What's It Really Going to Take to Change the Face of Silicon Valley? (With Visible Hands' Yasmin Cruz Ferrine)

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This is a podcast episode titled, What's It Really Going to Take to Change the Face of Silicon Valley? (With Visible Hands' Yasmin Cruz Ferrine). The summary for this episode is: <p>"70% of the US is women and people of color, and yet they only receive 10% of venture capital funding, but that's not just a problem that's also an opportunity. So, we see an enormous missed market opportunity, and we wanted to be a part of catalyzing that change."</p><p><br></p><p>Yasmin Cruz Ferrine is the co-founder and general partner of Visible Hands - a 14-week, virtual-first accelerator on a mission to highlight and invest in the limitless potential of overlooked founders. She and her co-founders, Daniel Acheampong and Justin Kang, started the project two years ago when they decided they wanted to stop relying on invisible forces slowly changing the face of Silicon Valley and take matters into their own hands. 410 meetings later, Yasmin and her team successfully closed their fund.</p><p><br></p><p>But, why did it take so many meetings to close the fund? And what are the biggest obstacles preventing more women and people of color from leading companies in Silicon Valley?</p><p><br></p><p>Yasmin and Elias get into all of that and more in this episode of the American Dream.</p><p><br></p><p>Be sure to hit the subscribe button to get new episodes when they drop every other Tuesday.</p><p><br></p><p>In the meantime, be sure to leave a ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends. You can connect with Elias and Yasmin on Twitter at @eliast, @YasCruzFerrine, and @DriftPodcasts.</p><p><br></p><p>For more learnings from Elias, check out his quarterly newsletter, The American Dream. You can subscribe at https://www.drift.com/insider/learn/newsletters/american-dream/</p>

Elias: Hola, I'm Elias Torres, co- founder and CTO of Drift. You are listening to the American Dream podcast. Did you know that Drift is part of just 2% of VC backed startups led by Latin American founders? Well, I'm on a mission to change that. On this show, you will hear from leaders who have achieved their own version of the American dream. We'll talk about what the process looked like to get there, the obstacles they faced along the way and the work we still have to do to build the new face of a diverse corporate America. foreign language to another episode of the American Dream podcast. Today's guest Yasmin Cruz Ferrine. How do you say it?

Yasmin: Yes.

Elias: Ferrine.

Yasmin: Exactly.

Elias: Today's guest, she's working to achieve a mission very close to my heart, which is to make the next generation of Silicon Valley millionaires look different than what it looks like today. So, Yasmin is the co- founder and general partner of Visible Hands, a venture capital firm with a 14 week virtual first accelerator on a mission to highlight and invest in the limitless potential of overlooked founders. I'm one of the overlooked founders. Thank you so much for what you're doing. So welcome to the show. It's an honor to have you. You are a bright, shiny start here in Boston. You were in the Globe, right?

Yasmin: Yes. A few times.

Elias: And a few times. Yeah. I love the attention that you're getting. You deserve it. Thank you so much for what you're doing. Let's hear about you a little bit about your background, where you grew up, where you're from.

Yasmin: Elias, I'm so glad to be with you. I am slightly nervous because I've been waiting for this moment for our paths to cross and here it is, but thank you. It's an honor and a privilege to be in conversation with you and hopefully more in community with you moving forward. So the easiest answer, as you've alluded to on where I'm from is I'm from Boston, born and raised, very proud of that, but then it gets a little bit less straightforward on the heritage side. So much of my own experience is a duality, African American, and I'm also Salvadorian. On the African American, native born side, my biological father wasn't in my life, but I was also raised by a stepfather along with my mother. And then on that side, on the El Salvadorian side, it's a classic immigrant story. It's a story of family separation and unification. My abuelita came to this country in 1968. My mother though came nine years later. So they were apart for some time. And when my grandmother came here, she started out as a nanny. And then interestingly enough, moved over into tech operations and was an early person in the Blue Cross Blue Shield's IT department in tech. But ultimately some of the decisions that my family made on that side, I think had some generational, psychological and emotional trauma on some of the negative side. But on the positive side, it's led to a life of extraordinary opportunity and access for me. So from a professional standpoint, I started out in investments and my career has been 95% in investments. I was managing a$ 700 billion portfolio on the public equity small cap value side with one other portfolio manager, straight out of college, which was kind of a path of being one of the only women of color in the room in my field from that point on, and then moved over to community investment side. I'm old enough to see more than a bull run. I saw the great recession and what happened to our fund performance during that cycle and then what led after that. And then after that, I entered the rarefied air world of managing money for multiple generations of families. And I worked at a firm that managed money for up to five generations and also managed money for endowments and foundations. And there, I worked on strategic planning for the firm and business development, and that really opened my eyes to some of what goes behind some of these top decile access. Access is really hard in some of these top performing venture capital funds. And then from there, this opportunity came around to start a fund with Daniel Acheampong and Justin King.

