Mercedes’ path to VC is a true convergence of her life experiences — a childhood surrounded by inventors, studies at Harvard and Stanford, finance roles at the Federal Reserve and Goldman, managing P&Ls at two consumer startups (including growing one from $2 to $100M in revenue in 4 years), founding two startups of her own, and her long-term goal of empowering communities she cares about.
She joined Lightspeed’s consumer investing team in 2019 and today co-leads the LATAM region, the scout fund, and invests in early stage consumer companies that are unlocking wealth creation for underserved individuals and regions whether that’s through crypto, fintech, career mobility, or the creator economy.
Born in North Carolina and raised in California, Mercedes’ parents introduced her to web development at a young age and dinner table conversations were centered around the next invention by the family. So it’s no surprise that Mercedes found herself working at startups in her early career as a Product Manager and later as a General Manager. She loved the feeling of seeing something she helped build make an impact in the world.
During her startup career, she served in almost every functional role – she had roles spanning operations, product management, customer service, talent and recruiting, design, sales, marketing, strategy, and general management. Her founders consistently reference how that experience enables her to advise them with patience, honesty, and empathy.
She also realized around the same time that she could actually be the agent of change she wanted to see in startup culture – specifically for underrepresented founders and ideas. “I didn’t have to wait on the sidelines and keep hoping more women and Black and Latino founders got funded,” said Mercedes. “I realized I could go and be part of the solution. As an African-American of Bermudian, Grenadian, and Colombian heritage with southern roots, seeing progress hits very close to home, and I’ve been proud my investments reflect that mission.”
She’s also passionate about blending consumer behavioral insights into consumer and wealth creation products. Whether she’s speaking on CNBC about retail investing or at a crypto conference about NFTs or sharing thoughts in the WSJ or Bloomberg, she’s always thinking about how consumer behavior and pop culture intersect. “I am fascinated by human behavior and am always studying why people do what they do. Habit creation is incredibly difficult and startups that utilize behavioral insights to nudge people along these transformational journeys really stand out to me.
Harnessing the power of communities and tapping into pop culture can be incredibly powerful tools to influence behavior and drive mass adoption,” said Mercedes. “The only constant in startups is change and adapting to this means staying focused on your north star through being the voice of your customer, driving value through deep community engagement, helping them create habits and riding the tides of cultural movements with them.”
A member of Lightspeed’s consumer and crypto investing team, Mercedes is primarily focused on investing in crypto, fintech, and other wealth-building and consumer products. She has a MBA and Masters in Education from Stanford University and an AB from Harvard University in Behavioral Economics. Outside of work, she enjoys staying active – rock scrambling, hiking, skiing and off-roading in her Jeep – and staying true to her nerdy roots – reading fantasy & scifi novels, playing Catan, and dealing playing cards very, very fast.