By Patricia Araque (Co-Founder, Ellas 2.0)
When I was a kid, I used to play to run my own school and write lists of imaginary students. I spent my time between papers and books and toy phones, imagining that I helped children find their paths.
Then I grew up and suddenly forgot my dreams. I chose to study advertising and public relations in college. There were hard years, mostly because I discovered that everything that I was studying inside the classroom had no sense at all — mainly because I felt that all my efforts were not aimed to build a better society. I was forgetting the woman that I wanted to be, a woman who didn’t like the imbalanced world around her and who wanted to change it.
After graduating, I worked for several companies as a PR and Marketing Manager. One day, I was as stuck in a traffic jam and realized that my life was in static state, too. I decided to take the control. I left my job and explored the idea of becoming my own boss, the owner of my own school.
I founded Atalaya Formacion in 2004, a small language school in a small town with a big purpose — to show the children of my community that English language is a powerful tool you can use to explore the world. Today, I can count almost a thousand students from 3 to 17 years old that have now been brought to understand, thanks to learning the English language, that the world can be small if your dreams are big.
This first entrepreneurial experience showed me three important things:
- Your team is the most important part of your project
- Your customers are your new boss when you start up your own business
- Invest in efforts to build a better society
If you are an entrepreneur, you can’t stop searching. My next search took me to San Francisco to meet another language school that created courses we were selling in Spain. That’s when I fell in love with the San Francisco Bay Area — you can’t avoid it if you believe that entrepreneurship is a state of mind.
I promised myself to come back to this side of the world one day or another to find what I knew was waiting for me in some corner of the Silicon Valley. I had no idea about how I was going to do it, I just knew it would happen. And it did.
A year later, I was planning another trip to San Francisco to meet Shaherose and the team at Women 2.0. I attended the first Women 2.0 Startup Weekend. My life is divided into two parts — the “before” and “after” of this trip.
The “after” is called Ellas 2.0, the counterpart of Women 2.0 in Spain that I founded. These last two years have been days and days of personal and professional growth, big dreams and awesome people. A meaningful life, I could say.
Starting up another educational startup called Corner Class and having a baby is just a consequence of being involved in what I consider is a powerful movement of female entrepreneurs.
I, as Margaret Mead said, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Patricia Araque is the Founder and President of Ellas 2.0, sister organization to Women 2.0 in Spain with the goal of increasing the number of female entrepreneurs in tech. She is heavily involved in the startup scene in Spain. Prior to Ellas 2.0, Patricia founded Atalaya Formacion. Currently she is launching an educational startup focused in get parents involved in education using mobile technology. Follow her on Twitter at @patriciaaraque and Ellas 2.0 at @ellas2.