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LatinxVC Seeks To Boost Latine VCs With The Help Of Silicon Valley Bank

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Nonprofit LatinxVC released a recent report finding that only 2 percent of partner-level investment professionals are Latino or Latina although 19 percent of the U.S. population is Hispanic, as reported by the Pew Research Center. And 86 percent of institutional VCs have zero Latinx investment team members.

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But armed with funding from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) for a new program, the group is continuing its mission to increase the number of Latine represented in the VC community.

Maria Salamanca, partner at Unshackled Ventures and co-president of LatinxVC
Maria Salamanca, partner at Unshackled Ventures and co-president of LatinxVC

We spoke with co-founders and co-presidents of LatinxVC, Maria Salamanca a partner at Unshackled Ventures–a firm that invests solely in immigrant founders–and Rami Reyes a co-founder of NextEquity Partners about setting up LatinxVC in 2019 along with other Latinx investors.

Founding members include Jacob Mullins at Shasta Ventures, Juan-Pablo Mas at Action Potential Venture Capital, Hector Ramos at SVB, Noramay Cadena from Supply Change Capital, Alex Marshall from SVB and formerly First Round Capital and Carmen Palafox at MiLA Capital.

Rami Reyes, co-founder and managing director of NextEquity Partners and co-president of LatinxVC 
Rami Reyes, co-founder and managing director of NextEquity Partners and co-president of LatinxVC

Reyes recalled a time early in his career as a newly promoted partner, when he met two founders of different companies at a VC event. “At the end of their meetings with me, they asked me if I spoke Spanish. And they were super-shocked, as they said I was the first Latino VC they’d ever encountered. And they were much older than me so that was pretty shocking to hear.” 

This propelled Reyes to consider starting an organization to support Latinos in venture. 

Salamanca got involved early on with All Raise, a nonprofit established in 2017 to support female partners, and experienced “the benefits of having a space for female investors and general partners.” She continues to work with the group today.

Origin story

In July 2019, the initial group of nine investors in LatinxVC pulled everyone they individually knew who was Latinx to workshop a plan. That group was around 30 partners and principals across different firms including Menlo Ventures, NEA and Cowboy Ventures1.

As a result, the group set its focus on: Getting Latinx individuals into VC; retaining Latine individuals; and providing access to LPs for Latine VCs.

Salamanca noted that research finding the thin pipeline of junior investment professionals for Latine VCs is even more concerning than the numbers of partners.

“One of the things we started to notice, from both pulling the data as well as from our own networks and understanding of what was going on, was the analyst and associate class is pretty light. We actually have a significantly larger number of folks at the partner level and up or founding GP partners,” she said.

Across institutional VCs–venture firms defined as having a fund size of at least $100 million– the report counts 36 Latine partners (2 percent), and 24 junior investment professionals (1 percent).

For smaller VCs with a fund size from $5 million to less than $100 million, the report found 43 Latine partners and 42 more junior team members.

Where Silicon Valley Bank fits in

LatinxVC has launched its Breaking Into VC fellowship program. The first cohort comprised 22 individuals who came from Goldman Sachs, Blackstone, Stripe, Google and Amazon, amongst others.

According to the announcement, LatinxVC will use the funds from Silicon Valley Bank to staff the organisation which was previously run by all volunteers, and grow its existing fellowship program, jobs platform, and mentoring programs, and expand outside of the U.S.

“We know that getting folks in is probably one of the highest impact returns on investment that we have,” said Salamanca.

The fellowship covers how to build a funding thesis, source companies and set up portfolio construction, even when you are not currently investing.

All Raise, BLCK VC and LatinxVC run individual programs, but also collaborate with bimonthly meetings in order to share best practices and to prevent duplicate efforts when reaching out to get mentors from the venture community.

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Illustration: Dom Guzman

  1. Cowboy Ventures is an investor in Crunchbase. It has no say in our editorial process. For more, head here.

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