I was born and raised in Santa Ana by two immigrant parents who came from Mexico to the United States undocumented as kids. As a kid, my mother camped outside a high-performing public school in Santa Ana and won an admission lottery. And when there were no high performing high schools in our neighborhood, my mom was not discouraged. She went to every principal in a neighboring city's school district every day for weeks and eventually convinced a school to let her two sons enroll.
During college, I studied finance and economics at the University of Southern California. Immediately following college, I helped build and run a Los Angeles mayoral campaign with a team of two young college grads. We started out of the candidate's living room and turned it into a $500K operation with over 30 full-time staff and 175 volunteers. Did we win? No. Moral victory? Yes.
I then worked as a Math teacher in East Los Angeles with Teach for America, where I had the privilege to stand in front of my kids and teach them about the importance of paying it forward, and being each other's brother's keeper. And while I gave them the occasional Denzel Washington inspired speech, it was always their joy, love for each other, and their sheer determination to overcome adversity that motivated me.
So why technology? My passion for tech began on Wall Street, where I interned in the Technology, Media, and Telecom investment banking group with Citi. I analyzed tech companies on their IPO's, potential Merger & Acquisition targets, and valuation models. However, I quickly realized I wanted to be closer to building the technology that was changing the way we live, and not merely sitting on the sidelines, watching other people create.
I moved to San Francisco to live an apartment with seven people to teach myself the core concepts of web development before deciding to start Finix. Within three months, we couldn't make payroll, and we began quickly accumulating debt. We believed in what we were building, so we opened up credit card after credit card, lived without health insurance, and decided we wouldn't jump off the ship. Five years later, we're doing for fintech what AWS did for web services.
Building a startup is not the end goal, but I'm telling a part of my story, hoping that the next kid from an underserved neighborhood who wants to commit to something will read this and stay the course.
When I'm not behind a laptop working on making the product jump off the shelf, you'll find me mentoring inner-city youth, mumbling hip-hop lyrics, or at the gym lifting heavy objects and putting them down.
If you think we can work together to create opportunities for underserved youth or are interested in being a part of what we're building at Finix, let's talk: email@example.com