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Five Chicago startups selected for Google for startups Latino Founders Fund


Local entrepreneurs receive $100K each as part of the $5M Latino Founders Fund, focused on high potential startups founded by Latino entrepreneurs based in the U.S. In the photo, Rick Regalado (left) and Osvaldo Montelongo, two  Negocios Now’s Latinos 40 under 40.

 Chicago — (HINA Wire) – Google today announced the 50 recipients who have been selected for the first Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund, which provides promising Latino-led startups non-equity cash awards to help fuel their businesses. 

Five Illinois-based founders are among the recipients, amounting to $500,000 invested in Chicago startups. The goal of this fund is to increase economic opportunity for promising Latino startup founders in the US, who receive a disproportionately low percentage of investment.

 In an effort to close the opportunity and wealth gap for Latinos, Google has launched a set of programs designed to open the doors to funding, training for the digital economy and empowering communities. 

In addition to the $100K in cash, recipients will also receive hands-on programming and support from Google, deep mentorship from technical and business experts, access to free mental health therapy, as well as a vibrant community of fellow founders. “We are excited to support these talented Latino entrepreneurs as they build innovative solutions and solve tough problems,” said Daniel Navarro, US Marketing Lead, Google for Startups.

 “I hope the launch of our inaugural Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund not only catalyzes the growth of these incredible Latino-led startups, but also inspires other Latino entrepreneurs, and ultimately generates wealth within the community.” Sanarai Luis Suárez wanted to meet the very real need for emotional support during the pandemic, particularly for underrepresented communities. 

He set out to create a platform that could connect the Latinx community to Latin American mental health professionals in order to provide culturally sensitive, Spanish-language emotional support at accessible rates. Through Sanarai’s two-sided marketplace, visitors can easily schedule and pay for 50-minute support sessions with certified psychologists in Mexico. In just 6 months since launch, Sanarai has had more than 200 sessions take place on the platform. 

“Being a part of the Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund will be super impactful in our business and help us get to the next level” says Luis Suarez, Founder of Sanarai. “The support will be used to grow our team and scale our marketing efforts.” 

Grapefruit Health Founded by Eric Alvarez, Grapefruit Health is a Chicago based healthcare technology company that utilizes tech-enabled services to make a big impact in a healthcare organization’s ability to reach patients. 

By recruiting and training clinical students to interact with patients remotely, Grapefruit Health can engage the hardest to reach patients at the right cost and scale. The technology created by Alvarez and his team allows for secure communication and data retrieval which helps its users to make community referrals and escalate care as needed. Alvarez served in the United States Air Force during Iraqi Freedom and was most recently named a top 100 Rising LatinX founder and Distinguished Alumni of the Year from his Master’s program. 

“The Google for Startups award will be a significant contributor to our success,” says Eric Alvarez, Founder of Grapefruit Health. “This allows us to hire our head of clinical programs while helping us weather the current fundraising climate.” 

Connect Care Hero Osvaldo Montelongo, founded Connect Care Hero, which drives real engagement with older adults to help organizations improve health outcomes. Connect Care Hero’s organizations build engaging communities for their older adults. Our solution improves health outcomes by providing culturally relevant, evidence-based content to engage older adults of all backgrounds, and combat social isolation.

Connect Care Hero is tackling a trillion-dollar healthcare crisis that is impacting 80M older adults today, of which 78% have at least 1 chronic condition. These adverse health conditions disproportionately affect brown and black communities at higher rates.

“We are beyond honored to be part of the inaugural Google Latinx class and to be recognized by a leading global organization, like Google, means a lot to us and solidifies what we’re building in our space,” says Osvaldo Montelongo, CEO and Founder of Connect Care Hero. “We plan to use Google’s support to scale our technology to help us reach millions of lives in senior living using cultural programming as a way to tackle social isolation.” 

ONEBIT Omar Hernandez founded ONEBIT to help independent business owners make smarter financial decisions by providing valuable insights from their sales and expense data in one mobile-friendly platform.

 As a business owner himself, Omar has worked for a number of companies and industries ranging from digital marketing agencies, non-profits, and tech startups. Inspired by his mother, who worked in the food and beverage industry for the last 30 years, Omar built the ONEBIT application after hearing the many problems that small businesses face when keeping track of and managing resources. 

“The Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund means a lot to us, it’ll allow my team and I to continue our work to help local businesses in our community make better, more-informed financial decisions,” says Omar Hernandez, CEO & founder of ONEBIT. 

“The support will be used to develop new product features, hire technical talent, and help us expand to other cities in the U.S.” Route Ricardo Regalado founded Route to empower the cleaning industry by giving the SMB the power of tech to make data driven decisions to not only start but grow and scale their business. 

Route is the first to digitize the sales process from walkthrough to bid to proposals all on the same platform plus many more features. Ricardo started in the commercial cleaning industry 9 years ago with his Wife, Dad, Aunt and Cousin but quickly realized he wanted to grow and scale his business. Ricardo’s mission is to create jobs and help the everyday blue collar hard working American to earn a living while making a positive impact on his colleagues and team. 

“The Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund means that all of our hard work, blood, sweat and tears have been recognized and noticed,” says Ricardo Regalado, Founder and CEO of Route.

“The support will be used for a number of things such as payroll, marketing, development and maybe to pay myself $1 finally after 2 years of barely getting by in sheer grit and determination! We’ll be utilizing the Google family, resources and team to help us continue to learn, build and grow the company. 

We’ll be able to say Google is now assisting us with our mission to Empower the Cleaning Industry. This industry doesn’t get much recognition so the fact that Google believes in Route and our mission and vision is game changing.”


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