Announcing Transcend Fund I 🔮 Transcend Newsletter #50
We are raising a fund to invest in founders building the future of learning and work
Hola! Alberto here, writing from Madrid and soon from Barcelona. Welcome to the Transcend Newsletter 👋
The Transcend Newsletter explores the intersection of the future of education and the future work, and the founders building it around the world.
We welcome 200 readers to the newsletter since our last post, right as we celebrate our 50th newsletter! I’d love it if you could share it with a friend who is interested in new trends in learning and work – you can hit the ❤️ button to spread the love too.
Today is a very important day, friends.
I’m so happy to officially announce the Transcend Fund I – a $2M fund we are currently raising to become a first-check investor into startups building the future of education and work globally.
We are doing something unusual: funds are generally announced when they are closed, but since learning in the open is an important value to us, we decided to tell you about it while we are still raising it!
In this Part I of the Transcend Fund newsletter, I’ll tell you all about:
Our origin story and vision
Transcend Fund I
The founders and investors we are working with
How you can get involved
We will publish Part II in April, when the fund is closed and deploying capital. But allow me to start with a quick personal story that will help you understand our vision more deeply.
The origin story
We have to go back to 2015.
That year, I dropped out of a 500-year-old university, packed up my bags, and moved to San Francisco to join a new university with no graduates.
I joined Minerva University’s first graduating class, along with 100 other students/guinea pigs that wanted to rethink higher education. This new university was built on some big, important ideas: that higher education needed to be interdisciplinary, applied to real-world problem-solving, and that it had to be fundamentally global.
For the next four years, I lived in six countries and worked on a ton of cool projects. But the biggest thing I got from Minerva was my classmates: I got to live and build with some of the smartest, kindest humans who came from very different cultural and economic backgrounds and 30+ countries. I had experienced my first truly global learning community, and it had changed my life.
Fast forward to 2018.
I’m grabbing lunch in London with my friend (and soon-to-become co-founder) Michael. We have both experienced fascinating learning experiences and communities over the last years, and we chat about all these experiences: my projects in Buenos Aires and London, his work with early-stage entrepreneurs in edtech.
We identify a pattern: the most impactful learning experiences are moving away from local institutions, diplomas and accreditation, and moving to global communities where people learn and work together.
What if we could build a network that supported startup founders to build these new experiences and projects globally? What if we could help them in the earliest stages of growing their organizations?
That’s how Transcend started and built its mission: to support global early-stage founders build the future of learning and work, from idea to scale.
We got to work on our first program in the summer of 2019 – we designed a fellowship to support early-stage founders in edtech and future of work, and convinced 20 founders to join us for our very first cohort of the Transcend Fellowship.
The Fellowship has taken off since then – we have supported over 150 founders from 35 countries who love this program. We help founders find product-market fit, build a robust story about their work, and find their most supportive founder community in the space.
Transcend Fellows work in all sectors of education and work: from cohort-based course platforms like Stoa School 🇮🇳, Patika 🇹🇷, or MasterMeUp 🇪🇸 to learning communities for K-12 students like Doyobi 🇸🇬 or Edgi 🇺🇸, text-based learning tools like Foondamate 🇿🇦 or Chatclass 🇧🇷 or new universities like Kibo School 🇳🇬 or Collective Academy 🇲🇽. You can check out all of our fellows here!
From “Idea to scale”
But we didn’t want to stop there – in order to fulfill our mission of supporting founders from idea to scale, we had to expand our fellowships to go earlier-stage and help individuals validated a startup idea (the Exploration Lab), and later stage to support founders growing and scaling (Scale-up Residency, launching in 2022).
These fellowships are our bread and butter.
Transcend Network operates as an ecosystem of different founder fellowships in the edtech and future of work sectors. They all share an ethos of building a strong founder community and mutual support. The fellowships are equity-free and charge a tuition to supports our team operations, which has allowed us to bootstrap and grow our team to seven and counting!
To date, our fellows have gone on to raise $90M, and we’ve made hundreds of investor intros. We get to meet these founders 6-12 months before they find traction and start fundraising, so we thought: why don’t we write that first check ourselves?
We know the value of the first check in the journey of the startup – it’s that bit of validation that can help you bring your first customers and investors onboard and. So we took on that challenge!
