Most successful businesspeople might credit their sense of drive to a significant professor, or maybe to the experience they had at their first job. For De La Rosa, the co-founder and co-CEO of Oasys Ventures, Inc. and BC Law ’13, dedication is, in a way, synonymous with the American fast food chain that is known best for its Frosties and french fries.
It was at Wendy’s where De La Rosa’s father, a Colombian immigrant, worked his way through college. Although flipping burgers contends with the humblest of beginnings, her father paid his way through engineering school, had a successful career at IBM, and started and ran his own lucrative business in the tech industry.
“Everything that he has now after working so hard, I keep it in the back of my mind,” De La Rosa said. “It fuels my entrepreneurial background, it’s our different kind of mentality.”
Although she is only 26 and graduated from Boston College Law School a year and a half ago, De La Rosa has held her own in the Boston startup scene because of the mentality exemplified through her father’s ascent from cash register to college, from fast food to a stable foundation.
Like her father, De La Rosa has always taken advantage of opportunities to strengthen her foundation. She has worked at different companies, varying in size and sector, but always considers where she wants to be next, where her current opportunity has the potential to take her. Originally from South Florida, De La Rosa elected to graduate from the University of Florida and enter the working world one year early because of her desire to search for opportunity, to do more and do it well. It was ultimately this mentality that led her to Chestnut Hill in 2011 as an eager yet undecided student at BC Law, where she graduated a semester early.
Although she had yet to decide what kind of law she would like to practice, she knew that she needed the degree. De La Rosa had just finished her junior internship doing corporate marketing with L’Oreal, an offer that most business school graduates would have dreamed of, but she was unsatisfied. It made sense strategically, it is a big name that would look great on any resume, but it didn’t appeal to her approach.
“I had just left undergrad feeling like I could, and wanted to, take over the world,” she said. “I could finally apply these skills I had been learning, and I was ready to go. That first internship was real-life hitting me with the possibility that I could be stuck doing entry-level tasks, that I could be lost in a large company where I had no say.”
Although she finished her internship successfully, and with a few new friends in the business world, De La Rosa left L’Oreal with a sense of uncertainty. She had just gone through an experience that should have been the pinnacle of everything her finance and marketing degrees had prepared her for. She should have had the opportunity for big-name experience, she should have had an extensive network of minds to work with. What De La Rosa got from L’Oreal was more of a should not. The extensive corporate hierarchy stifled her hopes for opportunity and growth.
So she started studying for the LSAT.
Though she graduated a semester early, De La Rosa cites her years at BC Law as a time of professional progression and introspection. Whether it be because she wasn’t busy enough with her law classes or an urge to visit Main Campus, De La Rosa began to take a few MBA classes through the Graduate Carroll School of Management.
“It was a fun time, a lot of self development as a professional,” she said. “I got to take the hard classes, the interesting classes, and the fun classes and really figure out where I wanted to be in two or three years.”
It was the combination of venture capital and corporate law, which she found during graduate school at BC, that was what she had been looking for.
Those two elements finally allowed her to combine her need for new and more opportunity with a wealth of reputable experience. Now she knew she had things to say, and the degrees to make them be heard. She refused to have her ideas get lost along the corporate ladder. Even more so than at L’Oreal, De La Rosa was now looking for a different kind of work, one where not only would her plans and strategy be looked at but would be implemented. And then just before her graduation, she got an email.
Mark Cuban is a self-made billionaire, selling his video portal to Yahoo in 1999 for over $5 billion. He owns the Dallas Mavericks, is a featured investor on the television show Shark Tank, and has either invested or advised over 200 startup companies. Cuban doesn’t email just anyone. But he emailed De La Rosa, asking if she would like a job.
Although it would have been unlikely for De La Rosa to turn down Cuban’s offer, she was even more enthusiastic about the job because the two had been professional acquaintances for a few years. After meeting when De La Rosa was working in Austin, Texas through a BC venture capital scholar program, the two remained in contact with Cuban, acting as a helpful professional mentor to De La Rosa. She sent him deals he might be interested in, while he helped her work through her frustration with law and interest in venture. Now he wanted her on his team.
As much as her time managing accounts under Cuban allowed De La Rosa to gain experience and success in the Boston business world, it also exposed her to something she had yet to encounter first-hand: entrepreneurialism.
Until then, De La Rosa had been managing someone else’s product, creating marketing strategy and financial plans to benefit companies that she had been assigned to. Working with these startups she saw, through the effort and excitement of their CEOs and managerial teams, a different level of dedication of people were starting companies with their own ideas that they really believed in. It was because of the appeal of this dynamic that De La Rosa couldn’t turn down the idea that her friend came to her with, just last year.
Retrospectively one of the best elements to come out of her time at L’Oreal was De La Rosa’s friendship with Mackenzie Lowry, a Harvard graduate from Iowa. Though she had planned to go to medical school, all other plans—including De La Rosa’s then-current job with Cuban Companies—were put on hold after they discussed her idea to reimagine a key element of the female market.
“When she came to me with the idea, I knew we had to take the next step,” she said. “This was the first time that I was seeing something that I thought was needed in the market for women.” Being one of the few women in venture, I truly understood the scalability and potential return of the commercialized technology.”
After advisement from Cuban, De La Rosa transitioned from managing accounts to managing her own startup. Though their company, Oasys Ventures, Inc., was only incorporated this January, the two have already gained enough investments for the completion of a successful prototype as well as the ability to fund initial user testing.
De La Rosa is decidedly vague about her first startup because of its possibility for opportunity, and how much effort she has put in to make sure it runs smoothly. Though Oasys Ventures is currently in, as De La Rosa jokes, “stealth mode,” she hopes to go public by the first of July and expand across New England by the end of the year. Even more significant to De La Rosa than her product is the ability to manage something that is hers, to use her passions to create her own success, to work in a setting where she is heard, and to make her own opportunity.
De La Rosa has found validation through her hybrid work—she has created a job that not only matches her experience and interests but also her mentality. First faced with the potential of getting stuck seated in a small office, working for a big company, De La Rosa found personal validation through her sense of dedication and need for opportunity. Though she may not have started at the fryer, De La Rosa’s quick ascent through the academic and business spheres can be attributed to her sense of entrepreneurial spirit.
“I’m not someone who went out and raised $10 billion or developed a company in his garage at 19 years old,” she said. “But I think the most important thing is that you can do anything you want if you really work hard at it, and I am still working.”
Featured Images Courtesy of Jackie De La Rosa