VamosVentures to Fill a Critical Investment Gap and Fuel Network Growth
Founder Marcos Gonzalez discusses his company’s unique position to help early-stage, tech-enabled companies led by Hispanic and other minority entrepreneurs
By KC Forsythe // Photo by Rachel Porter
Venture capital fund VamosVentures was founded in 2016 by Marcos Gonzalez, a member of The Alumni Society and class of 2015. Vamos Ventures brings to life Gonzalez’s vision to invest in early-stage, tech-enabled companies led by Hispanic and other minority entrepreneurs.
Now, with the participation of Hispanic thought-leaders—many of whom are members of The Alumni Society—VamosVentures is poised to not only provide capital to early-stage tech companies with growth potential, but also support wealth creation, social mobility and empowerment in diverse communities. The Alumni Society recently sat down with Gonzalez to discuss his company’s unique position in the market.
The Alumni Society: Concretely, what can VamosVentures do for an early-stage tech company?
Marcos Gonzalez: We are a $25 million venture capital fund that is filling a critical gap in the market. The Hispanic tech entrepreneur pipeline is growing dramatically. Most can raise what we call launch money—as little as $20,000 to $200,000—from local supporters like friends and family. But raising orbiting money, meaning $500,000 to $1 million and above, requires formal investment funds. Established venture capitalists aren’t funding Hispanic and diverse tech companies for many reasons, but primarily because they’re not in the same networks.
The result is overlooked talent and ideas. And that’s an investment—and impact—opportunity for us. For example, we’ve invested in pure commercial tech companies led by Hispanics, but we’ve also invested in impact tech companies like Paladin. Paladin was co-founded by Puerto Rican Kristen Sonday and Canadian Felicity Conrad, to make pro-bono legal services more efficient and effective in order to bridge the social justice gap. It’s an exciting company that can be financially successful and super impactful. And in our view, both of these companies are driving impact—by producing social mobility, tech talent pipeline, unique services, and if all goes well, wealth, too.
TAS: What are some of your actionable goals for the near future?
MG: We want to fund over forty tech companies led by the best Hispanic and minority tech founders we can find anywhere, produce over two hundred tech jobs (mainly filled by diverse talent), and deliver examples of successful diverse tech entrepreneurs to inspire others.
TAS: How have you moved toward some of these goals thus far?
MG:I learned early on that I can’t do it alone. This is where an organization like The Alumni Society becomes a great resource. My partners, Xavier Del Rosario and Alejandro Estrada, and I are members, and we’ve known each other for a long while. But many of our advisors, and one of our new operating partners, Eliana Murillo of Google, I met through The Alumni Society. When I was visiting San Francisco, The Alumni Society made an introduction between Eliana and myself, and she’s been a great supporter and collaborator. Similarly, our newest Latina advisory board member and the highest ranking Latina at Lyft, Veronica Juarez, became involved after meeting, thanks to being connected by The Alumni Society. That’s what the organization is so good at, and we want to be part of driving wealth innovation for this very network.
TAS: Who are your investors?
MG: Our investors fall into three categories, all of them are interested in us as an investment opportunity, but they are driven by our focus on diverse tech entrepreneurs.
The first category includes Foundations that already focus on diversity, entrepreneurship, technology, and urban sustainability, and see VamosVentures as a learning and collaborative platform for program areas important to their mission.
The second category includes Corporates that understand diverse talent and consumers, and tech innovation are critical to their future. They see us as a partner to help address their strategic opportunities related to diverse talent and suppliers, business development, and community engagement.
And finally, the third category includes Family Offices and Individuals who see a fit for us in their broader investment portfolio because we provide access to the venture capital asset class for a relatively small commitment, while investing in entrepreneurs and companies that reflect their values.
TAS: That’s great! So, what is next step that you will take this year?
MG: We are very enthusiastic about the opportunity to combine our professional experience as investors and entrepreneurs, and focus on an area that will disproportionately impact our community. Our priority is three-fold: continue fundraising, continue making investments with the capital we’ve already raised, and continue to welcome collaborators.