deal sites such as Groupon, Living Social and Gilt Groupe have attracted more than $1.69 billion in venture capital and other investments according to the new 2011 Daily Deal Investment Index released today by Daily Deal Media. Overall, 22 Daily Deal companies have received investments in the past six months.

For more information or to purchase a copy of the 1H 2011 Daily Deal Investment Index, which includes a comprehensive breakdown of the deals and profiles of more than 30 leading Daily Deal companies, visit our Data Reports page.

Results of the report will be discussed at the 2011 Daily Deal Media Conference, the premier industry event for companies and investors in the Daily Deal market. The conference will be held September 8-9 in Chicago, and interested participants can register here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Orlando-based pawn company lands $5 million venture deal

By Richard Burnett, Orlando Sentinel

The latest multimillion-dollar venture-capital investment in Central Florida did not go to a social-networking firm, theme-park spinoff or high-tech company. It went to a pawn shop chain.

Orlando-based La Familia Pawn & Jewelry has landed $5 million in venture funding from a private equity firm based in Puerto Rico, the companies said Thursday.

It is one of the largest venture deals in Central Florida so far this year, according to the latest MoneyTree survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which tracks activity by professional investment firms.

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Find Chinese Venture Capital for Your Business

By Karen E. Klein, Bloomberg Business Week.

Start by calling development groups that promote trade between China and the U.S. Then consider partnering with a sophisticated entrepreneur or investor with personal connections in the country
I have a project to develop 12 to 15 small lodges along a jaguar preservation corridor in Latin America. Can you direct me on connecting with Chinese venture capital or private equity firms? —J.H., North Miami, Fla.

After decades of distrust, the past several years have seen efforts to encourage business partnerships across the Pacific. The formal and informal connections being made capitalize on the flourishing Chinese economy, which is rewarding business owners and spurring them to seek investments, says Steven Shen, chairman of the China-U.S.Business Summit, a nonprofit in Long Beach, Calif.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Venture capital takes off in Mexico

By Jeff Tyler, Marketplace

Venture capital firms are finding success in Mexico. Some entrepreneurs are using the economic development to combat crime.

Entrepreneurs in Mexico hope new start-ups will help the country's economy.

Steve Chiotakis: We've been hearing a lot lately about drug violence in Mexico. But that's not stopping a lot of wealthy people from investing there.

Marketplace's Jeff Tyler now and why venture capital is taking off south of the border.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Businesses and celebrities unite for St. Jude’s Gala por la Vida in New York, April 28th - Few tickets left!

NEW YORK, NY (April 22nd, 2011) – The leadership and influence of recognized Latino business professionals, celebrities and executives in New York has set the tone for the launch of the second annual “Gala por la Vida” (Gala for Life) event, a night of hope for children who are suffering from cancer and other catastrophic diseases at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®, the nation’s top children’s cancer hospital. The gala will take place on April 28, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. at the exclusive Angel Orensanz Foundation Center for the Arts in New York. This year, the gala will honor prominent minority-owned business and non-profit leader George A. Zeppenfeldt-Cestero, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Health, for his commitment and dedication to improving the lives of minority groups in the healthcare community. Well-known local news personality, Sandra O’Neill, from Univision 41 will host the evening’s event.

“The members of the committee are putting forth their best resources and contacts to provide hope to the thousands of children who need treatment at St. Jude,” said Liliana Gil, chair of the Gala por la Vida committee and XL Alliance Managing Partner. The committee counts on the generous support of dedicated volunteers such as Chris Valletta, ex NFL player and former cast member of the NBC’s “The Apprentice”; Cesar Camacho, the event's creative director and producer; fashion consultant Valentina Henao, Karen Hoyos, Mark Antonacci, Carlos Vasallo, David A. Chitel, Karla Micalizzi, Diane Rankin, Gabriela Nevez, Michael A. Fernandez, Kelly Ramirez, Martha Llamoza, Mary C. Miqueli, Monica Dias, Warren Peña, Gabriela Poler, Jesús Maldonado and Windy Lopez.

The gala will include an exclusive fashion show by renowned Colombo-Venezuelan designer Raul Peñaranda. Peñaranda, who has worked with world-renowned fashion houses, including Oscar de la Renta, Kellwood and Tommy Hilfiger, will be showing his Fall 2011 collection at the Gala por la Vida. The exclusive fashion show will be sponsored by Vanidades magazine and styled by Camilo Vergara.

