Hoya Highlight: Luisa Santos (C’14)

Luisa Santos (C’14) is the Founder of Lulu’s Ice Cream, and was the recipient of the 2018 GEA Entrepreneurial Excellence Award for Rising Star. Luisa’s liquid nitrogen ice cream business is based in Miami, FL.

What is the best career advice you have ever received?

I received a lot of great advice from my many mentors over time. The best piece of advice, and one that I apply every single day, came from Alyssa Lovegrove, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship in the MSB. She said, “Problems are going to seem insurmountable if you try to tackle them all at once. Think about the absolute smallest step you could take to solve the problem in front of you, and break the problem apart into small steps to work toward a solution.” Anytime I have something huge to figure out, I think through what is the absolute smallest thing to do to start to figure out how to solve problem. In business, this usually means doing the least costly thing you can to test out how to solve the issue you’re facing.

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?

Seeing my team achieve their own financial goals through the jobs they had at Lulu’s and through our financial literacy training program. We’ve set up a network of financial literacy advisors for our staff members to learn from, and the results have been incredible. One of our team members was able to pay off a pile of debt; another team member started saving for retirement. This program has helped to de-stigmatize issues around financial literacy and has given my team confidence and tools to plan for the future.

What is the hardest thing you have ever had to do professionally?

Having to close a shop in December 2016. This was really hard because it was the first time I had to objectively look at my business and make decisions based on numbers without emotion. People lost their jobs. It was really scary. And there were difficult consequences to navigate. At the end of the day, I realized if I didn’t make hard decisions early on, I could ruin everything else I’d worked so hard to build.

Who or what was your favorite professor or class at Georgetown?

Professor Michael Ryan who teaches Personal Finance in the Business School. His classes were incredibly impactful at Georgetown and beyond. He’s a genuinely caring human who values his students, and he teaches from a values standpoint on the subject of finance. This is hard to do, and it made his classes super interesting and relevant. I also loved the entrepreneurship classes I took. I started Lulu’s as a project for one of those classes!

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?

The first time I made ice cream! It felt like every single person on campus somehow contributed to allowing me to make my ice cream on campus.

How has Georgetown shaped you?

I don’t think I could have done what I’m doing without Georgetown. The competitions I participated in gave me my initial capital for starting Lulu’s; the unparalleled access to mentors in the startup world gave me a support system; and the classes I took gave me the ability to learn the basics of starting and managing a business. My debut ice cream making happened at Georgetown events…Georgetown laid the groundwork for where I am now.

Who is a source of inspiration and strength to you in your life and why?

My mentors are a source of inspiration for me, and so I want to be able to give what I got from my mentors back out into the world. I’m a mentor for everything! From the startup club at Florida International University to women’s college groups, I want to be a mentor and a source of advice to as many people as possible.

What is one part of your daily routine you could not live without?

Personally: journaling and working out. Professionally: I look at our cash flows Every. Single. Day.

Who is your favorite author?

Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl was incredibly impactful to me.

What are your words to live by?

Every day, I ask myself “How can I do the most good today?”

View Luisa’s story and other alumni stories on the Hoya Highlights page of the ACS Website

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