OwlSpark | Rice University Startup Accelerator | PeopleWise: Roslynn Velasquez
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PeopleWise: Roslynn Velasquez

Roslynn Velasquez is the Marketing Director for the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, a program for launching successful tech ventures through entrepreneurship education, mentoring, and networking connections, and the initiative under which OwlSpark was founded. Graduating from Texas A&M University with her Bachelor’s in English and Communications, Roslynn has worked at the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University as well as The Black Sheep Agency, a Houston creative agency that works with impact-driven companies ranging from nonprofits to civic entities. With her background in communications, she’s taken a partnership approach to marketing, focusing her efforts on working with companies to support their visions and communicate their purpose.

Tell us about your role at the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship.

Ultimately my goal is to grow our impact and support of the entrepreneurial ecosystem through collaboration and community-centered marketing which entails meeting with our team, partners, and sponsors as well as people in the broader community. I started the week that we went virtual—so what my day-to-day looks like now might look much different six months to a year from now. Much of my focus has been on helping us to adapt to a virtual environment and ensure that we can continue to connect with and support our startups from afar.

Have you been working on any creative projects lately?

It’s the 20th anniversary of the Rice Alliance this year! We are currently working on a campaign to celebrate the entrepreneurs, partners, and supporters who have helped make our vision a reality. We’re using this as an opportunity to tell our story, look back on what our startup teams have accomplished, and envision our future.

What was the driving force for you to choose marketing as a career?

In college, I started off studying Recreation Park & Tourism Science because I was drawn to creating positive and long-last experiences for people. However, I ended up switching to Communications because I realized that I liked to support people in telling their stories and building community, and I think that’s a big part of what marketing is. My first job was actually with a welding company where we did more traditional marketing like tradeshows and worked alongside our national sales team. Though I enjoyed my time there, I missed the opportunity to have a creative outlet and work with startups and small businesses, which led me back to working in entrepreneurship and the creative space. I currently feel very grateful to get to work alongside entrepreneurs who are boldly taking risks and pursuing their visions to have a real impact.

What do you love most about your job?

I find a lot of inspiration in learning from and working with our startup and partners whenever I can. The space that I’m in gives me an opportunity to hear, support, and learn from a lot of different people. It’s amazing being able to see and feel not just the impact this community has on Houston and beyond.

What advice would you give to OwlSpark founders?

My session on brand strategy was focused on finding and communicating your purpose. No one knows what you want to do with your business besides you—and while it’s critical for you to listen to and understand your customer—the best advice that I can give is to understand your own “why” for starting your company and what you want it to accomplish, stick to it, and have a good sense of it as you navigate the world and make decisions.

What is your greatest strength?

My greatest strength is being able to navigate complexity, which is why I think I’ve gravitated so much to my role. I do very well in situations where there’s a lot of moving parts and pieces of information—I push myself to dig deep, ask the right questions, and understand the different paths or options that could lead us to the best decision. I’m someone who can sit down and run through the twenty ways that something could play out in order to find the one right way to proceed.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love hiking and camping, specifically state parks and generally being outdoors (even in this Texas heat!). I’ve picked up gardening since being home more often, and I also enjoy reading: though I explore a little bit of everything, I usually gravitate towards historical fiction or non-fiction that shares the stories of people’s lives and what they’re learned and experienced. I also have a very cute dog (a rescue we think is a whippet mix), he loves showing up in the background of my Zoom meetings.

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