Tanisha Robinson Talks Juggling Ventures, Tech Accelerators and Exit Strategies
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

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Serial tech entrepreneur, Tanisha Robinson, launched TicketFire to help digitize event passes (Image: Tanisha Robinson)

Tanisha Robinson has a knack for knowing how to follow trends; and how to make money in the process.

A former Arabic linguist for the US Army, Robinson launched Fudha, a daily deal website targeting Central Ohio-based independent restaurants in 2010. The site offered daily coupons and donated a portion of each sale to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. The social enterprise contributed over 30,000 meals to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, supported the local restaurant community, and saved its members over $250,000 on the best independent restaurants in Central Ohio.

A year later, at the height of its popularity, Robinson, who moved to Damascus, Syria, and worked in women’s and human rights throughout the Middle East for almost two years, sold Fudha for an undisclosed amount to 614 Media Group.

Now, she’s at it again. This year she launched TicketFire, a mobile app that allows ticket holders to scan their paper event tickets, and then share, sell or transfer those tickets to other people also using the app.

“We believe that this revolutionizes the secondary ticket market. Basically, a lot of tickets go unsold, because of constraints around how to physically get the ticket somewhere. We solve this problem,” says Robinson, who studied Arabic and political theory at Ohio State University.

But while Robinson is at work digitizing physical tickets with TicketFire, she’s doing the exact opposite with her other startups Skreened, LookHuman and Print Syndicate, design, marketing and ecommerce platforms focused on printing high-quality products from digital photos to consumers on-demand.

BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Robinson, our Tech Startup of the Week, after the 2013 Black Enterprise Entrepreneur’s Conference where she spoke as a panelist about the usefulness of incubators and accelerators. Here, she talks juggling more than two tech startups, rocking the tech world from Columbus, Ohio, and advice on exiting a company.

BlackEnterprise.com: What inspired you to launch TicketFire?

Robinson: Sheer frustration with the existing model. Right now, if you have a paper ticket and you lose it, there’s no help. Or if you want to give a ticket to someone, or sell it, you have to deal with an actual physical, in-person transaction. And it’s 2013! It just seems crazy that you can deposit a check and get on a plane with your phone, but you can’t get into a concert or baseball game.

Where did you get the money to start the business?

My partner and I both put in work and effort to get the idea off the ground with no money. From there, we’ve raised $25,000 from TechColumbus, and are in the process of raising more funds to expand the platform.

What practical advice or tips would you give tech entrepreneurs about exiting a business successfully and profitably?

Get as much advice as you can from people who have done it before and, hopefully, have great attorneys who have done it before.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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