22 Oct 2020

A Q+A with Dash Camp Founder Tabitha Salomon (MBA 2014)


by Ashley Wheeler

Life has changed a lot since the beginning of the pandemic, with parents trying to juggle work, school, and childcare and children feeling cooped up and missing their friends. Recognizing the need for educational and interactive programming for children, former Google employee Tabitha Salomon (MBA 2014) combined her passion for technology, arts, and movement to create Dash Camp—an interactive online service that connects kids ages three to 11 with a vibrant world of creativity, movement, and community for two hours each day. We chatted with her about entrepreneurship during COVID-19, how HBS prepared her to be a founder, and the importance of diversity and inclusion in children’s programming.

Tabitha Salomon

What inspired you to create Dash Camp?

When people need help, we must step up. According to the Washington Post, parents are interrupted 15 times per hour when working from home. As children return to school, this number declines, but what happens when the school day ends? Working with partners such as Google and Mother Honestly, we’ve learned that unless there is additional support, employee productivity declines once the school day ends. We created Dash Camp to help.

On the website, there are different types of activities to choose from: physical activity, S.T.E.A.M., and humorous shows. How did you choose what activities to focus on?

We worked with our COO, critically acclaimed actress Nhadya Salomon[SS1] , an expert in content and production with over five years of experience in children’s programming, to help with content curation. The shutdown caused a large portion of the entertainment industry to close, so we were able to hire from that pool of experts and build a world-class team and curriculum to address the big three: physical, spiritual, and mental well-being for young children.

I like the term from your website, “edu-tainment,” what does that mean to you and why do you think it’s important?

Unlike TV, YouTube, and in many instances, distance learning, this is not passive-screen time. Rather, it’s an interactive "guilt-free" experience that gets your child moving, playing, and having fun in a social setting with other kids each day.

On the website, diversity is listed as one of Dash Camp’s values. Why is diversity so important for the Dash Camp community?

It’s critical that children see themselves reflected in the content they interact with—whether it is age, race, or gender, we feel that representation matters, especially in our camp wizards, teachers, and staff.

What can parents (or educators) do to help promote diversity and inclusion for children?

So many of us are limited to friendships with people who live in our zip codes, attend our churches, or belong to our social circles. We want kids to become friends with children all across the globe. For instance, an Indian girl in Toronto became close friends with a white girl in Arizona. After camp, with their parent’s permission, they spoke on the phone and learned more about each other’s lives.

How has COVID-19 changed Dash Camp?

Dash Camp exists because of COVID-19. We originally launched as a company called Party Dash, focused on eco-friendly party boxes for children, but pivoted during the pandemic.

How did HBS help to prepare you for life as an entrepreneur?

HBS was a life-changing experience for me. An entrepreneur is constantly making decisions with incomplete information, the same as the case protagonist we learned about each week. Given the information presented, we review data, assess opportunity costs, and ultimately make difficult decisions that have major implications on the company. After completing this exercise over 500 times at HBS, I’ve developed strong decision-making skills and lead my team with unapologetic authenticity.

The community of founders, especially female founders, is incredibly strong. We are committed to uplifting one another to help reach our respective goals and aspirations. For example, those in the HBS community have generously made introductions to venture capitalists in their networks, joined as investors and advisors, and shared priceless advice from first-hand experience building their companies. Could I have gotten this far without HBS? Probably. Would I want to? No. HBS resources are bar none.

What has been your biggest learning from starting Dash Camp?

We are not going back to “normal” post-COVID-19. We are ushering into a “new normal” where technology will be the backbone of industries and activities that many said were years or decades away. At the same time, in the era of social distancing, connections are more important than ever.

What have been some of the challenges of being a female entrepreneur?

When I was raising capital, I had six figures in revenue after six months of building out a concept by myself. I thought it was time to aggressively raise capital to grow the team. I quickly realized that although the VCs were nice and would hear me out, they often leaned on pattern recognition—code for the next “Mark Zuckerberg.” By relying on one standard for success, they could often be missing the next “Tabitha Salomon.” However, I’m resilient. As the saying goes, ‘where there is a will, there is a way.’

If you could give a fellow entrepreneur just starting out a piece of advice, what would it be?

Failure is not nearly talked about enough and it can be beautiful. Failure can be the universe informing you that it’s not your time yet or redirect you to your correct path. Use failure as an opportunity to adjust and move ever closer to your destiny.

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