Suma Wealth Raises $2 Million to Help Latinos Manage Money

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Suma Wealth Raises $2 Million to Help Latinos Manage Money
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Even as the Latino middle class grows, the wealth gap persists. A typical white family has five times more wealth than Latinos. Suma was founded nine months ago by CEO Beatriz Acevedo with the goal of bridging the Latinos wealth gap.

A seasoned tech entrepreneur who founded Latino-focused entertainment company Mitú, which was acquired last year by GoDigital Media Group owner of Latido Networks for an undisclosed amount. Mitú had raised $52 million, but struggled especially during the pandemic. She also runs her family's California charity, the Acevedo Foundation.


Acevedo, who was born in Tijuana and has called herself "a proud border girl," wanted to build an app that helped a new generation plan their financial future.

Suma combines several tools in its "dinero toolkit" to help Latinos manage their money including savings goal trackers and tips and calculators to help people rent or buy a home and pay off credit card debt.

Acevedo said Latinos from many countries have struggled to maintain wealth or learn about money because of unpredictable governments – and older generations still recall hardship accessing their money during changing regimes.

"The problem that we have is that there's so much distrust in our community, in financial institutions, and even FinTech companies," Acevedo said. "Our parents and our grandparents come from countries of origin where they had tremendous financial hardship – whether you were in Mexico in a crazy devaluation, or Venezuela or Argentina, where you could never pull out your money from your bank one day and everything you've built is gone."

Suma CEO Beatriz Acevedo

This distrust coupled with a lack of personalized messaging and often shoddy translation means that many Latinos feel isolated and have difficulty navigating their finances using traditional banks and are looking elsewhere, Acevedo said.

Roughly 22,000 people are on the waitlist to use Suma, and it has built an online community of nearly 340,000, Acevedo said. While most Suma users are in California, it also has users in Chicago, New York and Texas. But it is looking to expand and just got a lifeline with a fresh round of funding.

This week, it announced that it raised $2 million to expand its operations and launch mobile apps next month.

The round was led by Chingona Ventures partner Samara Hernandez. Unlike most fintech companies, Suma board and investors are incredibly diverse – Acevedo said its cap table is 77% female and 72% Latino.

Hernandez is on Suma's board and told the Wall Street Journal during its seed raise she was inspired by Acevedo's pitch. "Before she had a name, I was in… I was sold immediately," Hernandez told the Journal.

Suma has raised $3.3 million since its 2020 launch following this round. It will use the new funding to hire more staff and launch its upcoming mobile apps. It generates revenue through subscriptions, but the web platform is now free.

Acevedo said the company is prioritizing digital expansion because its main audience is Millennials and Generation Z – young Latinos ages 28 to 35. As an added bonus, Acevedo said many of those younger users can also encourage their older family members to also get on the app.

Suma's investors also include Los Angeles-based Vamos Ventures' founder Marcos Gonzalez, Ulu Ventures, OVO Fund, Vitalize VC, Supercharged Initiative, The Fund and Gaingels.

Bridging the Gap

The Latino-White wealth gap is staggering, and the pandemic only exacerbated the problem. Acevedo noted the average Latino man makes $.55 for every dollar earned by a white man.

According to the Federal Reserve's most recent survey of consumer finances, the average white family's wealth is roughly five times that of a Hispanic family.

Latinos are gaining ground – the Urban Institute reported this year a young and growing Latino population is expected to make up most new homeowners through 2040 – an estimated 4.8 million more homeowners.

Young Latinos, Acevedo said, "are the ones entering the workforce at the fastest rate and it's a group that has the least wealth."

Acevedo wants to target these potential new homeowners and teach them valuable financial literacy skills to help protect their investments.

One feature launched this week is a financial checkup tool that analyzes a handful of features that impact a person's overall wealth including net worth, debt to income ratio, budgeting and emergency savings to calculate its version of a credit score.

In August, Suma ran Dinero Bootcamp, a youth-focused financial literacy workshop that helped 125 Latinos learn about their money. Wells Fargo granted an undisclosed sum to help Suma target local neighborhoods like Huntington Park, South Central, Downtown and Boyle Heights.

"We're excited to see that (Suma) works, that our community is excited to learn and to do better, and that they trust us, so we need to continue to arm them with all the tools and information and resources," Acevedo said.

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From Pitch Meetings to Power Lunches: LA’s Exclusive Membership Clubs 🗝️

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Summer's here, so it's time to zhuzh up your work environment. Discovering the best membership and social clubs in Los Angeles for meetings can boost networking and collaboration, offering exclusive venues and premium amenities tailored for professionals and creatives to thrive amidst the city's vibrant backdrop. These clubs provide a sophisticated setting for productive gatherings and meaningful connections in LA. Here are some top private member clubs perfect for meetings and productive work sessions.