Elias: Wow. I'm like you got me... You're saying you're nervous to interviewing me. I'm nervous of interviewing you. I'm like the goosebumps I have, you have no idea, close to tears to hear you. I'm from Nicaragua, right? So Salvadorian pupusas, I know everything foreign language You're my foreign language right.

Yasmin: We are.

Elias: You're like... Yeah, my grandmother came in'75, right. She was a nanny in San Francisco. My first visit of San Francisco was walking inaudible street in this beautiful neighborhood. And I'm like and we walked and we stayed with my mother in the basement of this house. That's where she had her bedroom. You know what I mean?

Yasmin: Yeah.

Elias: She lived in the house of this people.

Yasmin: Wow. The slope of that street, I was on that street two weeks ago, is insane. I can't imagine the basement of that street. My grandmother was a nanny to 11 children with a woman in a wheelchair in Milton, Massachusetts. And my grandmother doesn't even like children enough to be the nanny for someone with 11 children.

Elias: Mine was the nanny of one. And so we look at that, look at that. Right. And my mother and I did not come until 1993. So the separation and unification, and it is a pleasure, it is an honor to have you. Let's talk about Visible Hands period. So what is Visible Hands? What are you doing?

Yasmin: Yeah. So we are a venture capital firm with an accelerator program. And maybe why don't I start with how we started Visible Hands?

Elias: Yeah.

Yasmin: So it's an interesting story from a timing perspective. My two partners in October of 2019 were thinking about starting a social networking company that tackled loneliness. And we try to tell... We talked to our founders about doing an adequate customer discovery process. They then pivoted to this starting either an accelerator, a studio, or a venture capital firm and their why was incredibly powerful. We know that there's something structurally wrong as you alluded to when 70% of the US is women and people of color. And yet they only receive 10% of venture capital funding, but that's not just a problem. That's also an opportunity. So we see an enormous missed market opportunity, and we wanted to be a part of catalyzing that change. And instead on relying on unseen market forces or the invisible hand, we decided to take matters into our own hands. And it was in the February, March time of 2020 that Justin and Daniel said to me, after I had been on both sides of the table from a capital perspective, should they raise this fund? And I said," The why is too important to look for exactly the right moment in time to do this. Do it now." And then they invited me to join and I started helping with capital raising. And then I took it over. And on January 15th, we're closing this first fund, fund one.

Elias: Congrats, congrats. I've never raised a fund. So it's really hard. And I wonder what I've decided to do is, it's the reason why we started this podcast, is to be a voice and to be able to talk about the issues that other people don't want to talk about. Right. Or they're afraid to talk about, because especially if you're Latino or Black, you feel that there will be a repercussion, right. And you're saying," Oh, I'm not going to get promoted. I could get fired. I could not get the projects. I might not be able to raise money." And I'm here. And I'm just like, I don't give a shit. I'll talk about anything and bring up the problems that we're having to the front and center of the conversation. Right. So why is it that is so difficult for you to raise? What do you think? Is it because you designate your fund as one focus on investing and overlook underrepresented people? Or is it because of you, your color, your founders, what do you think? Or is it something else or is it because, yeah?

