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Hispanic Wealth Profiles

Sean Salas’ Wealth Journey

Sean Salas is a Fintech executive and visionary on a mission to make financial services more accessible and affordable for all. He is the Co-Founder and Founding CEO of Camino Financial - an AI-powered community lending platform - offering affordable credit and wealth-building solutions to overlooked business owners. As CEO of Camino, Sean raised and deployed over $250 million, or 12,000 in loans, to overlooked entrepreneurs predominantly in the U.S. Latinx market, along with building a team of 169 Associates distributed across three country hubs. The capital delivered an estimated positive social impact of roughly $0.60 for every $1, amounting to over $150 million in fees saved and revenue generated from borrowers. Sean holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from UC Berkeley. HWP asked Sean about his Wealth Journey.

Please tell us about the origins of your wealth journey.
My journey began with my mother, as with many Latino families, we draw our inspiration from those who come before us and set the example (and sacrifice) for those to follow to build wealth. My mother immigrated from Mexico in pursuit of the American dream and saw entrepreneurship as her only means to build generational wealth. As such, we built a mini restaurant empire, having opened more than 30 restaurants over her career. She also set the example of working hard, something that has been passed onto me, although I do fully appreciate more than the value of family time and sleep. My mom had to abruptly close her doors after 21 years in business, but she used this as an opportunity to retire early and focus on raising the youngest of her six children, my twin brother and me.
My brother, Kenny, and I would take on entrepreneurship after working on Wall Street for five years and graduating from Berkeley (undergrad) and Harvard Business School (MBA). Like our mother, we saw entrepreneurship as the best way to build generational wealth vs just getting a paycheck, even though we were foregoing sizeable paychecks by any standard.

Describe the main milestones, opportunities, and challenges.
Our first and most impactful milestone in entrepreneurship, and wealth building, was founding Camino Financial, a community-driven fintech platform offering growth and working capital to overlooked micro businesses, predominantly owned by U.S. Latinos. We saw a big opportunity among Latino micro business owners, where loans were typically overpriced or not reach the credit opportunity within this massive niche market. To date, we raised and deployed over $300 million in capital, and as of the end of 2023, merged with Fundation to form a transformative AI-powered SMB lending platform called, Quantum Financial Technologies.

In terms of opportunities and challenges, I recognize that doing anything impactful and remotely contrarian is hard. Yet, that’s really the only way to create wealth absent getting very lucky! And even then, luck also plays a big role in the payoff. Through pain and associated learnings, you create value for yourself, investors and a broader set of stakeholders. I’ve learned to embrace the painful process of value creation and accept that I wouldn’t be happier otherwise.

Please share some wealth creation Tools and Tips.
Easy, to read a lot of books and learn from other people’s mistakes. I personally love Audible and Podcasts to gather a lot of information. One great tool to get footnote versions of books is Blikist.

What or Who did you wish you had known earlier?
Despite what you read, inevitably you’re going to make some mistakes and learn the hard way. This is not necessarily a bad thing and is truly inevitable. What I would do better next time is try to fail at the smallest scale possible, and then learn from those mistakes and scale up. This is harder to do in the context of demanding businesses and investors, but try to buy yourself as much time as possible to fail small and fast.

How do you define wealth?
Wealth to me is about leaving a legacy behind, not for yourself, and not just for your family, but for your community. And sometimes we can measure that in dollar signs, but what we really measure is the lasting impact it creates for everyone.

How would you like your wealth legacy to be remembered?
Not in the dollars made but, in the learnings, and impact derived from the businesses created to support communities I love and thrive as a part of these efforts. And I want to be remembered as a great friend, son, husband, brother, and father. Legacy is ultimately carried on by our loved ones!

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