Sylvia Acevedo needed a break from her technology job so she bought an old Victorian house to remodel into a bed and breakfast. "Being an engineer working in technology asics gel sight , I really felt I didn't do a lot of tangible work. But with the bed and breakfast, at the end of the day, I felt like I had actually done something."
And, of course, she had?because as she renovated the house, she transformed it into a beautiful B&B. She had no problem communicating with the construction crew, who were mostly Hispanic cheap asics gel scram 3 , because she grew up speaking both Spanish and English. "My mother was from Mexico and all of my grandparents lived there," she says.
"People would see me talking to a crew of workers and I literally would have contractors stop and hand me the phone, asking me to translate for them," she says. That's how she realized communication between Hispanic construction workers and non-Spanish-speaking supervisors was really a problem.
Being a software engineer, Sylvia's mind immediately went to solving the problem. "I think it's because I've always been an innovator and I see things maybe in a way that provides a side-door solution. I don't just look at the situation and say, 'Okay, it's a bottleneck'. I try to look at new ways to solve the problem. And in this particular situation cheap asics gel saga , the problem was communication." But she didn't follow through on her ideas for a few more years.
After two years of renovating and running the B&B, Sylvia was ready to get back into the technology field, so she hired a manager for the bed and breakfast, and started a software development company with three others. A few years later, Sylvia and her partners later sold the software company.
"That was really interesting," she says, "because we sold it for stock and then the stock market crashed. But that was an important learning lesson because I learned a lot about creating a company that supported intellectual property and taking it from literally concept to actually building a company."
By this time she had also sold the B&B for a tidy little sum and was ready to solve the communication problem she saw a few years before. She realized there were a lot of non-Spanish-speaking people in the United States who were hiring people who only spoke Spanish for service jobs. "And you have a challenge because how do you direct the work that needs to be done?" she says.
The solution? The CommuniCard cheap asics gel respector , easy-to-use SpanishEnglish communication cards. There's a deck of housekeeping cards with pictures of the tasks and EnglishSpanish translations, and several accordion-folded, laminated pocket cards for the construction industry showing tools, tasks and translations, and a similar pocket card for the lawncare industry. This allows the supervisor to merely show the card to the worker to communicate. For instance, one of the cards shows a person cleaning a big window with a spray bottle in one hand while using a squeegee in the other. The wording below the illustration says, "Clean the windows. Limpia las ventanas." So if the worker cannot speak English cheap asics gel ptg , or even read, it is clear what is being asked.
Before putting it into production she tested it extensively, first in Texas, and then across the United States. "I went to Northern California, Southern California, New Mexico, Colorado and across the South and Texas. I found the biggest needs were in construction and housekeeping cheap asics gel noosa tri 9 ," she says. She began by interviewing the people who hired these workers?everyone from Junior Leaguers, to people in office settings who hired workers, to companies and construction firms. She also began to go to day-labor sites and construction sites to interview the workers. But the supervisors weren't appreciative of her being on jobsites, even if she only spoke to workers while they were on their breaks.
"So I would approach them at bus stops, churches, and schools." And what she learned was very informative. "We began to get a lot of feedback and the product changed dramatically as a result," she says.
All in all cheap asics gel nimbus 19 , she spoke to over 4,000 people. After the informal research, it was time for something a little more elaborate. "We've done many focus groups, and we do them on all the products," Sylvia says. The interviews are conducted by a professional, trained moderator who's bilingual.
"And that's a very important issue," she says. "When you have a vision for a product cheap asics gel nimbus 17 , you really need to get customer input. But there's also a fine line between getting too much input and not enough. I didn't want to go into analysis paralysis or information overload."
One of the important outcomes of the focus groups was that one person in the first focus group had such a huge need to solve the communication problem that he approached her about investing in the company. She accepted, and for a stake in the company, he paid for the initial production of the cards.
The company is now in the middle of its second year and sales are increasing. So far, they've sold thousands of the cards, but it's slow going. Sylvia originally thought the product would be sold through retail stores, but she found that her previous distribution experience was no longer valid.
"My experience was dated. It was years before Wal-Mart had taken over and many of the people that I went to call on in the industry were no longer there. In fact, the businesses were gone."
Finding a roadblock in the path to retail distribution was a big disappointment cheap asics gel mai , but the company simply adjusted its thinking and found another way. Now, instead of selling through national retail chains as she had hoped, CommuniCard products are sold through trade associations and the company's website, as well as through a few local retail stores.