Samara Hernandez, a Chicago investor known for her time at MATH Venture Partners, has launched her own venture fund to invest in startups that don’t necessarily fit the B2B SaaS mold that many local VC firms focus on.
Chingona Ventures, which began cutting checks early last year, invests in early-stage startups that are traditionally neglected by Chicago and Midwest VCs. Hernandez explained that she’s looking for not only diverse founders, like racial minorities and women, but also unique business concepts and startups operating in consumer industries, a sector other Chicago VCs are known for avoiding.
“I saw who was getting funded, the types of businesses that were getting funded, the types of industries that were getting funded, and sometimes they look the same,” Hernandez said. “There’s a huge opportunity to fund businesses that are traditionally overlooked or not so obvious, and I wanted to create a fund to help that.”
Hernandez wouldn’t disclose the size of her fund but said Chingona’s average check size is about $100,000. The firm considers itself industry agnostic, but gravitates toward fintech, food tech, female tech and wellness products.
“I’m looking at what’s happening in society and I think VC dollars have been slow to fund some of these categories so that’s where I’m focusing,” Hernandez said.
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