The Jonathan Club

Club Details: The Jonathan Club, one of Los Angeles' original membership clubs, has been a cornerstone of the city's elite social scene since its founding in the mid-1890s. Its legacy is intertwined with the growth and development of LA itself, most notably through a pivotal meeting held at the club that sparked the idea for a southern campus of the University of California—what would eventually become UCLA. Today, the Jonathan Club continues to offer its members an unparalleled experience of exclusivity and refinement. With locations in both DLTA and Santa Monica, members enjoy access to premium amenities and spaces and a calendar with hundreds of social events and workshops throughout the year, providing ample opportunities for networking, personal growth, and leisure activities.

Membership Details: Initiation fee is around $50,000, and admission typically requires that you be invited or know someone who is already a member.

Spring Place

Image Source: Spring Place

Neighborhood: Beverly Hills

Club Details: A mix between co-working space and social club, this Beverly Hills hotspot is a more exclusive version of similar clubs. Spring Place Beverly Hills spans three floors and offers a stunning art collection. The interior is filled with tons of natural light and has an intentional design that fuels members to harness some of their best work. Members also have access to luxurious dining and nightlife pop-ups that happen at Spring Place.

Membership Details: There is a non-refundable initiation fee of $500 and then local membership for people under 30 starts at $300 per month, while monthly membership for locals over 30 is $600.

Griffin Club

Image Source: Griffin Club

Neighborhood: Cheviot Hills

Club Details: Located in Cheviot Hills, Griffin Club LA is a sporty club with ample shared workspace. Following a $20M renovation in 2020, the club now boasts seven LED-lit tennis courts, four LED-lit pickleball courts, two recreational lap pools, a 25-meter family pool for kids, an adults-only resort pool, and childcare services. It's the ideal destination for a clientele looking to mix work with competitive sport.

Membership Details: Membership is by invitation only and is subject to approval. Membership prices at the club vary. A family membership entails a $12,000 initial fee plus a $450 monthly fee, while a junior membership only entails a $2,000 initiation fee and a $205 monthly fee.

Soho House West Hollywood

Image Source: Soho House West Hollywood

Neighborhood: West Hollywood

Club Details: Soho House West Hollywood provides a stylish and exclusive work and meeting destination, featuring chic meeting rooms and workspaces with panoramic views of Los Angeles. Combining luxury amenities with a creative atmosphere, it offers an ideal setting for networking, collaboration, productive sessions, and an amazing Sunday brunch!

Membership Details: Two current member referrals are needed, plus an online application, and a recent photo to confirm your identity. Quarterly memberships start at $675.25, but if you’re under 27, you can pay $337.75 quarterly. However, if you want access to every house, membership costs $5,250.00 annually, or $2,650.00 if you’re under 27.

Little Beach House Malibu

Image Source: Little Beach House Malibu

Neighborhood: Malibu

Club Details: The Little Beach House Malibu is a small, local club for the creative community of Malibu and the surrounding coastal areas. The club is known for its magnificent dining room, bar, sitting room and terrace. It is the perfect place for a truly memorable work meal.

Membership Details: Malibu Beach House is not included in the Soho House membership. If you are an existing member, you can apply for “Malibu Plus” for an additional $2,190 a year, or $1,095 if you’re under 27.

San Vicente Bungalows

Image Source: San Vicente Bungalows

Neighborhood: West Hollywood

Club Details: San Vicente Bungalows is an exclusive, members-only social club located in West Hollywood, California, offering a luxurious and private environment for its high-profile clientele. The club is renowned for its strict privacy policies, elegant decor, and high-end amenities, catering to celebrities (and royals) and industry elites seeking a discreet space to unwind and socialize.

Membership Details: You must be nominated by a current club member to apply. Applications are evaluated monthly and annual dues start at $4,200 plus a $1,800 initiation fee.

The Aster

Image Source: The Aster

Neighborhood: Hollywood

Club Details: The Aster, located at the iconic intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, redefines the modern members' club with its emphasis on warmth and hospitality, blending public hotel amenities with private club exclusivity. Featuring bright, airy spaces and top-notch facilities such as an outdoor pool, recording studio, and rooftop bar, it offers a fluid environment for work, relaxation, and socializing.

Membership Details: Memberships start at $3,600 per year and be acquired by filling out an application. In addition to uploading a photo, hopeful members also have to write a small bio while highlighting their interests, skills, profession, and hobbies.

