Chingona Ventures is a Chicago-based early-stage venture capital firm investing in founders who are uniquely positioned to create businesses in overlooked markets. Samara Mejia Hernandez founded Chingona Ventures in 2019 to invest, as she puts it, “in the next generation of badass founders.”Prior to Chingona, Samara was Principal with MATH Venture Partners in Chicago; she started her career at Goldman Sachs.
Samara served on the board of Chicago:Blend, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in venture capital. In 2020, it conducted a study that found that women make up 32% of employees at Chicago’s venture firms, while Latinx investors make up only 2%. Only 18% of executives are nonwhite—and only 6% of executive roles are held by nonwhite women. Chingona Ventures is changing these statistics. Samara says, “I chose to name my recently launched fund Chingona Ventures because I am investing in badass founders who are ‘chingón’ enough to just maybe do something that matters.”
The Chingona Ventures team invests in pre-seed and seed-stage companies in often-overlooked markets, partnering with founders at the earliest stages of development. In an interview with the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Samara said, “We’re industry agnostic, but our portfolio reflects a concentration in food technology, future of work, financial technology, female technology, and overall wellness. We invest at the earliest stages, even at the idea stage, with first checks ranging from $100–250k. We will lead or catalyze a larger round, but are happy to co-invest with other investors who believe just as strongly in you as we do.”
Why we invested
The team at Chingona Ventures brings a unique lens to the early-stage investment landscape. A key contributor to Chicago’s innovation ecosystem, with deep connections across the venture industry and access to companies addressing underestimated markets, the Chingona Ventures team impressed us with their demonstrated capacity to drive change.
At Carta, we value bias toward action and people who are comfortable taking on risk in pursuit of a new idea. Samara exemplifies this characteristic. She saw the gap in the market for investment in underserved markets and she has built a firm that can seize these opportunities. As a testament to the vision for Chingona, the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office and 50 South Capital were early supporters and investors. We’re excited to partner with Chingona Ventures in this journey.