Nestled halfway between San Antonio and Austin, Texas, Carina Boston Pinales has uncovered what her entrepreneurial community needs and in doing so created a safe space for these “orphaned entrepreneurs” to excel in their work while living their purpose in life. Celebrated as Unsung Hero of Ecosystem Building, Carina and I sat down in late 2020 for a heart-to-heart conversation about building community and creating space for serendipity in a world rattled by COVID-19. Throughout this conversation, Carina sat in front of a balloon arch from one of their local entrepreneurs, after recently celebrating three years of Splash Coworking, at a safe social distance, in San Marcos, Texas. I had an immediate sense of Carina’s role in her community.
Community before space: Introducing Splash
“Our work is in the name: Splash Coworking is a space for resources and opportunities around innovation; more importantly we’re a community that is membership-driven and connects with entrepreneurs, startups, and those that just need a safe space to work while also exploring their ideas and purpose in life. I think that really describes us best: an authentic community and making a splash with whatever we do.
We like to refer to ourselves as a pollinator meaning that we serve as a hub for pollination with a unique community.
If you’re coming to us you can expect to be in the know of the resources and tools to take either your idea, your business, your drive and passion in life to that next level. It often means figuring out whatever it is you want to do and how to do it most efficiently where you are now and then adding tools and resources to get you to that next level that you see yourself.
Before we had our brick and mortar, we spent about a year doing pop-ups and giving direction for those orphaned entrepreneurs.
Before releasing the idea, we had to have a physical location to exist as a coworking space, we were more conceptually concerned with what was working and what wasn’t in our community. This time helped us understand the real magic of community lies in creating serendipity between people and the connections among these incredible human beings. We find those reminders constantly. Just recently, we celebrated our third anniversary and one of our early members brought their entire family from four hours away to have cake with us! Them wanting to be part of that celebration was heartfelt and a great reminder, while spaces come and go, the community you create remains even if people move on.
I like to think this is what Splash is about: Any action that we take has a rippling effect and we try to be very mindful of that in everything we do.”
The foundation and innovation that Carina has deliberately invested into her hometown not only honors the past five generations her family has in the area but the next seven generations of the future. Carina has rolled up her sleeves and made the community of San Marcos and the region believe in themselves by witnessing her brainchild, Splash. She has done it with grace, integrity and humility.Robyn Kendrick
Catalyst and impact seeker: Introducing Carina
“My role as the founder and co-owner is basically to leverage my network I professionally developed. That also means always being open to expanding this network in order to bring resources and tools to our members and our community. If anything it’s definitely bringing as much opportunity, not only to our space but to our community at large.
Personally, in my day-to-day work, I really get hyped up when I get to have dedicated time with our startups or when someone has an idea and I get to put to use what I do best: strategically mapping out the best way forward to scale, dissolving these myths of what it takes to have a business, and while working one-on-one with startups.
I wish I could spend all day deep-diving and brain dumping on a whiteboard with every single startup and then having a pot of gold behind me so I could say: ‘Here you go! Now execute!’ And that pot of gold, by the way, is not just monetary but the network and the right connections for these entrepreneurs to take the next step!
On a systems level, I would really like to know how to track progress and what those metrics look like for engagement and interaction.
I had a sneak peek of how other coworking and innovation spaces think about it but there is so much potential in measuring value and impact that goes beyond traditional economic development metrics like new job creation numbers, salaries, revenue brought in, etc. We are so fortunate in San Marcos there’s new leadership and support from our economic development department! And yet, there are metrics like quality of life and community wellbeing, social capital, and a culture of collaboration we don’t know how to capture, let alone measure! If I could fast forward into the future and say ‘This one rippling effect was caused by this person meeting that person or because someone took a chance by providing a testimony for a product or a review, and that set off an avalanche of sales!’ Because on the day-to-day, that’s how we benchmark our progress on a micro-level, but it’s nearly impossible to quantify!”
