Meet the Founder

Kumbaya App is a gig marketplace for ‘Generation Z’ teenagers to find gig opportunities (such as tutoring, childcare, pet walking and also virtual options especially now due to the COVID-19) to make extra pocket money in the safest and most private way, and for parents to hire trusted teens in a quick and simple way. Kumbaya adapted to the new reality very quickly and now enables teens to offer their skills through the app including virtual STEM tutoring, music, arts & craft, slime workshop, read along and more. 
Kumbaya has a team of 4, plus 5 consultants. They are based in Mountain View, CA.
$500k pre-seed investment from B2C experts. They are now raising their seed round.
April 16

2.5 min read

“I Always Remind Myself To Enjoy The Beginning Because When It Grows, It Changes.”

Every week we send the same list of questions to a different founder from companies of all sizes. Each week we get new answers, insights, perspectives, and tips on how we all can shine a bit brighter.

Chen Levanon

Co-Founder & CEO of Kumbaya

Chen co-founded & led 2 tech companies in the past: SimilarTech and ClicksMob which was acquired in 2017. She has recently been featured on the Silicon Valley Business Journal 40 under 40 lists.

1. What is a daily habit you love doing?

I am a runner at heart so I have to run every day. It helps me align with myself and kickstart my day. Sometimes if I don’t have time, I walk while having conference calls. With our new reality being quarantined, I exercise with the kids every morning

Chen and her kids in a morning exercise during these times indoors.

2. What piece of advice would you give yourself when you started? What advice would you ignore?

Don’t focus on people only from your industry and learn from others. As a third time Entrepreneur, I keep reminding myself not to repeat the same mistakes twice. I always remind myself to enjoy the beginning, because when it grows, it changes. Don’t get me wrong, it is great, it’s just that there is something special about the beginnings. People tend to tell you to give up or that there is not a big enough market for it or any other reason why your company will not succeed, but I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I push through. 

3. What piece of content (book/podcast/Ted Talk) is your favorite or has influenced your life?

Lean In by Sherryl Sanberg. That is where I realized that there are others who feel just like I did and went through the same hurdles and that it was ok. It inspired me to propel ahead and gain my seat at the table.

Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg

4. What is the most valuable investment that you’ve ever made?

All my life, I thought I would be in the corporate world forever. In 2012 I took the risk of leaving an executive corporate role for a startup in a market I knew nothing about. There was no way back from that, I was hooked. I am an Entrepreneur for life.  

5. Is there a quote, mantra or message you live your life by and that you resonate with?

In general, I am a very optimistic and positive person. I grew up in a house where my mom always tells me, you are healthy, the sun is shining, skies are blue, life is great! Every day I remind myself to think positively. Even when things get tough I remind myself to focus on the good and stay optimistic.

6. What helps you stay motivated on good and hard days?

Every day I remind myself that I need to think positively and be optimistic that things will be ok. I am proud of the journey I took and it helps me push myself on those hard days. I love looking back at my past hard days – in college, early career life in Wall Street, first year as an Entrepreneur, and how I got through them, so I can get through the next ones. 

7. What are you passionate about other than managing your own company? 

I focused on women empowerment for many years. In my first company, I had over 50 employees, of which 70% were women. My management team consisted of 90% females at the time so I found myself in the center of an agenda. I was very passionate about telling my story and proving you can run multi-million dollar startups, managing hundreds of employees and growing a family. 

In the last couple of years, I realized that real-world business education starts in middle school and even before. These days, I am very passionate about educating teenagers to prepare them for the real world as much as possible. Teaching them about entrepreneurship and how to earn money, spend, save and even donate.

8. What have you recently thrown away or released from your life that made a positive impact and why?

Recently, I donated some clothes that haven’t been used for some years. They had meaning for me and letting them go felt extremely relieving. The suits I wore at my tenure as an Investment Banker on Wall Street were with me through a lot. I look back at those years as educational, however, it is important to mention that it was also a horrible time in my life. This male-dominated business taught me a lot about what I don’t want to do and become. I truly believe it has shaped who I am and how I operate.

9. Share a failure you have experienced and what you learned from it.

In my first two startups, I did not take on any investors and advisors and I learned from it. So this time around I brought early on investors and a very strong advisory board.

10. If you could have anyone in the world answer these questions who would it be and why?

Jessica Alba. She took a personal pain and need that was not addressed and created a Billion dollar company around it. It would be great to hear her answers.

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