A number of his classmates’ parents worked in private industry or the political realm, and he was exposed to a whole new world of careers: “I learned about all these [entrepreneurial] mindsets that I wasn’t exposed to earlier on in my life and it really awakened my appetite to become an entrepreneur,” Antezana told Technical.ly.
It paid off, even back then, when he developed a pretty successful business creating clip-on earrings for his classmates who weren’t allowed to get their ears pierced. So much so, he said, that students from other schools became interested in the earrings he built from cutting the screws off of wall anchors.
Still, went he went to complete his undergraduate degree at Universidad Privada Boliviana, he elected to pursue a financial career. He had every intention of continuing on that path, he said, until he landed his first job with tech giant Oracle on the internal audit team.
“That’s when, really, my career around technology and consultancy awoke,” Antezana said.
Following this role, he had a brief stint at ICF International as a contracts manager, where he monitored contract performance. From there, he decided to reconfigure his idea of being a technologist to someone who could run enterprise operations for tech companies.
While being a founder and entrepreneur wasn't exactly what Antezana set out to do when he was a student, his financial background has been key to his current success.
And after a few trial-and-error startup attempts, Antezana finally cracked the code in 2008 when he, alongside brother and COO Walter Antezana, founded the Reston, Virginia-based tech consulting firm iTech AG (though he didn’t leave his day job working as a manager for Accenture until 2015). Today, it employs approximately 250 people and helps companies with government contracting and modernization of their tech.
While being a founder and entrepreneur wasn’t exactly what Antezana set out to do when he was a student, he said his financial background has been key to his current success. What he learned from that was which factors support a company’s valuation — and how to get there.
Entrepreneurs, Antezana said, are passionate about what they do, and often find it difficult to focus on what will really make the business grow.
“Earlier on in my career, I learned that if you focus on only the passion, sometimes you get lost in that and your business can go downhill,” Antezana said. “If you focus on the elements that will help your passion succeed, then your business will flourish.”
Looking back, Antezana said he would do some things differently, like hone in on his relationships with financial backers and expand the team sooner. But he thinks being a founder is really about leading an agile company and understanding that the requirements for creating a business are subject to change. All in all, he’s glad he was able to release some of the emotion and passion he started with, as needed.
But he also hopes future founders know they should follow their passion, even if it takes a little while to get to the ultimate goal, and that one failure doesn’t mean complete failure.
“Follow your dream,” Antezana said. “Many people always fear failure but really failure is what makes you a stronger professional tomorrow. You don’t hit it out of the park in your first shot, and failing is an opportunity for you to learn and not commit that same mistake over and over.”
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