Raygrid Calderon wants to change the way you go about doing business. In 2013, this innovative self-taught Afro-Latina Techie got tired of waiting for the dream and decided to create it. With her own funds, Raygrid developed the iOS supported application DreemKaCHer. DreemKaCHer is an app designed to connect burgeoning entrepreneurs and creatives with already established businesses. Divided by industry, price and location, users or Dreemers are asked to showcase their talents which would then be used as an online resume of sorts for potential buyers or Kachers. In a field where women but especially women of color are considered a rarity, Raygrid breaks down how rejection served as the motivation for creating her own lane.
Who is Raygrid Calderon?
I like to describe myself as a fun size geek who’s into talking to rocks and obeying the universe.
You brainstormed an app that connects small business owners and creatives with potential partners interested in their product. Tell us more about the DreemKaCHer app.
The app has 2 parts. There is a dreemer and a kacher. The dreemer is the talent or the one who has unconventional services to offer and showcases it with videos, photos, and audio. The kacher is a person or company who is looking for these unconventional services and/or talent for hire or to connect for projects. Besides the convenience of having an app versus a web-based program, the app conveniently allows you to focus on the business sides of things. In creative cases, it’s not how long you’ve done something, your education, how many people adore you or how many “followers” you have. It’s about your actual service or product that’s needed.
How were you able to raise the capital needed to fund your idea?
When I first started I sought for funding from multiple companies and individuals. I was even willing to match whatever anyone was putting up but I couldn’t even get a second meeting. I then met with a friend of mine who understood my vision and together we funded the first year. Dreemkacher was built on sacrifices and heart.
According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, as of 2015, 25% of the computing workforce were women, with less than 10% being women of color and only 1% of that number being Latina. How do you navigate the lack of representation and what are you doing to change it?
Going into this industry I had no idea what the statistics were but after attending dozens of conventions, conferences and boardroom meetings I noticed a pattern. I then made a promise to myself to never shy away at these events and speak up and discuss my hurdles and accomplishments in hopes to start a trend of empowerment and inspiration. I’ve dedicated myself to speak publicly as much as possible.
What’s astounding to me is that you have no degree or even prior experience in Tech yet you saw a need, devised a plan, raised the capital and became your own hero in a sense. How did you learn to code?
Learning to code has been one of the most interesting set of alignments in my life. When I was about 13 my parents bought me my first computer. They didn’t know how to put it together so I had to figure it out. After that, I became extremely interested in graphic design, web development and what was back then “downloading programs”. By the time I got to High school I was creating programs for my teachers, my parent’s friends and even attended hackathons. As technology grew I grew with it. Most importantly though to answer your question, I had an idea and vision and because I didn’t have help to manifest this vision I had no choice but to learn and teach myself. I literally researched youtube, forums, and bought books. At one point I “hired” a current student to share his education with me because I was unable to attend courses.
There are many risks involved in self-made businesses. What did you gain in exchange for a loss?
For a while in my journey, I noticed I was becoming distant in my friendships and even lost a few friends totally in my life but I gained much more within myself and the friends that remained. I became more grateful, appreciative and in tune with my friends. I noticed the foundation of my relationships and what kept it strong and I also noticed the reality of the mirages I built that I no longer wanted to be a part of.
Define what success looks like for Raygrid.
My company slogan is “ The highest form of success is to help others succeed” and I believe that whole-heartedly. When I reach the space where folks are telling me it’s because of you that I kept going, I feel that I have succeeded and in return, I’ll keep going.
Each one teach one. What is one piece of advice given to you that you can pass on to another woman looking to journey into entrepreneurship?
Wow, this is tough because I have grown and learned so much these past couple of years. One big piece of advice that I feel is vital is BE PATIENT! I always tell my peers “Life’s rejection is the universe’s protection”. If you keep your intentions clear, your heart kind and work hard things will happen when they’re supposed to not when you want it to. I remember I became so desperate when I wanted to execute my idea and couldn’t get funding but a year later I received a sponsorship from a major company with no attachments. It came when I needed it!
What’s next for Raygrid?
As we speak I need to figure out how I’m going to the gym, making the lasagna, do laundry and help my daughter with her state test lol on a serious note though I have a version 4 of the app I’m cooking up that will connect with a live site. So stay tuned!
Where can folks connect with you?
I’m a post addict on Instagram (@raygrid) and will be available to connect with all entrepreneurs on dreemkacher.
For folks who want to connect to my company for updates, info, and/or events check us out at www.dreemkacherapp.com We have all our social media links there!