You’re An Entrepreneur. You Just Don’t Know It Yet.

Mariah Manzano is the CEO & Co-Founder of Opal, whose mission is to empower students through mentorship at any point in their career-search journey. She is also currently a Software Engineer at Cisco, former NASA Ames intern, and former Santa Clara University UX Project Manager. She’s a class of 2020 graduate from Santa Clara University with a degree in Web Design & Engineering and emphasis on Entrepreneurship.


She is particularly passionate about empowering underrepresented groups to pursue their dream careers because as a woman of color in tech, she recognizes the power of seeing someone you can identify with in a role you desire yourself. Or even in a role you never thought you could pursue. She believes that the realm of possibility exponentiates with even the slightest bit of encouragement and empowerment.


In this episode Darius invites a budding entrepreneur, Mariah Manzano, to discuss where her entrepreneurial mindset began, how her experience at Santa Clara University built upon this mentality, the creation of her business Opal and its mission, the necessary steps to transition from the idea stage to manifestation, how SCU can improve its entrepreneurial ecosystem, and the importance of overcoming failure.

Interview Highlights

0:50 - How did you grow up and in what ways did you begin to foster an entrepreneurial mindset?

2:25 - What role did your mother’s entrepreneurship play in your aspiration of this career path?

3:32 - How do you think your Santa Clara University experience has helped you develop your entrepreneurial skills?

8:20 - What is Opal? What is its purpose? How did you begin the process of turning your idea into a reality?

11:35 - Do you think that it is a necessity as an entrepreneur to be the person who is experiencing the problem that your idea is trying to solve?

14:15 - Can you help us understand the go to market strategy for Opal? Both short term and long term.

17:10 - Do you think that there is more work that needs to be done to help foster the entrepreneurial mindset at Santa Clara University?

20:42 - What is an entrepreneurial mindset and what are the benefits of having one?

23:10 - What is that process of going from the idea stage to the execution stage? How do you scale?

25:22 - How do you take your business off the ground?

28:58 - What advice would you give to the listeners who are interested in stepping into the entrepreneurial ecosystem?

31:32 - VoSC custom questions.

Voices of Santa Clara Crew:

Malachi Finn

Darius Johnson

Antonio Magallanes

Created by Gavin Cosgrave, 2019

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