For Georgina Miranda, building a small business is like climbing a mountain — following switchbacks and taking one step at a time.
Georgina Miranda is petite and soft spoken, well dressed and an urbanite. But beneath her quiet demeanor lives a relentless, adventure-seeking beast.
Chugging oxygen from thin air, pushing through indescribable chafing and blisters from ill-fitting gear, Miranda has climbed more mountains than many of the trucker hat-wearing mountaineers hanging out at the climbing store.
“I went from someone that couldn’t run a mile, to someone that has now climbed six of the highest peaks on each continent, including Denali and Everest,” she said. “That’s proof that you can literally start from zero and work your way up.”
In 2014, fueled by her desire for the outdoors, Miranda founded Altitude Seven, an adventure lifestyle media platform for women. It is designed to help a global community of women travelers discover inspirational stories, the best gear and apparel, while creating community for adventurous women. It is committed to elevating the presence and visibility of women in adventure sports and travel media.
“I always knew I wanted my own business, I just didn’t always know what I wanted it to be,” she said. It wasn’t until she reached the top of Mt. Denali in 2010, blistered and bleeding from ill-fitting gear that the idea for Altitude Seven struck.
“I thought, there must be a better way for women,” she said, and began making gear and creating prototypes. “I was very naïve to think that was going to be enough to kickstart my way, and it wasn’t.”
She equates building a business to preparing for Everest.
The Road Less Traveled
Growing up in Los Angeles with a Nicaraguan mom and Salvadorian dad, in a family without much money, Miranda’s highest hopes were pinned on becoming the first person in her family to graduate from university.
It was a cautious household — if you fell off your bike at age five, say, your biking days were over.
“Growing up, education was my ticket to a better life, not adventure in the outdoors,” she said, adding that her first camping trip was in college.
“I was really not athletically gifted,” she said, but she loved being in the wilderness. The sense of freedom it stirred was unfamiliar and delicious. She tagged along with anyone who would let her and eventually started going for solo hikes.
While in grad school, she ventured into a climbing gym and learned the ropes, always focused on her education and following a path that had been so ingrained, so predestined that she couldn’t see another way.
“I had done everything perfectly,” she said. “I got a scholarship, a job, an MBA, another good job. I got married, bought a house.”
And then one day, at age 27, it all started to crumble.
“I looked around and thought, this isn’t the life I am meant to be living, this isn’t the life I wanted to build,” she said. “It just needed to flip and so it did. Completely.”
She divorced, lost a home in the financial crisis, and moved to Portland then San Francisco. She started working for an international consulting firm that allowed her to travel around the world and advise some of the top Fortune 500 companies.
“On this path to entrepreneurship, more than once, I’ve had to make the decision to leave something very stable,” she said. “I had to take that leap of faith and pursue something that’s much more aligned to what I feel is my purpose.”
Building a Business
The path to her small business took several twists and turns. In 2014, she transitioned from designing gear to designing an e-commerce platform that curated gear created for women. Then, she pivoted again.
Miranda evolved Altitude Seven from an “outdoors company” to a “tech company,” a multimedia lifestyle platform connecting women with advice and outdoor gear designed for women.
“I realized what was the most powerful piece was actually the stories of women going out there and doing all of these kinds of things. This is what inspires others,” she said.
She met women who wanted to paddle in Baja, to travel and learn about the world, to climb mountains, to seek more meaning in their lives. She realized other women had desires that mirrored her own, yet lacked a place with relevant stories and community.
Using the online platform she’d built, she began sharing narratives of women pushing past their fears and chasing dreams, whatever the odds.
Following the Switchback
Miranda spends much of her time in Covo, her co-working space, and on the road for meetings and events, adding stories and resources to her website using her Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga, a 2-in1 laptop and touchscreen tablet. She interacts with her community in various ways, including her Altitude Seven Instagram, where women share their stories of adventure, and her event series She Ventures.
“Technology is extremely critical to Altitude Seven,” said Miranda. “It’s embedded in everything we do and it’s how we are able to connect and engage with our community.”
She said being a female founder in industries dominated by men – outdoors and tech – has been a challenge.
“I try to see it not as a negative but as an opportunity to break trail, not just for myself, but for other people like me to do it faster, better, easier in years to come.”
Today, she is gearing up to complete the Explorers Grand Slam in the next 11 months, climbing Carstensz Pyramid in Papua New Guinea, climbing Mt. Vinson in Antarctica, and skiing the last degrees of both the North and South Poles. For Miranda, it’s another step in her journey to create a meaningful life and business.
“I think it’s just really important to know what’s calling you in life,” she said. “Sometimes it’s not a linear path, where the perfect thing shows up, but rather you have to chase that thread to see where it leads.”
Editor’s note: Georgina Miranda’s story is part of iQ’s #SHEOWNSIT series, which spotlights women small business owners and their journeys of success.