Diversity as a Secret Weapon

by Jennifer Carolan

One of the things I am most proud of at Reach Capital is the diversity of our team. Beyond our ethnic diversity (Black, Mexican, Chinese, Caucasian, Latino), we come from very different life experiences. Prior to Reach, Esteban and Jim founded successful companies, Wayee was a financial equity analyst, Jen, Jim and I were teachers, Shauntel was a chemical engineer, Maria worked in services and Chian in consulting. Between us, we have 5 advanced degrees in education. We hail from Chicago, Westport CT, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Long Beach and the Bay Area.

Despite our differences, we share a common belief born of our own personal experiences — that education has a transformative impact. And we feel fortunate to support and work alongside entrepreneurs who build companies that seek to extend educational access and opportunity.

Our mission and values bind us while our differences bring diverse perspectives and networks to our work. When you can get this formula right, it’s magic. It doesn’t mean we are always a happy, multicultural Brady Bunch family. In fact, we have heated discussions and vote against each other’s investments often. But the important stuff — values and mission alignment allows us to stay on the journey creating something special together.

Today, Reach team members are featured in a Forbes cover article that highlights gender diversity in venture capital. We believe that diversity is important not only because it surfaces multiple perspectives and enables us to problem solve more creatively, but also because venture capital, a $330B industry of growth, ought to better reflect the population.

Diverse partnerships increase the odds that we back founders working on problems that impact all segments of our society. They also increase the odds that we have access to networks of diverse founders who often build companies that are uniquely tied to their experiences.

Our population is becoming increasingly diverse; the high school graduating class of 2020 will be majority minority. Founders should reflect this changing demographic and venture funds that tap diverse networks will have better access to the next wave of high growth opportunities.

While our daily focus is on identifying and supporting the most promising entrepreneurs, diversity is definitely a secret weapon that makes us better investors.