Best of the Week 2019-2020: Teaching to the Future
ST. ED'S ALUM, FOUNDER OF "BEING LATINO," EMPOWERS STUDENTS TO MAKE A CAREER OUT OF THEIR PASSIONS AND INTERESTS
Lance Rios '02 visited St. Ed's this week to speak to students about how his unique online company unifies the Latino community. "Being Latino," a communication platform designed to educate and entertain all peoples across the global Latino spectrum, was created by Mr. Rios to provide an online community where people like him could connect. Growing up in Lakewood, Ohio, Mr. Rios attended St. Edward High School, what he says was the catalyst for his career, but felt, as a Puerto Rican, that his surroundings lacked diversity and cultural understanding. Embracing his cultural background, Mr. Rios was the first person in his family to attend college and graduated from Bowling Green State University. After interning at a sports marketing firm in New York City and working in corporate marketing, Mr. Rios quickly realized that the corporate world wasn't for him and that he needed to find his calling and where he could best apply himself. "I graduated from St. Ed's with a low GPA. Most people would say that that was a deterrent and reflected my inability to become successful. I never really had an interest in school, but I knew I wanted to create a business. Through college, I created an Ebay business selling vintage T-shirts I'd buy for cheap at thrift stores and sell for a profit online. After doing this, I learned where I could apply myself and my skills, that I wanted to work for myself, and that there are different levels of intelligence."
Starting as a one-man company in the Bronx five years ago, "Being Latino" has expanded into a multi-million dollar company for a niche Hispanic Latino community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Taking the skills he learned from his previous work experience, Mr. Rios combined his knowledge of quickly producing content and his passion for his cultural roots to create television content that he managed to integrate into social media. "Social media wasn't typically geared toward communities like this," says Mr. Rios. "I knew there was something there to share with the world and I wanted this content to be exposed to the masses and create a diverse online environment." Now with a main flagship office in Manhattan, two studios in Phoenix and two studios in Mexico, "Being Latino" has worked with and created brand marketing and advertising content for companies such as PepsiCo, Warner Bros., Snickers, Skittles, Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T. "Brands are always looking for alternative ways to reach the younger Hispanic audience. 'Being Latino' has a direct connection to that audience and we have the flexibility to adapt to current trends, increase our diversity, reach a larger audience, and produce content more quickly while charging a fraction of the cost."
Mr. Rios advised students to figure out what their main interests and passions are and to create a career and lifestyle that supports them. "I knew I loved communication and forming relationships with people," says Mr. Rios. "Growing up being culturally misunderstood propelled me to create a platform that showcases my heritage and encourages other people to interact and connect with it too." When asked for entrepreneurial advice, Mr. Rios empowered students to pursue what they love, to find their niche audience, to be consistent with the content they put out into the world, to look at all failures as learning experiences, to build something bigger than yourself, and to offer people something they can't get anywhere else.