When Mercedes Soria completed one academic goal, her mom would always ask: “What do you want to do next?” Her mother’s “what’s next?” mantra now fuels Soria’s desire to go beyond. After working in software development and enterprise resource planning at companies like Gibson Guitars and Deloitte, she decided to gain skills helpful for a move into management. She took some leadership courses and, with encouragement from a mentor, decided to pursue an MBA.
She felt challenged and motivated every day at Goizueta, she said, but it was an entrepreneurship class with Charles Goetz that changed her trajectory. Soria hadn’t considered working for a startup, but she soon found herself headed to the Bay Area to work with robots. Her company, Knightscope, is an advanced security technology company dedicated to predicting and preventing crime using autonomous robots, analytics, and engagement.
In 2017, Soria was named one of the 100 Most Influential Women in Silicon Valley by Silicon Valley Business Journal.
“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, and it’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she said of joining the Knightscope team. Soria says she’s not a risk taker by nature, but that changed once she arrived in Silicon Valley and became acquainted with startup culture and venture funding.
She feels that wealth of experience and attitude allows her to ask other women what her mother one asked her: “What’s next?”
Knightscope’s staff is 28 percent women, “which is unheard of in this Valley,” Soria said. Her goal is perfect, 50/50 gender balance. It’s the kind of next step that would make any mother proud.