We had the good fortune of connecting with Gloria Negrete and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gloria, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I see risk as a vital factor in individual growth and realization. You need to be skilled in suspending your own sense of doubt and disbelief to take a leap of faith. Whether you fail or succeed, you walk away changed by the experience. Growing up very humbly in an immigrant family exposed me to constant risk, and those early experiences altered my perception and showed me that risk is sometimes necessary. As a family, we encountered many hurdles and that gave me a taste for living with uncertainty. Instead of hindering me, this empowered me to be a more open person willing to take risks. That openness helped me create opportunities for myself where they did not exist and allowed me to experience more of the world than I might have otherwise. I run an incubator for startups, and risk-taking is the mantra for our aspiring entrepreneurs. Without risk many of the inventions, technologies and products that many of us can’t live without would not exist today. The life of an entrepreneur is paved in risk but can absolutely lead to high reward.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
What excites me is seeing the positive impact in the work I do in helping aspiring entrepreneurs and changemakers create novel solutions to societal issues and marketplace gaps. We help set the stage for budding entrepreneurs, empowering them to be truly bold in the creation process by providing the resources, funding and coaching as part of the incubator I run. We have a great team, talented mentors, an amazing board and incredible support from so many who help. More than just building businesses, we are supporting social impact and early-stage founders who are trying to create positive change. But what happens in their journey with us is that they also develop as leaders, problem solvers, and entrepreneurial thinkers, not just founders. We are an incubator for startups at UC San Diego known as The Basement. Our emphasis is on building community and we place people over product. A few years ago our startups developed a social contract, which helps to emphasize the importance of supporting community. It’s energizing to see that many of our entrepreneurs take this to heart and really help to serve as another line of support for one another. Our student participants are very resourceful and really put the support we provide them to work in building their MVP’s who end up creating a business and jobs while juggling their studies. It is both humbling and rewarding to see the bloom of opportunities spawned by the startups that we’ve helped over the years. I am proud of the work that I do. I have always had an innovative spirit with a boundless view for what’s possible. Growing up, this was not always an easy thing when you lack the means to do what you want, but being hungry can be an advantage. As a first generation college student from an immigrant family of eight, I experienced my share of barriers. I remember acting as the interpreter for my parents in meetings and interpreting letters for them that came in the mail. I was writing checks on their behalf by the time I was nine. But the barriers were not just language based, we had many socioeconomic challenges not as easily overcome. Navigating an academic pathway and later a professional one, was not easy. I struggled, but weathered through many obstacles in my life. From a very early age, I learned to be financially responsible and relatively self-sufficient because I had to be, earning up for my first car and later paying for school. The experience empowered me and gave me a deep sense of responsibility. I use this to guide me in everything I do. Having a positive outlook is important and I feel blessed by the opportunities I have had, but I recognize that those opportunities may have been far greater or far worse had my background and upbringing been different. These experiences helped shape my perspective of what equity and access mean. This crosses over into the work I do currently where inclusive innovation is critical. In the incubator, our goal is to empower our future leaders, entrepreneurs and changemakers to practice inclusive innovation, co-creating solutions and helping to empower others who are often left out of the process. I work in Research Affairs for UC San Diego within their Office of Innovation and Commercialization, and I see a real opportunity to spark change here. I serve on committees for equity, diversity and inclusion, and as a Fellow for advancing the campus climate. We are all connected and I have always felt a strong pull to help lift others up in whatever way that I can. For me, there is power in community, and fighting against social injustices to give rise to true equity, diversity and inclusion is vital.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
San Diego revels in beautiful landscapes and worthwhile spots, so the choices are many. From miles of sandy beaches to picturesque hiking trails and interesting stops along the way, San Diego beckons nature enthusiasts. Chula Vista’s salt mountains are worth seeing, and the Border Field State Beach Park at the crossroads along the U.S. border, which still has bunkers from World War II is worth experiencing. The park is not far from the famous Oasis Ice Cream Parlor and still standing South Bay Drive-in. Café La Maze in National City, one of the County’s oldest restaurants frequented by Bing Crosby is just north of both. Other cool places are Silver Strand, Elfin Forest, and Mount Soledad. Chicano Park, replete with poignant works depicting both struggle and victory, is incredible and often overlooked. On the outskirts of the park and still making homemade tortillas since the thirties is Las Quatro Milpas restaurant. San Diego is rich in history with places like Old Town Historic Park, and Gaslamp Quarter that help tell the story of our local community.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have been blessed with so many incredible friends, mentors and supporters who have encouraged and helped me along the way for which I am eternally grateful. This Shoutout is in recognition of family. I need to first acknowledge my son who everyday reminds me how important it is to fight for what you believe in. When our last great recession hit, my son had just turned one and I was in the middle of a separation on the way to a divorce. Being a single parent comes with its share of challenges. That time in my life seemed full of setbacks but I got through them, and each stumble only made me stronger. My son gave me the inner strength to always keep going. He is such a blessing in my life! I also need to recognize the person who taught me the true meaning of grit, my mother. Never have I known a stronger or more resilient individual than her. As a child I saw firsthand the many obstacles that life threw in her path but she never faltered. But what I most admire about her is how selfless, and giving she is no matter the circumstances. Growing up we had very little, yet my mother always found a way to stretch every cent as far as she could and to still help others who needed it. She has been a shining inspiration.
The below photos should be credited to Erik Jepsen -Demo night stage -Group on stage -Speaker photo *The photo where my arms are crossed standing in front of bookshelves does not need to be credited.