Interview
"Latino entrepreneurs can now look for investors who understand them and know how they think"
Laura Moreno Lucas is a partner at L'Attitude Ventures, the firm that has the largest fund in the country investing in Latino startups. In an exclusive dialogue with LPO, she tells of the company's next steps and how they are preparing themselves for a recessive year.

Laura Moreno Lucas is a partner at L'Attitude Ventures, the company that owns the largest investment fund in the United States that exclusively finances Latino entrepreneurs. The executive, born in Guadalajara, Mexico, has a personal success story that brought her closer to L'Attitude. From the early days as an entrepreneur, with Ladada (one of the first fashion subscription companies to showcase new emerging designers), to managing director at Nasdaq - where she led Initial Public Offerings of shares of the caliber of Beyond Meat, Lyft, The RealReal and Airbnb among others.

"In the US, people are observing that what is moving the economy are Latinos. We are the ones who keep moving, the ones who consume more and generate more. They are realizing that 1 in 4 companies born in the country is from Latino entrepreneurs," says Moreno in an exclusive dialogue with LPO.

L'Attitude Ventures is the company led by Sol Trujillo, a renowned businessman linked to the world of technology and telecommunications, considered one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the United States. It arose as the idea of supplying the lack of financing for Latino entrepreneurs in the country. Such was the case that they launched a first inversion fund exclusively for Latino businessmen. And it was a $2 million fund, whose financier was Oscar Muñoz, current member of L'Attitude and former CEO of United Airlines. 5 companies emerged from this financing, and they began to grow rapidly. That was only the first step.

That positive result kicked off what was achieved last year. The company raised $100 million with a new fund, which was financed by JP Morgan, Bank of America and Cisco Investments, among others. Thus, it became the largest fund in the country that invests 100% in Latino companies and seeks to be the leader in an increasingly competitive market.

"La Ăşnica forma para gente como nosotros es trabajar duro, tener determinaciĂłn y persistencia" 

In addition, they hold an annual event considered the "Davos of Latino entrepreneurs" where there are many leading figures not only from the business world, but from Latino show business such as Emilio and Gloria Stefan, and politics: last year Barack Obama gave a talk.

How much of the 100 million have already been used to finance Latino entrepreneurs? Which are the requirements?

We have already used $34 million among 27 companies, and 34% of our portfolio are Latina entrepreneurs. We finance companies whose owners are Latino and the management is based in the US. It means that you can start your company in Mexico or Argentina, but to receive investment from us, the founders must be here and the company must be registered in the United States. Your market can be for another country, Europe, or export services in Latin America.

To access our financing, the Latino or Latina founder must have at least 25% of the company. And the third issue is that it must be a company that can scale, with technology, a company that different in the market. Then we look at it and say "Okay, this can escalate, it can have a disruption." And the last aspect we take a look at is that it is a company in which we can help, not just make an investment.

An example of this is Agua Bonita, a fresh water company. You would say that there are many of this kind, but how they are doing it (in this business) is very unique, and there is also the fact that Sol Trujillo has many contacts with large retail chains like Target to help it break into all these retailers. We are not only looking for it to be in California, but to expand to the entire country. We are looking for those kinds of companies.

All of the Latino entrepreneurs that we have financed during this time have shown resilience to move forward in very hard times. With what has happened, entrepreneurs are now realizing that money will not be as easy to access as it was when the market rose a lot.

Are you looking more closely at an specific sector or it simply depends on the history of the company?

We do not focus on a specific sector, but since many of the investors are banks, then fintech is a market we know very well. It is easier to launch one in this sector because we have advisors and experience in the area. If you take a look at our portfolio, many are fintech and consumer product goods. And our last sector is real estate. But at the end of the day, if we are attracted to something, we consider it and there is no specific sector.

The company on the traditional screen of the New York Stock Exchange in Times Square

Is the fintech sector still attractive with the crisis that technology companies are experiencing?

What happened to the sector is interesting, but I think that the fintech sector still needs a lot of disruption, there are many opportunities to innovate. Just remember what happened to the NYSE where the system crashed and there were no trades! There are many opportunities in technology. But I do think that it will be more difficult for companies that grew a lot without basic business principles to get financed as before. Capital is now more restrictive and those kinds of companies are not going to have it.

In this context, is it more difficult for the Latino entrepreneur who seeks to focus on the technology sector?

I think that this has already changed here in the US, because today there are more and more Latino investors. The Latino community of investors has grown a lot and entrepreneurs do not have to go to traditional Venture Capital now, they can go to others who understand them, who know how they think, like us. And the opportunity we have in the US to promote the Latino community. All of that is changing a lot, and a lot of people are investing in Latinos. Our community is growing the most: 1 in 4 new entrepreneurs are Latinos. And we are getting bigger in terms of GDP growth. And in fact that is what we are doing, we are going to be exclusive for Latinos and Latinas and we have the largest fund in the country to help them.

In the US, people are seeing that what is moving in the economy are Latinos. We are the ones who keep moving, the ones who consume more and generate more. They are realizing that 1 in 4 companies born in the country is from Latino entrepreneurs.

Do you plan to launch another larger fund after this one?

I think we are going to continue for more, we are going to create a bigger one. Sol says the next one has to be $1 billion. There are many opportunities for entrepreneurs to unlock capital and continue to grow.

Does the recession that Wall Street predicts for the first quarters of the this year make you change your plans?

I tell everyone that we have raised this fund and we closed it during the three more difficult years, all the Latino entrepreneurs that we financed during this very hard time showed resilience to keep going. With what has happened, the entrepreneurs realized that money is not as easy to access as it was when the market rose a lot.

And now investors take a look at where they invest, but this mentality is no longer the same. The company must have something for investors to finance it, there has to be an interesting return. And for entrepreneurs it is more important to have the fundamentals in order.

Translator: Bibiana Ruiz.

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