Adrian Mendoza Is Investing in BIPOC-Led Startups

Prioritizing diversity at the highest level

When Adrian Mendoza started his venture capital (VC) firm, he envisioned doing more than taking a seat at the table to represent Latinx investors.

Mendoza is the founder and general partner of Mendoza Ventures, which focuses on funding women- and BIPOC-led artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and fintech companies.

Adrian Mendoza, founder and general partner of Mendoza Ventures

Mendoza Ventures

Founded in 2016, Boston-based Mendoza Venture is a Latinx- and women-led venture capital firm. About 75 percent of the firm's portfolio companies consist of startups led by immigrants, BIPOCs, and women. As an active investment group, Mendoza Ventures limits its portfolio to 12-15 companies at a time to dedicate significant time and effort to their success. 

"We are active, early-stage investors that prioritize diversity when investing," Mendoza told Lifewire. "Our own investment history has shown us that diversity outperforms, and we want to back those founders."

Quick Facts

  • Name: Adrian Mendoza
  • Age: Mid 40s
  • From: Los Angeles
  • Random delight: "I am a child of 2 Mexican immigrants. My father was a cabinet maker, and my mom was a bookkeeper. Both worked out of the house, and both were entrepreneurs."
  • Key quote or motto: "Be a family, be inclusive, and be profitable."

Creating Opportunities

Originally from Los Angeles, Mendoza was born into a family of immigrant entrepreneurs. He moved to Boston in the late 90s and launched his first company in 2008 when the stock market was down 400 points a day. The startup he was working at previously laid its staff off. Mendoza's mission has always been the same: to create opportunities by BIPOCs for BIPOCs. 

"In the absence of any opportunity, I made my own," Mendoza said.

In 2015 when Mendoza left his last startup, he looked back on his experience and realized he didn't see anyone who looked like him. That's when he and his wife and partner, Senofer Mendoza, started Mendoza Ventures to ensure more women and BIPOCs were writing checks for founders that look like them. 

"We are active, early-stage investors that prioritize diversity when investing."

The firm has raised $10 million across two funds and plans to close a third fund this year. Mendoza Ventures has a team of six employees, and with the close of its next fund, Mendoza will be looking to hire associates and analysts. The firm also runs a fellowship program for women and BIPOC MBA students looking to launch careers in venture capital. Last year, Mendoza Ventures wrote its biggest check since its inception to a women-led cybersecurity company called Wabbi. Mendoza said this was one of his proudest accomplishments.

"This was amazing, as it is rare to find female-founded cybersecurity startups," he said. "I was proud to have [Brittany Greenfield] be that founder but even prouder of the investors that believe in her and us to make her company a success."

Resilience

Mendoza is a veteran in Boston's venture capital ecosystem. His VC firm has invested more than $5 million in its portfolio companies, which he says are poised for acquisition. But Mendoza has come across challenges as a Mexican-American investor that typical VC leaders don't have to deal with. 

"Having raised venture capital and now raising capital for a VC fund from investors, I find that I am always raising money," Mendoza said. "This is a challenge when you don't come from the networks of wealth. I am proud to be backed by amazing [people] who believe in what we are doing and want to be part of making a difference and changing the world."

Adrian Mendoza, founder and general partner of Mendoza Ventures

Mendoza Ventures

As a founder, Mendoza said he saw no one who looked like him, which became even more prevalent as a venture capitalist. He said during his first five years growing Mendoza Ventures, he felt like his firm was the only Latino-led VC on the East Coast and that it was a depressing realization. As Mendoza grows his VC firm, he comes up with creative ways to overcome the obstacles and show his team that he is resilient. 

"We have a plush dog as our mascot, and he helps lighten the mood and break the ice. We started this when we didn't have money to hire anyone, so we called him our associate," Mendoza said. "He's now the senior associate on our website. Every CEO and investor gets a VC puppy of their own. Whether the journey has ups and downs, having a bit of laughter makes the journey more enjoyable."

Mendoza is passionate about growing the number of BIPOC founders and VC leaders across the US. Over the next year, Mendoza Ventures will be raising its next fund and hiring new employees.

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