Chingona Ventures, a three-year Chicago-based venture capitalist that invests in start-ups, mostly in the Midwest and is largely founded by neglected people focused on huge markets, has closed a new fund with $ 52 million in equity. Limited partners in the new fund include PayPal Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Melinda Gates’s Pivotal Ventures, Foundry Group and the Illinois Treasury Office of the Fund for Growth and Innovation, among others.
This is a huge step compared to the team’s $ 6 million debut fund and a token of confidence in Samara Hernandez, an engineer who spent six years at Goldman Sachs before joining venture firm Math Venture Partners in 2015 as an investor and after let it come out on its own. in 2019 with Chingona, where she remains the company’s sole general partner.
Although it is too early to judge the success of her portfolio, Hernandez has been active, making checks between $ 100,000 and $ 250,000 in 27 companies with this first fund and investing in eight more with her second effort. Among these portfolio companies is Career karmaa four-year startup that compares employees and contractors with job training programs (and raised $ 40 million in January), and The wealth of Sumaa financial wellness platform for the Latin American community that has raised $ 6.6 million so far, according to Crunchbase.
Both startups highlight Chingona’s areas of interest, which include fintech startups as well as startups focused on health and wellness, food technology and the future of learning.
They also play on Hernandez’s strengths, including an understanding of the massive and growing Latin American market in the case of Suma Wealth. (Hernandez, who was born in Mexico and grew up in the United States, notes that one in four children born in the United States today is Latin American, but Latin American companies still attract less than 1% of venture capital funding in that country. .)
She is also ready to support founders who have not heard from other supporters, such as Ruben Harris, co-founder of Career Karma. Although Harris and his co-founders had gone through the Y Combinator, he had a network and was living in Silicon Valley at the time, he turned to Hernandez coldly on Twitter after countless other meetings he missed. “They didn’t believe in his strategy, but I believed in him, so I ended up investing,” Hernandez said. (Career Karma earlier this year expanded its initial strategy to help aspiring students and working professionals orient themselves to the right training camp. Harris also recently moved to Miami from the Gulf region.)
In fact, with much more capital at her disposal, Hernandez says the plan is to do more of the same, with slightly larger checks ranging from $ 250,000 to $ 1 million.
Chingona, a Spanish word for a woman who is fearless and does things, Hernandez says, wants to be “the first and biggest check in a round,” she said. “What I’ve learned from Fund 1 is that many of these founders really need someone to lead and write the biggest check and help catalyze the circle.”
As investors like PayPal and Insight are now asking her for some of their deals, she is more than happy to lead the way.