Though it’s not necessarily uncommon for investors at established firms to go off and launch their own VC funds, it is rare for a woman of color to do so.
Of all Chicago venture capitalists, 28 percent are women and only 1 percent identify as Latinx. And the raw data shows that there are only two female Latinx VCs in Chicago.
Chingona-Ventures is a venture capital firm that invests in founders from backgrounds or in industries that are not always well understood by the traditional investor.
The Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC) recognizes Samara’s incredible talent and inspiration for our business community
On this article, Samara Mejía Hernández reveals the reasons that led to founding Chingona Ventures.
“Chingona” is slang for “badass woman.” While the root of the word may be controversial, I’ve used it affectionately with my sisters to channel our inner badass when overcoming life’s obstacles.
I chose to name my recently launched fund Chingona Ventures because I am investing in badass founders who are “chingón” enough to just maybe do something that matters. Here’s a bit more on Chingona Ventures:
Why did I launch my own fund?
While the venture capital industry brands itself as investing on the leading edge of innovation, the truth is that many of the start-ups that get funded look the same — same industries, same business models and same founder backgrounds.
There is nothing wrong with that, except that in a frothy venture environment, returns will approach the mean as undifferentiated capital goes to undifferentiated investments.
With Chingona Ventures, I’ve made the commitment to take an orthogonal approach to investing, working day and night to find those entrepreneurs who just might do something that matters, but who may not fit the “pattern recognition” (code word: confirmation bias) inherent in the venture industry.
This means investing in great entrepreneurs and businesses that may require more than just pattern recognition to see how great they truly might be.
Who do we invest in?
Everyone. We care about your business, not what you look like. However, women and minorities still get less than 3% of all venture capital funding so we work hard to ensure our deal flow (and our portfolio) is diverse beyond talking a good game. Just look at our portfolio.
What does Chingona Ventures invest in?
The fund invests in businesses that are catering to the massive generational and demographic shift which is occurring in the U.S., which will ultimately upend how consumers spend money, use products, manage their health, and engage with society.
We’re industry agnostic but our portfolio reflects a concentration in food technology, future of work, financial technology, female technology and overall wellness. We invest at the earliest stages, even at the idea stage, with first checks ranging from $100–250k. We will lead or catalyze a larger round, but are happy to co-invest with other investors who believe just as strongly in you as we do.
It Takes A Village
I would like to say a big thank you to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office, particularly Rodrigo Garcia for challenging the status quo on how to invest in early-stage fund managers, as well as Trey Hart and his team at 50 South Capital for the mentorship in helping Chingona Ventures become a reality.
My former team at MATH Venture Partners for taking a bet on me and for giving me the room to grow into the investor I am today.
My friends and family that have supported my efforts, and particularly my husband for personifying what it means to be a millennial dad and sharing in parental duties while I launch my business (even while managing his own).
Follow me on Twitter @SamaraMHernandz and @ChingonaVC to hear more!