The five founding members of the Maestro Entrepreneur Center each played a pivotal role in the establishment of the robust organization. Julissa Carielo, Willie Ng, Ramiro Cavazos, Chris Martinez, and Leslie Garcia each contributed their talents and skills to the conception of the center. As Maestro approaches its five year anniversary, it’s critical to acknowledge how these individuals created the framework and carried out a vision to make the Maestro Entrepreneur Center a reality. Their dedication to the mission has allowed the nonprofit to thrive many years later and have the ability to provide resources and tools for so many small and local businesses.
Julissa Carielo is a founding member of the Maestro Entrepreneur Center. Currently, Carielo is the President of Tejas Premiere Building Contractor and Co-founder of Dream On Group Development Company.
Carielo’s journey with the Maestro Entrepreneur Center began when she noticed the elementary school next to her business was vacant. Her company was looking to expand and after a tour of the building she was interested in utilizing it for an entrepreneurship center.
“I just love old buildings and this one in particular had a lot of character,” Carielo said. “I just envisioned that we could do something with it.”
Carielo wrote a letter to the school board about the possibility of utilizing the building as an entrepreneurship center and was met with immediate interest. A year and a half later, she acquired the property and began renovations on the building that had lay vacant for many years.
“It had not been touched in over a decade, so it needed a lot of love,” she said.
During the negotiation process, Carielo began reaching out to find support from community leaders in launching the center. She found immediate support from Ramiro Cavazos, who at the time was leading the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as well as from the other founding members.
“We each contributed to be able to launch the nonprofit,” Carielo said. “We created a board to start establishing what we were going to be doing.”
By the end of 2018, renovations were complete, and the Maestro Entrepreneur Center opened up with abilities to incubate 50 companies, host events, classes, and provide a place for entrepreneurs to learn from each other.
“I knew that the need was so much bigger than I could have imagined because I knew that there really wasn’t a place that entrepreneurs and business owners could go to have a safe place to speak, to learn from each other,” Carielo said. “I wanted to make sure that we were creating that.”
For Carielo, launching the Maestro Center was inspired, in part, by the important role entrepreneurship played in her life.
“One of the reasons why I really wanted to do this center was because entrepreneurship changed my life,” she said. “It gave me an opportunity to do anything I wanted to do. If you haven’t thought of entrepreneurship, you should.”
Overall, Carielo credits the center’s success to the Maestro staff, board members, partners, as well as the community.
“It would have never happened without the collaboration and support that we were getting from our committed resource partners, board members, and the entrepreneurs that keep coming back for more help,” she said.
Ultimately, Carielo has big plans for the future of the Maestro Entrepreneur Center.
“The most important thing to remember is that entrepreneurs are innovators, so we are just getting started with what Maestro is doing.”