By Robyn Shulman
August 09, 2017
“America is the greatest nation on Earth; it is my home,” Joel Contartese
According to Entrepreneur Magazine, more than 40% of businesses on the U.S. Fortune 500 List are launched by immigrants or by children of immigrants.
Joel Contartese is a successful 26-year-old immigrant and entrepreneur who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He came to the United States when he was nine years old, and spent most of his young life living in South Florida. He currently resides in Los Angeles.
At 17-years-old, he was already running a successful social media business. Today, along with his business partner, he runs Media Monsters, a marketing agency that offers search engine optimization, social media, email, and digital marketing services.
Since its launch in 2016, his company has closed 500K in marketing spend and has generated an estimated 8.3 million in revenue for multiple brands.
Contartsese is also a well-known influencer in the marketing world.
Brian Rashid, a contributor from Forbes, included Contartsese in an article titled, “15 Top Instagram Influencers You Should Follow.” Jonathan Long, who contributes to Entrepreneur Magazine also named him in “14 Inspirational Influencers You Should Follow on Instagram,” and recently, Jordan Kasteler, a contributor for Inc., listed Contartese as one of “8 Content Marketers to Follow in 2017.”
However, life in the states did not start off easy for Contartese. His business success and rise to influencer fame took grit, personal motivation, self-learning, and hard work.
Upon first chatting with Contartese, I was inclined to learn more about his story as a young entrepreneur and immigrant. Our conversation turned toward education, and I wanted to know how he felt about his schooling experience in the states, and how it may have played a role in his entrepreneurial journey.
Contartese stated he would like to take part in changing the US school system for immigrants, entrepreneurs, and teens alike. With odds stacked against him, Contartese shared how he overcame language, social, and education barriers while building a thriving business. He also shared a few suggestions on how to make the US school system more applicable for teenagers, immigrants, and future entrepreneurs.
Contartese’s journey to America was unexpected; it was a result of the collapse of the banking system in Argentina in the early 2000’s.
At nine years old, he didn’t have a full understanding of what was happening around him. His family told him they were taking an extended vacation. As he grew into a young man, he quickly realized America was becoming his home.
Contartese remarks, “Initially, I resented my parents and blamed them for many of the early struggles I faced. Adapting to a new country, understanding the culture, learning a new language, and being away from my family and friends was challenging. The world as I knew it took a turn overnight. At nine years old I dreaded the idea of leaving my family and friends behind. Looking back at it now, I realize how lucky I was that my parents decided to make a move.”
He continues, “America is the greatest nation on Earth; it is my home.”
For Contartese, there was no shortage of challenges growing up in American schools. When he came to the states, he began 4th-grade and did not speak, read or understand English. His elementary school placed him in an English as a Second Language program that allowed him to pick up the language, and by 6th-grade he had a relatively decent grasp of his newfound communication.
Still, school was not easy for him. Some of the largest problems he faced included social and academic communication, along with making and trusting new friends. Being an immigrant and maintaining his accent brought unwanted attention. He was bullied in middle school and found it tough to keep relationships due to his foreign accent.
Contartese expresses, “Due to these various barriers, I was not always able to do things other students my age were doing at the time. As a teenager, I felt stuck.”
It wasn’t until he reached high school that things started to turn around for him. At the young age of 16, he decided not to allow his current situation to dictate how his life would play out. He began learning about the power of the mind, started to attend entrepreneurial seminars, and read many self-help books.
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