Yasmin: Yeah. So there's a few layers that we can talk about. One is that there are fund managers who do not decide to have a diversity mandate. And some of them have said that they're able to raise more money because when people see that you're doing something that's going to create access to capital, we talk in impact investing terms. And when people hear about impact investing people don't think that they're going to have out sized returns, right? And ultimately people's motivation for making an investment is for putting yourself and your family at an advantage to have more assets. And so fundamentally people are worried about capital preservation, let alone capital appreciation. When you talk about something that sounds like there's an impact because people still have kind of a bifurcated perception of investments. Either I'm doing good or I'm making money. And there isn't a blended approach. Both for individuals, for companies, companies do this as well. And I would say foundations, institutions, and even philanthropy has trouble kind of having this duality and making progress in both ends. I also think that... So that's one is people assume when you talk about underrepresented, they assume impact. I didn't say I'm at an impact fund. Our portfolio companies are not creating impact products. I would think in order to be an impact fund, the underlying companies need to be creating products that are having an impact. That's not it. Our companies are for profit companies. So there's that fuzziness. Another thing that you want to go there and take some risk, many institutions... So for a first fund, the median should be 25 million, right? Most underrepresented founders are not raising a 25 million fund. Many are lucky to have the first close happen with more than a million or two. So let alone get to 25 million. There's a huge gap. If you don't think you can close on your first two million and hitting 25 million. Part of it is that the funds that raise 25 million have anchors, have institutional anchors. So then you need institutional fund of funds and investment professionals to see a new emerging manager often without a classic track record, to be their anchor. And an anchor check for a 25 million fund should be at least 10% of the fund. So at least two and a half million, but likely you'd want a five million anchor of a 25 million fund. So you're a fund manager of color, and you need someone to write your first$ 5 million check. And institutional partners at this point have separate programs. So they have their entire portfolio that they're selecting external managers. And then they have a program over here called diverse and emerging managers. And that is a fraction of their overall portfolio. And even in that fraction bucket, what they're looking for, and they will tell you, this, is a fund two or fund three. So again, how does that... I'm on my fund one. So you want fund two and fund three, and they want you to also have three to four funds that you've been a part of and have a track record at those premier, I mean, we're talking about a select handful of funds, a track record that you can carry over and leave that fund and start your own fund. So you're saying you would be the only Black or LatinX principle at a top VC firm. The universe of people who have that background is tiny. So we're constantly where these institutional fund to fund managers are looking for unicorns and then have these tiny budgets and everyone else, good luck.

Elias: You're a badass. I love this. You're like... It's like, I'm making sure my daughter watches this one. It's like I'm seeing you, and I see the fire and I'm like, my daughter has it too. I just want her to learn this is what you need to look like. Yeah. Potential. This is the same thing. Right. And I'll tell you, I like to be this binary person. I like to simplify things in my mind, kind of like what people... That's probably why people do that, right. It's either I'm making money or I'm doing good. Right. And that, it's good. We need to understand the psychology of how people think. Right. And so I think also tell me about the stat that you were saying, right? That you just blew me away because we talk about... You just gave me different spins on the data that everybody just repeats over, over and over. Everybody's just like 2%, 2%, 2%. Right. But you gave me a much better one. You said one that I'm learning, right, is 70% are women and people of color underrepresented, blah, blah, blah, 70% of the United States. And they only get 10% combined of all the investment. Wow. Right. So let's pause on that one. The other one you told me is that there's what, 25,000. That one, tell me that one.

Yasmin: Yeah. So according to Crunchbase, there are 25, 000 venture capital firms globally. Okay. So that's if no one else is starting a firm right now. If you look for how many LatinX led VC firms exist, the list gets to about 50. And that is, I said globally, because-

Elias: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Yasmin: I think you also have to include LATAM funds.

Elias: Yeah. Let's include everything.

Yasmin: Yeah. So if we have about 50 firms, to get to 2%, and there were no other firms created, we need 511 firms. So we need to 10X, the number of LatinX led VC firms to get to 2% of all venture capital firms.

