Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: A Spotlight on 7 Impactful Entrepreneurs in the Hispanic and Latine Community

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re highlighting U.S.-based Hispanic and Latine entrepreneurs, founders and investors in the Crunchbase community. We’re excited to spotlight a few of the many leaders who are paving the way to provide better access to opportunity and more seats at the table for those with diverse perspectives.

Crunchbase data shows that funding to Hispanic and Latine founders increased from $1.7 billion in 2017 to $6.8 billion in 2021. Unfortunately, that growth only rose slightly compared to overall U.S. venture capital investments, leaving Hispanic and Latine startup funding stuck at around 2% of overall startup investments. With the Hispanic and Latine community underrepresented as both founders and VC partners, Crunchbase remains committed to raising visibility for and elevating voices within the Hispanic and Latine community during Hispanic Heritage Month and beyond.

Building an inclusive environment for all our users

In an effort to better represent the Hispanic and Latine community and the LGBTQIA+ community, we’ve also replaced the term “Latinx” with “Latine” across Crunchbase. After introducing the term “Latinx” when we launched Diversity Spotlight in 2020 we learned that many Spanish speakers were shifting toward using the term “Latine” given it maintains gender neutrality and removes the issue of pronouncing the term “Latinx” in the Spanish language. 

In addition, though the terms Latine/Latinx/Latino/Latina and Hispanic are often used interchangeably (and are used interchangeably in many of the quotes from those featured in this blog post), we are referring to the community celebrated during Hispanic Heritage Month as the Hispanic and Latine community to be as explicitly inclusive as possible for anyone in the U.S. who was born in, or has ancestors from, Latin America and/or Spain. 

Crunchbase’s goal is to create an inclusive environment for all our users. We welcome any feedback you may have as we continue to make improvements. If you have an idea about how to improve our Diversity Spotlight, please let us know by sending an email to spotlight@crunchbase.com.

Cheryl Campos

Head of Venture Growth and Partnerships at Republic & Co-Founder of VCFamilia

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
Hispanic Heritage Month represents an opportunity to simultaneously celebrate the incredible accomplishments of the Latine venture and startup industry while highlighting the very real barriers and challenges we face. These obstacles include access to early-stage capital, engaged limited partners for emerging-fund managers, and more resources and support to break into the industry. 

As a proud Latina and co-founder of VCFamilia, this is a pivotal time of celebration and reflection, both on a professional and a personal level. It’s easy to get caught up in everyday struggles and concerns without realizing the real progress we make by being intentional and making the table bigger for others in this industry. Hispanic Heritage Month is a reminder that together we are stronger. 

What does inclusion mean to you?
Inclusion means being intentional, in both small and big ways, in making sure those around you have the opportunity to succeed, despite their background (racial, ethnic, physical, etc.). Latines are incredibly diverse due to the number of countries we represent and the lived experience of different Latines in the U.S. There is room at the table for everyone. 

Why is it important to recognize and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
Hispanic Heritage Month is a time of celebration of the accomplishments of the Latine community, but also a time to highlight the challenges we still face. Despite being one of the fastest-growing and the largest minority populations in the United States, we still only receive less than 2% of venture capital funding and consist of 2% of venture capitalists.

It’s imperative that we shine a spotlight on the members of the community who are and have been making important contributions to the startup ecosystem to help existing founders and funders scale. We need to ultimately generate the kind of exits and returns that force the rest of the industry to take notice of one simple fact. We’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

Mariela Salas 

Founder & CEO of Eleva Ventures & Executive Director at LatinxVC

Why is it important to recognize and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
I think it’s important to recognize and celebrate Latine community year-round, but Hispanic Heritage Month gives us the opportunity to have more open dialogue around the power we hold as a people. I have worked in plenty of spaces where I was the only Latina in the room. In fact, many people who identify as Latine have had this same experience across many sectors, places and spaces. It’s lonely and frustrating, because of what we know to be true. 

Latines are among the fastest-growing minority groups in the U.S., and we are often not even invited in decision-making rooms that affect a large subset of our community. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Latines will comprise 27.5% of the U.S. population by 2060. The 2021 LDC U.S. Latino GDP Report states that the total economic output (or GDP) for Latines in the U.S. was $2.7 trillion in 2019, up from $2.1 trillion in 2015, and $1.7 trillion in 2010. Data shows the growth of the U.S. Latine buying power is driven not by immigration but by Latine U.S. births. Yet, we have found it very difficult to get our fair share of seats at the table.

Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity for us to not only celebrate our delicious food, joyful dances, and warm culture, but it is also a moment in time to [re]claim our space in the many places we have yet to fill and the places we’ve been overlooked. It’s also an important reminder that as a huge economic engine in the U.S., issues involving Latines are an opportunity to improve our nation. Of course, Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration! Beyond celebration, it is also a call to action for us all to not be afraid of shaping our own narrative.

What does inclusion mean to you?
To me, inclusion means going beyond checking a diversity box. It means more than seeing our community in leadership positions. For example, as a part of the research we conducted for our annual report this year, many of our respondents shared that while blatant, outright exclusionary practices are not the norm, many have found themselves feeling overlooked or forgotten in their current roles. Other participants reported having to give up parts of their ethnic identities for career preservation. Inclusion means more than having representation in certain spaces. It means being able to show up as our authentic selves knowing that we are valued and appreciated because of our diversity in experiences and thoughts.

What empowers you, as someone from the Hispanic and Latine community?
I love how resilient and generous our community is. My parents taught me that when one door closes there is always a way to find a window of opportunity. In the span of one generation, my parents were able to completely transform the trajectory of our lives. My dad went from selling candy on the streets of Valle Hermoso, Tamaulipas, Mexico, as a kid, to building his own businesses. At the heart of his work there was always a love for our family and the community that raised him. Until the day he passed away, he always found ways to give back to his hometown and instilled in me a higher purpose to serve others. This resiliency and dedication to the community have led me to LatinxVC, a national nonprofit whose goal is to get more Latines into VC. Seeing my own family’s trajectory and learning about the inspiring stories from members of the LatinxVC community, it’s easy to feel empowered by our culture.

