The Chicago-based e-commerce and point-of-sale startup CASHDROP is looking to drop some equity cash into the pockets of small businesses.
This week, CASHDROP founder Ruben Flores-Martinez announced he is putting $1 million of his own equity into what he calls the Latino Renaissance Fund, which will be distributed to 1,000 Latino-owned businesses who use the CASHDROP platform.
“I’m pledging a million dollars of my personal stock in the company and we are giving it away to 1,000 Latino-owned businesses that are in the platform,” Flores-Martinez said. “The Latino equity program is meant for every single CASHDROP merchant on the platform. We encourage every single person to sign up.”
Flores-Martinez, who was born in Guadalajara and moved to Milwaukee as a teenager, says he felt compelled to launch the fund as a way to encourage other young and aspiring entrepreneurs to take the leap.
“I come from a very entrepreneurial community … as a Latino in tech, I came to realize the hard way actually that only 1% of all venture dollars go to Latino founders like me. And it’s not because we don’t have big ambitions or big ideas, it’s there’s just no representation,” he said. “So it’s always been very important to me to not only make it for myself, but make a statement to enable the next generation, the next 10, 15 Rubens that can make it bigger, so that I can help them get there faster, and the Latino Renaissance Fund for me was just a way of really putting my money where my mouth is.”
Flores-Martinez says the merchants who use CASHDROP have become a diverse business community.
“When we launched, it was right at the beginning of the pandemic, so there was no traffic and a lot of people that were used to brick-and-mortar commerce were forced to pivot really fast,” he said. “So at the beginning with a lot of restaurants and food trucks and hospitality industry businesses that needed a way to start collecting payments from a remote location because of COVID, and then it kind of proliferated into a lot of people that just had ideas for small side hustles … so that kind of created this really interesting ecosystem for us.”
And Flores-Martinez says he wants to keep that community building through this fund.
“The hope is that the 1,000 Latino business owners that we give equity to end up being millionaires by the time that we’re done,” he said.