Elias: And that's not even counting the amount of money. Right. That's just the unit, right.

Yasmin: That's the number of check writers.

Elias: I'm getting you going. You're like... So that brings me to my way of thinking. I met a very, very, very influential Latino leader here in Boston at the beginning of Drift. I woke up, right, to realize that I looked like this. Right. And I was like... Because I was kind of blind to it. I was just working. Right. I was just working with David in tech, HubSpot, starting companies, fundraising. I just didn't even know what I looked like. Right. I was just like, whatever.

Yasmin: Busy.

Elias: In Boston, I was busy. And then I realized, holy shit, look what I look like. And there's nobody else that looks like me. And so I started kind of reacquainting myself with my identity and my culture and figure out what was my responsibility. Right. And I kind of got a little distracted and I was like, what should I do? For example, should I start Drift and only hire Latinos? I could go overboard. I have the access. And I can do what I want. I'm the founder of the company. Right. And just on purpose, be like, create something that no one has ever seen. Right. And that was... I have that approach, which I think maps to the approach of let's just 10X the number of LatinX funds, right. Or 100X it. Right. And just have a whole bunch. Right. And so do that one aspect of it. Or the other is the advice I was given is, Elias, the alternative is that we don't even have people that look like you just as a plain founder or the capital or the record or the success or the story. And so you also have to focus on that. It's just like do you put, like in the airplane, do you put the mask on the child first? Or do you put yourself. I mean, and so this dichotomy, this dilemma, right, this huge paradox of wow, should I... And so you can tell what I chose. Right. I chose to say, I said... The advice I was given, it's like," Elias, you have to succeed. We need you because this is a complex pipeline and flow and we need you." And so I chose that. Right. And so I kind of bring that now to this question, to you on the we need 10X that, or we need to make sure that the ones that we have breakthrough into space.

Yasmin: Yes. I believe because I know this to be true. There's a lot of money out there. I also think because of literally my own composition that you can do both and. I do think that you need to make sure that those that exist have track records that are enviable so that there's less risk perceived with making these investments and the way that you gain credibility in investments is with a track record. And I am confident that underrepresented fund managers have a lot to prove. And so that scared money doesn't make money and resource constrained money doesn't make money. So hopefully, I can only speak for my firm, that we're making decisions to grow boldly and we're making decisions that other firms, we don't think are in a position to make. We're a team of 17, which punches way above our weight class for the size of fund that we have. But that's what we think we need to do to provide the concierge services that founders and entrepreneurs need at the earliest stages to be successful. So that's an example of a bold decision to make sure that we have a chance to have an enviable track record. But the problem with venture capital is it takes so long to know if you're doing a good job. And there's so many ways. It takes seven to 10 years before you have liquidity events. We're starting with pre- seed companies. They have to get to series C and above to really prove both graduation rates that are successful.

Elias: Again-

Yasmin: From seed series A, et cetera. The other thing is that this job is not easy and people don't understand. I think people think that venture capital lists are playing golf or in a helicopter making it rain. And it's like, you're sourcing, you're working with lawyers. You're evaluating, you're working with your existing portfolio. You're doing many, many tasks. And ultimately hopefully, you're raising your next fund. One of the things that I learned is how do you have a brand with your investors and make sure that your brand with your founders is different. So there's so many facets of the job that can almost like, how do I know what's my best return on time to make sure I have the best return on money? And it's going to take a long time to figure it out. But I think to answer your question is I've never been the person who says that you can only choose one. I'm the person that says you have to try to have a backup plan. So.

Elias: Well a backup plan, then you're aligning with me. You have to have a focus. Right. And you have to pick one over the other. Right. And so what mentors are telling me is like"Elias, as you're stepping up, you have to be with your hands, stretch out and helping, right." You can't-

Yasmin: Yeah. And I also think to your point, one of the reasons why I wanted to do this and have a DEI mandate, and you just talked about this is I think companies that start with diverse leadership are wired differently. And everyone spends so much time talking about rewiring the existing tech companies and helping them be better at serving the lonely leaders of color that exist in their firms. And my answer to that is you can have a seat at the table that you're trying to rewire the whole time, or you can create your own table. And I want to help create the next generation of tech companies that are born with diverse leaders like yourself, who can make decisions and create opportunities and Elias, I'm sure your team page looks nothing like any other team page in tech. And even with the team that you're building today, as you're thinking about how to construct it, because you're being even more intentional than others are. Other leaders say they're going to solve it after. When is after?

