Hi, I’m Eric Shannon – my Boulder, Colorado company LatPro Inc. has been online for nearly 14 years with team members in six states in the US, in Guatemala City, Buenos Aires, and São Paulo.
Before moving to Colorado in 2007 for health reasons, I was a member of the South Florida chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business’ Young Entrepreneur’s Council (YEC). My company LatPro.com is a charter member of The International Association of Employment Web Sites whose website we power.
In 1997 I launched the first job board for bilinguals who speak English/Spanish or English/Portuguese and I did it for a couple of reasons:
- I was using the Internet to search for a job which would involve travel to Latin America and speaking Spanish. No website served that purpose.
- Since I was a kid, I wanted to run my own business.
- My fiancé was required by her visa status to return to Guatemala for 2 years. I knew I wouldn’t find the kind of job I needed in Guatemala.
- Previous jobs as a bank analyst, software consultant and marketing manager (chain saws and weedeaters) left me uninspired.
- I was naïve!
Many people found the service we provided at LatPro.com useful and our business grew. Our ‘headquarters’ moved from Charlotte, NC to Cincinnati, OH to Guatemala City, Guatemala and finally to Fort Lauderdale, FL (Plantation, FL). Initially, we were strictly a family business, but, we too were caught up in the Internet boom – we sought out an angel investor to speed up our growth and to compete with sites like Laborum.com and Bumeran.com who had raised millions of dollars.
Fortunately, the crash of the NASDAQ prevented us from raising the $10 million we were seeking and we made a successful forced landing as a small but marginally profitable, organic-growth internet company. We came to focus almost exclusively on the Hispanic employment marketplace including Hispanic job fairs and subsequently expanded our focus with DiversityJobs.com to cover all minority jobseekers. Later we added niche sites for hr jobs, healthcare and environmental (among others) that cater to all without regard for ethnicity.
Many people ask me what a guy with a last name like Shannon is doing running LatPro.com, and now you know the story. My name may not be Hispanic, but my family is and that includes the company too: LatPro is a very Latino company with representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and others. We also speak Spanish to our kids at home and try to take them to Guatemala as often as possible to make sure they don’t get too Shannonized.
So why else am I here? It’s satisfying to build a service that’s socially beneficial and from time to time helps someone realize their dreams. For me, it’s a path with meaning.
While I write mostly about the job board business, I think most of the dynamics can be applied to many other types of Internet businesses. And that is why this website is named Internet Inc — 10 years after starting LatPro, I am as fascinated as ever with the medium. As John Reese put it:
The Internet is not just a ‘tool’ for business. It’s not just another form of media. The Internet is becoming OUR LIVES.
And so we touch the lives of hundreds of thousands of people from every walk of life, every continent and dozens and dozens of countries in a meaningful way. And all this happens even while we sleep.
Why do I blog?
- Our DiversityJobs.com and JustJobs.com customers are job boards so I write in part for them.
- Blogging is also a useful way for me to organize, process and share information with my team.
- It helps me build relationships in the job board industry. I missed the train a couple times in my Internet career which I attribute to working like a hermit. So I’m also compensating for early mistakes.
- And then there is this:
All paths are the same, they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long, long paths, but I am not anywhere. My benefactor’s question has meaning now. “Does this path have a heart?” One makes you strong; the other weakens you.
The trouble is nobody asks the question: and when a person finally realizes that they have taken a path without heart, the path is ready to kill them. At that point very few people stop to deliberate and leave the path.
A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it.
For my part there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart. There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length.
And there I travel looking, looking, breathlessly.
I’m on a path with a heart.