Money Goes Where It Matters When Samara Mejia Hernandez Is in Charge
A serial investor, Samara Mejia Hernandez works to fund a diverse range of businesses through Chingona Ventures
By Cristina Merrill
Chingona might not be the type of word you want to use around your abuela, but it’s the only word that could convey what Chingona Ventures founder Samara Mejia Hernandez wants to do.
It’s important to the serial investor that she work hard to support a diverse range of people as they hope to realize their dreams and start their own businesses—hence her decision to name her the venture fund the way she did. Today, she is one of the few women making a difference and changing the narrative of Latinx and underrepresented minorities in the venture capital space.
“Chingona is slang for ‘badass woman,’” she wrote in a January 2020 blog post for the journal website Noteworthy. “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.”
Hernandez brings an array of experience to the table. For one, she spent more than a decade working in sales, operations, and technology at none other than Goldman Sachs. She was also an early-stage investor with MATH Venture Partners. Hernandez studied industrial and operations engineering at the University of Michigan (she refers to herself as an “enginerd” on her Twitter account) and got her MBA from Northwestern University.
Chingona Ventures is open to funding anyone with a good idea, but Hernandez notes that women and minorities still get less than 3 percent of all venture capital funding. For this reason, Chingona Ventures is working hard to make sure it has a diverse deal flow and portfolio, she says.
“We’re industry agnostic but our portfolio reflects a concentration in food technology, future of work, financial technology, female technology, and overall wellness,” Hernandez wrote in the Noteworthy post. “We invest at the earliest stages, even at the idea stage, with first checks ranging from $100,000 to $250,000. We will lead or catalyze a larger round but are happy to coinvest with other investors who believe just as strongly in you as we do.”
In addition to Chingona Ventures, Hernandez is an advisor at Angeles Investors, an organization whose mission is “to find, fund, and grow the most promising Hispanic and Latinx ventures.” Crucial to the company’s mission are its pitch nights, which are by invitation only and during which “a selected group of start-ups present their businesses to our Angeles in an intense and interactive format,” according to the company’s website.
In addition to her various work ventures, Hernandez is actively involved in Chicago’s tech community and helps underrepresented groups get into STEM education, venture capital, and entrepreneurship. She also cofounded the Latinx Founders Collective and is an active member of Latinx VCs.
With her commitment to diversity, impressive professional background, and willingness to openly embrace the concept of being a “badass,” Hernandez is clearly someone to watch. We daresay Abuela would approve.