Elias: It's completely different, right, when the founders are diverse, right. They come from underrepresented, come from poverty. Right. And it's like, people ask me" Elias, what's your framework for diversity or for equity?" And I'm like, I don't need a framework. It's just common sense. People want to measure everything by numbers, but they don't understand the impact and how long it's going to take to rewire because I am rewiring people for the future, right, in many ways. I'm rewiring everybody just to see that. But we have to tell these stories, so people understand what a Latino leader can do with someone that understand unfairness and inequity, how we go about thinking of the decisions, because we've been, what's it called, we've been managed by the invisible hand in the past and we know how that feels. Right. So now we're like, I don't want the invisible hand. I want to show you the visible hand.

Yasmin: Right.

Elias: And this is how it gets done. And people think like, wait, wait, so I love the name. Well, I want to have so many more conversations. We will definitely be in community. I want to learn more from you because it is a hard problem. And we're not going to solve it today, but we have to do both. We have to... I sent you this article that I just got this morning and somebody sent me is called," They have Shatter Barriers: on Wall Street, the New Biggest Private Equity Firms are Run by Black and Latino Billionaires and People of Color." I need you to read it and tell me what you think. You know who I'm talking about, right?

Yasmin: Yes. I do. Jose Feliciano. Robert Smith.

Elias: Yeah, exactly. It's so like they're talking about... So I'll send you the article. There's a lot of stuff to digest, Orlando Bravo, Jose, Ramzi Musallam, Adebayo, right, Ogunlesi. This is kind of like my thing here of do we create 25,000? Do we create 250? Do we create 2, 500 Latino, Black? Or do we need more of this? These guy's here are like shatter the barriers, right?

Yasmin: Yeah.

Elias: The question is, I'm just coming into the view into the lens. I was in the lens of I just build things and I have to get customers, fundraise, giving money. Now I'm just like, wow, that's what it looks like over there. That's what the VCs really look like. This is what the PE looks like. And I'm like, those I have now those role models. And I'm saying, how do I participate? What is the community? How do we develop more that at some point not everybody's going to get to that. We get more people in that for generations to come.

Yasmin: Yeah. And for example, Jose is a part of the group that's deciding what happens with part of Stanford's endowment, right, Stanford's very sizable endowment. So that's another way that influence could lead to Stanford's portfolio investing in a different set of managers. Yeah. But I want to make sure before we wrap up that, I talk about what Visible Hands does out on the day to day basis outside of the fund manager hat that I wear. So what does this mean for our founders? Underrepresented founders? At the earliest stage, we focus on their company building and we provide meaningful funding that's up to 175 K per company, personalized support. We meet weekly with the founders during that 14 week period, help them achieve their goal. That could be recruiting another founder or it could be hiring an engineer, or it could be becoming investment ready. And then we also provide them access to our network. And that includes industry leading advisors. It includes their peer to peer support and potential early hires. And all of those facets come together to help founders build exceptional technology startups.

Elias: Amazing. Amazing. So you're going to be the underrepresented YC.

Yasmin: We are going to be Visible Hands. There are things that YC does well, and I tell people, don't try to recreate what YC does, let YC do it. But there is a lane in this whole ecosystem where you are looking for support that understands how lonely it has been in your career or what a maverick you've been. And you want to look to your right and your left and see inaudible people who understand your experience. I'm not sure where in the current landscape that existed. We didn't think it did. And that's why we started Visible Hands.

Elias: Absolutely. And when I say the YC common is just like, my experience is like, I have to... The way I operate, and I've learned that this from David is that I'm going to compare myself to the top in the world.

Yasmin: Exactly.