Maca Baigorria

Founder and Mentor of Avocademy

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
For me, Hispanic Heritage Month is about celebrating our individual differences and commonalities as people of many countries and backgrounds that came to the U.S. It’s about educating people on history, traditions and my personal favorite food. Having immigrated from Argentina as a child, for me this month is a reminder to appreciate everyone who came before me and the resilience of people who dare to explore outside of their birthplace.

What does inclusion mean to you?
I’m a masculine-presenting woman (think short hair and men’s clothes), who people often confuse for a man. Usually, navigating gendered spaces like public bathrooms and airport security becomes really difficult. During these times, I feel excluded or othered. Ultimately, I recognize that everyone wants to feel included. I’ve made it my responsibility to design for all and not create exclusionary experiences. At Avocademy, we strive to help those who have been traditionally excluded from breaking into tech. As simple as it may seem, the main thing we’ve done is tell folks that, they too, can have this opportunity. 

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a founder when speaking to investors?
You have to embrace who you are and your journey. Not all investors will look like you or have the experiences you’ve had. I had to learn to stand up for myself and my ideas. Through this journey, I have met some incredible partners and mentors along the way. 

John Solis

Co-Founder of RevOps, Inc.

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
Hispanic Heritage Month is when we highlight and celebrate the accomplishments of both historical and modern individuals in our community. The historical figures remind us of the work and sacrifice that was necessary to provide us with the opportunities we have today. Modern leaders and individuals inspire us to keep advancing while understanding how far we still have left to go across many fields and disciplines. The more we can do to inspire our communities, the better off we all will be.

What do you appreciate about your Hispanic and Latine community, in or outside of work?
The strong sense of friendship and community. Being able to connect with others that have had similar experiences and challenges and are willing to provide advice and support when needed. Everything from online professional Slack networks to in-person hiking and social events. Y también la música y la comida. 

What does gaining equal access to capital as a founder mean to you?
Equal access to capital is absolutely vital. You can’t build a business if you don’t have the capital to invest in the company and its people. It’s also really important to get connected with other founders and find mentors who can provide advice. There are a million things you have to worry about as a founder, especially having someone to bounce ideas off of and get feedback—both on the day-to-day operations/tactical side and with strategy. No one will make the decisions for you but being aware of different perspectives is half the battle.

Mario Amaro

Founder and CEO of Ease 

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
It’s a time for unity and celebration amongst our community, especially for those who live and work in environments where we’re often overlooked.

What empowers you, as someone from the Hispanic and Latine community?
Culture. I know I come from a long line of fighters, revolutionaries and creators. I use this knowledge of my ancestors as fuel and guidance as I strive to continue their legacy.

What does gaining equal access to capital as a founder mean to you?
It means I can take bigger swings. As a Latino founder, I’m often limited with capital that can impact product market growth compared to my non-Latine peers. Having the ability to take bigger swings means more people who look like me will also be given the opportunity in the future.

Carmen Palafox

Founding Partner at 2045 Ventures

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
Hispanic Heritage Month provides a platform to shine a light on all the incredible humans, past and present, who have contributed to the success of our United States. Well known leaders include Dolores Huerta, Sonya Sotomayor and Julissa Reynoso. And during this month, we get to hear from trailblazing organizations and individuals that are changing stale perceptions that hold society back, e.g., LTXQuest, LATTITUDE, the Imagen Awards, How Women Lead and so many more.

What does inclusion mean to you?
Inclusion means progress for us all. I look forward to propelling greater representation in positions of power. And through leadership roles at the NVCA, AllRaise, LatinxVC and PledgeLA, we focus on inclusion at the decision-making level in the innovation economy. Why? To accelerate solutions to our environmental and societal challenges.

What empowers you, as someone from the Hispanic and Latine community?
I’m empowered knowing that the Latine community is a young, fast-growing demographic across the U.S., beyond California, Texas and Arizona, to Georgia, Massachusetts, Utah and North Dakota. Latine prosperity is tied to the health of our economy.

Jesse Martinez

Founder, CEO, Chair of LSA Global HQ

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
It is an opportunity to not only celebrate our cultural heritage as Hispanics, but also to include others by sharing our history, accomplishments, our culture—food, music, art and traditions— and the contributions that we have made to America. We must continue to share who we are and what we do while educating others on why our culture is also an essential part of the American fabric.

What empowers you, as someone from the Hispanic and Latine community?
Our partners, champions, sponsors, allies and community empower me to be of service to others in our mission. We need access to all resources as we look to increase the number of Latinos in tech.

What does gaining equal access to capital as a founder mean to you?
From a nonprofit perspective, our work within the tech industry is essential to ensure there are more U.S. Latinx founders pursuing careers in tech.

How you can help raise visibility for Hispanic and Latine leaders

As we continue to measure progress toward closing the funding gap for Hispanic and Latine entrepreneurs and representation within the often exclusive startup ecosystem, we encourage U.S. investors and startup leaders to get verified and add their diversity data to Crunchbase.

We also encourage you to track and report on the progress with us. Here are several Crunchbase lists that are enriched with insights on companies and investment firms with Hispanic and Latine founders:

If you have an idea about how to improve Diversity Spotlight, please let us know by sending an email to spotlight@crunchbase.com. We take this feedback seriously, and each suggestion for improvement helps inform our plans as we continue to develop this feature.

  • Originally published September 21, 2022, updated April 26, 2023