We sat down with Maxeme Tuchman, Co-Founder of Caribu, to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey and what advice she would give other women founders.
Q. Tell us what prompted you to start your venture, Caribu?
I’ve worked at almost every level of education from being a public school teacher, Gates Foundation consultant, Executive Director of Teach For America, and as a city, state, and district level education staffer. As a first-generation American and college student and especially during my time teaching at a Title I high school, I came to the sobering reality that when it comes to building a strong foundation for literacy, the focus must be on 0-7 year olds. Caribu is an education platform that helps parents, extended family, and mentors read and draw with children when they’re not together, therefore increasing the amount of reading time for kids 0-7. We’re like FaceTime meets Kindle, for kids. The result is an engaging livestream shared-screen experience with a bookstore containing hundreds of books, in six languages, from leading children’s publishers, and many educational workbooks with an interactive drawing overlay.
Q. What is one of the most important things you have learned while building your venture?
You need to get comfortable with failure. As a type A ENTJ, failure has never been an option. I shifted my perspective and realized I wasn’t failing… I was testing a lot of hypotheses and some of those tests didn’t pan out and some did. You need to recognize what works and doesn’t work and keep moving. I co-founded a foodie startup after business school that had two significant challenges. One was that my co-founder and I had very similar skillsets. This time around I chose a co-founder that had skills that I didn’t have so we could both focus on different parts of the company and complement each other.
Q. What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
If you’re building a tech platform, get a CTO as your co-founder. Make sure they can explain things to you like a six year old, that they have patience and don’t get frustrated doing that, and that they realize the value of having you understand their world. Also, have a BHAV (Big Hairy Audacious Vision) and keep your eyes on the prize. If you’re building something with an inspiring vision that’s going to change the world or create solutions to real-world challenges, that will keep you motivated. Second, keep track of the small wins. You will have them. Lots of them. Remind yourself that those will add up to big wins one day.
Q. What advice do you have for other aspiring women entrepreneurs?
My mantra is “Have the confidence of a mediocre white man”. As a Latina, this reminds me that there are a ton of examples of mediocre white men that have accomplished a lot, and they’ve done it by exuding confidence that made other people confident in them. We women, and especially women of color, are socialized to have more self-doubt, share undeserved credit and we can become more self-deprecating privately and publicly. Ditch that, fast. If you exude that lack of confidence, you and others will very quickly believe it.
As a great philosopher once said, “the best revenge is your paper”. Channel Beyonce, and remember that the research shows that female led companies have better financial returns.
Remember this during the down days. On the good days, remind yourself that you’re building for a more inclusive community. Women tend to build for families, other women, and the underserved. Let that fuel your passion and hunger for making your business a resounding success. There is so much noise telling women it’s hard to be a female in tech, but focus on all of the people and organizations that see it as a benefit, grow your business, and don’t sweat the haters and naysayers.
Q. What are your top three must-read content sources for entrepreneurs, e.g. websites, blogs, podcasts?
I have to admit, I don’t follow any specific content sources but here are a few resources that are amazing and you should have them bookmarked.
- http://growthsupply.com/free/- Great free resources. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
- https://cofounderslab.com/- This is how I met my co-founder
- Eventbrite- Every time I visit a new city, personally or professionally, I attend tech events and apply to pitch in competitions so I can expand Caribu’s reach.
Interested in joining the next WIN Lab cohort of women entrepreneurs? Head here to learn more about our application cycle!