Daniel Mota is a Jessup business major who’s already on his way to becoming a leader, change-maker, and entrepreneur. He’s articulate, passionate about making a difference, and loves helping others succeed. Daniel was recently accepted into the Amazon Web Services University Scout Program (AWS USP). This is a scouting program that trains university students to become a pipeline between venture capital firms/angel investors and startup founders. Daniel is already using his education and experiences within the Jessup community and finding ways to spark positive change out in the world. I’m honored to welcome Daniel to our Q&A discussion today.
1. Tell me a little about your background. Have you always been an entrepreneur?
I was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which is known as the “business hub” of South America. I am a missionary kid who grew up in a non-profit environment and was blessed to attend an international Christian school through scholarships. Within the international schools, I was exposed to families with extreme wealth and influence. Through my parent’s non-profit, Restoration Ministries, I was exposed to extreme poverty in the slums. An entrepreneur is about solving problems, and all I saw in the slums were social problems such as a lack of education, extreme violence, and sanitation problems. My first idea was not for profit, but for a social initiative to take the wealthy students from the international schools to the slums to provoke a change of heart and inspire change. Thankfully, it worked! It started with one student, then five, then twenty students, who all wanted to connect and build relationships with the teenagers from the slums. This broke down walls of discrimination and prejudice when they realized they were more similar to one another than they thought.
2. Why did you choose Jessup?
I didn’t choose Jessup, God did. In the search for my next destination after high school, I was given an amazing opportunity to attend a prestigious international business school. However, I felt anxious and unsure when I considered pursuing that school. But when I considered Jessup, I felt peace and a sense of assurance, even though it didn’t make financial sense for me. I took a leap of faith and God has been faithful with what he started. I am currently in my junior year and am pursuing a business major with a concentration in finance and management. I will graduate in the Spring of 2022.
3. What business idea are you most proud of?
As of right now, it is the Peace Project Initiative. The reason behind it is because the results are immediate. The Peace Project helps a selected small business or non-profit that has been affected by the pandemic with free and professional digital marketing services. Recruiting, training, and providing resources to my team members has been a blast. I was able to develop a direct relationship with a Hubspot representative to provide us tools and resources to train and develop students who are involved in the Peace Project. This initiative will become an internship opportunity for Jessup students this fall, and I love what God has been doing with my teammates as they have been using their gifts to benefit others.
4. How has Jessup/your professors helped you pursue your career dreams?
Five people came to mind. Fritz Moga, Ray Bryant, Mary Konow, Brandon Farmer, and Dr. Jackson. Fritz knew me before Jessup because he brought mission teams to my parents’ non-profit. He helped me navigate through cultural differences and understand the ‘why’ of things, like a spiritual mentor.
Ray Bryant continues to listen to my ambitious and audacious ideas and doesn’t shut them down. Instead, he permits me to explore those ideas and turn them into reality. Mary Konow is Jessup’s career counselor. She has helped me navigate the professional world, helped me apply to countless internships, and helped me start many business projects. In regards to internships, I’m currently a last-round candidate for two major companies that are listed in Fortune Global 500 and have an offer from an international business development consultancy company.
Brandon Farmer is my boss and one of the resident directors at Jessup. He challenges me to grow in ways that I never thought about. Dr. Jackson has given me the confidence to continue doing what I do. Having mentors both in business and spiritually is so important. Mentors are the most valuable thing you can have for your personal development.
5. Tell me a little bit about the Amazon Web Services University Scout Program (AWS USP).
More than 1000+ MBA, Ph.D., and undergraduate students from all over the country applied for the AWS USP- and I got in! The AWS USP is a new scouting program for North American universities. In a traditional scouting program, a scout finds five startups, evaluates the pitch deck, and decides whether to pursue an interest in their specific venture capital (VC) firm. The AWS USP is different. Not only do we do that, we are also connected to many investors, both VC firms and angel investors, through OnePager. I’m currently being trained by AWS with a unique partnership with Open Scout to become a pipeline between VCs and startup founders.
6. Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself serving offshores, possibly Asia or Africa. I see myself evangelizing, being involved in humanitarian aid, and providing solutions to social issues like the lack of digital infrastructure for education, absence of clean water, etc.
7. How would you like to use your entrepreneurial skills to help Jessup?
I know that many people at Jessup have ambitious dreams and goals – not only professionally, but also for the Kingdom of God. One thing I want to do is ignite that desire to action. I want to let them know they have permission to act ambitiously and audaciously to pursue the desires that God puts in their hearts. I want to encourage them to create a startup, found a non-profit organization, or start a student-led leadership initiative.
8. What is your favorite part of Jessup life?
I love ultimate frisbee and basketball nights. And Crossfit Club at 7 a.m! I also love getting to know a student’s desire to change their community and to know their heart is so precious.
9. Anything else you’d like to add?
To the students, don’t be afraid to be bold and provoke change. Transformational leadership requires transformation, and transformation requires change. Be audacious and create that change in the Jessup community.