Armando Vera Carvajal Accelerator Director at Newchip
5 Quick Q’s with Armando:
1) When and what was your first entrepreneurial experience?
Armando: “My first entrepreneurial experience – ever – was back at the age of fourteen. I was a part of the high school marching band and the annual trip that year was to Washington D.C. The catch was that to go I had to pay around $600. Granted, at that time, $600 was an absurdly infeasible amount of money that neither I or my parents could afford given our very limited financial resources. However, my heart was set on going on that trip. So I thought about the things I could do to make some money and I realized I already had a time-tested recipe for homemade pumpkin cheesecake. And that’s how I went to Washington D.C. I baked pumpkin cheesecakes in my parent’s kitchen and then went knocking (quite literally) on hundreds of doors across McAllen, Texas.
I also supplemented my revenue goals by creating an ancillary channel through home baked cookies. Every morning, I would wake up at 6 AM and bake dozens upon dozens of cookies – primarily chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, and oatmeal raisin. I would then package them up in Ziplock bags and sell them across my morning classes for $0.50 each.
Needless to say, this experience shaped my mindset, outlook, and attitude in deeply profound ways that would impact me greatly throughout my life’s journey. It also made my parents very proud because they were starting to witness the fruits of their hard labor and sacrifice; after giving up their entire lives, relationships, and professions in Mexico to immigrate to America in search of a better life and future for my sister and I, they were so genuinely grateful to see the beginnings of the American Dream taking root in my own personal life as I sampled my first taste of entrepreneurship.
2) What is your favorite thing about working for a startup? Least favorite thing?
Armando: “As cliché as it may sound: the endless possibilities! Unlike traditional work organizations, such as corporations and institutions, startups offer a world of big opportunities. Given that entrepreneurs are typically building something out of nothing, we get to play a major role in bringing real creativity, feedback, and contribution to the proverbial table. The cons: The cushion of financial security is inexistent at a startup. This is typically a dealbreaker for most people simply because they cannot afford to take on that level of risk. However, that is also why I find startups so intriguing – because I love to work on the big problems, the ones that scare off the masses.“
3) Why did you join Newchip?
“I joined Newchip because I wanted to explore the intersection between finance and entrepreneurship. Prior to joining the Newchip team, I was working on the Hedge Funds team at the Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG) where I helped buy-side investors perform due diligence and market research on public investments. The fundamental role that financiers play in the world of business intrigued me in ways I had never imagined.
After four years of building strong relationships, I had two options: go get an MBA from a top school before leaping into Wall Street or find a job in a given industry. Neither of those two options appealed to me. I wanted more. I wanted to build something. And not only that, I wanted to make a real difference in the world. Outside of government, entrepreneurship seemed like one of the most immediate and compelling ways to achieve that goal. Why? Because startups build things that didn’t already exist and by virtue of doing so they end up transforming the way we live on this planet. And the idea of that really, really, really appealed to me. It so happened that I actually knew someone who already worked at Newchip which helped me land an interview as a Producer. Now, two years later, after growing out of the Producer role into a Content Manager, a Program Manager, and a Program Director into the Accelerator Director of Newchip, I realized that I had made a good choice – a really great one, actually. Needless to say, joining Newchip has been one of the most important decisions I have ever made. It has morphed me into the person I am today and strengthened my resolve and passion for entrepreneurship.”
4) What inspires you most?
Armando: “Again, the possibilities! By sheer nature, I am a highly idealistic and artistic individual who believes the we can build a better world if we so choose to do so. The ability to impact the lives of millions upon billions of people across geographies, cultures, and one day planets, is a highly seductive one for me. I am inspired by the many opportunities and possibilities we have today to change the trajectory of our future. Now more than ever, it is easier to build something that can actually make a difference.
The more immediate thing that inspires me is the deep level of sacrifice and grit my parents have demonstrated in their lives. My mother gave up her career as a doctor and my father gave up his highly-promising career in government – his goal was to become the President of Mexico! But they put those personal ambitions aside so that they come to America in pursuit of a better life and dream for my little sister and I. They literally sold everything they owned, packed their lives, and we four flew to America as missionaries in 1994 – back when I was four. I remember times being so hard that I used to measure the level of our success as a family by how often we replaced the dish soap in the kitchen! I barely learned to speak English when I was in the third grade! And trying to fit in a fundamentally different culture unlike the warm and accepting one that you typically find in Mexico was very challenging, and at times it continues to be so today.
The level of selflessness and grit that my parents demonstrated played a tremendous role in my life – it inspired me to always dream big, take serious risks, and pursue my dreams unlike ever before.”
5) When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Armando: “I wanted to be a commercial pilot. And at times, I still do. I’ve had a huge love for commercial aviation from a very young age. I’m not immediately sure from where this obsession came but I’m almost certain it stems from the fact my dad traveled a lot when I was a kid back in Mexico.
One of my favorite moments in life is whenever I am on an airplane and it is in those final seconds once tower control clears the plane for take off. The feeling that you can go anywhere, the sensation that one experiences when the jet engines throttle to max power is truly exhilarating. When the airplane is about to jet up high into the sky, makes me feel empowered almost as if it whispered to me: ‘You can go anywhere, you can achieve anything your mind and heart desire, if you so have the courage to pursue it.'”
BONUS Q: If you could have dinner with anyone in the world alive or deceased who would it be and why?
Armando: “It would be dinner with Vincent Van Gogh. I admire him so much because he believed in himself when no one else on the face of the planet did. He had a dream, a vision of life, and a profound understanding of the human experience which he then translated into a highly creative art format.
If I had a chance to dine with Van Gogh, I would tell him that there is hope, that nearly every single person in the world knows who he is, that the richest of the rich are fighting to get their hands on his artwork, and that he has undeniably changed the trajectory of human history, forever. Somehow, I get the feeling that he would be surprised and amused by this revelation even though it would change little.
We need more visionaries, more dreamers, more hopeless romantics, more idealists like Van Gogh, today and far into the future if we humans want to remain in existence as a viable species. Van Gogh also inspired me to start painting!”
Let’s Connect! Follow Armando on LinkedIn here
At Newchip, we are a conglomeration of innovators, self-starters, and thinkers. Our network of employees is connected through our love of entrepreneurship both inside and outside the office.
We are inspired by go-getters and entrepreneurial leaders – and that begins and ends with the founders we get to work with.
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