NeueHouse

Image Source: NeueHouse

Neighborhood: Venice/Hollywood/DTLA

Club Details: NeueHouse in LA is a chic private workspace and cultural hub designed for creative professionals, offering sophisticated workspaces, a dynamic calendar of cultural programming, and luxurious amenities. Situated in three bustling neighborhoods across LA, it provides a collaborative environment where members can work, network, and unwind in style.

Membership Details: You have to apply for the Salon membership, which includes questions like “dream dinner guests (dead or alive?)." Annual dues for Salon memberships are $3,000 plus a $200 joining fee. You can also inquire about the Gallery membership for flexible workspaces and offices for individuals or teams, starting at $595 per month, with various options depending on your needs.

🧬🔬AI-Driven Drug Discovery

🔦 Spotlight

Terray Therapeutics is at the forefront of AI-assisted drug discovery and development, operating a cutting-edge laboratory in Monrovia, California. The facility, roughly two-thirds the size of a football field, functions as a data powerhouse, generating over 50 terabytes of raw data daily, which is an amount of information equivalent to 12,000 high definition movies, through its miniaturized automation processes.

Terray Therapeutics exemplifies a new wave of innovative companies harnessing artificial intelligence to revolutionize drug discovery and development. The key to their approach lies in generating vast amounts of high-quality experimental data to train their AI systems. This data-driven strategy enables rapid experimentation and pattern recognition, allowing the AI to make informed predictions about potential treatments. Terray's generative AI can digitally design drug molecules, which are then synthesized and tested in their high-speed automated laboratory. The platform measures the interaction between these molecules and target proteins, with both successful and unsuccessful results feeding back into the AI system.

This iterative process creates a powerful feedback loop, continuously refining the AI's predictive capabilities and accelerating the drug discovery process. Terray's tNova platform integrates chemical experimentation and computation at an unprecedented scale, producing massive amounts of precise, purpose-built data that becomes increasingly valuable with each cycle of design and experimentation. This unique blend of experimentation and computation allows Terray to efficiently explore a vast molecular space, potentially solving complex problems in drug discovery faster and more effectively than traditional methods.

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LA Companies

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  • Webtoon Entertainment, an online cartoon company based in LA carved out of South Korea's Naver, set IPO terms to 15m shares at $18-$21. It would have a $2.6b fully diluted market value, were it to price in the middle, and plans to list on the Nasdaq (WBTN). - learn more
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Sony Pictures Experiences Division Formed After Alamo Drafthouse Acquisition

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Sony Pictures Experiences Division Formed After Alamo Drafthouse Acquisition

🔦 Spotlight

Sony Pictures Entertainment has acquired Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in a groundbreaking deal that marks the first time in over 75 years a major Hollywood studio will own a movie theater chain. This acquisition signals a potential shift towards vertical integration in the film industry, with Sony gaining more control over the distribution and exhibition of its films.

The deal allows Sony to expand its presence in experiential entertainment, aligning with its vision of engaging audiences outside the home through unique offerings. Alamo Drafthouse's innovative dine-in movie experience, devoted fanbase, and curated programming like Fantastic Fest make it an appealing acquisition target. Sony stressed that Alamo will continue operating its 35 locations under CEO Michael Kustermann, who will head the new Sony Pictures Experiences division.

While the move provides financial backing for Alamo after its bankruptcy struggles, questions remain about whether the chain can maintain its independent spirit and personality under Sony's ownership. Alamo is renowned for creative programming like themed events, interactive screenings, and a strict no-talking policy that has cultivated a passionate community of moviegoers. Balancing this distinct identity with Sony's corporate interests will be a key challenge moving forward.

From a technological standpoint, this move opens up possibilities for Sony to enhance the moviegoing experience at Alamo Drafthouse locations through integration of advanced audiovisual systems, immersive technologies, and projection/sound solutions. In addition, Sony could create a more seamless and connected experience for moviegoers, such as through integrated ticketing platforms, mobile apps, and personalization driven by data analytics. While specific technological plans are not detailed, the combination of Sony's resources and Alamo Drafthouse's innovative approach could foster synergies and drive the development of new technologies to differentiate the theatrical experience further.

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LA Companies

  • Apex, a satellite bus maker, raised a $95M funding round co-led by XYZ VC and CRV joined by Upfront Ventures, 8VC, Toyota Ventures, Point72 Ventures and others. - learn more
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  • Daisy, a small business tech installation startup, raised an $11M Series A co-led by Goldcrest and Bungalow. - learn more
  • Pyte, a startup that allows companies in highly regulated industries like finance and healthcare to perform computations on encrypted data without ever decrypting it, raised a $5M Funding Round led by Myriad Venture Partners. - learn more

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