Founder Spotlight: Naomi Arroyo CD10 GED12

9 min readFeb 5, 2024

“My personal journey is a story of bridges built across divides, of dreams turned into realities, and of unwavering dedication to co-creating positive change.”

Meet Naomi Arroyo of Floreo Labs, an innovation lab that strives to make it easy for non-technical leaders to launch, manage and grow their organizations to greater profit or impact in less time. By leveraging technology and expertise, Floreo provides consulting and training services to organizations to help them grow and thrive.

Naomi was a 2010 Teach for America Corps Member and an educator for 10 years. Combining her experience in the classroom and love of art, she founded All Eyez Media, a photography and production business. In December 2023, Naomi was honored by Cognizant and Teach for America for the third annual Cognizant Innovation in Computer Science Education Award. “These awards, granted at the school level and the broader systems level, recognize outstanding educators and individuals advocating for and expanding access to PK-12 computer science education across the United States.”

Now, as the CMO of Floreo Labs, Naomi helps leaders connect creativity and innovation to propel their ventures forward. Their evolution has been marked by diverse engagements with organizations designing solutions across the tech ecosystem, spanning K-12, higher education, workforce development, and business development sectors. This range of experience has been instrumental in shaping Floreo Lab’s current focus: providing technical assistance tailored specifically for non-technical small business and nonprofit leaders. These leaders are actively seeking to enhance outcomes in their communities and industries in cost effective ways, and Floreo Lab’s strategic approach to creating affordable technology workflows and products has been crucial in enabling them to adapt and meet these emerging needs effectively.

Tell us a bit about your company

Floreo Labs is an innovation lab making it easy for nonprofits to launch, manage and grow their workforce development solution. We offer tools, training and consulting services to help teams manage their projects to greater profit or impact in less time.

What is your funding stage?

Bootstrapped to $1.2mil as of the start of 2023; service based sales

What inspired you to start your business — what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?

Floreo Labs was born out of our personal experiences working to increase pathways to technical careers in cities like Philadelphia, NYC, and Chicago. My co-founder and I recognized a significant gap in the market despite the growing demand for a highly skilled workforce. There were inefficiencies and challenges in the K-12, higher education, and workforce sectors that hindered the scalability and impact of organizations and nonprofits dedicated to workforce development.

Our motivation to start Floreo Labs stemmed from the desire to bridge these gaps and enable these organizations to scale impact. We saw an opportunity to facilitate their research, product development, and program refinement processes, enabling them to become more efficient, data-driven, and innovative in their approach. Through our technology and consulting services, we provide tailored solutions that not only streamline their workflows but also help them make a more substantial and measurable impact on the communities they serve. Throughout our time leading the lab we’ve been dedicated to helping organizations realize their full impact potential and address the pressing challenges in the market.

What is it about your personal background, experience, or perspective that fuels your passion for this venture?

As a young woman, I navigated two worlds — the vibrant streets of the Bronx and the refined corridors of a Manhattan private high school. These years laid the foundation for my lifelong mission.

High school was a turning point. It was there, in an environment where I had access to a quality, well funded education, that I discovered a profound love for art and technology. Navigating the achievement gap firsthand instilled in me a great sense of responsibility, a calling to extend these opportunities beyond the school’s walls.

I partnered with a community center in Spanish Harlem, the neighboring community where my parents grew up, and launched an after-school youth art program. This endeavor, which is still active over 20 years later, wasn’t just about creativity. It was my first taste of entrepreneurship and the birth of my deep belief that knowledge, when shared, can break down barriers and transform entire communities.

This belief ignited my career in education. I became an educator, guiding students towards their own transformative moments. As a school leader, I set visions and strategies, determined to make the system work for every child. And as a technology specialist, I harnessed innovation to address the challenges our education system faced.

But my ambitions stretched far beyond the boundaries of a single school or district. My burning desire to amplify impact led me to join forces with my visionary co-founder in founding and running our innovation lab.

I’ve never forgotten the young girl from the Bronx who yearned for equal opportunities for all. Today, I am blessed to merge my passions and talents, driving workforce innovations that uplift entire communities and level the playing field.

My personal journey is a story of bridges built across divides, of dreams turned into realities, and of unwavering dedication to co-creating positive change. It’s a narrative rooted in sharing knowledge and enabling the boundless potential within every community — a story that continues to inspire me every day.

What are one or two of the biggest wins or most encouraging experiences you’ve had so far?

One of the most pivotal decisions we made early on was to bootstrap our business rather than seeking external funding, a choice that raised eyebrows at the time. Instead, we focused on researching and developing revenue-generating services and products tailored to our market. Our biggest win thus far has been the successful generation of over $1.2 million in revenue. This achievement not only validated our business offerings but also provided us with a resilient foundation. It allowed us to navigate the numerous challenges posed by the years of the pandemic and beyond.

Moreover, one of the most heartening experiences in running Floreo Labs was when I had the opportunity to lead an innovation workshop at the Georgia state capital. During the workshop, we collaborated with stakeholders to devise solutions for homelessness in the city of Atlanta. It was a powerful moment that exemplified our commitment to creating positive social impact through our work. This experience has been a testament to the meaningful change that Floreo Labs strives to bring to communities.

What has been one or two of your biggest learnings so far?

