Hola Metaverso Wants To Bring the Latino Community Into Web3

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow 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.

Hola Metaverso Wants To Bring the Latino Community Into Web3
Courtesy of Hola Metaverso

To many outsiders, the Web3 community can feel like a bunch of crypto bros in Patagonia jackets. At least that’s what Tameron McGurren-Leal thought before he signed on as business development manager for Hola Metaverso, a new project that aims to educate the Latino community about today's rapidly emerging digital realms.

Hola Metaverso's mission is to educate the Latino community by hosting in-person and online educational events that put in layman’s terms what exactly is going on with the metaverse, as well as blockchain-related technologies like crypto, NFTs, DeFi, DAOs—and all the seemingly endless linguistic jargon that comes with it.

The 23-year-old McGurren-Leal got involved with Hola Metaverso not long after graduating from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in finance and real estate. While perusing through his social media feeds, he stumbled upon a Twitter Spaces where he connected with Oszie Tarula, a digital media consultant who is the mastermind behind Hola Metaverso.

“Twitter is a cesspool of really cool people,” McGurren-Leal said. “They've kind of pivoted from a meme place to actually community building.”

Hola Metaverso's business development manager Tameron McGurren-Leal.

Courtesy of Hola Metaverso.

While McGurren-Leal resides in Iowa, he has L.A. roots through his father, who was born and raised in East Los Angeles. He poured himself into the L.A. startup scene after listening to podcasts like investor Jason Calacanis' "This Week in Startups" and following Twitter accounts like Alexis Ohanian, Meagan Loyst and Gen Z VCs. “I wanted to be more engulfed into the L.A. tech scene and L.A. Latino scene,” he said.

The idea for Hola Metaverso became reality in December 2021, when Tarula gathered friends and acquaintances—all of whom identify as Latino and live in L.A. or neighboring cities—to start the project, with each person assigned a role. According to the 2020 Census, Latinos make up nearly 49% of Los Angeles County's roughly 10 million residents—yet much of the community is left out of the conversation around emerging Web3 applications, in line with the overwhelmingly white composition of the tech and startup worlds.

“There's a big push from Latino communities and typically forgotten communities to want to be a part of Web3,” McGurren-Leal told dot.LA.

The Hola Metaverso team are now planning an inaugural one-day tech conference ton April 30 at the Avenida Productions studio in Historic Filipinotown. The event will be live-streamed for anyone that can’t attend in person, with details posted on the conference's website.

Panelists will include Web3 Familia founder Orlando Gomez, intellectual property attorney Eliana Torres from Web3Lawyers, ThinkNow co-founder Mario X. Carrasco, Blockasset’s Pablo Segarra and filmmaker Fanny Grande.

Aside from sponsorships that are still being finalized, the project will be funded by the event's ticket prices ($150 per person). That includes access to experts in Web3, live entertainment, food and networking. Registration is open until all 200 tickets are sold out.

By creating an event with a Latino focus, McGurren-Leal says Hola Metaverso is hoping to tap into the cultural sense of compañerismo. “We are a very inclusive group,” he noted, “and we’re really trying to make sure it's an inclusive environment.”

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.