Latino Entrepreneur May Transform A Trillion Dollar Market


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A few years ago, Edrizio De La Cruz had a great idea:  a better way for émigrés to send money back home by eliminating the middlemen (the incumbent service providers).  The idea catapulted the Dominican Republic-born Wharton grad into the higher echelons of the startup world, landing him onstage at Demo Day for Y-Combinator’s class of 2013.  He then secured $3 million in funding, which — as my good friend Tiq Chapa at the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative has said– is one of the few real VC scores for Latino entrepreneurs “east of the Mississippi.” Regalii, his company, is based in Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan, one of the largest hubs in the world for Dominican émigrés.
And then something happened.  Edrizio and team discovered that they didn’t have what tech mavens call “market fit.”  A few reasons why:  SMS SMS — the technology protocol they were looking at — was unacceptably unreliable for financial transactions.  The middlemen (remember them?) actually had plans of their own for this market.  Worst of all:  there were a host of other middlemen, the real people (sometimes in the family) that often stand in the way between the sender and the intended recipient of the remmitance.
It was time to fold or pivot.  And, of course, they pivoted.  But it was how that got my attention.
With a little research, the Regalii team learned that their customers — i.e., the people who send money back home to Latin America (their initial focus) — were people who took responsibility for paying the bills.  What if Regalii were reimagined as a system for paying bills overseas?
They responded to the opportunity.  They are now positioned….
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