Jul 12, 2022 - Business

Google selects three local startups for Latino Founders Fund

Illustration of a watering can pouring dollar bills.
Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Google awarded three Austin startup founders with $100,000 each to grow their businesses, as part of the company's first-ever Latino Founders Fund.

The winners: April Dominguez, founder of Handsome, a networking app for beauty professionals; Amy Jarczynski of wedding planning platform Kiss & Tell; and Alejandro Harb of health concierge assistant Lena Health.

  • The trio are among 50 founders, including nine in Texas, who were selected for the program.
  • In addition to $100,000 cash, recipients will receive hands-on programming from Google, mentorship and access to free mental health therapy.

Why it matters: Latino and other minority startup founders receive a disproportionately low percentage of investments compared to their white male counterparts.

  • Google officials say the new fund is another step toward closing the opportunity and wealth gap for Latino entrepreneurs.

What they're saying: Dominguez, the founder of Handsome, said the Google fund will help the startup meet its mission of being a leader in diversity and bringing equal career opportunities for women in the beauty industry.

  • "As a Native American and Latina founder, imposter syndrome is a nearly crippling hurdle to overcome, especially when you're inserting yourself into an industry where only 0.4% of venture capital goes to Latina female founders," Dominguez said. "Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund is the antithesis of imposter syndrome. It brings validation, community and belonging."

Zoom in: In recent years, Austin has seen an uptick in accelerators and venture firms focusing on diverse entrepreneurs.

  • Four Austin startups last year received $100,000 in funding as part of Google's Black Founders Fund.
  • Startup incubator Capital Factory also increased its efforts in recent years, investing in Black and underrepresented startup founders and launching a "Black in Tech" summit with opportunities to pitch judges and join its own accelerator program.

The bottom line: There's still work to be done.

  • "I hope the launch of our inaugural Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund not only catalyzes the growth of these incredible Latino-led startups, but also inspires other Latino entrepreneurs, and ultimately generates wealth within the community," Google for Startups' Daniel Navarro said.
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