Q&A with Entidad CEO, Jesus Torres

Written by:

Elizabeth Melton

7 minutes

There’ve been two constant refrains in Jesus Torres’s life: building things and rooting for the underdog.

So while it was a long and winding road to founding Entidad, it’s not surprising that that’s where Jesus ended up. As the CEO of Entidad, Jesus finds new ways to solve his client’s biggest problems, primarily benefitting the underserved. In this Q&A, we discuss how he discovered his entrepreneurial spirit, how he began learning about the Web3 space, and why he is so passionate about helping the farm worker community.

Q: You’ve had a very unconventional and fun career path. Can you tell us how you went from working at Hewlett Packard to becoming a successful music producer, talent manager, and entrepreneur?

Well, I’d say my career officially started after graduating from Stanford with a degree in engineering. I’d done a summer internship at Hewlett Packard, and for electrical engineering grads, HP was where you wanted to be. I felt so lucky to have been extended an offer, but when I got there, I realized that while engineering was interesting, it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life. 

So I quickly put myself in situations where I could lead projects and teams and gain the most management experience. I spent about three years building up that knowledge, and at that point, I knew I had to pursue my true dream of making it big in the music industry.

I’d been involved with music my whole life; I even paid for part of college by DJ’ing on the side. And I didn’t know it then, but I know now that I had already built up some entrepreneurial skills. I wasn’t afraid of flexing my talents and going after what I wanted. So I began learning the ins and outs of the music business, teaching myself everything from sound editing to producing to marketing. I’ll admit I was a little cocky at times and wasn’t realistic about how hard it would be, particularly the networking piece.

But I learned quickly, and I was driven by serving the underdogs一musicians who looked like and sounded like me. They weren’t featured anywhere in the mainstream media, and I wanted to get them the recognition they deserved. With a lot of trial and error, I figured out who I had to befriend, how albums got funded, and how things generally worked in the music industry. And eventually, I started my own record company and talent management firm so I could continue spotlighting the musicians I knew and loved. 

Q: How interesting! And how would you say your career set you up for success at Entidad?

I think one of the most important things I learned throughout my career was persistence. When I didn’t know how to do something, I’d teach myself how to do it. When I didn’t know an influential person, I’d do everything I could to build a relationship with them. That tenacity has served me well.

And underlying that was a fascination with technology that I tried to weave into all my jobs. For example, I got into YouTube early on, getting my talent to make vlogs about their experience creating music and being on the road. I even joined a music-related startup on track to be very similar to Spotify (unfortunately, it was too far ahead of its time). While there, I began to learn about Web3 and NFTs and think about applying those concepts to the music industry. Trying to stay ahead of the curve is fun, and I think it’s given me a competitive edge.

Q: Great, thank you. Now let’s focus more on your involvement with the farm worker community. How did you first get involved with United Farm Workers of America, and what convinced you to take on an initial project with them?

When the music startup failed, I was on the hunt for my next thing. I happened to know one of the board members of the United Farm Workers of America. He’d won a grant to build an app for UFW, but he didn’t have a tech background and desperately needed help. So I thought I’d jump in and see what I could do.

Working on this project opened up my eyes to an entire ecosystem that was struggling to keep up with modern technology. UFW and other farm worker organizations were each trying to build their own apps to help their constituents, but they had little to no resources to do so. This realization, coupled with my background in technology at HP, and my knowledge of the blockchain and identity, planted the seed for Entidad. I could not only finally build my own tech company, but could serve the underserved while doing it.

Q: I see, and where do Jorge and Rene fit in? How did you convince them to join forces with you?

Rene and Jorge were my friends in college, and we’ve stayed close ever since. They’re also very entrepreneurial like me, and we’ve always expressed interest in what each other is working on. So when I shared what I was doing at UFW, it really caught their attention.

Both of them have a connection to farm work and could easily see how much the space could benefit from digital transformation. I asked for their advice throughout the project and kept them abreast of how much work there was left to do even after my project was finished. Once I’d built the first app, I chatted with the UFW team about possibly expanding to other digital transformation projects and bringing on Jorge and Rene as co-collaborators. The rest is history.

Q: How do you describe Entidad to a layperson, and how does that impact what you do on a daily basis as CEO?

It depends on the person I’m talking to, but I typically describe Entidad as a Web3 technology services provider that exists to help digitally transform mission-driven organizations. Currently, we are working on solving some of the most pressing and complex issues facing farm workers by digitally transforming the advocacy groups that care for this community. 

Although we’re concentrating on farm workers right now, it’s somewhat of a pilot for us. Our vision is to serve other chronically underserved communities as well. This is included in our bylaws as a public benefit corporation, and it’s a core part of our product strategy and design.

What this means for me is that I am constantly building relationships with people and other advocacy groups that will raise awareness about Entidad and give us the funding we need to achieve our goals. So I’m mostly external facing, talking to our clients, talking to potential new clients, talking to the press, and writing proposals and pitches.

Q: What has surprised you most about working in the farm worker space? 

First, I was disappointed by the convoluted process of applying for grants. There are so many requirements, and filling out the applications takes so much time and effort. But nonprofits can’t afford not to apply for grants because that money impacts their bottom line; they need it to fund new initiatives, hire staff, buy equipment, you name it. Unfortunately, the organizations that nonprofits rely on for funding move at their own pace, forcing nonprofits to stay on the hamster wheel. It’s a vicious cycle.

Second, I learned how narrow people’s opinions about farm workers are. Many people believe that farm workers are low-skilled individuals and see them as a cost on a P&L statement. As the child of two farm workers, I can tell you that’s just not true. We are highly underutilizing farm workers’ talents, and we haven’t empowered them to put those talents to use. Part of our work at Entidad has been about betting on those farm workers, giving them the technology they need to contribute to the agriculture system in a meaningful way.

Q: What do you hope Entidad will be known for in 5 years?

I hope that Entidad is known for creating new opportunities for underserved communities. Right now, we are focused on farm workers, but I want to expand our reach to other verticals as well.

There are so many industries ripe for modernization, and we aren’t capitalizing on the skills many people within those workforces already have. They need outlets for showcasing their skills, leveraging their experience, and lending their perspectives, and I want to play a part in giving them those opportunities.

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Julette Martinez

CEO, Farm Worker Organization