Headshot of Alessandra Lezama, founder and CEO of TOOTRiS.
Alessandra Lezama, founder and CEO of TOOTRiS and winner of the 2021 Dream Big Minority-Owned Business award, supports working parents through her company’s tech solution. — TOOTRiS

Alessandra Lezama describes herself as “an immigrant to this great nation in pursuit of the American Dream.” Lezama took a major step toward making that dream a reality when she founded TOOTRiS, a tool that helps parents find child care, day care and preschools near them. 

“I created TOOTRiS with a very personal mission in my mind and heart: to ensure every working parent —  especially women — has the same opportunity for advancement, having access to affordable, high-quality child care,” said Lezama, who won CO–’s 2021 Dream Big Minority-Owned Business award.

[Learn more about the 2022 Dream Big Awards, and enter your business by July 8 for a chance to win $25,000!]

A product of the digital age, TOOTRiS uses its technology to help parents search, vet, and enroll their children into affordable care and education programs.

“TOOTRiS is the culmination of everything I love and believe in,” Lezama said.

Defining your purpose and your impact

To find success in your business, you must first determine the reason you’re pursuing it in the first place.

“Start by searching your heart for your purpose, your ‘why,’” Lezama said. “Then ask yourself, ‘Who is important to you that you want to positively impact?’ Next, envision how you see them succeeding. Lastly, think about what you want them to feel and say when they remember you.”

By taking initiative in this way, you’ll build a solid foundation from which you can grow your business. This helps guide your decisions and create a plan to achieve your dreams.

“Walk it, talk it, be it, live it, and make it so every day — one step at a time,” she said. “Don’t expect someone else to recognize your potential or tell you that you can do it. Just go for it.”

Start by searching your heart for your purpose, your ‘why.’” Then ask yourself, ‘Who is important to you that you want to positively impact?’

Alessandra Lezama, founder and CEO, TOOTRiS

Strengthen yourself, then pay it forward

Your entrepreneurial journey doesn’t end when you achieve success. Once you reach your goal, pay it forward, said Lezama.

She learned this lesson from her father, who used to sit her down before going to work each day to tell her to follow her dreams — and help others along the way.

TOOTRiS did this during the height of the pandemic by sourcing and delivering masks, gloves, and cleaning supplies to tens of thousands of family child care providers across the country, at no cost to the recipients, Lezama said.

“We also repurposed our marketing budget to create a COVID Emergency Relief Grant Fund for providers, giving out hundreds of $1,500 stipends early on in the pandemic, primarily to help programs stay open in support of the essential workers who needed them the most,” she continued. “To this day, we continue to give child care providers PPE to keep their programs clean and sanitized for the safety of all.”

To pay it forward, however, you must first take care of yourself and create a stable platform for your business. As the adage goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

“Always do your best to have a positive impact on people’s lives,” Lezama said. “But remember, you can only truly help others when you are coming from a place of strength.”

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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CO— is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Published May 23, 2022