For a young company, cash is king. And at the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce's Friday Shark Tank event, Latino entrepreneurs were eager to impress the panel of investors.
Those investors, Manny Fernandez of DreamFunded.com and Carmen Palafox of Propina Capital, were hard to impress, however. The teams that presented were mostly met with critical questions and offers to help – until the end, the sharks showed little willingness to bite in terms of making an investment.
The last company, however, did make an impact. Remoov, a San Francisco-based startup that promises to pick up and resell unwanted items, moved Fernandez to offer to invest. While the exact investment is to be determined, Fernandez said DreamFunded.com would invest at least $50,000 in the 1-year-old startup.
"When you work for something so hard and you're so passionate about it. To actually get some validation for it – it's phenomenal," Perez said after his presentation.
Despite his success at the event, Perez said his pitch was still a work-in-progress.
"Check your slides. We didn't get ours updated, so I was a little bit off-base on that one. But a lot of it is just connecting with your audience," Perez said.
While the other companies, MyQuince, eHarvestHub, ReyLabs and ProPlanr, were not able to get the investors to commit so quickly, the sharks were quick to underscore how important it is to get investors to back more Latino-run companies.
"It's all about the network. Other networks are established, multi-generation. They go to the right schools, they have the right connections, so it's easy for them to raise money. Hispanics may not have that same network, so since they don't have the network, it's hard for them to get the attention of someone who can give them a check," Fernandez said.
Palafox agreed: "Currently, less than 1% of venture capital money goes to Latino entrepreneurs, so I think it's critical based on the composition of our country in the future."