Latinología 101

Submitted by Marie Quintana

When starting Tu Familia in 2013, we accepted the reality that we were creating the blueprint for something that had not existed in the technology sector:  a Latino-owned and Latino-led tech startup focused on serving the Latino community.  When comparing us to other mobile app creators that offer remotely similar solutions, the biggest differentiator for us was our true understanding of language and cultural differences between all Latinos. No cookie cutter approach for us.

We developed Tu Familia with a vision and desire to empower and connect Latinos no matter where they might live.   We genuinely believe that we can empower Latinos by delivering easy access to information and services that consequently increase their chances for a higher quality of life.  


I can vividly remember coming to this country from Cuba as a child and having to witness my parents daily struggle to find information that they needed to help navigate their lives in their new home country. They wanted to find people “like them” that they could trust to give them information, people who had similar experiences and could not only relate to what they were going through but could also provide them with useful tips and recommendations on securing the most basic needs to support a family.


At Tu Familia we spend every day with the Latino immigrant - understanding their needs and how Tu Familia’s suite of mobile apps can help them secure a better life. (Or at least increase their odds at a better life from what they left behind.)  We take our learnings about this audience and include them in the development of our mobile apps (to call home,  provide information and deliver savings opportunities). 

  • How many methods of international calling do they use and which is their favorite? 
  • How do they build trust in new brands? 
  • How important are the community organizations in their day- to-day lives?  


As one would expect, we now know more today about the Latino consumer’s technology habits than we did when we first launched.So what have we learned? Well first of all, we agree with the latest research results from various sources citing that Hispanics are early adopters of technology (specifically the Millenial segment). We see these statistics cited every day in the media and diversity marketing presentations that tell us that Latinos over-index in technology use and social media.  What these sources are not revealing is that, as it relates to the first generation of Latinos, simply owning a smartphone does not guarantee that the user will download an app.  We have witnessed first hand that many in our community have powerful devices in their hands yet the complexity of downloading an app and/or having limited data plans hinders app literacy.  Don’t think for a second that early adopters of technology =  people taking FULL advantage of the wonders of the technology.  So I ask myself, with the number of available apps on the App Store and Google Play nearing 1.4MM, how can this group of Latinos become more app literate and start to take advantage of the capability and useful services that are at their fingertips?


Given the growing number of  first generation Latino immigrants in this country, smartphone service providers should start introducing these customers to mobile apps along with their regular carrier services in a more comprehensive way. Even more, mobile app developers should consider this consumer both during app development and in how they market their apps (hint: in a culturally relevant way).  This can only benefit both the app developer (by extending the reach of their apps with this population) and the Latino customer (realizing the full potential of the mobile device that can play a key part in empowering their lives).