Elias: And so what I'm saying, so I have to have a role model. I have to have an inspiration. I cannot just compare... It's like where it's a duality. I'm straddler, right. And I have to converge those two things at once. I want to be like, whatever category I am, I want to be the best in the world. I want to look like that one, period. And then at the same time, I'm going to look like myself and I'm going to be different because I have to in order to never neglect who I am. Right. And so that's the way I think about it. It's not like I'm trying to morph you into YC, right?

Yasmin: Yeah. I mean, I have a lot of respect for what they've created, but I think there's also room for what we're creating and what we're creating is different. And to thine own self be true. And I used to be a marathon runner. I'm not anymore, after I've had my daughter, but run your own race. So in Visible Hands, we're running our own race. And I think we're creating a multi- generational firm, a franchise that will have a brand that stands out and will make enormous contributions.

Elias: So tell me a little bit about a couple more specifics. You're going to have 14 week program. So that means that you are building the cohort of companies going to go into it. And so are you like in application mode or do you already have the companies? How does it work?

Yasmin: Yeah, so our first cohort, we had 911 applicants and we chose 51. This is women and people of color building tech companies. And I want to focus on a stat for LatinX founders. So even when you think about the universes of all businesses, including small businesses, we focus on high growth venture backable businesses, but for American, for broadly, for white Americans, 14% of all businesses are technology companies. Did you know, Elias, that 19% of LatinX companies are technology companies, that we are disproportionately technologists? Did you know that? I say that because people think like the pipeline didn't exist. And if I told people, no, actually for example, LatinX companies are disproportionately technology, people don't believe it because people always hear that we need to invest in underrepresented founders because they're consumers and that they have buying power. But I also want people to start thinking about Black women, LatinX leaders who are producers, who are creating white space, who are creating technology. So that isn't even to this point included in the market that exists. So yes, we had 911 qualified leaders, entrepreneurs, who wanted to partner with us to build their company.

Elias: And are they from Boston or from everywhere?

Yasmin: No, across the country and this past, we just closed the application in May. Our deal flow is up 55%. We have to choose 35 out of 1, 418 applicants.

Elias: Congrats. This is the message that we want to share. People go," Oh, I can't find entrepreneurs. I can't find entrepreneurs of color. I can't find entrepreneur women." You have them.

Yasmin: Do you know what I hear when I hear that? I love my husband, but it's like, when he opens the refrigerator, he can't find something. Look harder. Don't make me walk up to the refrigerator and find it. That's exactly what I hear that because I want everyone to look harder because they are right in front of your face. We choose not to see it. We choose not to see it.

Elias: There's no better analogy you can give a man. And I will just take that gender stereotype all day. I've been there many, many, many times in front of that fridge. The jam is staring at me like this. I'm like face to face with it. And I'm like," Alejandra, where's my jam.?" And she's like," Look, it's right there."

Yasmin: The answer is to look harder.

Elias: Look. The words again, the one word commands again from my wife, look and listen, listen, look. So with that, that's the work that men have in front of them. I thank you so much for what you're doing. I respect so much what you're doing. It's something that I'm thinking about day and night, right, about a struggle. And I'll drop the mic with this question. It's like, what I hear is that the Black community is way more unified in how they're going about this. And Robert Smith is one of the key leaders, right. And that Latinos we're fragmented. Right. And we have many different identities. We have different communities, different ethnicities, and people don't understand that right, in so many races. And we need to come together. Right. And so I would like to have a different conversation. That's kind of what I've been thinking this week. I was talking to someone because we need to help. My belief is we're going to get some help from the invisible hand, but we are going to have to do the work ourselves.

Yasmin: Yeah. And I'd love to have that conversation with you because being both Black and LatinX, I've been a part of both communities and ecosystems and in certain rooms, so I've been a part of both. And there is a difference in style and progress. And I will have to say, unfortunately, I do believe that the LatinX community, it's not the oppression Olympics, but we are coming from behind. And there's a lot more progress to make. Both communities are generations away from where we need to be. But there-

Elias: Many generations.

