So Veronica, tell us about yourself
I was born in Dallas, but I call the Rio Grande Valley Home. I am the oldest of five wonderfully supportive siblings and two magnificent and confidence-boosting parents. I am the first person in my entire family to graduate from college. My husband and I met when we were 18 and have been together for 16 years. We have two beautiful children, Adriana and Marcelo. My entire life, I have been influenced and motivated to impact the world to be better. When my daughter was diagnosed with autism at two and a half years old, my family and I began the journey of what it meant to raise a child with a diagnosis. She is a unique individual with strengths and weaknesses like everyone else and I work tirelessly to promote a world that will be inclusive and will view her based on her abilities, and not what the world views to be a disability.
Professionally, I work as a Parent Liaison, or as I like to call it, a Parent Empowerment Specialist. I encourage families to find their voice, help them learn how to advocate for themselves and cheer them on as they begin to exercise their power. Better Beehive Project was inspired out of numerous life experiences and a common thread that I found amongst parents, no matter their child’s diagnosis, a desire and yearning for Accessibility, Empowerment and Inclusion of their child. I wholeheartedly believe these principals can create a better world for ALL, those with a diagnosis and those without.
What is your background?
I am a Latina. My mother came to the United States from Gomez-Palacio Mexico, in the state of Durango on a student visa, at the age of 16, and as many immigrants do, ended up staying in pursuit of a brighter future for herself and her future children. Her brave decision into the unknown is an inspiration and was a catalyst for me to earn her resolve that she made the right decision to leave her family in Mexico in pursuit of something more. My father is a self-proclaimed Tejano that has worked in the transportation industry, first as a dock-hand at 14, and eventually earning his way to become Regional Director for a national freight company. I grew up in the Rio Grande Valley and I watched my parents place our education as paramount importance struggling to pay our way through private school until 8th grade. I went to the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio as the first person to pursue a bachelors degree, and finished with a bachelors degree from the University of Texas San Antonio. I never lost focus on my calling to help others and worked as a captionist for the deaf and hard of hearing throughout my college career.
How was your upbringing?
I am very proud of my upbringing and it inspires me as a mother today. I am the oldest of five and they are now my best friends and one of my greatest supports. I think they taught me the greatest lesson as an entrepreneur, which is collaboration. We always protected each other and everything we did was always together. My parents instilled unrelenting confidence in me. I believe that I was born with a fighting spirit and I thank my parents for not squashing that spirit. I would say that I grew up with my husband since we met at such a young age. He is my best friend and has always been my grounding force, he masterfully walks a very delicate balance between supporting my dreams and grounding me when I become overwhelmed.
What inspired you to take a risk and become an entrepreneur?
Not fitting in inspired me to become an entrepreneur. I have never been a person that knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grow up. I remember at around second grade when people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grow up, I would respond “I want to be a nun-lawyer”. I loved that nuns promoted kindness, goodness and helping others, but I also love to fight and advocate and therefore nun-lawyer seemed the best answer to my 7-year-old self. Any role I take on, I would be given leadership opportunities because I have a compulsion to create, think and wonder about the possibilities, but I would always push the envelope of the “conventions” and ultimately felt stifled and suffocated. I would say that entrepreneurship called me, as I am a creative problem-solver, I am invigorated by wondering and I let my mind think about different possibilities. Entrepreneurship is the only calling that satisfies my creative problem-solving, my calling to serve people and my compulsion to advocate for others. I feel more alive as an entrepreneur.
What problem is your company focused on solving?
The mission of the Better Beehive Project is to promote Accessibility, Empowerment and Inclusion of the Special Needs Community in pursuit of a better world for ALL.
What is your biggest challenge building Better Beehive?
My challenge is that I am not a technical person so building a business surrounding a website is difficult. I believe technology broadens our worlds and my dream is to take the work I provide for individual families here in Travis County of empowerment and advocacy and bring that to the world wide web. Because the project is in its seedling stage, my greatest challenge is inspiring people to work on the project with basically no money but the hope for a better world.
I work really hard, and I love it! I recently suffered a mini-stroke in September. I was working full-time as a parent liaison for Travis County, came home and would enjoy my most important role as a mother and wife and then when my children were asleep would work through the night on my MVP for the website. Plus I serve the community on a couple of Boards for non-profits. It is an odd feeling, my life is so rich and I feel so blessed, but my body could not take any more. My greatest struggle is to learn balance and practice what I preach when I encourage the parents I serve to put self-care as a priority.
With diversity being a hot topic, what are your thoughts surrounding the topic?
Diversity is the enriching force that creates a stronger community. I think of diversity like the rich soil in a vibrant garden, without rich healthy soil the garden will not grow. Celebrating our different histories, cultures, ethnicities, and abilities is imperative to creating a long-lasting and vibrant society.
After my health scare, I had to make a decision and take a risk. I thought about my mother taking a risk at the age of 16 to come to the United States in pursuit of her dreams and to create a better life for her children. It is a very similar risk, it is scary to believe that I am flying solo and that I am pursuing something untried in my family, but I believe that becoming an entrepreneur will demonstrate to my children, the same way my mom led by example that it is okay to take risks. Every time I leave my children to go to a meeting, I tell my kids, “Okay mom has to go, I’m going to go follow my dream.” I want them to see that they should follow their dreams because life is not meant to be easy, life is meant to be real.
What compelled you to take a risk and start your company?
I am focused on solving this problem because of the special needs community. According to the last census, this community is 19% of the US population, with 7% being children.
“I am a mother of a child with special needs and I want her to have access to every opportunity she wants to take.”
I am a mother of a child with special needs and I want her to have access to every opportunity she wants to take. I want her to feel empowered to let her light shine and I want her to be included in our society because she is amazing and there are many children and individuals just like her out there and the world will be a better place when we purposefully engage them. I want for our world to be more inclusive of ALL, I believe that creates a more resilient community when diversity is embraced and we cultivate our unique strengths.
“Collaboration is imperative. Genuinely invest in other people’s dreams.”
Collaboration is imperative, genuinely invest in other peoples dreams, it may seem counterintuitive but I have found it to reinvigorate me every time. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Be real and do not be afraid to be vulnerable with your weaknesses and confident in your strengths. People are more willing to help that way. Keep an open-mind, wide eyes, and never stop wondering the “what-ifs?”
What would you challenge aspiring entrepreneurs to do before they begin?
Find support. I found Hispanic Hackers and they have become my friends, mentors and an amazing source of confidence and resources. I also love the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck and Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.
Interested in supporting or connecting with Veronica?
The BLNDED Founders Series features diverse startup founders building companies. If you’re interested in being featured, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.