American Latino Magazine May 2013 - Page 8

I t’’s not every day, in this type of economy, that you see people starting new business ventures, let alone succeeding at them. For two friends Adam Casillas and Richard Ramos, sitting around watching the economy begin to collapse around them was scary. Just two years prior, everyone was happily making money and enjoying the fruits of their labor. Then, people were beginning to lose their homes, and businesses were closing down. It seemed people were sweating just to put food on the table, let alone pay their other bills. Options were minimal and not looking very bright. It was the “either go big or go home” attitude that propelled these friends to look at how they could save themselves and build something that could help others too. after customer lose their jobs, their cars, and their homes. We wanted to create something that would help us promote our current business and help other businesses along the way. Both Adam and I have friends and family that own businesses in the area, and they too were suffering. We got invited to a few business events, and to be honest with you, I was never impressed with the atmosphere of many of those. ADAM: And to top it off, Richard and I were asked to be guests at a breakfast networking meeting in the area. We showed up and got charged $25 each for cold scrambled eggs, toast as hard as cardboard, and yesterday’s coffee. It was disgusting, to say the least. It That’s one of the many things Richard and I have in common, “We hate to mix business with politics.” RICHARD: Oxnard is the 15th largest city in the State of California, with the majority of the population being Hispanic. Not just the residents, but also the business population as well. “WITH 100% DETERMINATION” They had a zero budget, 100% determination and a secret weapon: the opportunity staring at them in the mirror everyday. In this in-depth interview you get into the minds of two people that went against all odds to create the most fun and successful business-to-business expo in Ventura County. Was it luck, persistence, perseverance, or talent? As you’ll see, it was a combination of all that and more! LE: Why a Latino Business Expo? RICHARD: Back in 2007, Adam and I were sitting in my office talking about how it was looking like the economy was going to decline, and decline was putting it nicely. We were witnessing, in real time, customer seemed that all they wanted at that breakfast was money to send members to Washington D.C. to lobby. Don’t get me wrong, I come from a long line of activists, but they were not listening to the needs and request of their members. And everyone seemed irritated. We’re in business to make money, not to be politicians. Mixing politics and business in the same room with a large group of people can be counter-productive and create resentment, at best. And that’s why you never see politicians as vendors at our expo, and we’re keeping it that way. All we wanted was a venue to promote our business, and every event we attended seemed really stuffy and dry. It was then that it hit me that in over 25 years in business, I didn’t recall there ever being a business expo targeting the Latino population. LE: Had any of you ever done an expo or large event. RICHARD: Not exactly. Adam had some experience managing events at the hotel where he bar-tended on the side, and I had over 20 years of marketing experience. To launch this type of event, at least for the first one, required having someone on the street talking to vendors. Adam was the man for that job, with me focusing on the social media and creating the imagery for “WE HAD A BUDGET OF $0.” Continued... Manager / Certified Trainer / Independent Consultant Melinda Madrigal 805-216-1438 8 email: LATINOSONLINE.COM AMERICAN LATINO MAGAZINE • BRINGING PEOPLE, BUSINESS AND CULTURE TOGETHER