Edrizio De La Cruz ('06)

A self-proclaimed “underdog founder,” Edrizio De La Cruz (’06) began his entrepreneurial career selling guavas on the street to support his family in his hometown of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. When he immigrated to the Bronx, he continued to help support his family, working full time as an aircraft mechanic at JFK Airport for six years.

Eventually, De La Cruz’s innate ambition and growing interest in Wall Street pushed him to pursue a degree at Baruch College. The College’s midtown location further motivated De La Cruz. “Proximity begets destiny, right?” he says. “As soon as I started at Baruch, I started to believe I could do it.”

Yet when De La Cruz graduated, he found the banking industry did not have the same confidence in him that he had in himself. After racking up a total of 30 job rejections, De La Cruz received an offer to intern at UBS Investment Bank. He took this as a sign to quit his mechanic job, a moment he described as liberating.

Soon enough, De La Cruz accepted a full-time position at JP Morgan before pursuing his MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. With each accomplishment, De La Cruz pushed himself to achieve more. “Five years ago, I was coming home smelling like gas and jet fuel,” he says. “What else can I do in the next five years?” It turns out, a lot.

In 2013, De La Cruz launched his own company, Arcus, which serves Latin American customers with digital money transfers to ease the remittance process. He notes that the idea was inspired by the way he grew up sending money to his family.

Mastercard has since purchased Arcus, which now is one of the biggest payment platforms in Latin America. Last year, De La Cruz also became the first Latino visiting partner at Y Combinator, the world’s top venture capital fund.

De La Cruz doesn’t take any of his success for granted. Instead, he has worked diligently to democratize resources for other underdog founders. “I’m a big believer in the concept of lifting,” he said. “You shouldn’t have to wait to succeed to help others.”

Founder School, an eight-week mentorship program for aspiring entrepreneurs, is one way De La Cruz gives back. And his new book Underdog Founder is a further extension of his mission. The book—part memoir, part guidebook—tells his candid and honest story, with the goal of making entrepreneurship more accessible.

Unsurprisingly, De La Cruz dreams of more. When thinking about his goals for the future, he noted that he hopes to inspire more success stories about new underdog founders. “There could be a thousand Edrizios out there—and a thousand underdog founders,” he says. “That’s my dream.”


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