Beatriz Acevedo, Mitu, Entrepreneur
I took a cue from the comments on the last Women Entrepreneur of the week post saying why do they have to be noted as Women Entrepreneurs vs just Entrepreneurs. The idea over the past 6 years of doing these is to highlight women founders. I really do believe that there has been a shift as more and more women have entered the start-up universe so as of today I am going with the entrepreneur description although I will tag it as women entrepreneur Monday and only write about women entrepreneurs to highlight the ever growing group of female founders.
There are only a handful of people that I meet and think to myself I wish I had met this person early on and been part of their ride. Beatriz is one of them. She is a just an amazing person with energy, smarts, passion and a personality that just jumps out at you. She is also making an impact in her own community, the Latino community and that I applaud. Mitu is the voice of young Latinos who are creating content geared towards them. Latinos are the largest minority group in the United States representing about 17% of the population. That is huge.
Beatriz’s parents were living comfortably in San Diego when she came into the world. When her mother went into labor her father insisted that they get in the car and drive over the border to Tijuana to have the baby. The reason is that he wanted to make sure his child had the opportunity to be President of Mexico one day and if Beatriz had been born in the US well then she would have lost out on that possibility. It was the 1960s and her Mom needed a C-section so probably not the wisest decision but it all worked out fine and Beatriz is a proud Mexican.
They moved back to Mexico City when Beatriz was 3 years old. Her father is an attorney who paid his way through law school cleaning apartments, participating in boxing matches and writing speeches for the President of Mexico. He is a big believer in equality and would take the kids into underdeveloped areas to bring art, food and music there on weekends. Her mom is a tremendously supportive human being.
At 8 years old Beatriz began to pursue her interests. Her parents friends had a radio station and Beatriz would do the kids ads for them. Then she began a daily kids radio station where she was the DJ. It was called the Menudo hour. She would ride her bike there after school and do the show. At 12 she decided to change it to the Julio Iglesias hour and they said no so she moved on to other things. At 15 she began doing a local tv show doing the news.
Beatriz wanted to go to film school but all the places she applied only had a few spots for foreigners. In the end she went to college at UC San Diego where she majored in marketing and communications while continuing in the media world on the side. She would go to school during the day, cross over the border after school and work at the local Latino radio station from 5-8 and then go to the TV station to do a show between 10-11 and come back across the border way past midnight every night. She was making money, going to school and doing what she loved.
This was the time of Amnesty International. Beatriz was given the opportunity to get on the Amnesty International plane and go to Chile to interview with the mothers of the disappeared. She was 17. The station she worked at spilled over into the US and she won an Emmy for this work. The owner’s son of this radio station signed her up to then do an entertainment show where she won 2 more Emmy’s for that too. She could hardly wait to graduate and move back to Mexico City to be on International TV and make more shows. Yet at that time there were really no women in network television in Mexico and she wanted to write and executive produce her own shows.
In her 20’s she met the film maker Robert Rodriguez in an interview. He was just becoming a big sensation after winning at Sundance. She thought he was a digital visionary. He recommended she meet with people he knew at HBO who were trying to figure out Latin America. His recommendation was to sell her car, shoot some pilots on anything you want, bring your Emmy’s and meet these people and I guarantee you that you can do anything you want there. She believed him and followed the plan which was to go to Las Vegas with all of this and set up a table at the Media convention. Beatriz walked into the convention and almost cried. It was overwhelming. She set up her table with her VHS and the film running of what she shot, put her 3 Emmy’s on the table and hoped that someone would stop by.
A gentlemen walks by and says to Beatriz that he is looking to do travel for kids on the Discovery channel. She ends up selling a pilot to Discovery and USA Networks because they are looking for original programming from the US for people who get the Latino cultural. These were her first clients. Beatriz begins producing cable programming in the US for people who speak Portuguese and Spanish. The US consensus comes out and cable realizes the power of what Beatriz is creating. There was a huge hole in this area. She was smart and thrifty creating high quality programming and she continued doing this for almost a decade. Then she got a call from Warner Brothers.
She created a show for Warner Bros. called HPlus that won awards and had millions of eyeballs. The timing was right and this began to open her eyes to digital entertainment, the next frontier. She had been living in Mexico City and realized that all her clients were in LA and so she made the move. She does an experiment with ENetworks creating a show in multiple languages where they would split the revenue. She is aggregating content using hosts from different countries. Beatriz was seeing the next wave and trying to figure it out through this show. HPlus gets picked up for digital programming and she gets to see the shift up close.
Beatriz pitches a show to MTV for scripted content. She is seeing all these 20 year old kids come out of college in Chile who are making cool content because technology has given them easy access to do it. She thought wow here is all this untapped creative talent that is going nowhere. Beatriz wondered how could she build a community of like minded creators. She also saw a disconnect between the digital boom explosion and the underserved Latinos in the US who speak English. The 50 year old and plus demographics wants their programming in Spanish but not the younger kids. The new generation wants their content in English because everything they consume is in English. They would post the same video in English and Spanish and see the traction and that is how she figured it out.
With the Latino boom in the US population Beatriz set out to build Muni. As Beatriz says when Mr. Smith dies there is one person left behind. When one Latino dies there are 10 left behind. She launched Muni four years ago and it exploded over night. Latino creators are given an opportunity to build and post in their own channels on Muni for an audience desperate for content. The people who are on Muni say someone finally gets me…and of course where have you been all my life.
Muni incubates ideas too. They see individuals build audiences on Muni and they they reach out to them to help them become successful entrepreneurs. For instance there was a kid posting a food show and his numbers were off the charts. They got behind him, found partners, got a book deal done and a food show on cable and this kid was living in a car before this. Life changing stuff.
Muni is empowering young Latinos to become creative entrepreneurs. They are launching something similar to an accelerator program where they have a boot camp to train creative people how to make smart content. They are giving them the tools to do it themselves with a backbone for partnership opportunities. Beatriz says that entrepreneurship is not wide spread in the Latino community. You can’t be what you can’t see and she is hoping to change that.
Beatriz has lots of energy and her mission is to truly empower Latinos through Muni and understand the power that they can bring to the table. She also wants to start a campaign to get Latinos to vote too. She might not be the President of Mexico (yet) but she is making an impact with her community that represents almost 20% of the United States. That is powerful.