Yasmin: Yes, many. But if you were to compare the two, I have seen noticeable differences identifying with both. I will say that one last thing that I do want to offer is I do think that even bigger companies, we're partnering with Google on VH LatinX, are also seeing this. And I'm excited to see companies who are acknowledging that there's a lot of progress that does need to be made on the LatinX side and people are willing to be intentional about it.

Elias: Yeah. I mean, I think there's a lot of stuff that I'm starting to identify, right, and name so I can get to know and educate myself more, which is Latino's ability to ask for help. Right. And be able to Latinos to ask, right, is to say, I want 10 million dollars. I want 25 million dollars. I want a hundred million dollars. Right. And so forth. So there's a lot of stuff that we are behind. We are into a new culture. We're into a new times. We're just... I want to expose how that person goes to Stanford and asks for money versus how we should go to Stanford and ask for money. Right. And so forth. And if we get rejected, so what, but how many times did you ask to get your fund close?

Yasmin: Yeah. So I had 410 meetings and 65 LPs said yes. So that's, you do the math.

Elias: Yeah. No, but that 65 out of 410 that's still, you're amazing. Right. It's like to get that many yeses, I would expect 10X nos. Right. But-

Yasmin: Well, to even have 410 meetings with accredited investors is a privilege. And I want to just acknowledge that to be able to have a network to produce that is a tremendous privilege in and of itself.

Elias: Congrats. I'm really proud of you. It's my honor. And I feel like I was able to overcome my nervousness of interviewing you because you're amazing and laid back and give me space and reprimand me when I'm not looking or listening. I'm used to it.

Yasmin: Hopefully not too feisty.

Elias: No, I'm used to it. So that's not a problem. I welcome the spice and the feistiness because it's my culture and I love it. And I appreciate it. This is the space for it. Perfect. It's been an honor. Thank you so much. And I hope people can really pay attention because there's some of the stuff, some of the topics that we're breaking into this here are really important. And this is a discussion we have to do. But what's most important is that you're getting shit done and you started, you close your fund, you already have your cohort and you got on to the next one. Congrats. Thank you so much.

Yasmin: Thank you.

Elias: Thanks for listening to the American Dream podcast. Make sure to hit subscribe, so you never miss when a new episode drops. If you like this episode, please leave a six star review wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you're interested in learning more about my American dream mission, subscribe to my newsletter, linked in the show notes.


"70% of the US is women and people of color, and yet they only receive 10% of venture capital funding, but that's not just a problem that's also an opportunity. So, we see an enormous missed market opportunity, and we wanted to be a part of catalyzing that change."

Yasmin Cruz Ferrine is the co-founder and general partner of Visible Hands - a 14-week, virtual-first accelerator on a mission to highlight and invest in the limitless potential of overlooked founders. She and her co-founders, Daniel Acheampong and Justin Kang, started the project two years ago when they decided they wanted to stop relying on invisible forces slowly changing the face of Silicon Valley and take matters into their own hands. 410 meetings later, Yasmin and her team successfully closed their fund.

But, why did it take so many meetings to close the fund? And what are the biggest obstacles preventing more women and people of color from leading companies in Silicon Valley?

Yasmin and Elias get into all of that and more in this episode of the American Dream.

Key Moments:

  • (1:44) Yasmin’s background
  • (6:59) What is Visible Hands?
  • (9:58) The underlying conditions that make it difficult for Yasmin to raise money for her fund
  • (20:05) Which comes first: 10xing the amount of LatinX VC funds now, or making sure the preexisting ones break through and succeed?
  • (28:31) What Visible Hands does on a day-to-day basis
  • (29:46) The difference between Visible Hands and Y Combinator
  • (32:09) The logistics behind Visible Hands’ 14-week cohort program
  • (34:10)Yasmin’s answer to anyone who says: “We can’t find the entrepreneurs of color”
  • (35:48) The differences between Black and LatinX communities in tech
  • (38:53) The number of meetings it took Yasmin to get her fund closed

Read the MarketWatch article referenced in the episode

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