Latina Venture Students (LVS) is building the first student community for Latinas in venture capital. Our goal is to catapult more Latinas into investing careers to further diversify the startup ecosystem and improve business outcomes. We’re focusing on students, primarily to close existing educational and apprenticeship gaps, and to provide students with a strong support system and network as they navigate the path to VC. By focusing on knowledge sharing and relationship building, we hope to equip the next generation of Latina investors with the necessary toolkit to invest with confidence and conviction.
We’re two gals with a passion
We’re Ashley Aydin and Joanna Lichter Cohen, two MBA students at MIT Sloan with a passion for venture capital and increasing representation within the industry. We’ve worked for a variety of funds including Founder Collective, Brand Foundry Ventures, S2G Ventures, Founders Factory, VamosVentures, Dorm Room Fund, and Rough Draft Ventures. We’ve invested across various industries, from consumer software and digital healthcare to enterprise SaaS and foodtech. We’ve learned a tremendous amount from our experiences at companies like Morgan Stanley, Restaurant Brands International, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Via. We’re both proud first-generation Americans with a mix of Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Turkish backgrounds.
We’ve also consistently recognized the lack of Latinx investors and entrepreneurs at the table. And while there are a growing number of resources dedicated to helping diverse professionals within the industry, we see a clear gap at the student level. We fundamentally believe that there isn’t a pipeline problem — rather, we see problems arising from limited access, exclusive networks, and “pattern matching” that often preclude diverse stakeholders from fundraising or rising to positions of power.
We need more of us to make a difference
The stats are published time and time again. Although Latinos account for 18% of the US population, just 2% of investors are Latinx and only 0.4% of venture capital dollars go to Latinx women. The Latinx consumer and voice will only continue to get stronger, and we need more stakeholders that can understand and inspire future generations of leaders.
Numerous studies (BCG 2018, McKinsey 2017, NBER 2019) have shown that increasing diversity leads to better business and economic outcomes — and the same is true of venture capital. A 2018 Harvard Business Review study of venture capital firms found that the success rate of startup exits (acquisitions and IPOs) was 26.4% lower, on average, for investments by partners with the same ethnic backgrounds. As the study’s authors note:
“Thriving in a highly uncertain competitive environment requires creative thinking in those areas, and the diverse collaborators were better equipped to deliver it.”
We know that Latina investors who have broken into the venture capital space are eager to pay it forward, and we have the evidence to prove why this matters. It’s time to play on this momentum.
We want to build a comprehensive, welcoming community
We plan to host three types of events as part of LVS to keep the dialogue flowing between more junior and senior women within the industry.
Founder Firesides will feature student Latina founders across the country, focusing on their entrepreneurial journeys and giving them an opportunity to meet with investors, land their next customers, and bounce ideas off of the community. Our first Founder Fireside will take place in late February.
VC 1:1 sessions will feature a mix of office hours and industry-specific roundtables, where any question is fair game. Students will learn from the best investors on everything from evaluating early-stage startups to supporting founders with operational challenges. Our inaugural VC 1:1 session will take place in March.
Networking events will be for Latinas currently enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs who have either prior work experience in venture capital or who want to break into the industry. These events, which may vary in format, aim to bring future Latinx powerhouse investors together. We’ll kick off our networking events in April.
We hope LVS will be impactful in helping to guide and inspire the investing careers of our peers. If you’re a Latina student and are a current or aspiring venture capitalist, we’d love for you to join our initiative.
We look forward to getting to know you. Vamos!
If you’re interested in collaborating with us, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org