Laredoan reflects on presenting at Forbes summit, meeting Bad Bunny

Along with presenting at the Forbes Under 30 Summit, The EVERY Company founder and CEO Arturo Elizondo served alongside Bad Bunny as a judge in the first “Forbes 30 Under 30 Latinx Pitch Competition.”

Also serving as judges alongside Bad Bunny and Elizondo were Parade founder Camila Tellez and Reach Capital partner Jomayra Herrera.

“The experience was very rewarding,” Elizondo said. “The mission of empowering Latino entrepreneurs is near and dear to my heart, and this pitch competition was directly working towards that mission through supporting Selia with funding as well as giving Latino founders a platform.”

Selia was the company chosen as the winner of the forum contest. It offers virtual therapy sessions to work on mental and emotional health. It also offers its services and psychologists to companies for partnerships to promote positive mental health in their workplaces. 

Elizondo said Selia drew his attention right away because he believes it is destigmatizing mental health issues which are often taboo in the Latino community.

“They identified that there is a cultural gap in mental health care for Latinos, and they are focused on closing that gap with mental health care solutions for the Latino community, with amazing progress so far,” Elizondo said. 

At the summit, Elizondo also formed part of a group of discussions with the CEOs of Daring and Impossible to talk about the growth of the food technology industry. He was also interviewed by Forbes about his company.

Along with helping choose the top Latino representative of the bunch, Elizondo also got to meet Bad Bunny, one of the world’s most famous Latino artists.

“Meeting Bad Bunny was very fun,” Elizondo said. “We closely deliberated after all of the companies did their pitches and debated who should be the winner. He was humble, approachable and thoughtful — and more than anything, you could tell he really cared about supporting the Latino community.”

Elizondo said Bad Bunny, whose real name is Benito Martinez, showed great pride in being part of the judging panel and deciding who would take the prize money of $300,000. A third of that sum was contributed by Martinez for the pitch competition.

“I am excited to see Hispanic youth tackle the world’s biggest challenges: climate change, socio-economic inequality, access to health care and education,” Elizondo said. “For me, it has always been important to do well and also do good. They are one and the same, and I trust the next generation of Hispanic entrepreneurs will marry profit with purpose.”

Elizondo said the Hispanic entrepreneurial spirit is more than evident in places like Laredo. 

“I’ve lived it. Laredo has so much talent and so much potential,” Elizondo said. “Many of us — having grown up on the border — are very aware that we have access to opportunities our parents or grandparents didn’t. Many of us still have the immigrant ‘ganas’ with a fire to make a better life for ourselves.”

The city of Laredo also has various resources to support the business community. Elizondo said the Laredo Small Business Development Center and the Laredo Chamber of Commerce can assist entrepreneurs who do not want to go it alone.

“Laredo is quite literally at the forefront of international trade,” he said. “Being on the Texas-Mexico border ingrains in all of us from Laredo a sense of constant flow and exchange, and I think it particularly motivates us to be entrepreneurial.”

Elizondo said he would like to be part of more forums and judging panels like the one from Forbes. He believes this is essential to help guide the next wave of entrepreneurs while offering advice to any upcoming business people in the Latino community as well. 

“I am always happy to take part in events that align with my personal values and/or my company’s mission,” Elizondo said. “I am one of the very few Latino CEOs in Silicon Valley, and I want that to change. Latinos start businesses faster than any other demographic in the US. Yet, they receive less than 2% of venture capital funding. We need to change that.”

Some of the products Elzondo’s company has been able to launch to worldwide markets include the world’s first animal-free egg whites, which has become a staple for various baking products that have been launched such as macaroons.

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