This interview is part of our Diversity in Tech series in partnership with All Raise, Anitab.org, Blavity, Grid 110, and Latinas in Tech, a coalition effort to champion diverse representation in the tech industry. Read more about this initiative here, and download images from the Diversity in Tech collection here.
Lolita Taub is the Co-Founder and General Partner at The Community Fund and acting interim Head of Sales at Catalyte. She is a first-generation Latinx operator and investor pushing for diversity in tech. With 15 years of experience working within the Silicon Valley ecosystem, she has accomplished over $50 million in sales and made 38 investments as an angel investor and VC at Backstage Capital. Lolita is also a Co-Founder of the Startup-Investor Matching Tool, a scout at Indie.vc, Venture Partner at NextGen Venture Partners, and an LP at Operators Collective.
We caught up with Lolita to learn more about her work in Venture Capital and what inspires her about the future of diversity, equity, and inclusion in tech.
Hi Lolita! Tell us about yourself, how did you get to where you are today?
Full stop, my parents. They immigrated from Mexico to give my siblings and me a shot at the American Dream. They worked hard, in blue-collar jobs (e.g., farming, house-cleaning), and made sure I could focus on my education. I was fortunate that my third-grade teacher helped my parents get a home computer and that’s how I fell in love with tech. Fast-forward, I was the first in my family to graduate from an undergrad and grad program with a BA and MBA.
My career has been a bit non-linear and has included working in corporate, startups, and venture capital. Through all of it, I found myself being an “only” and wanting to change that — for both personal and capitalistic reasons.
Today, I’m both an operator and investor pushing for diversity in tech.
What inspired you to build and grow your career in tech?
I was curious about tech from the time I saw Rosey the robot on The Jetsons, but my first computer made me fall in love with tech. Dial-up internet and exploring the world from home was something that was so magical and exciting. I spent hours on my computer exploring the world and then playing Carmen Sandiego — and lo and behold I was recruited to join the IBM consulting arm out of college. I’ve never looked back since then.
After a decade in the tech industry working for giants like IBM and Cisco Systems, you entered the world of venture capital. What was the catalyst for that change?
While at Cisco, I met a Native American Tribal Chief who became my mentor and inspired me to think outside the box. That led me to launch The F Show, a YouTube show where I interviewed over 100 female millennial entrepreneurs. That opened up opportunities in the startup world where I noted the need to increase the dollars going to underestimated founders and the number of investors from underestimated backgrounds. That’s when I decided to become a check-writer. So, I went back to get my MBA and hustled my way into VC.
What are some of the greatest opportunities you see right now to drive meaningful change when it comes to more equitable representation in the tech and startup worlds?
For me, pushing for diversity in tech is about:
- Investing in underestimated founders who will build unicorns
- Generating generational wealth
- Providing the world with products and services that will make our work and life better
All that said, I encourage everyone to hire and wire underestimated talent. It’ll be good for you.
At Noun Project, we believe visual language has the power to shape, reinforce and change perceptions. What are your thoughts on why diverse visual representation in tech is important to help change the status quo in the industry?
For those of us that come from underestimated communities: it’s hard to become what you don’t see. So, it’s important to see the faces of diverse tech leaders.
For everyone else: it’s important to normalize that people who are non-white-cis-gendered can be, and are, legitimate leaders we want on our teams, building our products, and leading our world.
Looking to the future, what inspires you and what initiatives are you most excited about right now?
Many are waking up to the business opportunity of investing in both underestimated founders and hiring the best investors, who happen to come from underestimated backgrounds. That’s exciting!
What advice would you give to people who are currently navigating the path to entrepreneurship in tech?
Solve big problems and remember that businesses are about making money.
How can people find you?
About All Raise
All Raise is on a mission to accelerate the success of female founders and funders to build a more prosperous, equitable future. Born out of a grassroots movement in 2017, our programs arm women with access, guidance, and support to advance their professional growth. When the architects of tomorrow better reflect the world, our world is better served. Learn more at allraise.org.