By Michael Blanding
When Luis Gonzalez (B’15) was a young boy growing up in Peru, he watched his father start multiple ventures as a serial entrepreneur.
“I’ve been in boardrooms since I was 11,” Gonzalez says. By age 13, he was buying stocks, and by 15, he was serving on those same boards.
But mostly he was having fun — driving the boat for his father’s fishing company, or harvesting in the fields alongside workers in an agricultural venture. “I was starting to make the connection between how the decisions made in the boardroom affected the actual operations of the business,” Gonzalez says. “That got me hooked on the ability entrepreneurs have to influence and change people’s lives.”
As co-founder and partner of venture capital firm Outbound Ventures, Gonzalez now is influencing the lives of other entrepreneurs by investing in the companies launched by and for millennials. In the two years since he and partner Nael Rasamny (C’15) started the fund, they’ve invested more than $1.5 million in seed money for 16 companies. By focusing on businesses that resonate with young, digitally native consumers, the firm’s return on investment has topped 40 percent on companies that have raised follow-on funding.
“Large brands often struggle to connect with our generation,” Gonzalez says. “That has created space for smaller brands to succeed by catching a real niche demographic and communicating with them through online channels.”
Gonzalez first experienced Georgetown University through the Fundamentals of Business program as a sophomore in high school and was drawn to its international feel. As a student at Georgetown McDonough, he appreciated the team-based nature of class work, which prepared him well for communicating with companies and investors. He met Rasamny, a Georgetown government major, in an investment club. Together, they started a fund during college and became the youngest-ever investment advisers registered in Washington, D.C. After graduation, Gonzalez worked briefly at Merrill Lynch, but he missed the hands-on experience of working with companies that he had in his youth. As a result, he and Rasamny began working after hours on a new fund that would become Outbound Ventures.
“Large brands often struggle to connect with our generation. That has created space for smaller brands to succeed by catching a real niche demographic and communicating with them through online channels.”
—Luis Gonzalez (B’15)
As millennials themselves, Gonzalez says they have a leg up on other investors in being able to spot promising trends. One example is Ark Foods, a company that is “trying to change the way our generation sees vegetables,” says Gonzalez, with quick ready-to-assemble snacks for busy young people. “I might not cook a squash, but I can take a squash already cut in half and pop it in the microwave, then drizzle it with salted honey for a snack on the way to work.”
Another company, Mented, appeals to millennials’ embrace of diversity with cosmetics made for women of color. “Nowadays you have women and men with a stronger sense of self who want to express themselves the way they want to, not the way they are told to,” Gonzalez says.
Gonzalez has embraced his roots by making a donation to help sponsor Georgetown’s The Magis: Peru Immersion Experience. The program partners with a Jesuit university in Peru to bring students and faculty for a 10-day cultural exchange focusing on global justice.
“It’s important for me to give students an opportunity to experience another culture, especially Peru,” Gonzalez says. “At the same time, I’d love for more Peruvian students to go to Georgetown, so anything that exposes them to the university is something I’d like to help support.”
Published in Georgetown Business Magazine, Spring 2018