Five local Latino-led startups received welcome news this week — each of their ventures received $100,000 from Google’s Startups Latino Founder Fund.
Chicago-based winners OnebitA platform that automates financial tracking for independent business owners; ConnectCare HeroesIt creates online communities for seniors, their families and health care providers; SanaraiA site for Spanish mental health services; Road, a digital cleaning operating system; And Grapefruit healthA health technology company that uses technology services to help healthcare providers reach patients.
The announcement comes at a time when only 2% of US firms’ venture capital funding went to startups with Latino founders last year, according to one study. Crunchbase – Although Latinos make up 17% of small business founders.
“A lot of the things we come across don’t involve conventional investment, but these are big issues that we’re addressing within our communities,” said Osvaldo Montelongo, founder and CEO of ConnectCareHero.
The origins of Montelango’s business came from his own life experiences – his father was 57 when he was born.
“In my early 20s, I had to take care of my father and quickly realized he had dementia and needed to move into a nursing home. So when I took him to a nursing home, I immediately noticed that his mental health was deteriorating very rapidly,” Montelongo said. “A lot of that was because he didn’t have the right cultural programs, cultural connections for programming for him. So I created ConnectCareHero to help him and other Latinos like him. »
Likewise, Luis Suarez created Sanar, a platform for Spanish-language mental health services, when he saw an unmet need in the Latino community.
“There’s a big gap between the 5% of suppliers who speak Spanish in the US and the 13% of people who speak Spanish at home. We’ve seen an increase in demand for services, first of all there’s a shortage of mental health professionals, and there’s a lot of demand for Spanish speakers.
Founder and CEO Omar Hernandez said that as more Latinos start their own businesses, the services offered by Onebit will also help them succeed.
“Our service helps businesses, especially those in the Latino community, better understand their finances. Since many of these businesses are now selling online, they need to integrate these online systems with the existing point-of-sale systems in their stores,” Hernandez said. “So combining all of this information and making decisions on this financial data is critical to helping these companies succeed. »
Cleaning services and technology may not come naturally to you, but Root’s founder and CEO Ricardo Regalado said his years of experience leading a cleaning services company make him uniquely qualified to create technology that works for this space.
“We’re in Chicago, which is a huge tech ecosystem. So, I was able to find the right people to help me build the product, taking it from an idea to reality,” said Riccardo Regalado, founder and CEO of Root. “But guess what – We are experts in this. So that’s the other side of building technologies, you have to understand who you’re building them for and why you’re building them. »