“We want to help St. Jude in their continuous quest in helping children fight cancer and our participation in this year’s Gala allows us to be a part of their worthy cause especially as it relates to the Hispanic community,” said Madelin Bosakewich, US and International Sales Director of Televisa Publishing + Digital.

The gala’s 300 guests will enjoy an unforgettable evening accompanied by top Latin music and television stars, and New York’s philanthropic community as they walk the red carpet. The evening’s events will include silent and live auctions featuring items like a personal donation from Gala por la Vida’s supporter, John Leguizamo, who has donated a personal backstage experience to his new Broadway show, Ghetto Klown.

Live performances will feature recording artist Fragancia, former member of the group DLG, new bachata sensation Yunel Cruz and as well as entertainment by DJ Kazzanova, from Univision Radio’s x96.3. Guests will also taste a menu exclusively designed for the gala by Salvadorian celebrity chef and Food Network star Ricardo Cardona. Some of the participating sponsors include Shoprite, Vanidades, Univision, Johnnie Walker, Wines of Argentina, MISSION Athlete Care, Starlite Media, The Kimball Family Foundation, Toma Vodka, Hispanolia Rum, d’expósito & Partners, XL Alliance, among others.

Thanks to events like Gala por la Vida, St. Jude is able to continue providing lifesaving medical treatments to children fighting cancers like leukemia, regardless of a family’s inability to pay. For more information on purchasing tickets to the gala, sponsorships or donating silent auction items, please contact (212) 239-3239 or visit This year, we also ask the community to take part in a text messaging campaign benefiting St. Jude by texting the word “VIDA” to 90999 to donate $10 for the children of St. Jude.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

10 Best Study Abroad Destinations for Business Majors


Any student, no matter her or his major, should snap up any affordable opportunities to study abroad that present themselves. Such experiences infuse lessons with far more diverse perspectives than the ones touched upon in the classroom. Business classes especially benefit from a generous shot of multiculturalism — and one need not focus on international trade to get something out of it! When the urge to hop a plane and head overseas for some valuable lessons hits, look into programs at some of the following locations first.

1.Hong Kong, China: This Special Administrative Region is touted as one of the top financial centers in the world, and business students harboring a love of economics come here to see laissez-faire capitalism in action. It's ranked 2nd on the Ease of Doing Business Index as well. Combined with its status as one of the world's foremost centers for banking, finance and international commerce and trade, Hong Kong should be one of the top destinations for business students hoping to study abroad.

2.Singapore: Considered one of the four economic juggernauts of Asia, Singapore ranks first on the Ease of Doing Business Index. A largely trade-based economy, the city-state thrives mainly on exporting goods and retooling imports. Suffice to say, it boasts one of the world's most active ports on top of being considered the fourth most prosperous financial centers anywhere. Business students hoping to enter into the chemical, petroleum, electronics, biomedical or mechanical engineering industries have plenty to explore here as well.

3.Taipei, Taiwan: Taiwan is considered another one of the "Asian Tigers" of business and commerce, with capital Taipei as its flourishing center. Even though the global economy is experiencing a downturn, the city boasts the 2nd -highest per-capita GDP in all of Asia and still expands at a rate of roughly 5% per year. Inflation and unemployment are both kept to a staggering minimum, too. Despite the popularity of textiles and electronics, business students with different goals can still easily walk away from a stint in Taipei with some great experiences and lessons under their belts.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg Launches Innovation Index to Measure New York City’s Economic Transformation

Innovation Activity in New York City Increased 12 Percent Between 2003 and 2009 and Continues to Grow

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today launched New York City’s Innovation Index, the first composite indicator that tracks overall innovation activity in New York City over time. The Index, developed and administered by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, provides a detailed analysis of the drivers of innovation in the City and how they are faring. The data will be updated every year and will be used to measure the scale and pace of the City’s economic transformation, as well as inform policies and shape a regulatory environment that promotes innovation in New York City. Overall, innovation-related activity increased by 12 percent between 2003 and 2009, a trend that preliminary data suggest reached 14 percent by the end of 2010

“One of our Administration’s most important economic development goals is to promote entrepreneurship and innovation and grow New York City’s high-tech sector, and we want to track its drivers,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Innovation is a tough thing to measure, but when taken together through the Innovation Index, factors like job growth, research and development funding, and venture capital, provide a gauge of the City’s success in generating new ideas, new companies and new jobs. Accelerating the trend of innovation in New York is critical to the City’s economic growth and diversification, particularly given the challenges of competing in the global economy.”

