We at GTEC are thrilled to welcome Monica Zaldivar to the GTEC Team! Here are her own thoughts about entrepreneurship, the founder’s dream and joining GTEC.

 

“You should start your own company” is probably the sentence I’ve heard most often when meeting people in the Berlin startup scene. “You should freelance” comes second. Problem is, I never believed in the founder’s dream.

“You’ve got what it takes, but it will take everything you’ve got.”

I saw that once painted very big at the walls of a famous Berlin incubator and I thought to myself: “That’s exactly why I don’t go for it”. My mother started her own business when I was 15, so I was old enough to see how her life changed in the blink of an eye. Even if she was successful and never regretted her decision to be her own boss, I got a backstage view of the sleepless nights, the mounting obstacles and the constant uncertainty. So, every time I come across a hyped headline, a glossy interview or a new huge funding round without monetising strategy, I can’t help but being skeptical and wonder: how does it really look like behind closed doors?

And it’s not that I don’t admire or support founders whenever I get the chance to do it. I just don’t have an idealised view of what their path and daily life looks like. As with parents, I have full respect for their choices and efforts, and I definitely celebrate their wins. But for years I’ve been wary of jumping into creating my own startup or becoming a freelancer. I’ve cherished the safety of the monthly salary, the big fixed desk and the paid holidays.

That is until my body and soul almost burnt out after 8 years on a steady job. It took me months to decide, but in October last year I dropped everything and went for a long trip without returning date. In the seven months I was away, I took time to read and write, sleep and breathe, and to shake off all the things I took for granted and true. One of them was to admit there was a dark side in safety, so I started to embrace uncertainty, one moment at a time.

I weighed my options and I had to admit that I cannot ignore who I am, and most importantly, who I am not. I’m someone proactive who cares, helps, collaborates and takes initiative. Someone who needs to fix what’s broken right here right now, and does whatever it’s needed and some more to get things done and right. I can’t ignore what I was taught home through example, the passion I put in every job I take, and in everything I do.

I just don’t come with an employee mindset.

That’s why this summer, already back in Berlin but still without a definite plan, I finally decided to take baby steps and register as a freelancer. Not only that, I also took my friend Christoph Räthke on his standing offer to join him and his team on the adventure to empower startups all over Europe through the German Tech Entrepreneurship Center (GTEC) various projects and events. I’m no stranger to GTEC’s initiatives in Berlin, Germany and beyond. I’ve was lucky to attend many of their Open Lectures, being my personal highlight the one given by Martin Varsavsky, and also I’ve joined Christoph in his incursions in new startup hubs, such as Brno in Czech Republic.

I’m aware all this doesn’t mean that I’m now a founder or an entrepreneur, not just yet. But this change in my path brings me closer towards that direction: my main motivation to join GTEC comes from my previous experiences helping the GTEC startups not only with their Social Media and Communications strategies, but also providing them guidance with their pitches, offering ideas into latest digital trends in their industries and business models. Whenever I had the opportunity to pitch in, I definitely enjoyed the exchange of experiences and left with a sense of contributing to new projects who could challenge the status quo and bring something new to the table.

And that’s what I excited to bring in to the ecosystem through GTEC: passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm for helping entrepreneurs, founders and startups all over Europe, no matter how small or big. Contribute to our mission to bring Academia, Corporates, and Startups together and show the broad public how they can profit from innovation, disruption, and openness. And of course, I’m here to learn in the process from every entrepreneurial mind I come across. Through their experiences, I hope to lose my fear to the unknown and eventually take the same leap of faith they took. Get the push I need to just go for it.

So far, it feels just right. Behind the scenes of GTEC there are people who welcomed me from day 1 and showed me already that they care as much as me, and that’s a lot. Being surrounded by their enthusiasm and strength is for me a true gift straight to my soul. I’m thrilled to be on the road with this team, and I’m also in love with their new home – you should definitely visit us at Mindspace and join our events here!

Wish me luck in this turn, and let me know if I can be of any help joining GTEC’s initiatives – the GTEC Startup Academy, the Open Lectures, the Corporate events and Executive Education, our partnerships with Academia or maybe even joining forces for new projects to kick-off together.