Why our Future Chica conference keynote speaker is an inspiration
Raised by hard-working small business owners and inspired by a Latina woman who reached the C-suite, Blanca Lesmes said she dared to dream. On May 4, she will serve as keynote speaker of Latinitas’ Future Chica Conference. The event invites girls ranging in ages 9-18 to explore 21st century technologies and their own innovative ideas.
“My parents were small business owners; they owned a Mexican restaurant when I was growing up,” she said. “I grew up exposed to the small business model and they instilled me with a hard work ethic. Because of these reasons I think I always knew I would have my own thing.”
The love of the hustle, taking ownership of one’s own career trajectory, a desire to break barriers and serving the community is the reason she is co-founder and CEO of BB Imaging & Consulting.
“At the time I also had a baby; I was 26 or so with my first child. I really wanted more time to spend with my child so that was one of the key things in figuring out a work-life balance,” she said.
Together with her husband Ben, Lesmes launched the company that brought together their respective skills in healthcare and business. Through its working relationship with healthcare partners, their company offers ultrasound imaging and consulting services to patients.
Lesmes also spent the prior year serving as chief operating officer of a software company that launched a new healthcare product. Now she is solely dedicated to her greatest passion: making healthcare more accessible to women in rural communities.
“My focus is expanding the accessibility of healthcare for moms, especially moms who have high-risk pregnancy,” Lesmes said. “We have a telemedicine arm so that if there’s not a specialist in a certain area, we’ll have a telemedicine consult. We’ll send a team out there and we’ll make a connection.”
This means pregnant women in communities far from metropolitan areas such as Harker Heights or College Station can see a sonographer — the person who performs the ultrasound — in their own town and speak to specialists via use of technology. The company can then arrange transportation if there is a need for the patient to physically meet with medical specialists.
“We’re trying to bring this elevated care to communities that would normally not have the right technology or the right staff person to even perform a scan,” Lesmes said.
She is firm believer that a woman’s zip code shouldn’t impact the level of quality care she receives during pregnancy.
While her company operates in rural communities throughout Texas and is expanding into Oklahoma and possibly Kansas, the central hub is located in the bustling city of Austin.
“People want balance here. It’s not just about work. There’s a play component. There’s a wellness component,” Lesmes said of the decision to live and work in Austin. “I love that about being here. The universities and people are at the front of innovation.”
Lesmes is fascinated by the idea that she and her husband became entrepreneurs before it was encouraged or even revered.
“I love that the environment here has evolved into this real ecosystem of technology,” she said.
In addition to people questioning the merits of her early entrepreneurial pursuits, she also had to overcome negativity and doubt surrounding her gender and Latinidad. Her philosophy has always been to carry on despite the doubters and that determination and perseverance has proved fruitful.
Lesmes is hopeful that the generations of entrepreneurs, women and Latinas that have followed don’t appear to have the same level of obstacles and are more embracing of change and taking bold risks.
She hopes that when it comes time for today’s young girls to launch their own businesses, ask for a pay raise or accept a challenging but well-deserved position, they won’t think twice to jump on the opportunity.
“It’s about switching our mindset from surviving to excelling,” Lesmes said.
The St. Edward’s University and University of Texas at Austin graduate also finds time to volunteer in her spare time. She serves on the board of the Gift Economy in Action and the Burke Center for Youth in Hays County. She is also an entrepreneur-in-residence at UT Austin and a mentor for DiveInc, a pre-accelerator focused on diversity in technology.
Her passion for serving her community and helping lift underrepresented communities is the reason she accepted the role of keynote speaker at the Future Chica Conference.
She advises young Latinas to write down their goals and edit them frequently, always reaching for greater horizons.