New York – Twenty years ago, a 25-year-old Nina Vaca took $300 and launched the IT staffing business Pinnacle Group. Today the company is worth $1 billion.
In addition to being chairman and chief executive officer of the uber-successful information technology company, Vaca is only one of two women to ever serve as the chairman of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. And the only Ecuadorian.
Additionally, Vaca is a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, sits on the board of three companies: Comerica Bank, Kohl's and Cinemark, and has been named one of the most influential Latinos in the U.S. for the past seven years.
About her success and her fearless pursuit of entrepreneurship, Vaca says she believes Latinos are part of something huge in America.
“Latinas are leading the way. The first thing I believe in starting a business you have to do is believe in yourself and believe in what you can accomplish in this country. And I stand here as living proof of actually what’s possible,” Vaca told Fox News Latino.
Overcoming challenging odds, Vaca grew up in Los Angeles, the third of five children born to Ecuadorian parents. At 17 she and her sister Jessica took the reins of the family business, a travel agency. A year later, the sisters sold the company and Vaca went off to Texas State University.
After college she moved to New York to start her career in technology. After a move to Dallas, Vaca founded Pinnacle in her living room.
Five years after Pinnacle’s launch, the Sept. 11 attacks happened and took a toll on her business she wasn't sure she could come out of. Vaca came face to face with the fact that her business might go under.
She says her company scaled back to a few employees but, drawing from her family history, she was able to come out on the other side.
“You have to have the attitude that failure is not an option and that was exactly what I did,” Vaca told FNL.
In 2015, Pinnacle Group generated $650 million in revenue.
Aside from managing many projects at once, Vaca also takes time to push herself to the limits, competing in triathlons and marathons.
Vaca says triathlons are a lot like building a business. You take risks, you get kicked, and you throw yourself out to sea.
It’s her outreach in the community that Vaca says motivates her more than the success of her company.
“What I do at Pinnacle puts food on the table and feeds my family, but what I do in the community feeds my soul,” Vaca said.
“There is nothing more gratifying than helping people and helping an entire community, at a time in our country when, frankly, Hispanic leadership is taking center stage.”