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Meet Diego Torres-Palma of Ventana Ventures in West Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Diego Torres-Palma.

Diego, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
It’s a long journey! I went to undergrad for civil engineering and then to business school, but got the entrepreneurial itch and left my engineering job to launch a fashion startup. When my business partner and I started that company we were young and had an absolute blast running it, but I wanted to learn about venture-backed startups so I made another jump.

Towards the end of 2014 I joined the founding team of a San Francisco based data analytics startup. We went through the startup accelerator program, Y-Combinator, and quickly gained traction in an industry prime for disruption. After a couple of years, my wife and I put our real estate interests into action and we flipped a house in the Hollywood Hills, cementing our move from SF to LA. From there my interests began to shift from residential to commercial real estate. I had the opportunity to start a commercial project and BOOM, Ventana Ventures was born!

That’s quite the exciting journey and being part of YC is super impressive and changing industries comes with various risks. Has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Changing industries can definitely be tough. It’s a learning curve and when you enter into a new industry or venture, you simply don’t know what questions to ask or what to look for. Especially in the early days, I spent a lot of my time seeking out the experts, gathering advice, and reading about what I could do to avoid the common mistakes made by those who came before me.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Ventana Ventures – what should we know?
I launched Ventana Ventures because I felt I could bring an innovative approach to the commercial real estate space. The process of finding and leasing space can be daunting and painful for prospective commercial tenants, and on the flipside, buying a building without a tenant to lease to can be a headache for a landlord or investor. Ventana Ventures solves these problems by taking prospective tenants on a journey to find the perfect location for their business while looking for value-add development opportunities.

Landlords typically don’t take an active role in their tenants’ experience, which to me has always seemed like a missed opportunity. The way I see it, if they win, we all win, which is why I help our tenants with their fundraising structure, financial analysis, and making sure they’re prepared for the journey ahead.

We also film our projects from start to finish (like an HGTV show!) providing a behind-the-scenes look into what it takes to bring a space to life. There are many challenges in development and construction and we try to make these videos fun, while also educating the community on what goes into a project of this kind. At our last grand opening, we had over 3,000 people show up during the first12 hours to support our brewery project. We hope to re-create this success on all of our projects moving forward. It’s a win-win for the communities and for our tenants who work so hard to bring their products or services to the masses.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I am a firm believer that both mindset and perspective are crucial to success. I’ve re-wired my brain (or so I think!) to focus on the big picture at all times. Failures will happen, and when they do it’s just a function of learning from them. If you have your health and loved ones around you then every ambition you choose to work on is simply a luxury.

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Image Credit:
Nick Conrad

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