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Feb 12

It is “vision over visibility” an Interview with David Chitel, Online Entertainment Tycoon, by Wired Latino

This week WiredLatinos.com had the priviledge to interview a veteran of Latino online companies and a online entertainment tycoon in his own right:  David Chitel, CEO of Urbano TV.

David Chitel is considered by many to be an industry leader in the New Generation Latino media and entertainment space. Along with founding partner, actor John Leguizamo, in 2001 David created one of the first Latino social networking communities, iCaramba.com which evolved into LatCom Communications (which was later sold to Batanga.com), and founder of New Generation Latino Consortium (an organization dedicated to hosting business conferences and fielding innovative research studies focused on the NGL audience). Additionally David also served as creator, writer, and producer of the first Latino animated TV series, ‘Lugar Heights’, which aired on mun2 and later on MTV-Tr3s and as a full-length DVD.

Today, David through his NGLC organization, is offering services as an Executive-level Hispanic marketing, advertising and new business development consultant to clients, agencies and media outlets alike with a specialty in Digital and the New Generation Latino market. His new company with John Leguizamo, UrbanoTV, is aimed at being the leading creator, aggregator and syndicator of content for New Generation Latinos.

David lives in New York City with his wife and two beautiful “Jewirican” kids who are “Spanglish-dominant.”

WL (WiredLatinos): Where are you originally from?
DC (David Chitel):
I was born in New York City, raised in New Jersey and currently live in New York City. My cultural background is half Spanish half Russian.

WL: What is UrbanoTV? When was it founded?
DC:
UrbanoTV is aimed at being the leading creator, aggregator and syndicator of video content for New Generation Latinos. It was founded in 2010.

WL: What is the business model for UrbanoTV?
DC:
UrbanoTV’s business model is a combination of branded entertainment, content licensing, display and video advertising (for starters).

WL: I saw in an interview where you said that prior to UrbanoTV and iCaramba.com, you mentioned that your original plan was to sell T-shirts. What made you go from T-shirts to social networking and then college comedy tours?
DC:
Like many start-ups, iCaramba.com (one of the first Latino social networks) had to adapt to a fast-moving digital space coupled with economic and world issues. We raised about $1MM to fund iCaramba.com in May, 2001, about 1 year AFTER the Internet bubble burst which was a fete in and of itself. By the time we launched the site, it was inside of the 30 days of when 9/11 occurred. We had the choice of waiting to garner enough audience to monetize our online traffic through advertising and e-commerce, OR adapt to our situation. Rather than implode, we chose instead to acquire two competing Latino college marketing companies and make them partners in our business that we re-named, LatCom. College tours turned into music tours, comedy tours, magazines and even an animated TV show and DVD. Interestingly, online remained part of our business, but once we started doing events, it became more ancillary.

WL: What was the biggest challenge in changing directions from a T-shirt company to social networking?
DC:
T-shirts and banner ads turned into event marketing sponsorship and print ad revenue for the most part. We were able to deliver an under-served area of the U.S. Hispanic market (Latino College Students and New Generation Latinos) that marketers were eager to communicate with.

WL: What was your biggest mistake and how did you learn from it?
DC:
I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. All of them have taught me invaluable lessons, and have left me with no regrets. That said, one thing I did when we first launched iCaramba (and for many months thereafter), was not pay myself much, if any, salary. We raised almost $1MM and I was so afraid of burning through it too quickly, that I didn’t pay myself enough to live comfortably. Big mistake.

WL: What are some of the strengths a person must possess to lead a company like UrbanoTV?
DC:
For any entrepreneur to succeed, it takes a very strong will to weather the types of situations that occur when you’re out on your own. Things like coming out of pocket, working anywhere anytime, ignoring skeptics while listening to those you respect, always thinking laterally and pre-emptively and most importantly, knowing how to sell yourself, your vision and your product. In the case of UrbanoTV, however, it also requires a very strong knowledge of the New Generation Latino space, and how to navigate it from a creative and business standpoint.

WL: What are some of the projects that you are most excited about?
DC:
I’m most excited about working with all of the up and coming Latino talent we’re coming across on this journey towards realizing UrbanoTV’s objectives. We already have interest from major media outlets, both online and off, which is a good indication that we’re off to a good start with respect to our content and business strategies.

WL: What part of the business takes up most of your time?
DC:
All of it. Entrepreneurs are usually guilty of trying to do it all themselves. I’ve always relied on bringing in partners who complement my skill-set and bring strengths of their own. That said, we never stop and there’s never enough time or resources during the start-up phase. It’s critical for us to break it down into digestible pieces, celebrate the little victories and not sweat things we can’t control, or we’d quickly become overwhelmed. Right now, there’s a core group of just a few people including Johnny Legs himself who are very involved in getting UrbanoTV off the ground.

WL: Does UrbanoTV have a competitor? And how is UrbanoTV different and better than its competitors?

DC: At the expense of sounding naïve, I don’t believe we have any direct competitors. Our business model is predicated on democratizing the content creation and syndication process for New Generation Latinos. In order to do that, we effectively are partnering with anyone and everyone who fits within our value proposition. That includes Latino media outlets both online and off, long-tail and high-profile. Working with all of them is what will provide the most value to UrbanoTV’s core audience, our content providers, and ultimately, our advertisers.

WL: What percentage of your company’s market share is Latino?
DC:
At the moment, we’re exclusively targeting New Generation Latinos residing in the U.S.

WL: How do you get the word out on your business? What social media do you find works best for you?
DC:
Our model is predicated on being able to discover and consume UrbanoTV’s content across platforms. Social media will play a huge role in that process. It will not be limited to any one specific outlet.

WL: How are you reaching out to the Latino market?
DC:
We’ve aggregated over 200 Latino content gatekeepers from across the U.S. who are the ones spreading the word through their own personal networks. However, our syndication model will also provide us with major Latino media exposure both online and off. All of it working together will make UrbanoTV unique from a content creation and delivery standpoint.

WL: Things move and change so quickly on the Internet, where is the online business going?
DC:
All things are pointing towards online and TV being on a collision course. We’re already seeing a lot of activity in that area. Our goal is to be the leading provider of New Generation Latino video content as this space evolves.

WL: There is a saying that the Internet never sleeps, how do you unplug/disconnect/unwire?
DC:
Spending time with my family, playing my guitar and training for triathlons usually do the trick.

WL: Do you have an inspiring quote that you refer to during those tough moments?
DC:
“Vision Over Visibility.” It’s a quote from U2’s song, “Moment of Surrender.” Lyrics by Bono. I tattooed it on my wrist as a reminder.

WL:  Love that quote!!

WL: What has been one of your proudest moments in your career?
DC:
There have been many, but I’d say one of the proudest was the day I decided to start over and “dream it all up again” (to quote Bono once more), when I probably could’ve just gotten a regular job.

WL: Where will David Chitel be in 5 years? What will he be doing?
DC:
In 5 years, it’d be great to still be leading UrbanoTV and NGLC (my B2B organization) into the future and influencing change within the U.S. Hispanic media, marketing and entertainment worlds. Si Dios quiere.

What inspiring words.  David Chitel, WiredLatinos.com wishes you continued success!

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