Women of Color receive a staggering .2% of Venture Capital funding for their start-ups. Yes, .2% — also known as less than 1%. While Venture Capital is making a slow creep towards diversity, with regard to both who is doling out the funding and who is receiving it, these Latinas aren’t waiting. These Latina founders are changing the landscape of the tech world and breaking funding records, all while using personal experience, grit, and community to reach their dreams while impacting the world.
Glam St was started by Augustina Sartori in Uruguay and acquired by ULTA Beauty. This app created a highly accurate makeover experience for users using augmented reality. The use of augmented reality software allows users to try on a look, lippie, or eye shadow before buying and or going all-in on a new look. Scaling a startup to acquisition by a big brands is hard enough to do but getting your startup to scale, transcend continents and different markets, and get acquired by a big brand is possible through three things Sartori told Forbes. “Trusting your idea is the starting point for pursuing profitability and scalability; define your own ‘why’ before someone defines it for you, and hold on to your champions in the space.”
Isabel Aznarez, Ph.D is the Co-Founder of Stoke Therapeutics, a science-based company that develops new and precise ways to treat the underlying cause of severe genetic diseases by precisely upregulating protein expression. Through protein upregulation, they can develop treatment for diseases affecting the central nervous systems, eye, liver and kidney. Aznarez holds a Ph.D. in medical and moleculargenetics from the University of Toronto and a B.Sc. in biology and human genetics from the University of Uruguay.
Polly Rodriguez used her personal experience is going through radiation treatment for cancer at the age of 21 to catapult her next professional move, co-launching UnBound in 2014. Unbound is a health and pleasure toy company that makes purchasing sex toys is a more enjoyable experience. Radiation treatment brought upon early onset menopause, which meant Rodrigeuz’s sex drive was very low. At the suggestion of a friend who was a nurse, Rodriguez went to go buy her first sex toy but didn’t like how the experience left her feeling. “It was weird to me that no one was selling these products to women in a way that made the customer feel good. And that always stuck with me,” Rodriguez explained to Refinery29. Raising capital as someone with no tech background trying to start a sex toy company was very difficult but that didn’t stop her, “…if you look at the most successful female entrepreneurs, the majority of them don’t have a tech background.”
Alexandra Marshall is a badass multi-talented Mexicana in tech with a background as an Olympic Weightlifter, experience at Goldman Sachs, and a passion for music! She is the co-founder of Health IQinsure, an a life insurtech company for those with healthy lifestyles. Their mission is simple: people living a healthy lifestyle are overpaying on health insurance. According to their website, “Health IQ is the only company that combines your current health, health literacy and active lifestyle to better predict your long-term health, getting you rates up to 33% lower.”
Nathalie Molina Niño
Before many people had graduated college Nathalie was already onto building her second startup. This Latina is a serial entrepreneur, the founder of BRAVA Investments, a company that seeks to help startups and women grow their companies; the co-founder of Entrepreneurs@Athena at the Athena Center for Leadership studies of Barnard College; and recently also added author to her list of credentials with her debut book, Leapfrog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs. Molina Niño’s several initiatives are helping diversify the field of women of color founders to raise funds to scale their companies. The latest numbers show that while women founders only got 2% of VC dollars in 2017, the number for women of color is a pathetic fraction of that at only .2%. Molina Niño credits her success to her immigrant parents, her stubbornness, and her ability to make sound decisions.
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I approve this message ✨ This #WCW is dedicated to all of the amazing women I met during #circularsummit! Thank you @helloalice_com for curating such an amazing event full of founders, investors that care, and more importantly getting me out to wine country when I needed it most! #thefutureisfemale
The Founder of KNAC, Lopez is making it easier for other Latinas – anyone really – to land their dream job at top companies. KNAC allows you to directly demonstrate to your dream companies –like Google, Master Card, Vimeo, and more – that you are truly able to do the job through assessments you take through the portal. These assessments are especially helpful for people that might want to make a career change but lack the job title from companies in the sector you are trying to enter on your resume. With the tech sector having embarrassingly low numbers of women perhaps KNAC can help women secure the jobs they are capable of doing through the professional assessments. “You can’t take no for an answer, you have to show up every day and be relentless. It’ll take women reclaiming their power to see that change we’re looking for,” said Lopez and that is what KNAC is helping job seekers do. KNAC is currently in beta but always making updates.
Christina Morillo is a queen of the online security game. While two-step authentication might be a bother to you, it’s also one of the many ways that Morillo is helping keep your information safe online and ensuring that companies are safeguarding you too. Previously the Vice President of Technology and Information Risk at Morgan Stanley, she is now at Microsoft ensuring that people are taking advantage of the most holistic ways to safeguard themselves online. However, her talents for helping people safeguard their information isn’t the only thing she is capable of. In 2015, after a revelation and frustration that tech stock photos only seemed to feature white men at laptops, she gathered some dope women of color in tech, a professional photographer, and got to work launching #WoCinTech stock photos that ANYONE can use. “I want to see women like me: I’m imperfect, I’m in tech and I thrive.”
Elena Buenrostro found that she had a curiosity and knack for drone flying trying to take a photo on The Great Wall of China. Upon returning home and doing more research about drone flying she found that mostly white men dominated the field of drone pilots. Today she is Certified Drone Pilot, Video Producer, and Founder and CEO of Women Who Drone. According to their website, “Less than 6% of Certified Drone Pilots in the U.S. are women,” and with drones being used in a number of industries becoming a Certified Drone Pilot is a hugely viable career path for women. “Drone technology is being used as a tool not only in the creative industry but also in the commercial, agricultural and architectural spaces.” Inspired and motivated to share her knowledge of drone flight and creative art, she wanted to help other women discover their talents are drone pilots and start Women Who Drone. Today, Women Who Drone offers a variety of services such as online courses and a job board.
Irma L. Olguin was the co-founder of Bitwise Industries in the agricultural Central Valley community of Fresno in 2013. Today, she is a beacon of hope for other young Latinx youth that want to get into tech but feel they don’t belong. Not only has her startup helped people in the Central Valley through “training over 4,000 people, creating 1,000 tech jobs that wouldn’t have existed before, and has been a hub of over 200 tech companies in downtown Fresno,” as we recently reported, but she also just secured the most Series A funding by a Latina in tech, EVER! $27MM to be exact.
Katia Beauchamp is the co-founder of BirchBox. BirchBox sends you a box of four to five selected samples of makeup or other beauty-related products for you to try and use before deciding on whether or not you want to buy the full product. Founded in 2010, it was once valued at $500MM and has been since acquired.