Meet our Newest Teammate, Cheraé Robinson, Flybridge’s Head of Community
Adding a Head of Community to the Flybridge family has been a goal for a while as we continue to double down on our belief that communities create competitive advantage. We even wrote a book on this topic (or at least an eBook): The Community Playbook for Founders.
Thus, we couldn’t be more excited to have our longtime colleague and friend Cheraé Robinson join our team as Head of Community. Cheraé was most recently founder and CEO of Tastemakers Africa, where we were an investor.
Having worked closely with her for the last few years, we have seen what a powerful founder, community-builder, and leader Cheraé is. Raised on Long Island, NY and a graduate of the HBCU Morgan State University, Cheraé spent a number of years in global health and international development at the CDC, CARE, and CIMMYT, A World Bank Research Institution, before founding Tastemakers Africa.
Tastemakers Africa is where Cheraé really honed her community-building and entrepreneurial skills, creating a community of travelers that sought unique experiences and adventures in Africa. During her founder journey, Cheraé raised $2 million from ourselves, Precursor, and Erik Blachford (Zillow and Peloton board member), among others.
The story of how we met Cheraé and ended up backing her is reflective of what we believe to be the new model of venture capital. Typically, venture capitalists only invest in people they know from their past — college friends, professional colleagues, or members of their social circles. That inbred pattern of deal sourcing leads to a closed system and, ultimately, poor investing as a result of a lack of openness to new people and new ideas.
At Flybridge, we have been on a mission to both change that traditional system and expand our network and community beyond the “usual suspects”. Creating our network funds to expand our access to compelling founders, such as XFactor Ventures and The Community Fund, has been a large part of that strategy. Further, we have strived to create space in our calendar for open office hours and be present in a diverse range of communities so that entrepreneurs can engage with us even if they don’t have a warm introduction.
By creating that space, we had the privilege to meet Cheraé. Cheraé and Chip first connected during “Include Office Hours” organized by TechCrunch in March 2017. Cheraé told Chip her story as a solo founder and her vision for the company. In Cheraé’s words, Chip was not a typical venture capitalist. “He was thoughtful, genuine, and encouraging. I was obviously nervous to meet him but he made me feel comfortable and seen. And, importantly, he asked me insightful questions that made me think differently about the business and the opportunity.”
Two years later, Cheraé reconnected with Chip and shared all that she had achieved with her startup. That initial meeting led to a set of follow-up conversations with Jesse, which led to more meetings with the entire Flybridge team, which led to our investing in Cheraé’s startup. The bet was a bet on Cheraé. Although Tastemakers Africa was not a huge commercial success (thanks, COVID), our relationship with Cheraé has been a huge success. We couldn’t be happier to now have her as a full-time member of our team.
In this role, Cheraé will lead the expansion of Flybridge’s networks and community to strengthen our ecosystem in support of our founders. As a former founder herself, she is uniquely positioned to lead and inspire our community of founders. To hear her describe her own story and what lies ahead, see her blog post here.
Welcome to the Flybridge family, Cheraé!