We work with non-technical leaders in social enterprises and startups where maximizing every dollar matters to accomplishing their mission. Because our clients are having to pay heavily for reorganizations of their businesses, branding and marketing, product development and the like, they often find themselves spending a lot of money but still missing the mark in terms of impact, quality of work and ROI.

Together with our partners we’ve spent years attempting to understand why this is the case. The biggest learning in this work has been realizing that in order for any innovation to be truly effective, it has to be designed with a clear understanding of the root problems impacting the organization’s landscape of stakeholders collectively.

It’s easy for leaders, myself included, to want to lead with solutions and go all in with resources to see that solution brought to life. In our work with over 100 companies, we learned that when leaders spent time facilitating understanding of the root problems impacting all the stakeholders involved in an initiative, mobilizing teams to strategically act on building a well-researched solution and organizing workflows around cycles of reflection and adaptation, their teams were more likely to see their innovation catalyze change in the quality of a product or system and in the lives of people.

We turned these learnings into a social impact formula that anyone can use: UMBRA™. It is an acronym that stands for Understand, Mobilize, Build, Reflect and Adapt and represents a design process that identifies the human impact of the decisions we make when thinking about a problem, and help us create the best possible solutions in a data-driven way.

What is an obstacle that you are grappling with as you continue to build this venture?

In our journey over the past five years, a consistent hurdle has been effectively conveying the full extent of our diverse capabilities and our aspiration to make a meaningful impact in the greater tech ecosystem. This challenge is not unique to us; many firms struggle to succinctly articulate a wide range of services. We’ve embraced our own UMBRA™ approach internally, which has been pivotal in refining both our services and how we communicate them, especially amid the shifts brought by the COVID pandemic and its aftermath.

What surprises have you encountered as an entrepreneur? Something out of left field?

As an entrepreneur, life often throws unexpected challenges our way. For me, one such surprise came at a pivotal moment in my career. Transitioning from education to spearheading Floreo Labs, I encountered a personal health challenge that reshaped my approach to work and leadership.

For years, I battled with severe migraines, but as I delved into my new role, these episodes escalated dramatically, sometimes incapacitating me for over two weeks at a stretch. This was more than a mere inconvenience; it was a profound hurdle. After a series of medical consultations, I was diagnosed with a chronic neurological condition causing these relentless migraines and pain. The timing felt like a cruel twist of fate.

However, this journey led to profound insights. At Floreo Labs, we’re committed to fostering innovation, but my experience underscored a crucial truth: innovation thrives only when we are well, both physically and mentally. This realization prompted a deep dive into self-care and more effective management strategies. I explored assistive technologies, embraced mindfulness practices, and refined my time management to prioritize my health. These strategies didn’t just help manage my condition; they transformed my professional ethos.

Learning to balance my health with my entrepreneurial responsibilities has been enlightening. It’s reinforced the importance of designing work habits that support personal wellbeing. This approach doesn’t just benefit me; it creates a ripple effect, enhancing every interaction and decision I make at Floreo Labs.

How can the WAFFA community help you?

I’d love to be in connection with other founders and be a resource for the community as well. Looking to be involved in events and programming as well as spread the word about my work in the Lab with potential partners and collaborators.

What has been the most rewarding thing about starting your own business?

We dove into the world of technology with a dream to make a difference, not just in bits and bytes, but in human lives. The joy of seeing our work come to life in communities, especially among non-technical small business and non-profit leaders, is beyond words. It’s like planting a tree and watching it bear fruit — the fruit, in our case, being the positive changes these organizations experience.

It’s not just about the numbers, but every one of the 16,323 aspiring technologists we’ve helped tells a story. From young highschool women designing solutions to health barriers for women and children, to adults returning to the workforce and finding their space at some of the largest companies in the country, each story is a testament to our mission. When Congress heeded our call for increased computer science education funding, it felt like a victory not just for us, but for the future of technology.

Imagine walking into a classroom in Harlem or the Bronx, where eyes light up as students engage with our custom-designed creative technology curricula. Each lesson we crafted, taught to 200 educators, now thrives in 19 Title 1 Middle and High Schools, turning these classrooms into incubators of innovation.

We’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with over a dozen businesses led by women and founders of color. These aren’t just businesses; they’re beacons of hope, tackling everything from healthcare accessibility to the cutting edge of data privacy and AI. They’ve raised over $1 million in funding, but more importantly, they’ve raised the bar for what innovation looks like.

Every step of this journey, from a fledgling idea to a thriving venture, has been a tapestry of breakthroughs, challenges, and triumphs. It’s not just about the solutions we offer, but the stories we’ve become a part of, the lives we’ve touched, and the futures we’ve helped shape.

In the end, the most rewarding aspect isn’t just the growth of our business. It’s seeing the spark of potential turn into a blaze of innovation in the eyes of those we work with. That, to me, is the true essence of founding this business — it’s about crafting a future where technology serves humanity, fostering a world that’s not only more innovative but infinitely more humane and inclusive.

Learn more about Floreo Labs here, and connect with Naomi here.


This article is published solely for informational purposes and has no regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any person or entity. The information is not intended to constitute, and should not be construed as, investment advice. Please seek your own independent financial advice and do your own research in regards to any partnership or investment opportunities.




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