Principal in Every Sense of the Word

by Wayee Chu

Today, I am privileged to announce the promotion of James Kim to Principal at Reach Capital. From the minute I met James in 2018 during an interview for our Associate role, I knew James was a standout candidate. What resonated deeply for me was his life journey to date, overcoming personal odds and defying external expectations, even those set by his own family, which is testament to the bold and principled approach in how James has paved his own path forward.

Throughout James’ academic and professional pursuits, he has exemplified a commitment to equity in education. As the son of a law enforcement officer and stay-at-home mom, James attended high-achieving magnet schools within the LAUSD public school system and attributes this early experience as transformative in his journey as a life-long learner. He was the first in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree, receiving a BS in Astronomy and Physics from Yale. James started his career as a high school math teacher and then helped lead 12+, an education non-profit in Philadelphia aimed at supporting high school students in their college and career preparedness. More recently, James was an Assistant Director of Admissions at Yale, where he focused on advancing the school’s admissions initiatives of equity and access. His efforts contributed to a 22 percent increase in first generation college students and a 43 percent increase in students receiving Pell Grants. In 2018, James joined Reach Capital as an Associate upon graduating from Stanford with a joint MBA and MA in Education.

We take an active and holistic apprenticeship approach to cultivating talent within, providing our associates and principals a wide range of experiences across the investment process. As Principal, James will also play an active role in the operations of the fund including fund management, portfolio construction and the fundraising process of the firm. Our goal is to develop talent from within as we build Reach for long term success.

The minute James joined the firm, his impact and depth of knowledge was felt immediately. He is known among our founders to provide targeted, effective, and value-added support — including working closely with the founding teams of Paper and Riipen, where he is a board observer to both companies. James also sourced and championed our investments in Polygence and Crash. He is deeply respected by founders and peers because he is guided by such clear principles and leads with empathy, humility, and integrity.

As Janos Perczel, co-founder of Polygence, cites, “James possesses a rare combination of analytical rigor and intuitive feel for evaluating really hard business questions that early stage companies like ours face. When we turn to him for advice we have 100 percent confidence that he has all the hard insider knowledge of the industry as well as a nuanced understanding of where entrepreneurial intuition needs to fill in the gaps.

James never shies away from digging right in. He comes in and asks the right questions and pushes us to see things differently. He delivers whenever there’s an opportunity to connect us to someone who he thinks might be able to help more than he can,” notes Dana Stepenson, co-founder of Riipen.

In addition to his work on the ground with our portfolio companies, James’ recent research into the Work-Integrated Learning market is reflective of his comprehensive approach in building an expert knowledge base to develop his own investment thesis in this exciting area of opportunity for Reach.

As a new father and a new Principal, we are thrilled for James’ next journey with the Reach team. Outside of work, you can find James problem solving his way through yet another escape room, brushing up on his multiple languages and raising his young son in the most loving way. We welcome James to this new role and look forward to continuing to support his voracious appetite to learn the craft of investing and company building in the years to come.