Celebrating Latino History: VSEDC Annual Latino Heritage Month Pitch Competition

Ambition and the fervor of dreams overflowed from this year’s Latino Heritage Month Pitch Competition, spotlighting the unconquerable spirit of Latino entrepreneurs. This competition provides a platform where selected finalists, cherry-picked from a vast field of applicants, present their business ideas to a panel of experts. 

At the forefront of the evening were our honorees, who have displayed an exceptional commitment to their businesses, community engagement, and economic upliftment. 

With his grassroots efforts at Inclusive Action for the City, Rudy Espinoza has played an instrumental role in reshaping street vending and community building. Pioneering the Happy Diner establishments, the Carrillo family has crafted meals and community ties, serving every plate with passion and love. Valerie Rivas’ tenacious approach at Bank of America has facilitated countless business opportunities, illustrating how financial institutions can positively impact small businesses.

These luminaries have left an indelible mark on the socio-economic fabric of Los Angeles, and it was VSEDC’s privilege to honor their contributions.

The competition itself was true splendor. From a pool of many, finalists were chosen based on their business ideas’ innovation, viability, and potential impact. Creativity and innovation were on display; competitors delivered absorbing pitches that illustrated their imprint on tomorrow’s business landscape.

Winners received $1,500, and first and second runners-up received $1,000 and $500, respectively.

Ivan Flores of iPools Service & Repairs clinched first place in the Small Business category for his approach to pool upkeep. Hot on his heels was Alondra Carbajal’s Blank Tag Co., securing 2nd place with culturally relevant stickers that resonate with diverse communities. Taking third place was the dynamic Holistic HR Solutions from Elizabeth Jose Esteves.

Esteves’ outstanding pitch also saw Holistic winning the additional audience choice award, bagging an extra $500! 

The Start-Up category was equally electric. Earning the top spot, delighting viewers with her costume and enthusiasm, was Maria Balver of Spa4Pups. Caroline Hagerty’s Lini Victoria came second, and Daniel Viramontes’ Freshious Cleaning Services followed in second and third places, respectively.

In a heartwarming twist, non-winning participants experienced a surprise windfall at the event’s close. Each received $250, a generous gesture that lit up faces with gratitude and joy.

The unwavering support of our sponsors and partners was paramount in bringing this event to life. A heartfelt thank you to Wells Fargo, First Citizens Bank, Citi Foundation, Citi, US Bank, Bank of America, the US Small Business Administration, the South LA BusinessSource Center, and the Los Angeles Economic & Workforce Development Department. Their commitment speaks to the collaborative spirit that drives the success and prosperity of our community. 

We’re excited about what’s next for these entrepreneurs and look forward to seeing how they’ll continue to elevate and transform their sectors. Here’s to more innovation, vision, and Latino excellence in business! 


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