Eduardo Venegas grew up helping his parents with their hotel business in Costa Rica. He became closely involved over the years, watching as his parents learned the hard way about the process of developing their own business. Venegas said that their dedication and passion rewarded them with success in the end.
“It taught me how starting from the bottom could be a challenging, but rewarding experience,” Venegas said. “My parents’ business was also my home. It was in this setting that I developed leadership skills by helping customers and solving problems. Most important, this responsibility instilled a strong work ethic and built self-worth, qualities that have been of much help later in my personal and professional life.”
Later, while obtaining his B.S. in computer systems engineering at Universidad Latina in Costa Rica, his enthusiasm for business and travel prompted him to start his own travel business, Flor de Lis Naturalist Tours. He found it exciting to create and develop his own business ideas.
Venegas later worked for the University of Georgia’s Costa Rica campus, where he directed the department of logistics and information technology. It was a great experience in a multi-cultural setting where he learned the importance of networking and teamwork. Working for UGA Costa Rica gave Venegas a broader perspective about the world and motivation to achieve greater things. It also made him recognize how much easier it would have been for his parents to develop their business if they had furthered their education.
A stronger believer in education, Venegas moved to the U.S. to pursue an MBA with a concentration in strategic leadership at Winthrop University. While there, he had the opportunity to work at the Winthrop Region SBDC as a graduate assistant helping entrepreneurs achieve their business goals. After graduation, he was offered a fulltime position working with small business clients from start-ups to existing companies.
Venegas has developed a program to reach the Hispanic community including translation of SBDC materials into Spanish, as well as a series of workshops including a webinar in Spanish offered through a partnership with SBA. He also participated in a nationwide Google+ Hangout organized by SBA Office of Entrepreneurship Education, in Washington DC, an event that was designed to support the SBA’s new online course: Jóvenes Emprendedores: una guía esencial para crear su propia empresa.
Venegas’s approach to counseling is to listen carefully to the client’s idea or plan.
“I try to assess where in the process they are, work with them to realize if their plan is feasible and what it will take to achieve their goal,” he said. “I try to educate them on what it takes to manage their business and encourage them to continue pursuing their goal despite the obstacles they may face.”
One of his favorite quotes is the old Japanese proverb, “Vision without action is a dream. Action without a vision is a nightmare.” Venegas has a goal to encourage clients to move toward their vision by taking the right action and working at the SBDC has allowed Venegas to fulfill his personal aspiration of helping to open doors for others.
“I want to help people explore their potential, help create a more just world and pave the way for a better future for young people,” Venegas said. “It may sound like Utopia, but change is our choice. It starts when we make decisions that lead us toward that ultimate goal.”