How Lolita Taub is Making Returns by Investing in Underestimated Founders

The Crunchbase “Female Founder Series,” is a series of stories, Q&As, and thought-leadership pieces from glass-ceiling-smashers who overcame the odds and are now leading successful companies.

Lolita Taub, Co-Founder and General Partner of The Community Fund, is making venture funding more equitable for underestimated founders.

After working within Silicon Valley for over 15 years, Lolita saw an opportunity to shift the investment landscape. Determined to bring more opportunities to diverse entrepreneurs, after receiving an MBA and launching her VC career, she began writing checks to founders who typically struggle to receive funding from traditional VCs. As a result, Lolita co-founded The Community Fund, where she invests in community-driven companies. She also created the free Startup-Investor Matching Tool to connect founders with capital.

We asked Lolita how she began her career in investing and her advice for others hoping to follow a similar path.


Q: Tell us a bit about your fund. What’s its core thesis and what types of companies do you invest in?

A: The Community Fund is an early-stage fund that invests in pre-seed and seed community-driven companies. We believe businesses with community at the core will become unicorns and produce outsized returns. We invest in Delaware C Corp U.S.-based companies (but we’re open-minded). Our checks are all $50,000. 


Q:  What made you start your own fund?

A: First, it was my desire to increase dollars going into underestimated founders and increase the number of investors from underestimated backgrounds. Next, I have a conviction that community-driven companies will produce outsized returns. Lastly, Twitter. 

Jesse Middleton at Flybridge reached out over direct message and said they were working on creating a fund that would allow me—and others like me—to increase and empower underestimated investors to write checks. The goal was to recruit a team of investors to write checks to underestimated founders. There was the opportunity to make outsized returns given they are a blind spot for many VC firms. Jesse asked me if I wanted to co-found the fund and build out an investment team. My answer was an emphatic, “sign-me up!” You can learn more about my journey to launching a fund here.


Q: What does the team structure of your fund look like? 

A: We’re a team of 13 at The Community Fund. Jesse and I are co-founders and we have 11 investment partners. Our partners include Elias Torres, Cheryl Campos, Calanthia Mei, Melissa Moore, Hassan Bhatti, Sonia Nagar, Aaron Samuels, Kara Weber, Mike Swift, Songe LaRon, and Dave Salvant. They are leaders in communities that span across North America. 

They are collaborative operators, founders, and investors who bring with them a wide range of complementary functional and industry expertise. The best part is that they are good human beings who care to share their gifts with their communities and the founders they invest in. We’re lucky to have such a team


Q: Tell us about your career journey. At what point in your career did you decide to work as an investor and why?

A: I’m a first-generation Mexican American from the hood. My background consists of about 15 years in tech. I went to college on a scholarship and loans, graduated and worked in corporate tech, went to Silicon Valley and worked at startups, and then stumbled into VC. In Silicon Valley, I learned about the opportunity to make money by investing, but saw that investors were leaving money on the table by not investing in non cis-genederd, white males. 

As we head into a minority-majority country and acknowledge the trillions in purchasing power of non-white communities, it makes sense that to make money, more money must be invested in underestimated founders. For that, we need more check-writers from underestimated communities. 

Once I realized this, I focused on breaking into VC. I did my MBA and launched my VC career working for K Fund in Madrid and then Backstage Capital here in the U.S. I became a check writer, writing checks to underestimated founders. The next step for me was to become a general partner. 


Q: What types of companies are most exciting to you?

A: I’m excited to invest in companies founded and led by underestimated founders and companies addressing underserved markets. I’m looking for companies with billion-dollar markets and founding teams who have big visions with strong differentiators. I’m looking for unique insight into their company, product, go-to-market strategy, customers, market, etc. 


Q: What can be done to get more dollars to underestimated founders and to increase the number of investors that come from underestimated communities?

A: The TL;DR of increasing dollars going into underestimated founders and increasing the number of investors from underestimated backgrounds is hiring investors who come from underestimated communities and investing in companies founded and led by underestimated founders. I’m personally working on increasing the dollars going to underestimated founders through The Startup-Investor Matching Tool. We’ve seen the tool’s intros lead to 18 checks written, which totaled +$2.7 million. Now I’m looking into creating a General Partner-Limited Partner Matching Tool to get emerging fund managers introductions to their future limited partners.


Q: What advice would you give to a company or founder wanting to pitch you?

A: If you’re a community-driven company, I encourage you to learn more about The Community Fund and submit your company for investment review here

If you’re not a community-driven company and are looking to raise, I encourage you to take a look at submitting your company to The Startup-Investor Matching Tool here. The tool introduces founders to investors. 

If we’re a fit, we’ll reach out! And if you’re not ready to fundraise but want resources, I invite you to check out my tweets and newsletter.

Lolita Taub is a member of Dreamers & Doers, a private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary womxn through thought leadership opportunities, authentic connection, and access. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and subscribe to their monthly The Digest for top entrepreneurial and career resources.

  • Originally published March 3, 2021