Valeska I. Jacques
After a 20-year career in technology-based marketing and social media, Valeska Jacques turned her experience and passion for technology into an opportunity to inspire and teach young students. She opened two Magikid Robotics labs, offering STEM courses and robotics competitions for kids in grades K–12. Valeska is married and has three sons.
Tell us about a unique feature of your business.
“Magikid courses make learning science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and physics fun! Most of the students don’t realize they are acquiring valuable foundational concepts that will make learning those subjects easier in their regular school.”
Tell us about your team.
“I found great STEM instructors well-versed in robotics and computer programming. They are very patient, love what they do, and parents rave about their children’s academic progress. I am so grateful for my team!”
What are you doing to keep staff and students safe?
“We have opened with strict COVID-19-compliant practices: Instructors are tested weekly, they all wear masks, desks are socially distanced, we have hand sanitizer stations and only students are allowed into the lab.”
How do you empower other women to succeed?
“For several years I was on the board for the National Association of Women Business Owners, mentoring other female business owners and giving entrepreneurship talks to Girl Scouts. Being a female Latina instructor to younger children will help this generation realize that STEM is not for boys only!”
Has motherhood made you a better entrepreneur?
“Quite the opposite. Being an entrepreneur prepared me for motherhood! A successful entrepreneur needs to be multifaceted, be open to learning new skills, stay levelheaded when curveballs are thrown at you, understand you won’t always have all the answers, and pray on important decisions. Learn to carve out self-time and treat your team with continued appreciation and respect.”
What have been your proudest moments during the recent crisis?
“Being adaptive. We customized our curriculum to align with students’ passions and special needs, created flexible schedules to avoid burning out instructors or students, and provided good communication with parents and students so we meet their educational needs. I opened my second lab right before the crisis, and it was shut down the same month. With the parent company’s support, I was shifted to a total online business model and kept my company going. Now both locations are open again.”