Community of Cultivators is a blog series we created to introduce you to coworking game changers and connectors. Each month, we’ll release new interviews that we hope inform and inspire you.
This month we bring you an interview with Sofia Stolberg: Founder of Piloto 151 and PilotoMail. If you joined us in NYC for GCUC North America, you likely crossed paths with her.
Sofia is a serial entrepreneur, mentor and entrepreneurship ecosystem developer with experience across diverse industries and international markets. She is the CEO of Piloto 151, Puerto Rico’s first and largest coworking space and growth platform for entrepreneurs with 5 locations and over 50,000 square feet of managed commercial real estate. Piloto 151 has been recognized by the US Small Business Administration and the White House as one of 50 organizations nation-wide developing the most innovative programs for high growth potential entrepreneurs to thrive. Her latest venture is Piloto Mail, a snail mail management software that allows mailbox operators to provide their clients with virtual mailboxes and 21st century mail management and handling services.
Keep reading to hear what she has to say.
Nothing beats raising two confident, rockstar girls, but a very close second is fostering the growth of Puerto Rico’s startup and tech ecosystem. When we founded Piloto 151 coworking spaces in 2013, no one knew what coworking was and the tech scene on the Island was nascent in every way imaginable. We quickly became the clubhouse for everything startup, bringing international speakers and investors down to talk about starting up and scaling up, launching an early stage tech accelerator and the first coding bootcamp in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, and pairing the best and brightest coders on the Island with fellowship opportunities at startups in the US and abroad. We also helped launch and bolstered many of the entrepreneurial programs that later began to pop-up and coalesce around the emerging startup scene. Today, I am proud to say that Puerto Rico has in many ways become a vibrant entrepreneurial hotbed, with a network of support organizations helping entrepreneurs from all walks of life at different stages in their entrepreneurship journey and a steady flow of talented entrepreneurs raising venture capital and building products and services that are shipped all over the world. There’s still work to be done for sure and we won’t stop moving forward, but sometimes it’s worth taking a step back to acknowledge how far we’ve come.
I don’t usually quote sports hall-of-famers, but I do like to remind myself and others around me that “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. Fear is our worst enemy, and most of the time, it’s unfounded. What’s the worst thing that could happen if you reach out to one of your role-models for mentoring, or cold call a prospective client, or dare to do something in a way no one has ever thought of before? Sure, you might get rejected and I promise you’ll both learn from the experience and get over it, but there’s also a good chance you might get that new mentor, close that sale, or make a mark in the world.
Think BIG, but calculate your risks carefully. Don’t leave your day job to go after an idea if you haven’t validated that people other than your mom and close friends actually want your product or service. Work on it nights and weekends, size up the opportunity, iterate on your product based on real feedback from real users, close your first sales and take the leap only after you’ve de-risked the opportunity as much as possible and convinced yourself that you both want to go for it and are prepared to make sacrifices.
I keep a gratitude journal and it’s been an incredible tool to keep myself positive (especially in trying times like the pandemic), to reduce stress, sleep better and overall feel more fulfilled. As entrepreneurs, we tend to be our toughest critics and it can be very easy to forget what we’ve accomplished or what matters most in our quest towards leaving a mark in the world. Reminding ourselves of the things we should be grateful for on a daily basis can help us re-center and become the best versions of ourselves at work and at home. I’m now looking forward to taking on daily meditation.
That’s a wrap for this one. If you want to get to know other pillars in our community, check out the rest of the Community of Cultivators series. Another interview will be published soon!