Cherae Robinson, founder and CEO of Tastemakers Africa, a mobile app for booking experiences in Africa, found it challenging to transition from running a bootstrapped company to one with outside capital behind it.
When she received an influx of cash from investors, along with revenue from a sales push, her first thought was to grow. Robinson, a New York City resident, believed that the best way to scale would be for her to fly to African countries to get the program off the ground. In one month, she went to South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria -- and spent $20,000.
“Our money was dwindling down,” she says. “When we tried to figure out how much we had grown we realized that we did very little.”
The last thing she wanted to do was tell investors that she made a mistake, but she learned from the process that VCs are a tool to help your company -- and not just an entity to impress. “Your job as a CEO is not to look good in front of your investors, it’s to grow your business,” she says.From this experience, Robinson learned three valuable lessons: humility, fearlessness and collaboration. After pivoting its model, which now includes influencers in each country to help create authentic, unique experiences for travelers, the app has scaled up.