By: Laura DeMassa, Fund Manager ’22-’23

Yasmin Cruz Ferrine is the General Partner and Co-Founder of Visible Hands, a venture capital firm based in Boston, Massachusetts. Visible Hands manages a venture capital fund and operates accelerator and fellowship programs for early-stage, high-growth startups by underrepresented founders. Since 2020, Visible Hands has sourced over 6,000 underrepresented founders building technology companies.

Cruz Ferrine entered venture capital because of the major gaps in access to wide swaths of capital for underrepresented founders. In 2020, Cruz Ferrine founded Visible Hands with Daniel Acheampong and Justin Kang. 

Cruz Ferrine leads capital-raising and thought leadership at the firm. Her goal is to change the narrative about underrepresented founders in tech and to provide data about underrepresented founders. Cruz Ferrine also serves on the investment committee and focuses on startups in the family, tech, and fintech spaces.

Despite the challenging macroeconomic climate, she points to the incredible frontiers in technology and artificial intelligence as opportunities for venture capital funds to make social impact. For example, venture capital funds can invest in companies that are training data to be ethical and combat biases in the data. 

According to Cruz Ferrine, the best way to support underrepresented founders is to write checks. There are exceptional, underrepresented founders across all industries to satisfy any venture capital fund’s investment thesis. 

Investing in Founders 

Visible Hands looks for founders with “scrappiness” and resilience. Startup plans will inevitably iterate and obstacles will inevitably arise. Thus, Visible Hands looks for founders who have overcome challenging environments or thrived in resource-constrained situations, whether in personal or business contexts. To Cruz Ferrine, an ideal founder is one who meets challenges with professionalism, resilience, and fortitude. 

In addition, Visible Hands looks for a clear value proposition for the startup and why the founder is the person to solve the problem at hand. For example, a founder may be uniquely qualified to solve a problem due to personal experience or deep industry knowledge. 

Visible Hands looks for founders who understand a clear go-to-market strategy. While a founder may have a great product, they need great distribution channels as well. 


Advice for Students Seeking to Break into Venture Capital 

Cruz Ferrine emphasizes the importance of relationships in venture capital. A venture capitalist must build strong relationships with other investors in order to co-invest and help support their portfolio companies in upstream fundraising rounds. Also, a venture capitalist must develop strong relationships with the limited partners to raise capital and with founders to deploy such capital.

Ultimately, to be a leader in venture capital, it is not who you know or even what you know, but how you treat people. It is an honor and a privilege, says Cruz Ferrine, to invest in others and on behalf of others.