I don’t just want to travel the world, I want to make it better.
The latter is a conviction I was born with and will pursue for the rest of my life. The former happened to be my path to achieve it.
Travel makes us wiser, more open-minded, and more flexible with imperfections.
Travel can be hard, but it’s always worth it. The same can be said for startups.
For those of you who are familiar with my childhood story, I was born to a sixteen-year-old in East Los Angeles. She told me that I didn’t have to be a statistic, and I’ve ran with this belief for almost thirty years now.
I came upon some statistics that make me cringe:
- 2.2% of venture capital went to women founders in 2018.
- 1% of the 2.2% went to black and Latina women combined.
- That’s .00022% of venture capital distributed to black and Latina women.
That’s bad y’all. You don’t have to love math to know that’s really (really) bad.
The “spark notes” version of what happened before BUENA is that after being the first person in my family to go to college, I ended up traveling around the world as a digital nomad. Shortly after, I transitioned into the tourism industry as a journalist, then a blogger, influencer, and consultant. I was doing pretty good. Before we knew it, there was an entire industry of travel influencers taking ownership of their voice and telling moving travel stories (pun intended).
I am die-hard passionate about travel because I believe that it makes us better people.
I’ll say it again: I believe that most people who travel become better people.
Yet as much as I love getting paid to take selfies on a yacht (I’m half joking as there IS more to story-telling than it seems), there was something missing in my life.
I didn’t feel that I was fulfilling my purpose. I didn’t feel challenged. These statistics lit a fire under my bum, and I knew that I could do more.
Blogging = having a voice = agency = opportunity = impact
It’s never been about the money. It’s always been about the lack of agency and the lack of power. I didn’t grow up with very much, and I saw my parents build wealth. With it came agency and opportunity. I believe that certain roles in our communities hold more agency than others to make an impact at scale. It’s these roles (i.e. executive roles at corporations, rocket scientists, politicians, Venture Capitalists, growth stage startup founders) that have the most agency, and the least representation.
I believe that we as individuals, irrespective of our careers, make an impact on every single person we meet — but when you start to put yourself out there on the internet, and you begin impacting the lives of people you don’t know, there’s no telling what you can do to change the world.
If You Can Make an Impact, Make an Impact
I was fortunate enough to have a voice in the tourism industry. No one gave it to me. I built that. If I could build a voice around travel, couldn’t I do it in another industry?
Well, you know damn well I was going to try!
I started travel blogging in 2014 — I was making headlines in the news for traveling solo as a woman. I saw the impact. I saw groups pop up like Dame Traveler, We Are Travel Girls, and Girls Love Travel. I heard the stories of young women inspired to study abroad, become digital nomads, and work in the tourism industry.
We talked about travel, and travel became a part of our norms. I love that!
As a travel influencer, I lived in a world of extreme privilege and gratitude.
Yes, I used my voice to occasionally post about issues that were important to me. I drove some social media love (and actual capital) into my favorite charities.
But was I really doing something that “made a difference?”
I don’t know.
Anyways, I’m not good at everything in life, but the internet told me that I was good at telling stories, and so I decided to take ownership of the stories that I wanted to tell… and more importantly, of the stories I wanted to live.I decided to take ownership of the types of stories I wanted to tell... but more importantly, the types of stories I wanted to live.Click To Tweet
Side Note: if you want to hear what the heck happened between 2017 and 2019, I’m diving into those details later — Subscribe to the TravelBreak newsletter.
I Choose Technology Because It Needs Me
For some context, venture capital firms invested $130 Billion into startups in 2018. When BUENA raises its first $1 Million from VCs, I will likely be the 59th Latina woman in ANY country across ANY year to raise at least $1 Million to grow a business.
Insert *eye roll* for any question about whether women even start businesses or whether they’re “investable.” Yes, we travel solo. Yes, we start businesses.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been following the most entrepreneurial and creative bloggers and influencers into their journeys of vegan food trucks, jewelry lines, and PR agencies.
