Ashley Aydin is of Puerto Rican and Turkish descent and a proud first-generation college graduate and daughter of an immigrant. Currently she is a Principal at VamosVentures, a venture capital fund investing in Latino and diverse founding teams in the earliest stages across Health & Wellness, FinTech, Future of Work, and Sustainability.
Recent data shows Latino and Black founders receive only 2% of the total distributed funding. Founders of color are 30% more likely to experience a lack of capital and relevant networks. The stats are similar for female-founded companies.
VamosVentures is working to improve these numbers and pave the way for Latino and diverse founders to have access to capital, networks, and other pertinent resources. Their driving force is their belief that there is extraordinary entrepreneurial talent in Latino and diverse communities. They are committed to finding the best companies and providing outstanding returns to while also working to build up diverse communities and show that there is real value in focusing on them.
“We’re not just a VC fund – we’re also a platform catapulting the careers and journeys of more Latino and diverse operators and investors. Even if we don’t invest, we listen and provide feedback. We have a vast network of people who can help and offer partnership. This mission means everything to us, and we’re pushing so that there’s a leveling of the playing field,” says Ashley.
Ashley began her career in VC funding on a Capital Markets desk at Morgan Stanley, learning about public companies, the stories behind them, and what moved markets. She then went into the startup world joining a Y Combinator e-commerce startup, Shoptiques.com. After that, she worked at several different corporates focused on the intersection of consumers and technology.
“I started to realize that innovation, storytelling, technology and impact are things that really matter to me. I also saw the struggles my entrepreneurial parents faced when trying to build businesses. It wasn’t easy for them to get educated on business building. We need investors who understand the unique needs of Latino and diverse founders and who are genuine about helping out — lip service doesn’t do anyone any good,” she says.
Heading to business school, she knew she wanted to go back into the tech world with an impact.
“Growing up, I never had investors or founders around me. I didn’t even know what a VC was until I got to school. I think lack of awareness and education around this space is common especially for our community,” says Ashley.
Through mentorship and a lot of life lessons, Ashley realized that network building and creating a support system around you of thought leaders and experts is necessary to succeed.
“It’s not only what you know but who you know,” she explains. Latinos and other minority groups have historically been disadvantaged by limited networks and access. “This needs to change, and that’s why VamosVentures is here.”
Through her lived experiences as a Latina, first gen college student, immigrant daughter who had to work extremely hard for everything she understands what many founders have to go through to be seen and heard in the VC world.
These experiences have become one of her greatest career strengths, giving her unique insights into the needs of Latino clients.
“I’ve spent the majority of my career focused on where consumers meet technology, and that intersection is so valuable to any vertical a founder builds in. Understanding what makes consumers tick, what makes them sticky, how to provide the best experiences for them, how to reach them.
“And from a health and wellness perspective, which is what I focus on at the fund, I know intimately the problems Latino and diverse communities face regarding things such as affordability, access, and chronic conditions. I’m committed to investing in companies reshaping these experiences and partnering with the right stakeholders to really scale these ideas,” says Ashley.
Venture capital funds like VamosVentures are doing the necessary work to shift the low statistics of Latinos and minority groups who receive venture capital funding and this is just a first step. Diversity is needed across the board and within finances and leadership. Ashley encourages other aspiring Latina and minority women to pursue careers in venture capital, finances, and tech.
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“We need more Latinas in this game for perspective and fearless leadership. We’re passionate and strong-willed and when we believe in something, we really believe in it. That’s what makes us great investors and founders – it’s that dedication to see things through and to see potential in ideas. We hustle hard and are hungry!”
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