My co-founder Rei Wang and I are excited to publicly launch today and share some exciting announcements with you. You can read more about our story in Forbes.
- 💸 We’ve raised a $2.4M round led by Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six to scale our group coaching platform and expand into the learning and development space to support growing companies who care deeply about their people.
- 🏔 We shipped a new website and a beautiful new brand that reflects our vision and values.
- 📗 We’re currently enrolling for our newest Quest – Becoming an Effective Manager
- 🤝 We’re hiring a Business Development Manager and additional Facilitators. Come work with us!
- 🎉 We’ll be celebrating with A Grand Time on Tuesday, May 25th! We’re hosting a series of fireside chats with inspirational leaders in coaching and community and we’d love to invite you to join us.
As many of you know, we started The Grand with the mission to make the world a less lonely place. Our hope is to support everyone who’s navigating a work and life transition through group coaching, curriculum and community. I’d love to take a moment to reflect on how we got here.
Rei and I met while working at First Round Capital – we joined a month apart and quickly became confidantes. Both of us started our roles without previous experience in venture and felt some self-doubt going into it. I remember we had lunch one day and admitted this to each other. Then, we opened up to other peers at the firm. That’s when everything changed. We started hosting monthly gatherings and actually felt more confident and capable in our jobs. Ultimately, we were able to thrive.
We felt the impact of bringing together a small group of people, consistently over a period of time and encouraging them to be vulnerable with each other. And we brought that into our work with founders as well. Eventually, founders moved away from sharing a laundry list of successes, and instead, talked about their identity, their fears, their failures. They quickly went from strangers to advisors and even life-long friends.
We knew we were on to something and more people, beyond just founders, deserved that level of peer support and community.
At the same, we kept coming back to the loneliness epidemic and noticed that societal shifts in the US further exacerbated the problem. As we dug into the research some more, we found that the average American has only one close friend. 25% reported having no confidantes. That’s zero people that they can talk to about the important matters in their lives. ZERO. And to make matters worse, we realized as humans we’re the loneliest when we’re making big changes and don’t have anyone to talk to.
After 2020, we all know what it feels like to be in transition. We had to navigate changes in our work, we had to manage childcare while staying safe, we had to figure out how to connect with others remotely, we had to grieve and mourn the loss of loved ones. We simply had to adjust to the new normal that impacted all of us globally. And though Rei and I believed it was important to have peer support and belonging before 2020, it has become mission-critical for our collective future.
It’s during these transitions that we need to connect with people the most, but it’s often hard to know who to turn to. We believe the best way to help people through these transitions is to group them with others going through a similar experience so they can learn from one another. And that’s exactly what we do at The Grand. ✨
Reflecting on Our Community
We strongly believe that to build a real community, it needs to start with an immersive shared experience. In February 2020, we launched a new in-person program Making a Career Transition. We gathered a small group navigating a pivotal moment of career change and uncertainty.
Then, the pandemic hit, and the group needed each other more than they even knew at the time. We quickly moved our program online, and over the next several months, these individuals went on a journey to better understand themselves and each other through our group coaching, curriculum, and community.
Even though it was undoubtedly one of the most challenging years of their lives, they ultimately emerged more clear, courageous, and connected in making their transition to new roles, new companies, even new industries. At the closing session, one of the members, Jeanette Jordan, remarked:
"I've found my people, my kindred spirits."
We helped her get a group that gets it, one that will stay with her for a long time. She is also now a facilitator with The Grand. Since then, we’ve welcomed attendees from 20 different countries and 6 different continents to be part of our group coaching experience. (Just need Antarctica if you know anyone!)
What’s Next for The Grand?
It’s important for us to scale now so more people can get peer support and kinship when they're in transition. We decided that the best way we could impact more people is by:
- Hiring a team to continue to grow our platform and product offerings. To date, we have an incredible engineering and product team including Frankie Cheung and Mira Celso, and exceptional marketing know-how from Deborah Kelson. We’re hiring a business development manager and additional facilitators to work with our current superstar facilitators Cristina Georgoulakis, Jeanette Jordan, Rodrigo Lopez, Karen Zelnick, and Mindy Zhang.
- Raising money from the right partners. Once we decided we wanted to raise, the bigger question became, “who are the right partners for us?” It was really important that our community of investors deeply understood the ethos of our mission and reflected the community that we were building.
When Rei and I met Katelin Holloway and Alexis Ohanian, within minutes we were blown away. They understood community, group experiences, and human connection. They believed in us and our mission, and they were supportive in bringing it to reality. Instead of a pitch, it felt like a conversation and we were all able to think big.
We immediately felt a sense of belonging and it was clear that they were invested in the entire human experience of being a founder – they wanted their companies to be seen, valued, and cared for. Just as we want our members of The Grand to feel.
That conversation wasn't an anomaly, we found so many others that were aligned with what we were doing and we could dream the dream together. We're proud to have a round led by investors who share our values and represent our diverse community including Charles Hudson at Precursor Ventures, Christie Pitts at Backstage Capital, Lolita Taub and Melissa Moore at The Community Fund, Jennifer Neundorfer and Maren Bannon at January Ventures, Leore Avidar, Chrys Bader, Courtney Buie, Laura Du, Adam Schuck, Cristina Apple Georgoulakis, David Apple, and more.