New registry aims to fund Latin American startups, make them visible to investors

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An initiative by a Latino philanthropic organization helps advance equity, capital, and resources for Hispanic startups by creating an open-source registry and spotlighting a list of Latino startup founders.

The purpose of the registry and list is to make Hispanic startup founders more visible to investors who traditionally seek opportunities through venture capital accelerators or through their own personal networks.

The initiative is led by Hispanics in Philanthropy, an organization that provides resources and philanthropic investments to Latino entrepreneurs and groups in Hispanic communities in the United States and Latin America.

“It shouldn’t be necessary for us to have to say that there is an incredible talent pool. It should be a no-brainer,” said Jorge Calderon, managing director of Hispanics in Philanthropy and managing director of Inicio Ventures, an impact fund focused on closing the wealth gap by providing funding to Latin American startups. .

Although funding for founders of Latin American startups increased from $1.7 billion in 2017 to $6.8 billion in 2021, Latin American startups accounted for just over 2% of all investment, according to Crunchbase.

Latino and other entrepreneurs of color traditionally have limited financial resources to start their ventures, Calderon said, including an insufficient network of people who could help during the critical early stages of a business or project and when faced with challenges. longer delays in obtaining financing.

Because most investors aren’t Latinos or people of color, access to their financial pipeline “has really been kind of in this fishbowl of their same demographics,” Calderon said. “We’re basically saying to all these investors, ‘Here they come, there are no more excuses.’

Inicio Ventures created a scholarship program with several graduate students to create a registry of startups in hopes of eventually identifying every Latino founder and startup in the United States.

Fellows sought to uncover Hispanics who were not part of traditional venture capital pipelines, typically found at certain universities or in the Bay Area of ​​California; Austin, TX; or Boston.

Charlene Peña designed the Afrona, a hat that fully covers curly hair and protects it without flattening it.Home Ventures

“Latinx people are everywhere,” Calderon said. “There will be some great people defined in some of these smaller regions and localities.”

The register will serve as an open source for the public and potential investors.

Latin American startups eligible to be on the registry are those that have not yet received more than $1 million in funding but whose projects have been deemed scalable in overall size. The individual background and life experiences of the founders of the startup will also be taken into account.

After hearing many compelling founder stories, Inicio Ventures has launched its first list of 100 Rising Latinx Founders to Watch, featuring ready, investable Latinx startup projects and the faces behind them.

Esteban Gorupicz launched the world's first crowdsourcing platform for audio labeling in Spanish and later founded Atexto, a software platform aimed at improving speech recognition technology.
Esteban Gorupicz launched the world’s first crowdsourcing platform for audio labeling in Spanish and later founded Atexto, a software platform aimed at improving speech recognition technology.Home Ventures

These include Argentinian-born Esteban Gorupicz, who launched the world’s first crowdsourcing platform for audio tagging in Spanish and later founded Atexto, a software platform aimed at improving voice recognition technology that takes into account different languages, accents, tone of voice and way of speaking. Charlene Peña, a Massachusetts-based Afro-Latina and Dominican entrepreneur, designed the Afrona, a hat that fully covers curly hair and protects it without flattening it.

“Over the last couple of years, there’s been a lot more interest in trying to find and discover Latinos and Latinas across the United States, and it’s just kind of steamed up,” Calderon said. .

Alongside the Registry and List, Inicio Ventures is hosting a series of pitch events focused on developing Latino pipelines that involve Latino entrepreneurs, asset managers and others working together to determine how to sustain and grow their voice and power. within the startup community.

“It’s an opportunity with all of our work to really catalyze a moment,” Calderon said. “Looks like there’s a tipping point where people are really intentional about bringing more minorities and women into VC [venture capital].”

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