From The DR To Dallas: What Arístides Learned At Vela Wood
By Vela Wood
Wow! I can’t believe it’s been five weeks already. Seems like it was just yesterday that I was meeting hundreds of new faces from all over the hemisphere at the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Opening Summit. It’s been a great ride and, since it’s almost over now, I’d say a quick recap is in order.
The program as a whole has been a transforming experience. Interacting with and learning from some of the individuals that will be shaping the future of the Americas in years to come really puts things into perspective. There’s a million ways you can change the world, and the YLAI program is proof of that. I was fortunate enough to be a part of an outstanding cohort based in the city of Dallas. The biggest strength of this group of trailblazers was probably the only real thing we all had in common: the drive and resilience to succeed. Our backgrounds, ventures, and projects couldn’t have been more different from each other, but we all had “it.”
It comes in all sizes and shapes. You can see it in the goofy guy that wore pajamas pants half the time but is transforming the way millions of people use public transportation in Peru. That guy from Costa Rica whose passion for beer was only trumped by his love for his (expanding) family, he has it too. He knew this program would be a stepping-stone for great things to come, so when it came down to coming to YLAI or keeping his day job he didn’t blink and followed his dream of taking his microbrewery to the next level. That’s not just “cojones” my friends, that’s it. I could go on for paragraphs telling you how each one of the YLAI fellows had it, and maybe some day I will, but right now you’ll just have to take my word for it. Trust me, I’m a lawyer.
Speaking of lawyers, there’s no way this post is coming out without mentioning my Dallas hosts: the great people of Vela Wood. Vela Wood is a law firm unlike any other you’ve ever heard of. How many law firms that you know of have a ping-pong table, an arcade machine, and a kegerator? Thought so.
Kevin Vela and Radney Wood have it too. They have a unique vision and ability to understand their clients’ businesses from the inside out because they’re entrepreneurs themselves. They’ve represented hundreds of startups, emerging businesses, and investors from around the globe in over $100M in seed, angel, and venture rounds, all while ditching the traditional business attire and wearing Vans sneakers and hoodies themselves. Whether it’s counseling a new venture, orchestrating a deal, or handling a business claim, they pride themselves in accomplishing their goal of representing the businesses and ideas that are fueling tomorrow’s growth.
Vela Wood has helped me grow as a professional and an entrepreneur. It has also opened new doors for me. If I had to highlight one thing I’ve learned, I’d say that Vela Wood reinforced how important innovation is in the process of creating added value. By challenging the way law firms traditionally operate, they’ve managed to set themselves apart and capitalize on a niche market, while also contributing to the development of the startup ecosystem in Dallas. Now we’re working together to expand that circle of influence across Latin America and the Caribbean.
For me, the next step will be to tap into the training, networks, and tools I have received over the last weeks in order to scale my business from a startup to an emerging business, while contributing to the expansion of the YLAI network in the Dominican Republic. There’s no doubt there will be obstacles along the way, but I’m more ready than ever to face them.