Mita Carriman doesn’t see problems, she sees opportunities.
“I came up with an idea because I discovered the pain point by accident,” says Carriman. “And I fell in love with the pain point.”
Carriman thought of the concept for her app, Adventurely, after ending up on a trip alone and wanting to find people to connect with easily. While there were already a lot of digital social platforms available (e.g., dating apps, meetup groups requiring longer commitments), something specific for solo travelers didn’t exist.
“I saw there were two really important customer bases growing,” Carriman notes. “The first were women traveling by themselves. And then there were these remote workers. Even before COVID, I was seeing this trend with people just taking their laptop and going to Thailand or Bali to live and work remotely.”
Carriman launched her own social channel to connect travelers in 2016. It garnered some traction, but ultimately couldn’t be sustained. Instead of giving up, Carriman decided she needed to obtain a user’s point of view.
The New Yorker decided to become a digital nomad. She started traveling full time and working as a lawyer remotely. One year and seven countries later, she decided to give the app another go because she had a new understanding of the user.
The project received funding in the spring of 2019, and was in a tech accelerator that summer. The traction was great and the team was gearing up to be in Europe for spring 2020 to do its second fundraiser, when the pandemic hit.
“It was very interesting being such an early stage startup at that time,” says Carriman. “There were some people who I think were well meaning that said ‘this is it, it’s over, you should just jump ship now.’ I recognize those suggestions were coming from a good place, but when I heard that I reacted strongly.”
The pandemic was only a glitch in the timeline, Carriman says.
“I didn’t work this hard, go through stopping and restarting it, to give up,” she recalls. “Getting funding is so hard as a female founder, especially a black female founder. I’m not going to stop it, I’m going to be patient.”
A few quiet months later, Carriman learned Barbados was launching the world’s first digital nomad visa.
“That’s when the lightbulb went off,” says Carriman. “There’s 100 million Americans working from home, and now a lot of them are going to be able to work from anywhere. So I got down to Barbados and started things back up.”
Adventurely curates some of the best things to do in a destination; the app’s users make a wish list and are then matched up with groups of people to go do those things and connect with offline.
“It saves you from doing research and figuring out what there is to do, and it finds like-minded people who are on the same page,” notes Carriman.
Adoption levels have been great in the destinations Adventurely is in, and the group continues to form partnerships, such as with Dominica’s Safe in Nature tourism program.
How does Carriman stay so optimistic?
“It comes with reminding yourself who you are and not taking things personally when you might be dealing with someone who comes with a bunch of assumptions about you and your business acumen,” she says. “You just find it funny and get back to what you have to do.”
Carriman also encourages other women leaders in the industry to never lose sight of their goals.
“There are so many things going on in the world,” notes Carriman. “You might have stuff with your family or friends, your personal life. And there are the things the patriarchy is saying. But at the end of the day, don’t forget your mission and what you’re here to do.”
Don’t be insensitive to all the things going on in your life, but also don’t let them be the distraction that stops you from accomplishing your goals, she adds.
“You have to maintain that tunnel vision,” advises Carriman, “as well as be aware of the periphery at the same time, which is a balancing act. But I think that’s how I do it.”