James is a serial entrepreneur who is committed to helping 50-60 million under-banked people in the America build credit scores, enter the financial mainstream and achieve the American dream. In 2005, he co-founded Progreso Financiero, an innovative and socially responsible financial services company that offers $250-$2500 unsecured loans to Hispanic families that lack established credit scores and banking relationships.
Using a proprietary scoring model built on 20,000 initial loans, Progreso lends money at fair rates and low losses, helping its customers build credit histories and move up the financial services ladder. Progreso is growing quickly with a national partnership with Sears and Kmart, thousands of customers, 100+ employees and over $26mm in venture capital backing from Greylock Partners, Charles River Ventures and Madrone Capital.
Prior to Progreso Financiero, James worked as a distressed debt analyst at Morgan Stanley, a consultant at Bain & Company, and a venture capital investor in Europe. He also founded and served as CEO of Magic Beanstalk, a venture backed 3rd party recruiting company in 1999-2002 that helped match college grads with employers in 50 leading US universities.
James serves on the Board of the Latino Community Foundation and the Advisory Board of the Core Opportunity Fund and the Political and Economic Research Council. In his spare time, James enjoys helping other entrepreneurs and has made early stage investments as a partner in Great Oaks Ventures in over 15 start-ups, including StubHub (acquired by eBay), Jumpcut (acquired by Yahoo!), Trulia and Zimbio. He is a Robert Toigo Fellow and alumnus of the SEO-Sponsors for Education Opportunity program in New York.
James was invited to the White House in March 2009 as a leading young entrepreneur to share ideas on domestic and economic policy, and selected 2009 Entrepreneur of the Year by Hispanic-Net, the leading professional organization for Hispanic executives in Silicon Valley. He was also selected by the Silicon Valley Business Journal as one of the top