Less than 2 percent of all technology startups are led by black or Latino individuals, said Lyneir Richardson in NJBIZ

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Date: 
Monday, March 6, 2017
Location: 
Newark, NJ

NJBIZ

When Jose Martinez built his app and website, healthylunchmenus, in 2010, he didn't quite know how to get it onto the market.

Then, he got in touch with LATISM, Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media, which led him to a startup pitch competition in 2013 in Silicon Valley.

He took second place.

The idea was to allow people to instantly search for all the healthy dishes at restaurants around them — almost like a single filter for search options on a food finding app.

After the competition, he was told by many in Silicon Valley to drop everything in New Jersey and move in order to start networking and building up on his idea.

But he couldn't.

As the son of first-generation immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic, Martinez didn't have family to financially lean on. So, he took the safe route of staying back in Lyndhurst to continue his design company, Pixl Graphx, with his business partner.

"I grew up in an urban area (Passaic), and we are not taught to be entrepreneurial or tech savvy,"Martinez said. "Lots of schools in urban areas lack technology, so we grow up with a major disadvantage."

The launch of Rutgers Business School's Black and Latino Tech Initiative last week aims to solve that problem in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

Experts say African-Americans and Latinos have been unable to network in the same financial circles as others. It's a problem Wall Street has recently focused on.

"Less than 2 percent of all technology startups are led by black or Latino individuals," Lyneir Richardson, executive director of Rutgers' Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, said.

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TAGS: Lyneir Richardson Tech-Startups The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development