In the first of our new Latinx Founders Series, entrepreneurs David Cancel and Elias Torres talk about what's helped them build their $350 million startup.
latinx entrepreneurs
David Cancel and Elias Torres chat with Ken Deckinger and Zuzy Martin-Aly.

I knew it would be exciting to interview David Cancel and Elias Torres, the Latinx entrepreneurs behind Drift, a six-year old tech startup worth an estimated $350 million (as of its last valuation, although today, probably much, much more). But what I didn’t realize was how much fun it would be!

It’s important to understand the power of chemistry in any relationship, especially a business relationship that requires hard work, honest communication, and dedication…

The Puerto Rican/Ecuadorian and Nicaraguan duo sat down with Startup Cuba to talk about their roller-coaster journey through the alluring and crazy world of entrepreneurship. We got into what it means to be an immigrant entrepreneur, why being a Latinx entrepreneur gives them an advantage, and how other Latino startup founders can succeed in an environment that typically tends to look very different from them.

David and Elias are sharp, experienced, and very inspiring. They shared super insightful and personal experiences to help us understand what it takes to be a successful Latinx entrepreneur, and also gave Ken and I some great tips to make our partnership stronger.

It’s all in the video above ⬆️.

1. Up Level, Level Up

Expose yourself to people that are doing things and experiencing life at a level above what you want, and you’ll you get there before you know it. David reminds us that we’re the average of the five people we spend the most time with. So, to better yourself, spend time with people who have experiences you can observe and learn from. As human beings, we have to model somewhere. Engage with people a level up from you, then model your way there.

david cancel
David Cancel talks about the importance of chemistry in a startup team.

2. Chemistry Matters

Plenty of start-up founders fail as partners and it’s not because they’re not bright enough. It’s because they just couldn’t work together or figure things out as co-founders. It’s important to understand the power of chemistry in any relationship, especially a business relationship that requires hard work, honest communication, and dedication on a level unlike anything else.

Follow your instincts and weigh chemistry as you would other credentials in forming a partnership.

Related Post: Our Behind the Scenes Debrief Video From the David Cancel and Elias Torres Interview

3. Your Strengths = Your Weaknesses

Know your strengths, but understand that your greatest strengths are also your weaknesses. Awareness of this is half the battle. Know when you need to either dial up or dial back your strength. If you don’t have awareness they will take over. Elias can talk to anybody. He’s learned over the years when to dial it up and when to dial it down. David is an introvert so he’s learned to market and sell to be an effective CEO.

drift boston
Photo credit: Drift

4. Stay Positive Every Day

Being a Latinx entrepreneur, or entrepreneur in general has many ups and downs. And while product and business are important, the exercise of managing your psychology is key. More than anything, it’s critical to wake up and focus on what’s going right and stay positive to keep flowing with that momentum every day.

elias torres
Elias Torres reminds us to stay positive and not let the past define us.

5. Chase Your Own Version of Success!

The American Dream is very much alive. As Latinx entrepreneurs or anyone chasing dreams that are different from those of others around you (watch the video for David’s crabs-in-the-pot reference), you may experience pushback from those closest to you. Don’t be afraid to grow and define your own version of success. Life is always changing. Change and grow with it.

latinx entrepreneurs
Latinx entrepreneurs David Cancel and Elias Torres are the founders of Drift.

Watch Our Behind the Scenes Debrief From This Interview

We had a chance to debrief after our interview with David and Elias. You can watch here.

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Zuzy Martin-Aly

Zuzy Martin-Aly is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Startup Cuba. She's an award-winning filmmaker, producer and writer with a passion for bringing voice to stories that need to be told. Zuzy’s family came to the Elizabeth, NJ from Cuba in the 1960s. Her award-winning documentary film, Craving Cuba, explores what it means to be American and the complicated relationship that Cuban Americans have historically had with Cuba. The documentary was accepted into 13 film festivals, winning awards for best documentary feature and editing. Zuzy often speaks across the country on the topic of identity. She was invited to speak at the United Nations about the importance of exploring identity and finding one’s voice through the power of independent film. She is working on several creative projects including recently co-creating Two Cuban Girls and a Bald Guy with StartupCuba and Verv.tv, a travel series with a focus on Latin America aimed at building bridges, breaking down stereotypes, and inspiring people across communities.

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