Introduction / “Ice Breaker”
(I wrote this as a Toastmasters speech in Nov. 2017)
I was born in Colombia to two entrepreneurial parents one of whom owns a school. Ever since I was little I knew business and helping others was what I wanted to do when I grew up. When I was 7 years old my mom took me to the outskirts of town where I saw people living in extreme poverty. We went up to a family and told them we’d like to offer their kids the opportunity to attend our school and we would provide uniforms, supplies, and transportation. Seeing how thankful the kids were and how happy they were throughout the year to be able to be in school and have an opportunity to get an education, which I never realized was not an option for some, really made an impact on me.
Then when I was 8 I learned how to play Monopoly and I fell in LOVE with it. The negotiating, the buying, the strategizing, even advising my sister and cousins on which moves to make and lending them some money to keep them in the game longer and learn how it works. Ever since then I knew business was what I wanted to do. Then other things kept coming up that made me extremely happy like in school when we were given boxes of chocolate to sell for a fundraiser. I broke the school record and sold out the next day. Instead of getting more boxes for myself I got my friend’s boxes and helped them sell out as well, the testing of different strategies and helping them reach their goals and learn along the way made me very happy, even more than just getting more points for myself.
Fast forward to my freshman year at SMU: I volunteered to help an entrepreneur (@Villy Custom) with little things I knew how to do like video editing or the basics of social media. Once I got a sense for the difference those efforts were making, I couldn’t stop. All I wanted to do all day is look up ways to get even better results through marketing and also other sides of the business, like going fully online to save $$ on the storefront and save time, building unique products to make us stand out, and using data to track all of our experiments. Before I knew it, at 18, I had helped accelerate the business so much that I was brought on as a co-founder. This gave me my ‘in’ into the startup and business world. Went through a lot of ups, like getting funding on Shark Tank and partnerships with great companies like Google, but also had our downs.
I did that for three years. Then my senior year in college I took an entrepreneurship class where we had to create a very detailed 50+ page business plan as our semester project. Being that I was working full time on our start-up and also going to school full time, I decided that if I was going to do the class, I really wanted to make it count. One of the tips we were given when thinking of a business was to look at our own credit card statements and see where our dollars were going. I realized that while I was getting my haircut for free in my cousin’s bathroom, I was spending about $70 every two weeks on my dog’s hair on top of his toys, fancy food, and many other things to spoil him. This meant we were doing our business plan on a dog daycare and grooming place. Once the business plan was coming together I went to out to find someone to help finance it and we brought it to life.
A year after Pawliday Inn was started my mom was able to quit her job as a teacher and take over. After four years of start-ups and work I felt it was time to follow my other passion and travel. After a few months on the road, I found and joined a program called Remote Year where a group of 75 digital nomads travel the world together, 12 countries in 12 months. While in Bolivia having the time of my life in the salt flats I shattered my foot while jumping for a photo. This led me back to Colombia a bit earlier than planned to get surgery and go through 3 months of physical therapy and recovery. But it was okay because I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and sure enough, while I was there I met Jeff, from another Remote Year group, and while talking about how challenging it was to keep up with where everyone was traveling to we decided to start a company together and solve our problem.
That’s how we started our current venture, Nomo FOMO, so you have No more fear of missing out on crossing paths with your network during your travels.
The plan is to make Nomo FOMO as successful as we possibly can over these next few years and then my goal is to get into Stanford’s dual MBA and Masters in Education program as the perfect transition to my biggest ambition: to go back to Colombia and build as many schools and give as many kids the opportunity and basic right to an education just as we did when I was 7yrs old. Not only creating these schools but making sure they are self-sustainable and also ran like a startup. Always testing new and better methods to increase the impact it has on every child and family.