Beep Beep! Expanding the Family With the Reach Roadrunners
by Jomayra Herrera, Partner
At Reach, our mission is to invest in entrepreneurs and companies that help people reach their fullest potential. Since 2015, we have raised three funds (and an opportunity fund) to support over 70 companies across the globe in early childhood, K-12, higher education and beyond, serving everyone from the youngest learners to adults in need.
Our commitment to this mission goes beyond our investment mandate, and we have been thinking about ways to extend our reach (pun intended) and accelerate our impact. The challenges we are tackling go beyond what we can address as a single fund.
Over the years we’ve invested in what we describe as an extended Reach family — people who share our values and apply our knowledge to build companies and networks we may never personally step into. This started with our internship program for students, from high schoolers to MBAs, focused on learning about education technology trends, how to support portfolio companies, and how to evaluate companies that are aiming to build for impact at scale. Those interns have gone on to become operators, founders (some of whom we’ve invested in!) and investors across education and other social impact sectors.
Today, we’re excited to announce a new part of the extended Reach family: the Reach Roadrunners. In fall 2021, we launched this new program for mid- to senior-level operators and founders united by their passion for education and economic mobility. The goal is to arm them with the confidence, knowledge and networks to actively support efforts to improve education and the future of work, whether as a builder, advisor, investor or another role.
Roadrunners is not your typical scout program. It is a 12-month program that includes access to a diverse network of fellow operators and founders who are excited about diving into companies tackling big societal challenges. We provide high-quality content and mentorship, which includes live workshops on topics like how to evaluate companies and angel invest, deep dives on market trends, and AMAs with operational experts and industry leaders. Lastly, any Roadrunner that refers a company to us that we end up investing in gets some carry in the event of a successful exit.
We feel so lucky to have amazing operators and founders from companies including Clever, Calm, Instabase, Uber, Activision, Coursera, VSCO, Guild Education in our pilot cohort! All of them have brought their unique perspective and experience to the group to help make conversations richer and make everyone smarter.
A few months into the program, we have been blown away by some of the feedback we’ve received:
“Education across every stage is going through a massive shift. I love that the Reach Roadrunners program gives experienced operators a unique opportunity to broaden our scope beyond our day job, deepen our impact by connecting new entrepreneurs to a top tier VC, and get an insider’s view into how investors are thinking. Together, this community of innovative minds helps define the future of education.”
— Maria Barrera, longtime edtech operator (Nearpod) and now founder of a stealth company
“My favorite part of the roadrunners program is the network I’ve developed. I’ve learnt a lot from my fellow Roadrunners, the Reach team and their portfolio companies, and I’m sure many of these relationships will last way beyond the program.”
— Kapeesh Saraf, former Head of Growth at Coursera
“I love attending Roadrunner sessions for the people. Everyone is experienced and wise enough to share thoughtful perspectives, yet humble and curious enough to sit in the messy and unknown. The conversations are engaging, and I always leave feeling smarter and with more questions to unpack. And the conditions for these conversations don’t happen by accident. The Reach team lets us in on their thinking, present real problems, and share materials that support rich discussions.”
— Claire Shorall, CEO of Topknot and a former educator
“Roadrunners is an opportunity to build relationships, learn from industry leaders, and test ideas at their earliest stages with a group of mission-driven entrepreneurs. It’s a valuable community for founders.”
— Wyatt Smith, former business development leader at Uber and now founder of a stealth company
“As a founder, I’ve always wondered about how venture capitalists really make their decisions. As a Roadrunner, I’ve been amazed at how much Reach has let us behind the curtain, and how much I’ve learned so far.”
— Dan Carroll, co-founder of Clever
“Being part of the Reach Roadrunners program has been an incredible experience. The Reach team is genuine and inspirational and has been actively engaged throughout the program. They have also provided excellent content and brought together a talented (myself withstanding) and diverse group of professionals, who have been a pleasure to meet and build relationships with!”
— Tom Parisi, VP of Customer Success at EdConnective
You may be wondering about the name. We chose roadrunners because they are often described as inquisitive, quarrelsome, funny, serious, playful, caring and, above all, fearless. These attributes perfectly capture the spirit of this program. And, to be perfectly honest, we are fond of alliterations and animals and “Reach Reindeers” just didn’t have the same ring to it.
We couldn’t be more excited about this community. We’ve already had Roadrunners invest in some of our companies (some angel investing for the very first time!), and we’ve also invested in two companies that our Roadrunners have brought to us.
We are thrilled with the impact Roadrunners are already having and will continue to have in the worlds of education and the future of work. In the spirit of extending the Reach family, we will open up applications for a second cohort of Roadrunners in the spring of this year. If you are an operator with at least 5 years of experience and/or a startup founder who is interested in joining, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn where we announce when applications open!