SOCAP24: Going Deeper, Catalyzing Systems Change — Tracks and Curation Councils Released!

SOCAP21 Pitch Sessions Provide an Inclusive Platform for 11 Entrepreneurs

SOCAP Global November 8, 2021

Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) and Impact Capital Managers (ICM) Look to Bridge Capital Gap for Innovative Founders

While the percentage of investment they receive remains low, social entrepreneurs who are People of Color — with products that typically serve often-overlooked populations — are gaining traction with impact investors looking to bridge the capital gap and power a more inclusive economy. Two SOCAP21 pitch sessions, both highlighted below, put a spotlight on talented, investment-ready founders who are typically overlooked for investor dollars and support.

During “Latinx Launchpad—Latinas Who Lead: A Pitch Competition Hosted by Hispanics in Philanthropy,” seven Latina founders explained their startup concepts and joined a Q&A with an expert panel. While Latina founders receive less than 0.4% of venture capital investments, organizations like Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) have been working to build social justice and shared prosperity for the Latinx community. Jorge Calderon, Managing Director of Impact Investments at HIP and moderator of the session, said the Latinx Launchpad is one of three programs the organization uses to decrease the wealth gap by increasing participation in the startup economy. 

Here’s a look at the seven Latina pitch finalists and their startup concepts: 

  • Vanessa Karel, Greether, a travel safety platform that connects female travelers to locals in order to navigate destinations around the world in an authentic and safe way.
  • Maryann Kilgallon, POMM Peace Of Mind Monitor, to help parents customize and activate an emergency response to keep their children safe.
  • Cindy Belardo, Menstrual Mates, a startup that brings full-circle period care through a re-imagined menstrual cup, inclusive supplemental educational materials, and global social give back initiatives.
  • Emely Ramirez, Bilingüe, a multilingual learning EdTech app for children that incorporates digitally interactive tangible pieces in the form of letters, numbers, and shapes. 
  • Yaritza Vargas, LingoHealth, a digital platform for multilingual family members to better support their aging loved ones’ health.
  • Vanessa Archambault-Morales, DealEngine, a data-driven equity crowdfunding platform that empowers founders to grow better companies and surfaces better deals for investors.
  • Claudia Mercado, Calibueno, which aims to establish an ecosystem of people, plants, brands, and businesses that spreads wellness and fosters a diverse cannabis industry.

The panelists used four elements to evaluate each concept:  

  • Does the founder provide a strong understanding of the problem?
  • Is the solution unique, defensible, and scalable?
  • How compelling is the team and its skill set/expertise?
  • Does the founder have the ability to sell, engage, and bring on teammates?

The winners of the Latinx Launchpad Pitch Session and their financial awards: 

  • First Place ($15K): Belardo with Menstrual Mates
  • Second Place ($10K): Vargas with LingoHealth
  • Third Place ($5K): Kilgallon with POMM
  • Audience Award ($5K): Karel with Greether

In explaining the Menstrual Mates concept during the session, Belardo said the startup has three key goals: providing eco-friendly products, honest education, and a global social giveback program. Based on her studies, which included research with menstrual cup users in Northern India, Belardo says people want a more sustainable period care option that is user-friendly, effective, and comfortable. 

“We are honing in on eco-friendly and socially conscious students … who are more open and have some more buying power of their own,” Belardo said. “We’re really focusing on influencers and online. We know Gen Z is really on these social platforms, and influencers have a really big part to play.”

Menstrual Mates aims to meet that market with its Una cup and applicator, for which it has a provisional patent and is launching a Kickstarter campaign in November 2021. The company also uses a buy one/give one model. 

Watch Latinx Launchpad—Latinas Who Lead: A Pitch Competition Hosted by Hispanics in Philanthropy

SOCAP21 - Latinx Launchpad: a pitch competition hosted by Hispanics in Philanthropy


Cheryl Campos, Head of Venture Growth & Partnerships, Republic

Christa Velasquez, Director, Lumina Impact Ventures

Jenny Flores, Head of Small Business Growth Philanthropy, Wells Fargo


Jorge Calderon, Managing Director, Impact Investments at Hispanics in Philanthropy

ICM Diverse VC Salon: Extending Capital to Underserved Founders and Markets

The second pitch session featured underrepresented social entrepreneurs who had the opportunity to pitch their startup ideas and connect with representatives of member funds at Impact Capital Managers, a network with more than 70 member funds that represents more than $13 billion in impact-focused capital. 

Here’s a look at the four entrepreneurs and their concepts shared during the ICM Diverse VC Salon:

  • Kristy McCann Flynn, GoCoach, enables career growth through continuous education that incorporates personalized coaching and blended learning.
  • Seyi Fabode, Varuna Tech, seeks clean water for all by using sensors in water systems to capture real-time data for dashboards. 
  • Harley Blakeman, Honest Jobs, facilitates a national job marketplace for people affected by the criminal justice system.
  • Chris Motley, Mentor Spaces, a mentorship community for underrepresented talent that facilitates conversations and connections.

Watch ICM Diverse VC Salon

SOCAP21 - ICM Diverse VC Salon


Sasha Brown, Partner, Ecosystem Integrity Fund

Stephen DeBerry, Venture Capitalist, Bronze VC

Lara Metcalf, Venture Partner, The Social Entrepreneurs’ Fund


Emma Sissman, Director, Portfolio Acceleration, SJF Ventures

Learn more about impact investing and find innovative examples of impact investing at work on our page “What Is Impact Investing?

Getting Started / Impact Investing / Social Entrepreneurship
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