It was a lack of innovation that led Arabella Santiago to become an innovator. Stemming from a stint as a newspaper intern, followed by a successful run as a web editor for a west coast paper, Arabella realized print media was becoming a thing of the past, unwilling to listen to its customers.
That was Arabella in 2004 at 23 years old; now at 31 she has found her passion for reporting and drive for discovering unseen possibilities mix well with highlighting the talents of entrepreneurs. When I asked Arabella about why she packed her things and made the trek from Silicon Valley to Chicago she said, “Chicago is the burgeoning tech hub. You can feel the sense of opportunity and ambition. There’s something here in Chicago, and I’m intrigued by it and I know it’s already happening.”
Arabella talks of entrepreneurs with a sense of awe, almost unaware that she herself is one, having created StartUp Live, a website filled with a collection of videos based on the start-up culture. When it comes to the culture of start-ups, Arabella has a great grasp on what makes small business owners tick: “The journey of the business owner fascinates me. As long as they don’t give up, they always succeed. Even though there are many failures along the way, they go hand in hand with the successes. The perseverance goes a long way.”
Arabella has been part of TechWeek from the beginning. Originally hired by one of the founders for the inaugural event in San Francisco, she stepped into the role of executive director for the Chicago event late last year. There’s something for everyone during the conference, with 101 workshops on development or connecting with people offline. Even if you’re not in the tech industry you can find out how to start small and work your way up. Small business owners take note – if you’re looking for a web designer, an SEO genius or simply someone to make it all make sense, take a moment to stop in!
I turned the conversation towards the women of TechWeek, of which there are plenty to pick from. “It’s important for people to realize that technology will help you do business better. Women are harnessing the power of social media for their small businesses; now we can see the female programmers and developers that aren’t often in the spotlight.” When asked which one woman inspired her, Arabella answered first with Hillary Clinton, quickly followed by her close friend and mentor, Yumi Kim, a New York fashion designer who took her business from “barely getting by” to “booming” through the power of e-commerce.
“Chicago is going to be the heart of TechWeek as it continues to grow. It is and will continue to be the marquee event. Chicago needs a new industry. Manufacturing is tough and there’s room for technology.”
Reported by the Women’s Business Development Center’s (WBDC) Bethany Hartley.