Latin America’s Woman Entrepreneur of the Year – The Dream of a Jetsetter!

“I strive for excellence in everything I do. I do not believe in limits, and I am a firm believer that you can achieve anything if you work hard enough. This mentality helped me get where I am today.”

Bianca Tubolino is a 26 years old woman entrepreneur who founded her company Jetset ESL with her Brazilian partner Amanda Leal. Bianca has a passion for education and travel, and after eight years of teaching internationally, in January 2015, Bianca decided she could make a difference in other peoples lives by establishing her company. After months of contemplating if she should start her own company, Bianca made the decision to go for it and courageously took out a loan for $6,000 to get started.

“Quitting my job and taking the leap was one of the scariest moments of my life. Having a steady income and security is addicting and I cut myself off. But my gut told me to go for it!”.

The reason why she wanted to found Jetset ESL is that she identified two critical problems affecting English learners around the world. The first is that there are not enough affordable options for everyone to learn English; the second is that there is not enough interactive communication inside and outside of the classroom. This is especially true for language learners in Latin American countries.

Bianca wanted to help solve these problems and started an Instagram account that offered free daily English lessons. Within months, their Instagram page, @JetsetESL, had thousands of followers and students asking for online lessons. One lesson, in particular, led to a 3-hour conversation about the need for English teachers in Brazil and an invitation to training teachers from Wizard English School. Within months Bianca was on a plane to Brazil, where she worked with educators and students for one month. That trip turned out to be transformative. By its end, Bianca knew she wanted to be able to reach as many students as possible and help them gain confidence in their speaking abilities.

After her trip, Bianca came up with the idea of an Online Cultural Immersion. She had the idea and drive to start her program but felt like she did not have the skills set to execute. “I felt out of place. I was a teacher, I had no idea how to start a business or what to expect. I just knew I was willing to do whatever it took to make it happen.” With a positive mindset and drive to succeed, Bianca applied and was accepted into one of Hawaii’s leading accelerators, XLR8UH only one month after her initial trip to Brazil. During this program, Bianca learned all the basics of creating a startup, how to attract investors and how build a strong team.

With the business knowledge she learned from XLR8UH, and the partnership she created with Amanda Leal the two girls have raised a total of $250,000 and decided to use that money to start growing Jetset ESL in Brazil. Bianca has differentiated Jetset ESL for other companies by working solely with schools and corporations. To ensure quality, Jetset ESL conducts intensive teacher training programs to provide the best English learning process for their customers. They have also managed to utilize their connections with close-knit language school community.

“Relationships are everything in business, especially in Brazil! If you do not have a friendship and a strong relationship, you can forget about having a contract!”

Bianca and Amanda have been using their contacts and have helped Jetset ESL grow exponentially. Jetset ESL now has over 100 teachers and is working with 300 students from different language schools across Brazil.

“It has not been easy!” says Tubolino. “This has a been an emotional rollercoaster. There are times when our team feels like we can conquer the world, and then there have been times when we couldn’t sleep because we weren’t sure if we would make it another month. But what has helped our team get through the low moments, has been the belief in our idea! Everyone on our core team believes in Jetset ESL and is willing to sacrifice what they need to, to make sure it becomes a success!”

Women entrepreneurs have a very different experience than men. They are faced with different challenges and are thrown into a very male-dominated culture. This is even more true for entrepreneurs who are working in Latin America. Only approximately 2% of companies founded by women will get an investment. And statistics show that startups who are run solely by women are viewed as less favorable than startups which have at least one male co-founder. When asked if Bianca and her partner have faced some of these challenges, Bianca started laughing. “Of course! I don’t know any woman who hasn’t face some of these challenges. I remember having an investor tell me he loved the company, saw its potential but did not feel comfortable investing because what would happen if I want to have children one day!”. Comments like this are not uncommon for young women entrepreneurs. Especially in Latin America. But despite all of this controversy, Bianca and Amanda have been pushing through and have started to make a difference in the education system in Brazil.

As a young and promising woman entrepreneur, Bianca has her recommendations for other women: “Don’t be passive, just go for it!” She also believes that if you truly believe your project, being a women entrepreneur is an advantage rather than a disadvantage because it is easier to stand out. She says that although she and Amanda have faced many challenges specific to women, they have also been able to use their femininity to their advantage. “Because we are the minority we automatically stand out. We also have an advantage because most men don’t have their guard up while speaking to us. They underestimate us, so when we do a good job, in their minds it is more impressive. When people underestimate us it makes us more driven. And when you have powerful women working together for a common purpose, there is not a person alive who will be able to stop them! ”

Tubolino is an excellent example of what it means to be an entrepreneur. She is dedicated, hardworking and pushes through her fears. And the friendship and partnership that she has with Amanda Leal, is proof that women can work together and have the capability of run and operate a successful business venture. Bianca says there is still a lot of room for growth, and that their team is learning and changing every day. But one thing that is certain, whether or not Bianca grows Jetset ESL into a multi-million dollar corporation, or ends up going down a different path, Bianca Tubolino is a role model and an inspiration to all women fighting for a dream.