Carina has lead the charge to foster a dynamic and engaging ecosystem in San Marco, TX not only for those who work for themselves or work remotely but also for those who care about their town. Through tireless volunteerism, struggling to get a small business off the ground, supporting local officials and advocating for those unable to do so for themselves, Carina is the definition of an ecosystem builder.Mike LaRosa
Fostering diversity, equity and inclusion in San Marcos
“I’m a first-generation graduate in my family with a four-year degree. I’m biracial. There’s an economic division that came with my upbringing and where we are as a community. I look at the barriers I faced as an entrepreneur, the first one being that I didn’t even know or understand I was an entrepreneur. I knew I had to make money and I had to support myself; I had to use any and all skill sets I had that – in some sense – I took for granted because I didn’t have outside validation for how unique and uncommon they were. At age 13, I painted windows, then at the age of 15, I had the opportunity to work as a photographer for a national organization. At the time I didn’t know what implications those experiences would have on my professional development. But when I was in college, I shot weddings or events and I didn’t look at that as a talent or skill, let alone a business. If I had known this hustle was an entrepreneurial mind and skillset and had experienced the consistency of mentorship, this could have changed my trajectory.These days, I see my role in making sure we remove the barriers for entrepreneurship to make it accessible, to provide resources and opportunities.
In San Marcos, our median household income is in the mid-thirties. So we understand the economic barriers are present in our community every day and opportunities are life-changing. As Splash, we really believe in being locally driven and globally connected. In a digitally connected world, I want people to know there is innovation in our local ecosystem, creative and very useful solutions exist here. I want to make sure this message gets out as far and wide as possible!
Many entrepreneurs here exist on the fringes of our ecosystem, they’re initially pretty removed from the support they might need to move their side hustle forward. To meet them where these entrepreneurs are, you go to the sidelines, you go to the washeteria (laundromat) and engage with the construction workers or the blue-collar families that are dedicating time to do their household errands in between jobs. You connect and you ask questions, you put up flyers, you go to the community center or the workforce development center that offers programs to those that might have a side hustle. Because these hustlers often don’t realize that they have the makings of a legitimate business that can be scaled.
These days, I see my role in making sure we remove the barriers for entrepreneurship to make it accessible, to provide resources and opportunities.
In San Marcos, our median household income is in the mid-thirties. As Splash, we really believe in being locally driven and globally connected. In a digitally connected world, I want people to know that there is innovation in our local ecosystem, that creative and very useful solutions exist here. I want to make sure that this message gets out as far and wide as possible!
Many entrepreneurs here exist on the fringes of our ecosystem, they’re initially pretty removed from the support they might need to move their side hustle forward. To meet them where they’re at, you go to the sidelines, you go to the washeteria (laundromat) and you see the construction workers or the blue collar families that are dedicating time to do their household errands in between jobs. You connect and you ask questions, you put up flyers, you go to the community center or the workforce development center that offers programs to those that might have a side hustle. Because these hustlers often don’t realize that they have the makings of a legitimate business that can be scaled.
Carina is part of a long line of change makers in her home community of San Marcos Texas. She has a unique ability to connect people across generations and cultures for the purpose of creating access to a far-ranging set of opportunities to reimagine a larger future for themselves and their communities.Ruth Glendinning
A huge challenge in our community is the lack of access to healthcare solutions for anyone who works for themselves. From day one we’ve been looking for a solution for this issue. We were lucky to have been accepted for a grant with iSelectMD and now we can offer telehealth to all of our members. We’re the flagship coworking space for this program and the reason we were selected was based on the authenticity we provide our members: We knew that a lack of affordable healthcare plans for contractors and freelancers was a very high barrier to entrepreneurship. Instead of shying away from finding solutions, we were able to break down that barrier. Splash Members AND their immediate families members have access to 24/7/365 board-certified physicians for their primary care needs. Commonly addressed issues by iSelectMD are respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, pink eye, allergies, indigestion, poison ivy, and COVID-19 triage for symptoms. Interestingly, 88% of the call-ins are from members who have insurance however would experience cost or access issues with their provider or prefer the convenience of a telehealth appointment.
Born and reared in San Marcos, Carina is a life long example of an individual who has a vested and committed vision for the future. She is a sought-after voice testifying and influencing policies to protecting the environment such as parking, bicycle routes, recycling etc. She exemplifies and is a living and influential example of exceptional Ecosystem Builder!Gloria de Leon
To me, that’s what an ecosystem builder does: understanding what’s essential for entrepreneurs to exist and thrive, and taking initiative to remove these barriers.”
Carina Boston Pinales
San Marco, TX, USA
Entrepreneur and coworking space owner. Pollinator and catalyst. Breaker of barriers.