When Culture Meets Opportunity: The 3rd Annual Latino Franchise Symposium
Despite the fact that Hispanics are the fastest-growing demographic group in the U.S., Latinos own less than six percent of franchises in America, according to an International Franchise Association (IFA) Educational Foundation report.
This segment is growing at a fast pace, but much is still unknown about the actual players involved. What we do know, however, is that the possibilities are endless for those willing to explore and invest in this untapped market.
The Latino Franchise Symposium, presented by Dallas-based Latino Leaders Magazine, was formed in 2015 to specifically bring together individuals interested in the franchise industry for the Hispanic markets in the U.S. and Latin America. It’s a one-of-a-kind event for entrepreneurs, business owners, and investors locally and beyond, looking to create new business opportunities and learn more about this burgeoning industry.
Launch DFW’s CEO Jasmin Brand sat down with Latino Leaders Magazine Publisher Jorge Ferraez for a peek inside the symposium and a look at the magazine’s impressive impact on the Latino entrepreneurial community.
Jasmin Brand:// Thanks for sitting down with us Jorge. We’re thrilled about the symposium. How did it get started?
Jorge Ferraez:// When it comes to Hispanic businesses, the community is highly entrepreneurial. And there are many that own small and medium-sized businesses. Interestingly, the franchise industry was not connected to them at all. A huge disconnect. You have these “traditional” businesses and then you have the franchisees growing and looking to convert those business owners into their system.
Large franchisors, the Cantina Laredos, the Burger Kings, and the Pizza Huts, they are all looking for Hispanic franchisees. Why? Well, they have observed that when you have a Hispanic-run store and the surrounding community of the store is also Hispanic, that store performs 25-30% better than a store managed by another ethnicity. There are menu items that a store owner can influence. For example, 7-Eleven franchisees can change up to 25% of their merchandise to reflect the needs of the community that they support. So if you are in a Hispanic neighborhood, you could offer tortillas, salsa, things like that. That is how a store owner is able to make his or her store more efficient. Culture. And that’s what the big franchisors are looking for. They want their stores managed by people who understand the culture of the areas that they support.
Jasmin Brand:// Is it your hope to not only connect small businesses with franchisees at the symposium, but also introduce the large franchisors to this community as well?
Jorge Ferraez:// Yes. Many of these big franchisors are looking to grow and are aware that it is the Hispanic community markets that are growing the fastest. They want to expand in those areas and are looking for Hispanics to come and open those stores for them. Latino Leaders Magazine understands the Hispanic entrepreneurial community and we know what these big corporations are looking for. With the symposium, we now have an environment where it’s about bringing everyone together, making connections and doing business.
Currently, there are successful Hispanic franchisees that exist, but we need to produce more. That’s the goal of this symposium. We have people coming from around the country – Miami, LA, Chicago, New York, etc. The people that we have invited are bringing their expertise to the event. They are also interested in investing in this market and/or becoming operators too.
Jasmin Brand:// Who is the ideal attendee for the event? Is it open to others outside of the Hispanic community as well?
Jorge Ferraez:// The symposium is open to anyone and everyone looking to do business with the Hispanic community. So for example, if you’re Chinese or Russian and want to understand the Hispanic community better because you want to invest in that market and grow in that market, this is the event for you. The entire two days feature various aspects on understanding this market better, identifying opportunities, and learning from the expertise of our incredible roster of speakers and experts (there are 25).
Jasmin Brand:// I read an article recently on Latino Leaders Magazine about building wealth in the Hispanic community. The article stated that less than 1% of venture backed startups are Latino. What can the DFW startup community do to increase that numbers? How can we begin producing more Latino startups here in our region?
Jorge Ferraez:// Tech or non-tech, I completely believe in creating pipelines. And the pipelines have to do with three main areas of thought. First is mentorship. Find people that are already in business and in the success stage to mentor young people and emerging entrepreneurs so that they go back and start their own. Second, we need to work on education. I think preparation and education are very important. And the third one is the sense that anyone can do it. It is not about being privileged, intelligent, talented, or rich. Anyone can be an entrepreneur. A lot of the successful startups you see were made from nothing. Let me put it this way. One of the most successful types of businesses in the Hispanic community is the food business. There are many Mexicans working in the kitchens in restaurants across the country. Often, you’ll have someone who will resign or quit their cook or chef job in order to start their own restaurant in their neighborhood. Some will do that through a franchise, but others will operate on their own. The hunger for growth and more money is in everyone. The moment a person decides that they can do it they do.
Jasmin Brand:// Speaking of founders, what was the impetus for starting Latino Leaders Magazine? Is your mission still the same or has it evolved into something else over the years?
Jorge Ferraez:// I grew up admiring successful people. My business partner, my brother, and I started a business with a goal of getting close to those successful individuals. We learned that conducting interviews was a good way to get in front of this group. And we knew others could learn from them too by reading and hearing their stories. We started 28 years ago and back then, we didn’t have the internet or social media. We eventually decided to start a magazine and publish interviews in order to discover that secret “recipe” for success. In 2000, the U. S. Census revealed that the Hispanic community was booming. The U.S. economy was growing because of this community and was on trend to be the future of the U.S. Many people started to invest in Hispanics, but we realized that the stories of leadership just weren’t there with existing media outlets. So it was then when our mission became clear – publish stories to increase awareness of Latinos leaders, reinforce the fact that our stories need to be told and hopefully create other leaders as well. That was the mission back then and it’s still our mission today. Over the years, we’ve also worked to increase connectivity between these leaders. When you connect leaders, you connect intelligence and power. Leaders connected truly can do more for the community collectively than independently.
Jasmin Brand:// Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Jorge Ferraez:// I want to invite everyone to attend the symposium who’s interested in starting this type of business. Come and learn something new. We are bringing together people who have never been brought together before which is exciting. There will be a lot of new information shared on how to navigate this market, how to grow and find success. Join us!
The 3rd Annual Latino Leaders Franchise Symposium will take place July 19th – July 20th. Limited seating available. Click here for tickets and the full lineup.
Photo credit: Christopher Alvarado