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The Underdog Founder’s Journey: From Harlem to Silicon Valley

The Underdog Founder’s Journey: From Harlem to Silicon Valley
Photo Credited to Jane Owen PR

Edrizio De La Cruz, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, embodies the underdog spirit. His journey, which began with selling guavas in a Dominican barrio, now involves a meteoric rise to entrepreneurial success. De La Cruz co-founded the fintech startup, Arcus, a company recognized by Forbes as one of the most successful startups of 2021 and later bought by Mastercard. This success story, set against the backdrop of struggle and underrepresentation, forms the essence of the narrative. “The Underdog Founder,” De La Cruz’s memoir, is a source of inspiration for young entrepreneurs, especially from marginalized communities.

De La Cruz’s initial journey was paved with hardship and uncertainty. Raised in Harlem, he dropped out of college and the US Air Force, taking up a job as an aircraft technician to eke out a living. Faced with adversity, he nonetheless persevered, eventually returning to college, working on Wall Street, and earning his MBA from the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

His experiences inspired him to co-found Arcus in 2013, a fintech company which received backing from influential players like Y Combinator, Citi Ventures, SoftBank, and Ignia. Eight years later, Mastercard acquired the firm, marking a significant milestone in De La Cruz’s entrepreneurial journey.

This journey, rich in struggles, failures, and successes, forms the core of his memoir. In “The Underdog Founder,” De La Cruz presents seven key principles to rise above challenges like racism, poverty, imposter syndrome, and every other imaginable startup obstacle. The book combines De La Cruz’s personal and professional odyssey with valuable advice. As he succinctly puts it, “You have got to stick around long enough to get lucky. Just don’t die. Just keep moving forward, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and eventually, good things will happen.”

Praised for its authenticity, “The Underdog Founder” has received appreciation from Pulitzer prize-winning author, Junot Díaz, who calls it an “exhilarating memoir, candid, unsentimental and brilliantly courageous, an indelible portrait of the American dream and the American nightmare.” Moreover, John Rice, CEO & Founder of Management Leadership for Tomorrow, acknowledges that “Edrizio blazed new trails as an entrepreneur himself and has now written the roadmap that founders of color need to guide their own journeys.” These endorsements bear testament to the book’s contextual and practical value.

However, De La Cruz’s story goes beyond his personal journey. It shines a light on the significance of diversity programs and affirmative action as catalysts for underrepresented professionals to turn their American dream into reality. De Cruz’s journey, in part, was facilitated by organizations like SEO, MLT, and Toigo, showcasing the importance of such initiatives in uplifting previously disadvantaged groups.

Critically, the “Underdog Founder’s” journey is more than just a rags-to-riches tale. It is a powerful narrative that draws attention to the barriers faced by underrepresented communities, especially Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs, in the business sector. Yet, simultaneously, it outlines strategies to convert these disadvantages into opportunities, inspiring prospective entrepreneurs to defy odds and create their success story.

The Underdog Founder’s Journey: From Harlem to Silicon Valley

Photo Credited to Jane Owen PR

The memoir, in essence, is a unique blend of brutal honesty, practical guidance, and transformational inspiration, which is underscored by Gaby Natale, a three-time Emmy Award winner and author of The Virtuous Circle, who states that it offers a unique blend of “painfully honest memoir and practical how-to guide on turning your disadvantages into advantages as an entrepreneur.”

In conclusion, “The Underdog Founder” is a testament to Edrizio De La Cruz’s unwavering perseverance and resilience. His life narrative serves as an inspiration for every aspiring entrepreneur, emphasizing the indomitable spirit of the underdog. As Mitch Kapor, Founding Partner of Kapor Capital, notes, it provides a “deeply authentic account of the distance an outsider must travel to succeed as a founder in tech, filled with the hard-won wisdom of self-discovery and offering practical guidance for entrepreneurs.”

For more about Edrizio De La Cruz’s journey, visit By exploring the memoir of The Underdog Founder, we can be motivated by the possibility of transforming seemingly insurmountable challenges into opportunities. As Edrizio himself expressed it so eloquently, one must keep moving forward, and eventually, opportunity meets luck, equating to success.


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