Bilingual Publisher Encantos Raises $2 Million to Launch Subscription Box, Expand Spanish Content

Rachel Uranga

Rachel Uranga is dot.LA's Managing Editor, News. She is a former Mexico-based market correspondent at Reuters and has worked for several Southern California news outlets, including the Los Angeles Business Journal and the Los Angeles Daily News. She has covered everything from IPOs to immigration. Uranga is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and California State University Northridge. A Los Angeles native, she lives with her husband, son and their felines.

Bilingual Publisher Encantos Raises $2 Million to Launch Subscription Box, Expand Spanish Content
Encantos

A then-tech executive at Oracle in 2015, Steven Wolfe Pereira was a new father and wanted to do some more meaningful work. So with his wife, who had run Twitter's multicultural market strategy, and their two good friends, they began pitching an idea of a bilingual children's book series to publishers.

"I was aghast at the responses I was getting," he said. "They were like, 'Latinos really don't read'. It was really insulting."


So, the four — all with Latin immigrant roots — came up with their own brand, Encantos, that loosely translates in Spanish to "charming." It started with a board book, app and YouTube channel that had traditional Latino children's songs in Spanish and English like Los Pollitos Dicen or a different take on Happy Birthday, Las Mañanitas. They called it Canticos.

Two years after launching, Encantos picked up a deal with Nickelodeon to license Canticos. And the company has been expanding their edu-tainment brand since. Pereira, whose family is from the Dominican Republic and who took over as chief executive last year, said the public-benefit company aims to be a culturally authentic direct-to-consumer brand for preschoolers.

Last month, the company raised $2 million in an oversubscribed seed round Oakland-based Kapor Capital with Boston Meridian Partners, Chingona Ventures, Human Ventures, and MathCapital.

Encantos plans on using the funds to launch a subscription box service tied to their TinyTravelers series, books exploring cultures around the world. It also is looking to grow their brands. Chef and television personality Aliya LeeKong announced last week she is launching "Issa's Edible Adventures" in partnership with Encantos. The book, app, and animated series is centered around a "feisty, funny, and resourceful" 7-year-old, half-black and half-Indian girl.

Wolfe Pereira, who helped bootstrap the company, said Encantos wants to tell stories that aren't being told elsewhere and will be using a diverse cadre of writers.

"Part of the issue is we don't have enough diverse voices in 'the room where it happens' so we can have culturally authentic voices sharing their everyday lived experiences," he said.

About 41 million Americans speak Spanish, but options for Spanish children's books have been slim, he noted.

Many blame this on the lack of diversity in the publishing, which recently came under fire over "American Dirt," a novel by Jeanine Cummins about a woman who fled Mexico to escape cartels. Latinx writers challenged the portrayal of the immigrant experience as a cheap stereotype that sailed through the largely white literary world because there are few people of color in the upper ranks of the industry.

"Lots of people talk about diversity, equality and inclusion — but year after year it's just that: talk," Wolfe Pereira said. "This is impacting every industry, not just the publishing industry. But for some reason, it's really pronounced in publishing. 'American Dirt' is just one of many, many examples where folks miss the mark. It's 2020, and over half of all kids in America are multicultural. Diversity is a business imperative today."

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Venture Firm BackStage Capital Reduces Staff to 3 Employees

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Venture Firm BackStage Capital Reduces Staff to 3 Employees
Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Venture firm Backstage Capital laid off nine employees, reducing its staff to just three.

Managing partner and founder Arlan Hamilton announced the layoffs Sunday on her “Your First Million” podcast. General partners Christie Pitts and Brittany Davis, along with Hamilton, are the only remaining employees, TechCrunch reported. The move comes only three months after the Los Angeles-based firm said it would only fund existing portfolio companies.

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A New Tide of LA Startups Is Tackling the National Childcare Crisis

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

A New Tide of LA Startups Is Tackling the National Childcare Crisis
Image by Carolyn Figel

The pandemic exacerbated a problem that has been long bubbling in the U.S.: the childcare crisis.

According to a survey of people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers conducted by the city’s WiSTEM Los Angeles program and shared exclusively with dot.LA, the pandemic exposed a slew of challenges across STEM fields. The survey—which consisted of 181 respondents from L.A.County and was conducted between March 2021 and 2022— involved respondents across medical fields, technical professions and science industries who shared the pandemic’s effects on their professional or education careers.

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MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Its Second Fund

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Its Second Fund
Courtesy of MaC Venture Capital

While venture capital funding has taken a hit this year, that hasn’t stopped MaC Venture Capital from raising $203 million for its second fund.

The Los Angeles-based, Black-led VC firm said Monday that it had surpassed its initial $200 million goal for the fund, which dot.LA reported in January, over the span of seven months. MaC said it expects to invest the capital in up to 50 mostly seed-stage startups while remaining “sector-agnostic.”

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