Welcome back! Spiffy here, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on people who are leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs. Today I’m super excited to be in Palo Alto, California to meet up with Maria Salamanca, a Partner at Unshackled Ventures. Are you ready to be enlightened?
Spiffy: Welcome Maria, I’m excited to hear about your work! Can you tell me what challenges you are addressing?
Maria: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Our fund, Unshackled Ventures, is focused on supporting immigrant entrepreneurs. We help them with capital, a supportive network, and immigration. I am also founder of LatinxVC, an organization focused on getting more Latinx professionals into venture capital (VC) careers, retaining them, and helping them raise their own funds.
Spiffy: This sounds amazing! What motivated you to hone in on immigrant entrepreneurs?
Maria: Well, Spiffy, I was born in Colombia and am a refugee myself. I have seen how entrepreneurial the immigrant community is and also how important it is to have diverse experiences in the rooms where decisions are made.
Spiffy: And how would you say your work is helping to create a more equitable world?
Maria: Both the organizations I represent are focused on groups that are often overlooked in entrepreneurship or have significant barriers to entry—Latinx and immigrants
Spiffy: Can you tell me about any recent milestones you’ve reached and the kind of impact you hope it will have?
Maria: LatinxVC has a fellowship program focused on early professionals hoping to enter the venture capital industry. Many of them had not heard of venture as a career, but this industry has significant power in choosing the next economic drivers globally, since most companies now have a technology edge. We hope to place more talented individuals into these VC roles.
Spiffy: And how about a startup or project you’ve worked with that exemplifies the impact you’re striving to make?
Maria: At Unshackled VC we have invested in over 50 immigrant founders from more than 25 countries and 13 types of visas. They are working on the future of space, sustainable food, hormonal health, food supply, education retraining, and much more!
Spiffy: This is stellar, Maria! I can’t wait to see what these entrepreneurs unleash. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today, Maria, it’s been an honor.
Maria Salamanca is a Partner at Unshackled Ventures, a fund that fills a unique space in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, funding teams with immigrant founders at pre-seed. Maria joined the fund close to its formation in 2015, during her time she has been involved in more than 50 investments and has seen 1,500 deals a year. In 2018, she was the first Latina named as a Forbes 30 Under 30 for Venture Capital and Business Insider’s Under 30 Rising Stars. (First published on the Ladderworks website on June 16, 2021.)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.