According to Caribu cofounder Maxeme Tuchman, her app was inspired by one powerful image: a photo of a soldier reading to his child online while awkwardly holding up a picture book to the camera.
So she set out to make it easy for children to read ó and learn ó with parents, grandparents, and friends from afar. With Caribu, a 2020 App Store Trend of the Year winner, kids can turn the pages of a Thomas the Tank Engine book, invite aunts and uncles to help with a math worksheet, or play a word game with cousins ó all while interacting face-to-face over video.
We caught up with Tuchman to talk about how Caribu has thrived without venture capital investment and why every founder should build a diverse team from day one.
*Caribu* keeps a video chat window in view as kids and family members connect over puzzles, games, and stories.

How did your background lead to creating a learning app like Caribu?Iím the daughter of Cuban immigrants and the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. It has been ingrained in me that the only thing you can take with you in the middle of the night when youíre fleeing your home is whatís in your head. To me, education is the biggest lever for change.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when launching Caribu?Fundraising. Fewer than 2 percent of all VC dollars go to women and people of color. Thatís an industry problem. We had a lot of people say, ďIf you donít move to Silicon Valley, weíre not going to fund you.Ē But weíve run through walls ó weíve figured it out through grants, angels, and corporate investment.
Whatís been essential to your success?The ability to see a problem and believe I could solve it. Throughout my career, Iíve constantly been pushed to go into new environments, learn new languages ó the government uses a different language than MBAs, for example. Thatís been the greatest gift. Iím excited to wake up every morning and think, ďI donít know what is going to happen.Ē
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?Build a diverse team from the beginning. Itís the best business decision you will make. Donít have a bunch of dudes making an app that may be used by 94 percent women. Donít build a team thatís 95 percent men or white people and then think, ďOh, we should diversify.Ē Have your team reflect the people you serve. We have customers in 200-plus countries and territories. You have to have that empathy.
How did you arrive at the name Caribu? Alvaro noticed many kidsí apps had animal-based names, so he looked at migratory animals and learned about the caribou ó the Canadian reindeer. We spell it in Spanish because heís from Spain and Iím Cuban. Also, it was easier to get the Twitter handle!

Download Caribu: Playtime Is Calling from the App Store
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