I'm on a mission to help immigrant founders succeed faster – Maria Salamanca, VC at Unshackled VenturesFeatured

cadran's profile thumbnail
Hi Maria – Thanks so much for joining us for an AMA!As a reminder – this AMA is part of our ongoing series featuring experts in our community.
Abadesi's profile thumbnail
Huge fan here 😄 If you could give advice to someone who is underestimated but wants to get into VC -- what are some steps they can take? Especially those with limited network/connections in tech.
mariasalamanca's profile thumbnail
Hi Abedesi! I am a huge fan of yours as well :D I would never underestimate you, you are a force. I am sure you have heard this, there is no easy or right way to get into VC. A couple areas that if you are incredibly phenomenal in will make it a lot easier because it will inherently get you attention from exciting VCs: 1) incredible consistent access to high-quality entrepreneurs and trust with them 2) expertise, unique insights, hypothesis, and bold vision of an area that will be huge in the future but few know about it yet 3) with the rise of 'platform' model - being able to connect and support entrepreneurs to the resources and people they need fast is a huge competitive advantage A couple of resources I have recommended to folks asking me this:https://twitter.com/eriktorenberg/status/1068035902155427840https://medium.com/lerer-hippeau-ventures/paths-into-venture-capital-how-to-land-a-job-as-a-vc-fc222b3ecdbfhttps://medium.com/lerer-hippeau-ventures/paths-into-venture-capital-decoding-the-vc-platform-role-d5c510225866
Abadesi's profile thumbnail
Super helpful, thank you so much for sharing!
katenolan's profile thumbnail
I just got an email from an amazing former intern (an immigrant herself!) looking for entry level VC opportunities coming out of a small liberal arts college. She's got experience at startup incubators/accelerators/funds as an intern -- what advice would you give her and others like her who are looking to enter the field at a very junior level?
mariasalamanca's profile thumbnail
That's great, we are about to start looking for an analyst to join our team! Feel free to send her my way. Overall advice, I tell recent college grads to maximize their experience in high growth places where they can learn and have ownership. Instead of chasing big names in tech, finance or VC, go for the small but rapid growing ones. VC is about supporting entrepreneurs constantly in this state and understanding this will help in supporting them as well as make you a more agile worker and learner.
katenolan's profile thumbnail
Thanks Maria! This is awesome advice. I'll point her to your LinkedIn.
ilona's profile thumbnail
In your experience, what are the particular challenges for immigrant founders? How do you help the founders you work with to overcome them?
mariasalamanca's profile thumbnail
Immigrant founders encounter similar barriers than other underrepresented groups (like women and POC). Ultimately they have lack of access to a couple of things: 1) capital 2) networks 3) have additional barriers such as immigration barriers and cultural differencesWe provide them with capital at the earliest stages (powerpoint, sketches, simple idea), we support them with a solid immigration team, and we surround them with other entrepreneurs that come from similar background going through similar experiences and connect them with mentors, investors, and advisors that are excited to work with them.
jennykwan's profile thumbnail
My parents and I are first generation to the USA from Hong Kong, and it's so great to see successful immigrants here.How does a VC (such as yourself) think about potentially funding organizations with non-traditional structures, such as worker- or member-owned cooperatives? Is venture funding recommended in these situations?I ask because I was in the early stages of launching a traditional tech startup. I left with my tech because my enterprise-sales-oriented co-founder and I did not agree on the need for an explicitly social justice mission, such as using the deep tech to specifically empower collective bargaining, and exercising the right to refuse to sell to or even terminate services to entities that act counter to that mission.I am now working with a close friend and product-oriented partner in a new venture around this tech. We're working through how to structure to ensure an explicitly social justice mission, including preventing entities counter to that mission from benefiting.1) Do you have any thoughts on organizational structure to meet these objectives? Is it even possible in the USA, EU, or other jurisdictions, to provide services while applying such criteria? (We were thinking of a member-owned cooperative...)2) We are finishing the MVP and were looking to bootstrap with prototype customer funds. Are fundraising options available or even applicable to an organization like us?
