Bianca Tubolino, winner of Latin America’s 2017 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award, founded her company Jetset ESL with the help of her Brazilian partner Amanda Leal. Bianca has a passion for education and travel, and after eight years of teaching internationally, Bianca decided she could make a difference in other peoples lives by establishing her company.
“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 started 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.
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 train 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 and by the end, Bianca knew she wanted to be able to help as many students as possible and came up with the idea of an Online Cultural Immersion.
Bianca 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 used that money to start growing the company in Brazil. Bianca has differentiated Jetset ESL from other companies by working solely with schools and corporations. To ensure quality, Jetset ESL conducts intensive teacher training programs, has built amazing relationships with their current customers and has generated a positive reputation in the close-knit language school community. Today, Jetset ESL has grow exponentially. Jetset ESL now has over 100 teachers and is working with different language schools and corporations 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 they have 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 it makes it that much more satisfying when we succeed.”
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/partnership that she has with Amanda Leal, is proof that women can work together and have the capability of running and operating 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 she grows Jetset ESL continues to be a success, at the young age of 27, Bianca Tubolino is a role model and an inspiration to all women fighting for a dream.
To find out more about Jetset ESL follow them on social media or visit their website: www.JetsetESL.com