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Laura Moreno Lucas: Pioneering a New Era in Venture Capital

Laura Moreno Lucas is reshaping the venture capital landscape with relentless passion and a visionary mindset. As a General Partner at L'ATTITUDE Ventures, founder of Pandocap, and former Managing Director at Nasdaq, Lucas has dedicated her career to breaking down barriers and unlocking opportunities for Latina and Latino entrepreneurs.

Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, Laura embodies the spirit of the American dream. At the age of seven, she immigrated to the U.S. with her family, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal law from California State University, Sacramento. Her early career saw her excelling in sales and business development roles at TD Ameritrade, Salesforce, and SunGard. However, her entrepreneurial spirit couldn't be contained, and she went on to co-found Ladada, a personalized fashion subscription service. Despite her father’s caution against leaving her stable job at TD Ameritrade, she trusted her instincts and pursued her entrepreneurial dream. An investor noticed her work at a fashion show and connected her with a tech co-founder, leading to the successful launch of Ladada, which she eventually sold.

Her journey into venture capital truly began when she joined Nasdaq as Managing Director for New Listings & Capital Markets. Here, she played a pivotal role in notable IPOs like Beyond Meat, Lyft, and The RealReal, among others. Despite being one of the few Latina women in these high-stakes boardrooms, she gained respect and recognition by leveraging her financial acumen and understanding of market complexities. Working closely with leaders at Uber and Airbnb, Laura realized the value of her unique perspective and how crucial it was to open doors for others.

Driven by a desire to create opportunities for underrepresented entrepreneurs, she launched Pandocap, a bilingual media platform demystifying the capital markets for diverse communities. Pandocap provides financial education and customized pre-IPO guidance. Later, she became a General Partner at L'ATTITUDE Ventures, where she now leads investments in early-stage Latina/o entrepreneurs, helping raise over $100 million for Fund II.

Lucas's deep-rooted commitment to community is evident in her persistent pursuit of creating networks and support systems for Hispanic founders. Her efforts to connect with Gary Acosta and Sol Trujillo illustrate her unwavering determination to uplift the Hispanic community. After hearing them speak during the pandemic, she persistently followed up with Kenny Blanco, the founding partner of L'ATTITUDE Ventures, despite initial setbacks. Her persistence paid off when she eventually joined the team and became a partner, contributing to the mission of increasing access to venture capital for Latino-led startups.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Laura is a mentor at 500 Startups, board member at NOPALERA, advisor to California Lutheran University, and co-author of "Hispanic Stars Rising." Her presence and leadership challenge the status quo in venture capital, proving that Latina women can thrive in the financial industry.

You could have pursued a path in finance outside of our community. What inspired you to return to and uplift our communities, especially when it comes to financial inclusion? Should we even call it a comeback?

Laura: I had an aha moment when Julie Wainwright, the founder of The RealReal, asked me to pull a report on how many women had founded a company and taken it public on an exchange. It was 2019, and when I pulled the report, I found that there were fewer than 20 women, and only one Latina. It was then that I knew I needed to act.

Family is crucial to our culture. How have your family's values influenced your commitment to staying true to your roots and empowering the Hispanic community through your work?

Laura: My father has always emphasized the importance of hard work. He worked at the same company for 35 years, tirelessly and without complaint, always grateful to have a job. He not only supported us but also, like many others, sent money back to Mexico to support extended family members. My father was a beacon of hard work in my life, and his example gave me a sense of confidence that as long as I worked hard, I would have a job and be able to give back—to my community here.

The Hispanic Wealth Project aims to empower Latinos to participate and prosper in the U.S. economy. What do you think is currently missing? What's next, or what should be next, to drive Hispanic wealth and close the wealth gap?

Laura: I think what is currently missing is more collaboration among the many fantastic groups that have paved the way for Latinos, from all the organizations including HWP and leadership committees. With all the different initiatives aimed at helping us prosper, it will be the collective effort of all these groups as a driving force that will help close the gap.

In your role at L'ATTITUDE Ventures, how do you see access to capital evolving for Latino entrepreneurs, and what unique solutions are needed to support their growth?

Laura: What I see in our community is no shortage of outstanding entrepreneurs with more qualifications than ever before. However, despite their qualifications and the ability to lead and scale companies, there isn’t enough capital to help these founders grow and reach the acceleration stage. This needs to be the focus. We need more Latino investors at the later stage to help drive capital and support the scaling of these companies.

With initiatives like Pandocap and Libra Leaders, you're dedicated to providing Latinas with access to capital and connections. What advice would you give young Latina professionals looking to break into the financial sector and make a difference?

Laura: I would advise them to look at the easiest entry point into the markets, which is to start investing in the public markets. It is easier than ever to research a firm, understand what makes them stand out, and follow them on the stock market. You can even invest in fractional shares, making it inexpensive to own top movers like Nvidia or Microsoft. Once you do that, you can then move on to looking at private companies, using public comparisons to indicate potential growth. Everything is readily available; you just have to do some research.

With your work bridging investors and entrepreneurs in both U.S. and LATAM markets, how can we ensure that Latino-led startups have access to global opportunities while remaining connected to their communities?

Laura: It’s in our DNA! We always give back to our communities, and I have seen many who understand where they came from and seize the opportunity to return and address some of their countries' challenges because we know them best.

In your interview on "Govies, Plutes, and Gangsters," with Gary Acosta, you spoke about cultural barriers that Latinos face when seeking venture capital and your determination to connect with Gary Acosta and Sol Trujillo. Could you elaborate on the cultural challenges you see in the Latino community regarding wealth creation and how you've worked to overcome them? What strategies can other founders use to build strong networks and overcome these barriers?

Laura: The barriers stem from a lack of understanding of the opportunities. We can identify companies that address certain challenges that others might not recognize because of our unique background. For example, it was difficult for the traditional venture community to foresee how Nopalera, one of the fastest-growing beauty companies leveraging the nopal, would become an international sensation. This is one company that was overlooked by traditional venture capitalists because they do not understand that Latinos are the fastest-growing beauty segment and that nopal is one of the most nourishing ingredients. But I knew. Why? Because I know my community and the fastest-growing segment in the country.

Laura Moreno Lucas is a visionary leader whose dedication to bridging the gap in venture capital has empowered countless Latina and Latino entrepreneurs. Her tenacity, passion, and unwavering commitment to her roots serve as an inspiration for anyone striving to break barriers and make a meaningful impact. By continuing to advocate for underrepresented founders and demystify the capital markets through platforms, she embodies the spirit of empowerment and innovation, proving that with persistence and vision, we can all pioneer a new era in venture capital.
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