The COVID-19 pandemic was devastating for the health of many in the United States, as well as for our country’s healthcare systems. Yet what exasperated the effects of the pandemic was our lack of preparation for any such outbreak. For example, very few school-aged children were equipped with the resources they needed for immediate at-home learning.
Thankfully, Clark Atlanta University alumna Lisa Love co-founded the affordable and safe Tanoshi Computers for kids before COVID-19 was even a thing. Love also serves as the Chief Marketing Officer as well. As CMO, she oversees the planning, development, and execution of the marketing strategy at Tanoshi.
Initially, Lisa Love began her career working in brand and product marketing for Heinz, Del Monte, and other Fortune 500 CPG (consumer packaged goods) companies. She was always great at managing finances, having managed a portfolio of brands that generated revenue of up to $75M. Over time, she also worked as a marketing consultant, boosting the efficiency of several businesses and non-profit organizations.
Confident that the computers were a game-changer, she appeared on Shark Tank with her Tanoshi Team and was awarded funding by famous investor Draymond Green. With an idea so impactful, we became inspired by how she gracefully pivoted her career to uplift children that are often left behind. As she shared more of her story with us, it became no wonder she has been named among 100 Powerful Women of 2020 by Entrepreneur, and among Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs of 2020 by Inc.
When asked what brought her to create the Tanoshi computers, she touched on concerns for the education, economic standing, and technological accessibility of today’s youth. According to Love, the mission at Tanoshi is “to provide an equitable digital education for all kids around the world, no matter their socio-economic background,” she said. “I am passionate about giving all kids a fair chance to succeed. At Tanoshi, we are bridging the digital divide by providing affordable computers for kids with pre-loaded, curated content. Kids can do their homework and learn to code on the Tanoshi, without Internet access.”
Born to a school teacher mother and an engineer father, Lisa Love’s parents created somewhat of a perfect storm for Love to eventually think up Tanoshi.
“My mom taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District for 50 years, mainly the primary grades,” said Love. “She taught in South Central where many of her students fell behind. I watched my mom persevere through systemic challenges just to bring her students up to grade level.
My dad was an engineer and worked for IBM during my childhood. I grew up seeing the benefits of technology and more specifically, the advantages of a computer.
Over the years, my parent’s passion for education and technology not only opened my eyes to the issues surrounding our education system, but also how I can do my part to help solve these issues through technology.”
The issues that Love is talking about include the lack of school funding, resources with outdated technology such as old computers, and lack of technological literacy. Much of those problems were already burdening children at many public schools and low-income districts around the country. COVID-19 has exasperated this issues and added even more problems with spotty or non-existent wifi, plus less opportunities for tutoring.
“Every child should have the opportunity to develop 21st-century computer skills needed to excel in today’s school environment,” said Love, “such as typing, familiarity with common productivity apps including Google Docs and Sheets, and coding. However, millions of kids, especially from lower-income households and school districts, do not have the same opportunities as those from more affluent families and school districts, resulting in a homework gap.”
As Love works to help children close gaps in their learning, her Tanoshi Team was not without its own problems. Funding is an unfortunate issue for entrepreneurs of color. Yet even with that in mind, we were supposed that there was also a supply issue.
“There’s greater demand than supply for our computers, which is a good problem,” said Love. “However, we continue to run out of computers when customers need them the most, which is frustrating. Securing funding has also been a major challenge. Less than 1% of Black women founders receive VC funding. And since we have not received funding, we have not been able to grow the company to its fullest potential.”