Success Story: Kate Jalcedo

Posted on in Break Fast and Launch, Success Stories, Venture Challenge

Kate Jaceldo grew up in South Texas on a ranch, surrounded by the everyday processes of producing food, caring for the earth, and turning meal scraps into fertile soil. She had no idea that, after leaving home and working in special education and social work, her life would on day come full circle. Kate loved what she did but her career was extremely high stress and she felt frustrated with working for other people. One day her mother saw a documentary about urban composting in Brooklyn and realized that San Antonio didn’t have an equivalent. They did some research and began seriously talking about creating a business to fill that need. Together, they started Compost Queens. Kate saw this as a way she could have a direct, positive impact on her community without sacrificing her own agency and wellbeing.

Her first experience with LaunchSA was through the 1 Million Cups program, which LaunchSA hosts every Wednesday morning. Says Kate, “I learned a lot. It especially helped me learn the kind of questions people had for businesses.” She loved the community she met through LaunchSA and jumped right in, enrolled in LaunchSA’s Venture Challenge program. “It was pretty early on in the process,” she says, “which was good because I have no business background. It showed me how investors think.” She still revisits the challenge materials now to reflect on her goals and guide her growth.

After that, she joined a cohort of Break Fast and Launch (BFL), LaunchSA’s culinary accelerator. “It was really cool because I got to hear what food businesses were running up against so, when trying to approach them and work with them, I have a better understanding of how to support their effort. And actually one of our commercial clients now is someone I met through Break Fast and Launch.”

Kate says all of the help she received from the LaunchSA staff was invaluable. She thought her business was going to focus on commercial clients more than residential but they helped her see that it was easier to grow the business, at least at first, straight to residential. She says just having another pair of eyes made all the difference. “Sometimes you get an idea in your head about what your business is, and you just focus on that,” she says. “They helped me see the trends and find the best direction to go in.”

Through the programs, Kate met friends and mentors like Valerie Rutan and Stephen Paprocki. She loves seeing the growth of her friends’ businesses. They support each other by sharing resources and struggles and stories. Her business is thriving, with a new urban farm partnership on the Eastside and an exciting kickstarter for a larger truck to handle the increased volume. “There are various levels of the kickstarter, but the one I’m most excited about is a farm dinner at the urban farm itself, cooked by the chefs I’ve connected with. It’s about as farm-to-table as it gets,” she says. Far from the impinging burnout she felt before, Kate is excited to keep growing her business, giving back to her community, and making connections.