Shauntel Garvey on EdTech Impact Investing

Shauntel Garvey


Shauntel Garvey is a partner and co-founder of Reach Capital, an impact-focused edtech venture fund that was spun out of nonprofit NewSchools Venture Fund in 2015. They have deployed about $95 million in 61 investments including some well know startups including ClassDojo, Ellevation, Nearpod, and Newsela.

Reach focuses on education from early learning to workforce development with more than 40% devoted to K-12. “We invest in education because we believe itʼs our most valuable resource. It has the power to influence our course, contribute to our dreams and strengthen our communities.”

“High return and impact go together,” said Garvey. The Reach team looks for mission-driven founders with strong products backed by research addressing big markets

They look for reach — beyond the classroom, to as many people as possible, and across divides. They have an intentionally diverse team and proactively seek underrepresented founders. They also have an open application form on the website to promote access.

The Reach team likes to lead investments and they stay involved usually taking a board seat and supporting strategy development. They promote learning across the portfolio by connecting founders and providing resources including data and benchmarking.

Here’s a snapshot of the Reach Capital portfolio:

Garvey is most excited about startups that build connections and foster authentic relationships. She is encouraged by the rise of middle-skill pathways that lead to high wage employment without requiring a degree (but may require a credential).

She hopes to see public investment in infrastructure challenges to help ensure that all learners have access to devices and broadband.

Key Takeaways:

[:10] About today’s episode.
[:45] Tom welcomes Shauntel Garvey to the podcast.
[:53] How did Shauntel get to MIT?
[2:50] Why did Shauntel decide to go to Stanford and pursue a dual education MBA?
[4:01] Was Shauntel aware of how many extraordinary people have gone through this same program when she was going through it herself?
[4:49] Shauntel shares about when she first learned about NewSchools Venture Fund and what led her to become involved.
[6:35] How and when Shauntel and her co-founder (of Reach Capital) decided to branch out from NewSchools and start their own venture fund.
[8:22] About the second fund they’re currently investing in with Reach Capital.
[9:04] How Reach Capital has evolved from NewSchools, going beyond K-12 funding.
[9:55] Can you run a viable venture fund, looking for both impact and return? How does Reach Capital try to maximize both of those?
[11:38] The meaning behind the name “Reach Capital.”
[12:08] How Reach Capital is looking to bring more diverse founders into edtech and why Shauntal believes it is so incredibly important.
[14:40] Shauntel walks listeners through the venture process in a typical investment.
[18:26] What does it mean to lead deals? And do they like to lead deals at Reach Capital?
[19:00] After making the investment with a company, what does their relationship look like going forward? How do they continue to support them?
[20:54] How many companies in Reach Capital’s portfolio is Shauntel actively involved in?
[21:26] The hardest part of Shauntel’s job currently.
[21:50] Lightning round of the cool companies in Reach Capital’s portfolio! Shauntel speaks about the incredible work of Abl, BetterLesson, ClassDojo, AdmitHub, Desmos, Ellevation, Hone, Newsela, PeopleGrove, Schoolzilla, Tynker, Nearpod, Outschool, Epic!, and Riipen.
[32:12] The gaps Shauntel is currently seeing in education where there’s an opportunity to make a big difference
[35:34] With Reach Capital, do they try to create spaces that can bring together public and philanthropic investments as well as private investments?
[37:29] Infrastructure challenges and the inequities that have been amplified during the pandemic.
[38:30] Tom thanks Shauntel for joining the Getting Smart Podcast!

Mentioned in This Episode:

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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