Startups The PISLA Beat

How Fintech Founder Richie Serna Diversified His Cap Table

Richie Serna, founder and CEO of fintech company Finix, had already raised $30 million in a Series B extension last year, but his cap table was missing something.

The first-generation Mexican-American sought a more diverse representation in his investor base. So he created a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for Black and Latinx investors that went on to raise $3 million, TechCrunch reported.

For today’s article curation of must-read tech and innovation articles, the Plug In South LA Beat, let’s see how Serna’s SVP is rewriting the story of access in Silicon Valley:

Fintech Startup Finix Closes on $3M in Black and Latinx Investor-led SPV

Photo: Finix founder and CEO Richie Serna. Credit: Richie Serna on Twitter

Startups The PISLA Beat

Goodr Founder and CEO Reveals Her Fundraising Turning Point

Jasmine Crowe says that raising the first million dollars for her food waste management tech startup Goodr took more than 200 meetings.

Crowe founded Goodr, pronounced “good-er,” driven by the idea that hunger is a logistics issue. Her company securely tracks an organization’s surplus food from pickup to donation, providing real-time social and environmental impact analytics.

But the serial entrepreneur found her pitches repeatedly dismissed by cis White men who had never been hungry, she told CNBC. In this edition of our article curation series the Plug In South LA Beat, we’re discovering exactly how Crowe finally turned all that “no” into “yes”:

Goodr CEO Turned Her Passion into a Multimillion-dollar Business: ‘I’m Really Motivated by All the Naysayers’

Photo: Goodr founder and CEO Jasmine Crowe. Credit: Goodr

Startups The PISLA Beat

Bucking the Trend: Female and Black Founders Land 2021 Early-Stage Investments

Only about 1% of the total American VC funding went to Black and female founders last year, but Crunchbase reports that the first two months of 2021 are bucking that depressingly familiar trend.

“A Crunchbase survey of rounds of $100 million or more to U.S. companies at Series A and B stage between January and mid-February found that 30% of these investments went to teams with female or Black founders,” the outlet found. Among them: Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty and Tope Awotona’s Calendly.

For today’s curation of tech and innovation articles, the Plug In South LA Beat, let’s find out what these funded founders all have in common:

Black and Female Founders Land 30% of the Largest US Early Stage Rounds in 2021

Photo Credit: Christina @ on Unsplash

Startups The PISLA Beat

How Martha Montoya Raised $1.85 Million for Her Agtech Startup

Martha Montoya knew that having real-time data about factors affecting the food supply chain industry could maximize farmers’ profits while minimizing food waste. But investors wouldn’t listen to her at first.

The Irvine, California-based Latina entrepreneur learned how to speak the language of equity investors, Forbes reported. She went on to raise $1.85 million for Agtools, a software-as-a-service platform that gathers real-time government and institutional data on specialty crops commodities. Farmers, buyers, and others in the supply chain can use this info to manage forecasting and purchase orders.

In today’s curation of must-read tech and innovation articles, the Plug In South LA Beat, we’re digging into Montoya’s strategy for capturing angel investors’ attention:

Latina-Founded Agtech Startup Taps the Entrepreneurial Community to Succeed

Photo: Martha Montoya, CEO of Agtools. Credit: Orange County Business Journal on YouTube

Startups The PISLA Beat

CapWay Founder Sheena Allen Sees Market Potential in the Underbanked

Millennial entrepreneur Sheena Allen wants to change our current financial system. Growing up in a small town in Mississippi, she saw firsthand how the lack of access to fair financial services created problems for friends and family. They had to stash money at home or turn to fee-heavy options.

She launched the fintech mobile banking startup CapWay to reach a market that includes 63 million unbanked and underbanked American adults as well as tech-savvy Millennials, Black Enterprise reported.

For this edition of the Plug In South LA Beat, our curation of must-read tech and innovation articles, let’s see how Allen differentiates her tech startup from competitors by targeting social entrepreneurship and profitability:

Black Entrepreneur Aiming to Capture Sizeable Market with Mobile Bank CapWay

Photo: CapWay founder and CEO Sheena Allen. Credit:

Startups The PISLA Beat

Google VP of Global Partnerships Bonita Stewart Shares Hiring Insights

Bonita Stewart knows how to spot promising new tech talent. She’s spent 30 years in leadership positions at major businesses and is currently vice president of global partnerships at Google.

Now she’s revealing to CNBC exactly what she listens for when interviewing job candidates. It’s a must-read for urban innovators looking to connect with growing opportunities in the tech sector.

In today’s curation of relevant tech and innovation articles, the Plug In South LA Beat, we’re paying close attention to the value system that drives Stewart’s hiring approach:

Google VP Says She Always Listens for These 6 Things During the Job Interview

Photo: Bonita Stewart speaks at a symposium. Credit: Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / Knight Center, Flickr Creative Commons

Startups The PISLA Beat

Hurdle Founder Kevin Dedner on Overcoming VC Biases

Kevin Dedner met with hundreds of venture capitalists over three years, pitching his BIPOC-geared telehealth startup as good business. They told him to change his offering and expand it to everyone.

But the founder and CEO of digital mental health platform Hurdle pressed forward to address systemic racism in healthcare. After years of coming up against venture capitalists’ biases, he raised a $5 million seed round in January.

For today’s Plug In South LA Beat, our curation of must-read tech and innovation articles, we’re taking notes from Dedner’s crash course on navigating Silicon Valley culture:

Investors Told this Black Founder that BIPOC-geared Teletherapy Was Too Niche. Here’s How Kevin Dedner Raised $5 Million to Start Hurdle Anyway.

Photo: Hurdle founder and CEO Kevin Dedner. Credit: Hurdle on Facebook

Startups The PISLA Beat

Expectful’s Nathalie Walton Raises $3 Million Seed Round

Nathalie Walton nearly died giving birth to her son last year. That traumatic experience led the Airbnb manager to download Expectful, a meditation and sleep app for new mothers.

Less than a year later, she would become the platform’s co-founder and CEO. With Walton at the helm, Expectful raised a $3 million in a seed round led by Harlem Capital, bringing the startup’s financing to $4.2 million, TechCrunch reported this week.

For our regular curation of must-read tech and innovation articles, the Plug In South LA Beat, we’re meditating on Walton’s fast-paced entrepreneurial pivot:

Expectful’s New Chief Executive Experienced the Trauma She Just Raised Millions to Solve

Photo: Expectful co-founder and CEO Nathalie Walton. Credit: Expectful

Startups The PISLA Beat

Entrepreneur John Henry Transforms Auto Insurance with Tech

John Henry’s impressive resumé includes launching the accelerator Cofound Harlem, hosting “Hustle” on Vice TV, being named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, and co-founding the VC firm Harlem Capital.

Now the driven entrepreneur wants to make auto insurance more equitable using smart technology. He and tech expert Carey Anne Nadeau co-founded Loop, a B-Corp auto insurance provider that uses proprietary artificial intelligence to measure road safety and customers’ driving behavior on those roads as the basis for pricing. Loop launches later this year, Black Enterprise reported.

For today’s curation of tech and innovation articles, the Plug In South LA Beat, we’re buckling up as Henry risks it all to revolutionize an industry worth $256 billion a year:

John Henry Opens Up About His Next Chapter: Revolutionizing the Auto Insurance Industry to Become More Equitable

Photo: Loop co-founder and co-CEO John Henry. Credit: Loop