Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am a Computer Science Engineer who left Colombia where I grew up, who woke up one morning after dreaming that I was ‘happy’ in a place called Australia. I had no idea where Australia was. I guess this makes me a Yin and Yang decision maker (Ask me if you don’t know!)
I was a programmer, a team leader and consultant. I had to go back to basic programming when I came to Australia, and quickly progressed into Project and Program Management, then more senior positions where my focus moved from technical to management. At the same time I got a diploma in Kinesiology, an alternative medicine technique for healing. Yin and Yang again!
I made millions for the corporations I worked for! Australia allowed me to continue my devotion to scuba diving, yoga, hiking, climbing. I started ocean swimming here. My love, respect and connection with nature grew in me and it continues to grow. Eventually I realised that I had a responsibility to use my time in healing my planet. I think we all do. So I switched. I left the corporate world and became an entrepreneur in a start-up recycling wastewater into green energy. I have finally brought my Yin and Yang together.
Please tell us a little about PumpFree Energy.
PumpFree Energy was founded 5 years ago with the original idea to recycle wastewater’s with fats, oils and greases (FOG) into energy. I joined as an investor, and I was asked to help using my process engineering skills. Yes, I was the girl out on a truck at 4am in the freezing cold doing time and motion studies! Eventually, I was asked to become a Board Adviser and now I have an executive role working with the Board.
A year ago, we relaunched the company after a restructure (an interesting experience, ask me but bring wine) so I invested more and became one of the three co- founders of the new business. I’m an alternate Board director, an Adviser and I play a bigger role by handling all Operations, IT, Processes, Organisation Architecture design and Safety matters.
Our goal is to reduce the FOG being discharged into the ocean, by harvesting it, then recycling it into green Biofuels. We help clean the ocean and take carbon out of the environment in several ways. We do this not via grants or philanthropy but by building an economically viable company. And in so doing we close the loop in a circular economy.
The idea I am looking forward to launch with the support of Fempowered, is an Information System that enables all the industry stakeholders to make intelligent decisions related with wastewater recycling and energy. This might be a value stream within the existing company, or a new business altogether.
What drew you to the Fishburners Fempowered program?
We moved to Fishburners less than 6 months ago, while looking for a place that could provide the environment we craved, as a small start-up with big dreams, we have been searching for our tribe and the chance to meet entrepreneurs like us at different stages to scare us, inspire us and give us the kick in the pants we need when things get tough.
I enjoy reading the updates from the Fishburner team and when I saw ‘Fempowered’, I got curious.
Coming from a South American culture where females have a type of ‘power’ mostly related with family chores, emotionally related professions, artistic and ‘cute’ occupations, I have always been driven towards challenging some of the biases that arise in business and society. I am a qualified Surf Life Saver and Dive Master, not a female diver waiting to be rescued!
So when I read the offer to be mentored and supported to launch an idea, where being a female is considered an asset not a hindrance and the chance to stand out in our male dominated start-up arena and industry I jumped at it.
What about the next 6 months excites you, what are you looking forward to?
Professionally, my skills are mostly on the operational, analytical and structured side of things. I am a computer scientist, an engineer a doer. Tell me what you want, and I will get it done with what I know, or I will find the right team to get it done. But it will get done (if you have some cash, that is). No pay, no play!
My gaps as an entrepreneur with an idea are in the steps before the ‘doing and the cash in my hand’.
How do I test the idea? How do I value it? How do I influence complacent industries to get excited and to buy into it? How do I begin with very little cash? These are skills that I feel I can learn and this is where the Fempowered crew and my fellow students can help me. Hopefully I can contribute back to others too.
What message would you like to send to the aspiring Women founders of Australia?
I can’t wait to get started and meet you all. My message would be reflective, ambitious, and determined. Understand your skills and the gaps. Find or create a trusted team where you can be your best and the rest of the team can support you in achieving success.
Dream big and know that it can happen.
Once you are confident that your idea can work, (but be ready to pivot), be alert, get excited and watch out for the opportunities, so when an email from Fishburners knocks on the door, open it and grab it with passion.