This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/challenging/amazing things. This is the story of Jacqueline Ros and her experience working in tech start-up culture as a young woman and a minority. Latinas make up 2% of the tech workforce.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m from Miami, FL and I’m 24 years old. I’m Cuban-Colombian. My love rock climbing, eating desserts and dancing for hours.
I am the CEO and Founder of Revolar
. I started Revolar
because my little sister was attacked twice before the age of 17. From her experiences, I learned that we can and should do more to keep our loved ones safe. So I patented and developed a wearable personal safety device allows you to connect with your loved ones when at risk.
When you were a kid, fantasizing about your future career, what did you imagine?
Oh gees, I wanted to do everything! I wanted to be a kung fu master, marine biologist, President of the United States, ambassador, ninja, UNICEF emergency services, social worker, Supreme Court justice… you name it. I’ve always enjoyed learning about a wide variety of topics and am inherently curious about all people and the world around me.
When did you realize that you were particularly good at math, science, and technology-related stuff?
I was an excellent student because I loved reading. I’m a daydreamer and reading always took me to new worlds. However, I was totally captain of the Brain Bowl in high school and competed in math competitions. My family was very proud and wanted me to go into medicine. My little sister went into nursing, but my passion for learning evolved into a passion for creating. I love seeing the fruit of my labors after a long project. I love building, creating, and bringing people together to work on a common mission.
Tell us a bit about your educational and professional path.
I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Florida with dual degrees in International Studies and Spanish. I spent every single summer traveling abroad and widening my view of the world. The most influential internship I had was with UNICEF in Geneva, Switzerland.
There are lots of ways to work in tech. What appealed to you about starting your own company?
Creating my own company was a necessity. I needed to keep my sister and family safe after her attacks and the passing of my father. I built a company because it was the best way to get this technology in the hands of my loved ones. From there, I fell in love with the industry and the challenge. It is a continuous learning experiencing and it motivates me every day.
When you were finding investors, hiring programmers, just generally navigating the world of tech startups – how did people react to you?
Ha! The reactions have been all across the board. I’ve had people tell me they don’t want to work for a woman. I’ve had people say that I’m too young and should let someone else come in. However, overall people have been incredibly gracious, kind, and considerate. My team is the best and I have a whole community rooting for us here in Colorado. I like to live by the motto that the one saying it can’t be done should not interrupt the person doing it.
What are some of the most ridiculous comments you’ve heard?
Unfortunately, a lot of people do not understand how many women have been victims of sexual assault and how many people live in fear every day. They’d like to think it doesn’t affect them. It couldn’t happen to their loved ones. I get it, but it makes it hard. For example, I was once trying to explain to an investor that one of our strengths is that I am a woman in our target market. I am a female between the ages of 18-30. His response was frustrating, “Don’t pull that gender card. I’m from Canada. We don’t have those problems there.”
Have there been any pleasant surprises?
The overwhelming community and team support. I cannot gush enough! So many people have been so kind to us. We are here because of the kindness and support of so many different people at different phases of our development.
Are there any benefits to being a woman in tech? A minority?
I believe it gives me a unique perspective but honestly, the court is still out on this one.
Launching a company is incredibly hard work – without the added challenge of sexism or racism. How do you take care of yourself? How do you keep your spirits up?
Honesty. I am a reflective person and I take the time to check in with myself. When I need a break, I take it. I surround myself with positive funny people and when I need to get away, I go hang out with them. Also, rock climbing is incredible for helping decrease stress but music can make me happy no matter how I am feeling. My team and my loved ones keep me going to. They make me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
What advice would you give to anyone else who’s navigating a challenging professional culture?
If you want it go for it! Just always do your research and due diligence. Energy is not enough, there has to be focus, vision, and a plan.
Thanks so much for sharing, Jacqueline! Do any of you ladies work in male-dominated fields? Do you have any questions for Jacqueline?