Actress and philanthropist Eva Longoria delivered a keynote address earlier in the evening, but now it was Laura Oldaker’s turn. Oldaker beamed with pride as she walked on stage at Verizon’s 2013 Latino Business Series Entrepreneur of the Year Gala. Verizon’s Southern California Region President Luis Cruz had just announced her as the Entrepreneur of the Year. With more than a hundred business and community leaders in the audience, the Tucson, Ariz., resident shared the source of her strength and spoke of the obstacles she has overcome.
“When I was a young girl,” said Oldaker, “my mom had a shoe store in the back of our home. She was an entrepreneur and was my inspiration to become a business owner myself.”
Things weren’t always easy
That early inspiration was critical to staying strong during later difficult times. “When the real estate bubble burst several years ago, we lost everything,” Oldaker said. “We were forced to close our real estate business.” But despite the economic hardship, she persevered.
In 2009, Oldaker opened By Your Side Senior Care with one employee – herself. Her goal was to provide the best senior care, with the most compassion, at the best prices in Tucson. That strategy worked. Oldaker’s business has grown, and she now employs 35 people, providing benefits, training and career opportunities to local residents.
It was Oldaker’s perseverance in overcoming hardship and building a successful human services business that led her to be selected from among more than 700 participants across the nation as Verizon’s Latino Business Series’ Entrepreneur of the Year for 2013.
Leveraging the opportunity
In addition to awarding Oldaker $25,000, Verizon gave her five 4G LTE devices with free voice and data service for one year. Oldaker plans to use the grant to take her company paperless and offer clients new online services that will differentiate her company from competitors.
Verizon’s Southern California President Luis Cruz, left, presented the 2013 Verizon Latino Entrepreneur of the Year, Laura Oldaker, with $25,000 and five 4G LTE devices. Also pictured are Francesca Gallina, Verizon Wireless senior marketing analyst, and Molly Frodyman, Motorola senior channel manager.
(First photo by John Shearer/Invision for AP Images and the second by Eddie Sakaki)