FinTech Female Fridays: Meet Fintech investor, Founder and GP at Mendoza Ventures, Senofer Mendoza
Mendoza Ventures focuses on investments in fintech, AI, and cybersecurity, with diversity playing an important role in their investment decisions - about 70% of their portfolio consists of startups led by immigrants, people of color, and women. "We are changing the face of who gets funded." Senofer Mendoza is proud to be impacting FinTech through investing.
Senofer's career started in designing for four and five star hotels internationally. She used to always think she was too artsy and too creative for finance. But now she has learned how badly her skills are needed in the venture investment space - the hyper-focused and complicated project management skills she developed from her early career, and the strong advocacy skills that enable her to serve women and underrepresented founders well literally every day. Senofer is passionate about her current mission and says, "The best job decision I've ever made is starting my own venture capital firm!"
At first, Senofer and her husband had two startups in their living room while she worked in enterprise sales. And after experiencing venture capital, they decided to create a different experience to support entrepreneurs building companies. "Everything about this has been challenging, but it is a thousand percent worth it. The risk, the sexism, the uncertainty, the scaling all pays off when you seed another woman’s company with over $1m." Senofer shares.
They started with a small pilot fund, made three investments. (They are self-made so that money came from their startup exit and their paychecks). The first investments did well and they honed their process to raise a second fund and take on money from outside investors. This year, Senofer and her team have three things they are focused on: raising their next fund, helping their startups raise their next funds and grow, looking for their next three investments in the defi / neobanking space.
"Be a family. Be profitable. Be inclusive" are the three core values that drive the culture at Mendoza Ventures. Senofer built the culture she always wanted - a fun environment, a challenging environment, and one where one could openly be a parent and a high performer without being demeaned. Senofer fits into that by being a transparent leader, working her hardest to not let her team down, and bringing lots of snacks.
More on Senofer
Where you currently live: Boston, because seasons, and I get to walk to my office.
Living arrangement: Divine, I live with my husband and our two little roommates.
Family at home: Just mine.
Hometown: Cape Cod, but now we are a bicoastal family between Boston and LA.
Favorite hobby: Crafting it up with my little one, we are knitting snowmen, I love the arts and sailing and being a beach bum.
Favorite part of your day: That first hug, and when dinner is over and we are all just hanging out.
Favorite show to binge: I am so embarrassed to admit this but we just watched Yellowstone in like two weeks.
Favorite quote so far: “Our belief in inextricable human connection is one of our most renewable sources of courage.” I am reading Brene Brown’s Braving the Wilderness now on the recommendation of a friend. I’m on page 121.
Media Recommendation: I have been really inspired lately by this new generation of financial health influencers, like Her First 100k, Dasha Kennedy and Maya Nijhawan. That was not around in my 20s and the dedication of a whole group to demystify finance in a nonjudgmental and even fun and inspiring way to their peers is just awesome to me. I am loving this crew.
5-6 am: Wake up, sometimes alarm and sometimes a pair of big brown eyes looking at me and a “mum, you up?”
6 - 7:30 am: Breakfast for four, pack lunches, stuff backpacks, guzzle coffee.
7:30 - 8:30 am: School drop-offs. Our kids go in different directions so we divide and conquer drop-offs and then one of us picks up the other. We either walk or drive to work, sometimes take the T, but since the pandemic, we haven’t felt up to that just yet.
9:00 am: Email check-in, calendar review for the day.
9:30 am: Meeting The Steele Group in Boston to look at spaces for our new offices. This is exciting for us, we have been in our co-working space since 2018 and we realistically outgrew it a year ago. We are on a budget, we financially prioritize covering 100% of all employees' health insurance over cool offices, so our real estate team has been awesome about finding us options on our budget. We have narrowed it down to two and we are bringing our team to see along with a startup that may come with us.
11 am: Our team check-in happens twice a week. We all review what we are working on and make sure we are operationally aligned. Today we are talking about taxes, and a startup we talked to yesterday.
11:30 am: My partner and I are meeting a lead investor on a deal we are looking at to make sure it’s a fit for us to work together. We tend to lead our deals, so when we follow we want to make sure they will support the startup in a proactive way and that we will be a good team.
12:00 pm: Our operations expert and I are meeting on how to support our employees and startups throughout this year, this is the meeting where we apply our strategic plan to a calendar and make sure the two are lining up.
1:00 pm: We meet bi-weekly or weekly with each of the companies. This is our meeting with Listo! And Sam the CEO just got back from a trip to Mexico where he is expanding development and customer support, it was a productive trip. We do some board meeting prep and talk about the next quarter for the business.
2 pm: Get lunch. Today the whole team has a lot of meetings so we grab tacos from the truck across the street from our office.
2:30 pm: Drive home and talk to a founder while driving to reference check a potential hire.
3-3:30 pm: Pick up my kiddo and get him settled with homework.
4 - 5 pm: Emails, correspondence, update our CRM while I have a quiet few minutes at home.
5-6 pm: Pick up my other kiddo and get her home, tonight we needed something for dinner so we stop at Trader Joe’s.
6-8 pm: Family time, dinner, homework wrap up, and get everyone settled.
8:00 - 8:30 pm: This is our reading time, we never got out of this habit when they were kids, so we read together almost every night. We are reading Zorro tonight and there is a lot to unpack about how the West and California were written about in 1913, so I am wishing I had read it first, but we are here, and they have to learn about prejudice sometime so winging it as I go.
9 - 11 pm: Shower, prep for the next day, lots of emailing and Linkedin to catch up.
11:00 pm: Lights out after a half hour of reading to wind down.
6 am: There are those big brown eyes again, at least they slept until 6 am.
7:00 am: I get some coffee and email to catch up while we all sit at our dining room table, we make a big breakfast and start to get ready, today that’s eggs, hash browns, bacon, and fruit.
9:00 am: My kiddo has ice skating so I bring her, she is learning so wobbly with an air of confidence, she is crushing it. We pick up bagels for second breakfast on the way home.
1:00 pm: I didn’t get the exercise I wanted this week, so we take the kids swimming to get everyone moving. We stay a while until they are played out and the grownups got a few laps in.
4:00 pm: We are in the suburbs, and there is a really good Mexican restaurant near our gym. We stop there for dinner so we don’t have to cook. My son orders a grilled cheese sandwich and we laugh about how his grandparents would be horrified. Who doesn’t eat rice and beans?
6:00 pm: Home and the parents are cooked, so family movie night. We are watching Encanto in Spanish, as soon as I hear it I know our house will be filled this week with choruses of “No hablamos de Bruno.”
8:00 pm: While I get the kids to bed my partner talks to a founder strategizing his B round. They stay on the phone for about an hour and a half, so once the kids are down I pour two glasses of wine and join him on our couch to listen in. We get talking about the week and we are still there at 10 pm.
10:00 pm: lights out after a good dose of some mindless TV, our brains get cooked so we have been watching Gold Rush, Yellowstone, Boba Fett and Pati Jinich’s cooking show to wind down. This is a bad habit we know but I don’t think it’s ending this week.