This is my IQ: Marquita Jaramillo
Some of the most powerful innovation comes from constraints. Doing more with less. And figuring out how to work with boundaries and systems to accomplish the work that needs to be done.
So it’s not surprising that Marquita Jaramillo found her way to a role as the community manager at PIE, where she helps early stage startups who are strapped for cash and resources. Because she understands those challenges acutely.
“I grew up in areas of Portland that lacked resources and faith that there is a future beyond living off ‘the system.’ Always having to be aware of my surroundings and environment gave me unique insight into learning what works and what doesn’t. On the upside, I viewed this as a gift when it allowed me to stay focused, preparing me for new experiences and opportunities. But it’s also a lonely road to travel that requires resiliency. I appreciate every encounter, pitfall. and mistake I have made. They all contributed to my learning along the way.”
That understanding of risks and resiliency — as well as the inherent loneliness — makes her a perfect collaborator for early stage startups that participate in PIE programs.
“I understand the potential risks. But I love the excitement of the unknown combined with the fact that anybody can start a business and essentially create their own lane. It takes a special kind of individual or team to power through, turn that dream into reality, and continue to grow their company and learn from their mistakes along the way.”
An entrepreneur herself, Marquita is also experiencing, firsthand, the challenges that many innovative companies face. And the self doubt that plagues many founders.
“I am a chronic overthinker so sometimes I have to force myself to step back to reevaluate whatever processes I’m working on. Does it make sense to my customers and clients in a way that can be easily understood? Also I’m bootstrapping my business. Which is hard. At times, I consider giving up but then I remind myself of ‘my why.’ Plus, I get positive reality checks of my loving and supportive husband and kids.”
That sort of feedback and support are critical — but often overlooked — elements of finding success. It’s rarely the idea, product, innovation, or founder that portends success. Rather, it’s the community supporting the effort that determines the potential for success.
“Conversations are key. Through the power of a casual conversation, we may hold the solution to another person’s problem without even realizing it. People tend to get in their own way when they think that what they have to say isn’t important, but it could be just what the other person needed to hear.”
Why do this work in Portland? Because there’s the opportunity to effect change. But also because, for Marquita, it’s home.
“For me, Portland will always be home. I am a Portland native — 35 years and counting — with the skill set and capabilities of making things happen. I have spent years trying to figure out how to apply those skills towards growing a more diverse and inclusive Portland. So knowing that there is a need to support underrepresented founders and help them in find the right programs and services, establish meaningful connections, and to build culturally responsible businesses. Finally being in a position to support helps me feel fulfilled.”