Issues Affecting Latinx VCs & Founders
The Latinx community is the fastest-growing demographic among all U.S. entrepreneurs. While the percentage of Americans running a business has stayed at a steady 6.2% over the past 20 years, Latinx founders have rocketed from 6.5% of all entrepreneurs in 2001 to 15% as of 2019.
Despite these advancements, funding and banking options for Latinx founders are limited. VCs like Act One Ventures and Chingona Ventures are working to change that.
Alejandro Guerrero, Principal at Act One Ventures, was just awarded the Social Justice dotLAsummit Award for his impressive diversity initiatives including a Diversity Rider, which requires firms to commit to investing in under-represented groups. 70% of Act One’s portfolio companies were founded by people of color, LGBTQ+, and women.
Samara Mejia Hernandez, Founding Partner at Chingona Ventures, focuses on investing in underrepresented and overlooked early-stage businesses founded by women and minorities. PayPal recently pledged to invest $50 million in eight early-stage, Black- and Latinx-led venture capital funds, including her firm Chingona Ventures.
Alejandro and Samara will be joined by Latinx entrepreneur Daniela Corrente, lawyer Michael Esquivel, and Early Growth’s Gadiel Morantes to discuss the general startup topics related to financing & growing your business, as well as the issues that underrepresented ethnic groups like Latinx founders might experience.
Samara Mejia Hernandez, Chingona Ventures
Samara is Founding Partner of an institutionally-backed pre-seed stage fund, Chingona Ventures, focusing on investing in technology and technology-enabled companies all over the U.S. Prior to this she was an early-stage investor at MATH Venture Partners, an early-stage venture fund investing in technology start-ups with differentiated approaches to customer acquisition. In this capacity, she lead new investment review, diligence and execution. Prior to venture capital, Samara worked at Goldman Sachs, where she was continually ranked top 5 in selling financial products, providing market insights, advising on portfolio construction, and consulting on business practices. She started her career in the Fixed Income, Currency and Commodity (FICC) group where she lead multiple technology enhancing projects across global exchanges. Samara is actively involved in the Chicago tech community and passionate about helping underrepresented groups get into STEM education, venture capital and entrepreneurship. She co-founded the Latinx Founders Collective organization to bring together Latinx founders, investors, and community leaders to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Samara earned an Industrial and Operations Engineering degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Northwestern University.
Alejandro Guerrero, Act One Ventures
Alejandro Guerrero is a 2X former startup founder who is now a Principal at Act One Ventures, a community focused, early-stage micro-vc fund based in Los Angeles. He and his partner Michael Silton have been working together since 2013, when Alejandro was a Volunteer Associate and Michael was the Managing Director at UCLA Ventures. They joined forces again in 2015 to create Act One Ventures.
Act One’s community is a diverse and dynamic group of experienced entrepreneurs and executives who are eager to advise and mentor our founders with practical, meaningful advice and introductions that lead to revenue. 70% of its portfolio companies were founded by people of color, LGBTQ+, or women.
Act One recently implemented a Diversity Rider initiative. The Diversity Rider is a call to action focused on increasing opportunities and access to wealth in the venture capital industry for underrepresented communities such as Black, LatinX, female, and LGBTQ+. Firms adopting the rider language pledge to bring folks from these communities into deals as co-investors, thereby instantly increasing diversity at the core of the deal-making process.
Daniela Corrente, Reel
Daniela is the founder and CEO of Reel, since she was a kid, she has always been passionate about understanding human behavior, why and how we choose to do things. That fascination led her to start a business that focuses on making it easy for people to achieve their aspirations without going into debt. She is a Latina founder that believes real change and equal opportunity come from investing in not only social, but also economic empowerment.
Reel is a platform for debt-free shopping. They make it simple to pay for what you want in installment savings. From a new pair of shoes to an Apple Watch, Reel helps you save a little every day, while giving you inspirations and price alerts.
Their objective is to help millennials, the most credit adverse generation with the highest consumption power, achieve their goals while avoiding the burden of unnecessary debt.
Michael Esquivel, Fenwick & West
Michael T. Esquivel provides strategic counseling to emerging and high-growth companies primarily in the digital health, consumer and enterprise tech, social networking, software and cloud computing industries. He advises clients on all aspects of general corporate and securities law — from formation and corporate governance responsibilities to equity incentives and employment issues, to intellectual property and commercial transactions. He has negotiated and structured a wide variety of strategic transactions, including seed and venture capital financings, mergers & acquisitions, IPOs, corporate reorganizations, and debt financings. Esquivel also represents and advises incubators, angel investors, venture capitalists, and investment banks. He possesses a deep understanding of entrepreneurs and an ability to anticipate his clients’ unique business and legal needs not just for today or tomorrow, but over a company’s entire life cycle.
Fenwick is one of the first technology law firms in the world.
Gadiel Morantes, Early Growth
Gadiel Morantes is an accomplished executive with 20+ years of sales, marketing, and operations experience. His vast experience — both as an entrepreneur and working extensively with founders — has given him great insight into what it takes to forge strong partnerships and build successful companies. Gadiel works closely with early stage entrepreneurs and founders providing them with mentorship, guidance and support as they grow and scale their businesses. He also serves on the advisory board for a number of companies providing them support with growth strategies, sales advising and fundraising planning.