Lightspeed Venture Partners
Stanford Univeristy and Harvard University
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, and managing P&L at startups in VR and EdTech, and her long-term goal of empowering communities she cares about. She began her venture capital career at Owl Ventures before joining Lightspeed’s consumer investing team in 2019.
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, customer service, talent and recruiting, product management, design, sales, marketing, strategy, and general management.
A few years ago, Mercedes bootstrapped a consulting VR business. By experiencing first-hand how much work goes into launching a business, she gained even more respect for founders. She also realised 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 Hispanic founders got funded,” said Mercedes. “I realised 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.”
She has a MBA and Masters in Education from Stanford University and an AB from Harvard University. Outside of work, she mentors founders as part of the Stanford Latino Internship Initiative and serves as a board member for the non-profit Birthright AFRICA.
This interview is exclusively open to LSE students.