Carlos Soto '16
Major: Marketing, International Business
Hometown: San Jose, Costa Rica
Carlos Soto came to Loyola Marymount University after completing high school in his home country of Costa Rica. He found sanctuary in the LMU College of Business, and has applied his experience as an integrated member of the LMU community to starting his own tequila business.
What made LMU such an important part of your undergraduate education?
Being an international student gave me a different outlook on a lot of things. I think the most important thing that LMU provided was different outlets to learn. I say that because I made numerous friends in several organizations. Additionally, the location of LMU in the heart of Silicon Beach is ideal. As someone who is driven, I started my own business — Nosotros Tequila. I do not believe I would’ve been able to build that business without the environment I was in at LMU.
How did being an International Student at LMU, as you said, give you a “different outlook” on things?
It is never easy because you are away from family and that can take a toll on you at times. However, in my first year at LMU I realized I was having a lot of fun and I was making friends — American and international. Yet, my head was still in Costa Rica, and I would miss my friends there. During my sophomore year, I invested myself in everything that was going on around me on campus. This allowed me to build many relationships and meet people that I love and cherish. I always tell the younger guys I know that plan on going abroad, step out of your comfort zone. Don’t just stay with the people you know. Instead go out there and meet people, and it will enable you to grow as a person.
What was your challenge as an international student trying to become an entrepreneur in a foreign country?
I think it is safe to say that it is really hard to start a business in a different country with different laws. It helped that I studied all the laws before and had an understanding. I am going into the liquor business which is strictly regulated in the United States. The visa part is a challenge and the market here is fierce. It is really easy to get lost in a place like Los Angeles because there are so many people trying to make it — fighting for their dreams. You are competing with all of these fantastic people. Something that LMU helped me with is understanding that we have a purpose. The idea of giving back to people who need it plays a huge role in Nostros because it is socially responsible tequila. The social entrepreneur aspect of my business was definitely a result of the classes I took at LMU. It has definitely been learning experience. Hard? Yes. Do I regret it? No. Would I do it all over again? Absolutely.