A determined MBA graduate with a software background and a fierce Latina nonprofit leader with a passion for education are the dynamic founder duo behind Caribu, a storytime app that brings families together, even if they are miles apart. The Caribu app lets families read books and draw while spending time together side by side or in a real-time video call.

Maxeme Tuchman, CEO, and Alvaro Sabido, CTO, came together in Miami after meeting through a co-founder matchmaking organization.  Sabido, who studied computer science, was interested in continuing to develop a product he and classmates created during graduate business school in London. Tuchman was the former Miami Executive Director for Teach For America and was looking for her next opportunity with startups, but one that would harness her passion for education and make an impact. “Together we are ed-tech,” Tuchman said at a recent pitch.

A determined MBA graduate with a software background and a fierce Latina nonprofit leader with a passion for education are the dynamic founder duo behind Caribu, a storytime app that brings families together, even if they are miles apart. The Caribu app lets families read books and draw while spending time together side by side or in a real-time video call.

Although the platform was already generating revenue by selling children’s books through partnerships with scores of publishers, Caribu launched a subscription model last fall. Tuchman calls it a triple win. “Our publishers are getting monthly recurring revenue, we’re getting monthly recurring revenue, and for parents, it is increasing engagement. Caribu is a more seamless experience now.”

To kick off the launch of subscriptions, Caribu partnered with the Blue Star Families nonprofit on a campaign targeted at military parents so that active duty soldiers will never miss another storytime. Families receive six months of Caribu free. An airman stationed in Africa wrote that Caribu completely changed for the better his relationship with his 4-year-old son. It’s feedback like that that keeps the team fired up.

The year 2017 was all about getting the word out both to customers and to potential investors, but how do you do that if you have no budget? Caribu’s Tuchman hit the contest circuit.

Most recently she was named one of three top Mother of Invention winners by Toyota and Tina Brown’s Women in the World Foundation, which came with a $50,000 prize and exposure in the New York Times and in a Toyota commercial. With no marketing budget, contests are a great way to perfect your pitch and draw some PR buzz — not to mention a way to meet interested investors.

Since beginning subscriptions in August 2017, “we have doubled growth and brought on more publishers. We raised financing and I think we established a place in the Miami ecosystem very quickly, where we have been able to kind of share our learning,” said Tuchman, who is participating in the Babson Win Lab accelerator for women entrepreneurs. “That’s really, really important because that is not just about our success, it is about the ecosystem success.”

Tuchman won’t disclose revenues. She said the company has raised a six-figure pre-seed round and more fundraising will be in its future.

In 2018, Tuchman said, Caribu will focus on customer acquisition and “in short, crushing it in the 0 to 7 years old reading space.”

Tuchman also makes it part of her personal mission to represent and promote women and minorities in tech, an industry with woeful statistics on those fronts. “We’ve got a ways to go, but there’s been progress.”

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