By analyzing the City’s innovation inputs – research and development (R&D) spending, finance, and human capital – and innovation outputs, or the growth of intellectual property, production in high-tech sectors, and entrepreneurship, the Innovation Index uncovered key trends in the City’s innovation economy:

· The high-tech sectors’ share of the Gross City Product (GCP) increased by almost 25% between 2003 and 2009. In 2009, GCP per worker in the City’s high-tech sectors was more than $200,000, among the highest level of any sector.
· Venture capital funding in the New York metro area totaled $1.9 billion in 2010, with firms in the City accounting for 64 percent of this activity. Both the number and value of VC deals increased at a significantly higher rate than in the rest of the nation between 2003 and 2010.
· New York City’s small businesses received a total of $30 million in federal grant dollars for innovation and research in 2009. The value of grants to the City’s firms more than doubled between 2003 and 2009.
· The City’s universities invested $1.8 billion in R&D in 2009. R&D spending at these institutions increased 13 percent since 2003 and accounted for approximately 3.5 percent of all academic R&D spending nationally.
· In 2009, the City’s universities were home to nearly 27,000 graduate and post-doctorate students in the science and engineering disciplines. This represented a 3.9 percent share of all such students in the U.S. and is up from 3.5 percent in 2003, demonstrating the City’s learning and research institutions’ growing influence in these fields.
· With nearly 179,000 people employed in science and engineering occupations in 2009, the City’s workforce is becoming more concentrated in these jobs. The number of workers increased by 9 percent between 2003 and 2009, while their share of total private employment grew by 4 percent.
· There were approximately 1,100 patents awarded to New York City inventors in 2009, an increase of 23 percent from 2003.

“The Bloomberg Administration is taking concrete steps to further New York City’s position as the 21st Century City of innovation,’ and the Innovation Index will be a useful tool as we move forward,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel.

“Because we believe that innovation is the key to future economic growth, measuring the level of innovation occurring in New York City serves as a critical barometer of economic opportunity,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. “Understanding this data will help us develop more effective policies that will accelerate the trends and strengthen our position in an increasingly competitive world.”

Overall, the Index documents that barriers to business creation for high-tech and innovative firms are lower today than they were a few years ago, and they continue to decrease as more entrepreneurs are attracted to the City. The results of the Index show that, within the broader City economy, entrepreneurs are establishing new businesses, and more startups are securing venture capital and federal funding. This development is facilitated by the concentration of highly skilled talent across numerous industries, providing an ideal environment to exchange ideas. The City’s universities continue to be the engine driving research and knowledge creation, helping to develop a highly-skilled workforce. Meanwhile, more patents are awarded to the City’s inventors each year.

While inputs like R&D and venture capital funding have increased sharply since 2003, these investments in innovation have uncertain returns that do not necessarily or immediately translate into innovation outputs. Several years may be needed for ideas to be patented or commercialized. But with inputs continuing to rise, there is reason to be optimistic about the City’s future performance.

To access the full report and its findings, visit  

The Innovation Index is part of the Bloomberg Administration’s efforts to encourage entrepreneurship within a variety of economic sectors. With a network of eight incubators around the City, the Administration is providing low-cost office space, as well as training and networking opportunities, to hundreds of start-ups and small businesses. In addition, in 2010, the City launched the New York City Entrepreneurial Fund, the first City-sponsored seed and early-stage investment fund located outside of Silicon Valley. In partnership with FirstMark Capital, the fund will make up to $22 million available to New York City-based technology startups. This month, the Mayor announced the winners of the second annual NYC BigApps competition and a strategic partnership with BMW, which is launching a $100 million venture capital fund in New York City as well as a small business incubator. And as part of larger efforts to grow the technology sector in the City, the Administration recently received 18 responses to a Request for Expressions of Interest that it issued to institutions seeking to build or expand an applied sciences research facility within the five boroughs.

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