Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dustin Pelloni, Founder of Seven Interpreting, located in San Diego, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are Seven Interpreting. We are a complete solution to providing accessibility to the Deaf community in a collaborative and culturally inclusive way. Seven provides ASL interpreting services, both remote and in-person, captioning services, video production, and research and development for any company trying to be more accessible to our community.
Our customers consist of anyone trying to do the right thing by making their products or services accessible. We provide interpreting and video production to large tech companies, universities, hospitals, and businesses.
Tell us about yourself
I'm a CODA (shout out to anyone who has seen the movie). CODA stands for Child Of Deaf Adult, which means you have at least one deaf parent. In my case, my mom is deaf, and my dad was an interpreter, so I'm also a second-generation American Sign Language interpreter. ASL is my first language, and the deaf community is my people. I've spent my entire career in service to this community, and it really is my passion.
I've seen firsthand the struggles that go with constantly having to fight for accessibility and also the beauty of accessibility when it is done right. My mission in life is to create a world whereby deaf people no longer have to fight for access but where access is assumed and not providing it is the anomaly.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Seven is currently very much a startup, but in my career, I've had the good fortune of helping with projects like making the National Suicide Prevention Hotline accessible to the Deaf Community and assisting FEMA with accessibility when they had a big push to get people vaccinated during the pandemic.
Seven is the second company I've started in this space, and my first CLIP Interpreting I sold to a large, Deaf-owned interpreting agency called Linguabee
one of the most amazing and technologically advanced agencies in the US.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Being a business owner in the accessibility space comes with a special type of heartbreak. One of the hardest things is a straight denial of access. When people are unwilling to make things accessible by trying to find loopholes or putting up barriers, it makes the work feel like a mountain to climb. We do what we can to work with companies trying to be ADA-compliant and put forth all the effort we can to ensure that if they want to be accessible, they will be.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Build a business around something you're passionate about. The saying, "Choose a job you love, and you'll never work a day in your life," holds true for me, and it's something that can greatly benefit many new business owners.
- Take care of your people. Though it is possible to succeed as a "solopreneur," if the goal is to build something with other people, it is critical to take care of them.
- Have values. Seven is named from the seven values of the company. Everything we do is in service to those values. Our customers see this, and because we live these values, they also feel them.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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