Women start businesses. Support women owned business. Invest in women.
Anyways, I don’t remember how or when I heard about this issue, but some God-given calling later, I was $50,000 deep into investing in my own business — crashing on couches and looking for the team and resources to start BUENA.
You can call me crazy, but I believe that the startup community needs more strong voices and more tough operators that will fight for the stories behind the statistics — and that I am one of the people that can do it.
I can tell the story, I can make an impact.The startup community needs strong voices and operators that will fight for the stories behind the statistics.Click To Tweet
I Choose BUENA Because OUR Community Needs It
We haven’t gotten into too much detail about BUENA. I hate to disappoint you, but the version of the app you get today is an incomplete product considering our full vision. You’ll get the full BUENA experience within the soon, but things take capital, and if you haven’t noticed, we didn’t have a lot of it to start.
BUENA is for the media industry.
That’s for all of us that consume it, and all of us that create it.
We millennial and Gen Z consumers are entitled.
Yes, I said it. We are entitled to being entertained for free. We are entitled to being informed for free. Information and entertainment surrounds our everyday lives. Yet we don’t always think about the musician or comedian. We take for granted the writer, the photographer… the everything we don’t want to pay for, but want to have.
You’ve heard the quote, imagine the world without music. Imagine the world without stories.
I couldn’t live in a world without creatives.
Don’t worry, I don’t think you’re a terrible person. I’m just as guilty. I learned a lot of skills thanks to Google and I appreciate every social media post that gives me a 30 second escape.
I, as a member of the Post-Google Era, am entitled to free information and entertainment.
That’s the community we’ve shaped.
The problem is that someone is writing that article, taking that photo, producing that video — and they deserve to be paid for their work.
What ends up happening is that everything becomes about advertising. Our social media feeds, our search engines, our art museums become about advertisements — are prey on creatives to curate content for free.
I’m not hating the player, I’m hating the game.
The “we want sh*t free game” is the “I’ll be advertised to game” and it’s a loop.
At some point, as a society, we all agreed to this loop and every company started to model their business after it.
- YouTube: Pay-per-click ads
- Google: Pay-per-click ads
- Facebook & Instagram: Pay-per-click ads
- Pinterest: Pay-per-click ads
- Yelp: Pay-per-click ads
- Snapchat: Pay-per-click ads
Shall I continue?
I’m so sick of being sold to! As a consumer, I want to say, “I like this, I want it.”
BUENA is a platform for straightforward recommendations from people you trust.
It’s the easy way to see your friends tips and get personalized suggestions based off of your interests (and not ads!).
BUENA works so you can play: pick people that are important to you and DO the things you see online and in social media.
Additionally, BUENA is a platform for creators (photographers, writers, “influencers”) in a whole new way, and we’ll dive into those announcements later.
To join the BUENA newsletter, sign up here, or follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Why “Don’t Be Boring”
And as much as I love the TikToks of the world (stop judging me, they’re hilarious), I also don’t believe we should spend too much of our time scrolling through our phones.
I want practical, useful information about what I discover to then use in the real world. I want social media posts to be more about the experiences people have and less about the *thigh gaps.*
Social media can be toxic or a tool for information and community.
With BUENA, I made a choice to use social media for online information and utility while providing a sense of community in real-life. It’s easier to be present if not every photo has to be perfect.
Play with the BUENA app to learn more, and hang in there for feature updates.
Now we raise some money, we hire some cool people, we continue to build what we’re building. Our product launch today is just a start. Download BUENA, create a list with a few people you really care about, spend a little less time on social media, and a little more time doing things in real life.
If you’d like to support BUENA:
- Invite your friends to BUENA and create lists. Go do the things you find on that list.
- Leave a 5 star review in App Store
- Leave an App Store Review
- Share this post on social media
Humor me with your patience. This product release is just a little taste of BUENA. We will be releasing new features regularly, and the faster we grow, the faster we can build to solve your problems. Thank you again for your time, for your support, and for your faith.
Not everything is easy, but it’s always definitely worth it.