Kim Gamez knew she had a winning concept for a startup within the first six months of launching Mi Padrino, an online event-planning platform for Hispanic traditional celebrations, such as quinceaneras (girls’ 15th year birthday parties), weddings, baptisms and more.
“We launched the site in July 2017 with an initial goal of attracting 600 users,” says Gamez, who is the CEO and founder of Gamez International LLC and Mi Padrino. “By the end of 2017, we had more than 50,000 users. That’s when we knew we had a good idea.”
In less than two years, Mi Patrino has built its user base to more than 350,000 people in the U.S., and it is still growing fast.
Mi Patrino operates as a fintech-enabled marketplace for products as well as financial services. Its secret sauce is the wide range of digital tools it offers to Latino families who are organizing, funding and staging special celebrations for their loved ones.
The padrino tradition refers to a Hispanic custom in which friends and family help to cover the costs of a quinceanera, wedding or other celebration. Before the launch of Mi Padrino, families had to keep track of who paid for what. Often it was difficult to source Hispanic bakeries, mariachi bands and traditional decorations locally.
“When our niece asked us to be padrinos for her quinceanera in 2016, I realized she was trying to plan an elaborate celebration the same way I did 16 years ago when my husband, Hugo, and I got married,” Gamez recounts. “I’ve been an entrepreneur for my entire life, and I saw a huge opportunity. That’s when I created Mi Padrino, and it all came together.”
The event-planning platform provides inspirational ideas, an events checklist and an online marketplace with 2,800 venders who offer venues, cakes, DJs, bands and an array of other products and services. Users can create their own webpages with event details, and also receive and track gifts of money through their personalized WePay accounts on the site.
Last year, Mi Padrino raised $1.25 million in seed funding from XO Group and Astia Angels. At the 2019 Midwest Growth Capital Symposium, Gamez will be presenting to investors in anticipation of raising a $2 million to $2.5 million seed-extender round of financing.
“We are focused on user growth and retention right now,” Gamez explains. “We plan to use the additional funding to continue product development and to ramp up our marketing efforts. Our goal is to have one million users and an annual run rate of $2 million to $3 million by the end of 2020.”