mariasalamanca's profile thumbnail
Hi Alyssa - in terms of legal structure would recommend you talk to a law firm that focuses on entity formation. The VC model is unique to high growth companies that need capital to focus on innovation and growth before focusing on revenue. Obviously, these companies should also be concerned with sustainability and unit economics but the focus on growth and scalability is a main point of this type of capital.Determining if you are a social enterprise, non-profit, or just a business will be important before you seek funding. There are different types for each. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/11/technology/start-ups-rejecting-venture-capital.html
AmandineFlachs's profile thumbnail
Could you please tell us more about how you got into VC and which advice you would give to an aspiring VC not fitting the usual boxes? Also, in your opinion what are the difference between the USA and Europe when it comes to opportunities for immigrant founders?
mariasalamanca's profile thumbnail
Amanda - similar to my reply to Abadesi. Although many VCs come from similar backgrounds and colleges, there are many that don't check the boxes. I don't think I do. A couple areas that if you are incredibly phenomenal in will make it a lot easier because it will inherently get you attention from exciting VCs: 1) incredible consistent access to high-quality entrepreneurs and trust with them 2) expertise, unique insights, hypothesis, and bold vision of an area that will be huge in the future but few know about it yet 3) with the rise of 'platform' model - being able to connect and support entrepreneurs to the resources and people they need fast is a huge competitive advantageA couple of resources I have recommended to folks asking me this:https://twitter.com/eriktorenberg/status/1068035902155427840https://medium.com/lerer-hippeau-ventures/paths-into-venture-capital-how-to-land-a-job-as-a-vc-fc222b3ecdbfhttps://medium.com/lerer-hippeau-ventures/paths-into-venture-capital-decoding-the-vc-platform-role-d5c510225866less
tpina06's profile thumbnail
Is Unshackled Ventures interested in supporting second/third generation entrepreneurs from immigrant families?
mariasalamanca's profile thumbnail
Given one of our focuses in immigration support, we focus on teams with at least one foreign born founder.
jessicagrayson's profile thumbnail
I am curious about how you got into your current roles and into VC? Was there a specific driver? In addition, what was the biggest obstacle to getting into VC? Lastly, if you have time, does your political work ever become a barrier within the VC world?
mariasalamanca's profile thumbnail
During college I founded a civic tech startup and after we decided to not pursue it further, I started working for FWD.us, Mark Zuckerberg’s immigration lobbying organization. It was in that role I got exposed to VCs and tech CEOs. I got very lucky to have a strong network and advocates that encouraged me to look for jobs in VC and connected me to the fund where I currently work at. In lack of that strong network and advocates, I likely would have taken much longer to get into VC. Political work provides me with a lot of insight into how organizations and institutions function well and poorly. The day to day, I keep my political beliefs out of work and interactions.
Alwar's profile thumbnail
I am an immigrant living in Canada (originally from India) and founded my company last year. What are the barriers you see for immigrant founders when raising in the US? Given that they might be on a work permit and might not have a long term immigration status (GC/ PR). How does this impact VCs involvement in the company and what are the typical expectations from founders in these cases?
mariasalamanca's profile thumbnail
Hi there - it varies thats why our fund does immigration support but overall investor want to see long term commitment and a plan of how you will deal with those issues. Its not a no-go per se but working with immigration lawyers will help you a lot the earlier in the process.
susiemielekim's profile thumbnail
I remember our conversations from last year about our efforts towards Gen Z financial literacy. Would you be open to reconnecting and hearing about our findings and progress?
mariasalamanca's profile thumbnail
Always excited to reconnect, hopefully we are still stage relevant, you know where to ping me!
cadran's profile thumbnail
Thanks so much to everyone who participated and thanks to Maria for answering questions. This AMA is now over!