Introducing the Transcend Fund I
The Transcend Fund is a first-check investor into startups building the future of learning and work, globally.
We will write checks between $50k-$200k into startups, and will source those startups from within Transcend Network. Since these founders are in our community and we talk to them weekly, we will use these relationships with our fellows to deploy this fund. As our programs double in reach this year, we will grow our dealflow.
We are fortunate to have some amazing investors on board already, like Deborah Quazzo (GSV), John Danner, Dan Carroll (cofounder of Clever), Sarah Ko-yung Lee, or Jessica Millstone, Samuel Gil (JME) among many other prolific investors. We also have 5 Transcend Fellows investing in the Fund, which validated the trust that these founders have in their own community!
Having some of the strongest edtech investors and builders onboard ensures our founders will get opportunities for co-investment, follow-on capital and mentorship from within our investor base. We have made this a key value proposition for our LPs: we will connect them to a global pipeline of founders in the space, and share monthly investment opportunities with them!
For Fund I, we are intentionally raising from angel investors, founders and operators for two reasons:
Co-investing: we want to bring on folks who are interested in investing in our founders, so we can focus on what we do best: finding great founders globally at the earliest stages, and welcome them to our community.
Founder support: we want to work with LPs that are excited to roll up their sleeves and help our founders – we will be running continuous programming for them to join events and even opt-in to founder mentoring programs.
But we don’t want to run just another fund – our fund operations are very unique. We believe we are pioneering a model that can make a profound impact on how startups are funded.
Transcend Network is openly not an accelerator.
Accelerators front-load all the due diligence when they receive applications from founders, so realistically there are only a few hours max you can pack into that process.
Instead, we propose a much more community-centric model. We run a selective admissions process for our fellowships, and then get to know the founders in depth for months before we consider writing a check. We spend time with our founders getting to know them and supporting them before an investment is made, and most importantly, they learn from each other as a part of our founder community!
We like to think of this as a form of community-based investing.
Lastly, we don’t invest in all the companies (many don’t want it or need it), but instead, we find the great startups that are interested in raising within our network and take bets based on months of data, instead of just an application.
We also include our LPs in this model of community-based investing.
Whenever we write a check into a portfolio company, we look to to bring along a network of investors that can deploy capital alongside us so our founders get the support they need. We set up 3 stages of investment from our investor community:
Stage 1 – Transcend Fund investment: ($50k-$200k) we will write the check into companies and move fast.
Stage 2 – Fund LPs co-investment: (another $50k-$500k): we will work with our portfolio companies to get an allocation for our LPs to co-invest with us or follow-on.
Stage 3 – co-investor community (another $50k-$500k): through our partnership with Wefunder, we will be able to open up an allocation in portfolio companies for non-accredited investors in our co-investor community (keep an eye out for more here!)
Raising Fund I
We are raising this Fund I mostly from angel investors, operators and founders. We are closing the fund on March 20th, and we are quickly closing investments in these last weeks.
We aim to raise Fund I quickly and deploy it over the next year, and we will soon start fundraising for a larger Fund II that should be active in 2023.
We chose to raise a 506(c) fund, which allows us to share our fundraising journey public to be able to involve our audience in this new project – we want to make Community-Based Investing the new wave of venture investing, and you can join us in this journey now!
Getting involved 🙌
We still have some room for new LPs to invest in the fund, and we have saved an allocation for Transcend Newsletter readers and supporters of our work!
The first requirement to invest in the Transcend Fund is to meet the US Accredited Investor status (you can check the requirements here, we can’t make any exceptions!). We have a $20k minimum check size, but we can be flexible for members of our newsletter like yourself if it’s a good fit!
We will also prioritize individuals who are interested in supporting founders as angel investors, operators, founders or otherwise!
If you want to invest in the Transcend Fund and have US accreditation, you can reply to this email letting us know about your interest + what check sizes you would be comfortable with, and we’ll find a time to chat in the coming weeks!
If you prefer, you can also fill out the Fund I Interest form and we’ll be in touch shortly!
If you can’t invest, you can also help us by sharing our work with founders and introducing us to relevant people:
Intros to relevant LPs: know any individuals or funds who may be interested in investing? Share this newsletter with them or make an email intro!
The future of Transcend
We are so so happy about this new chapter at Transcend.
We now get to put our money where our mouth is, and go on to support founders to much greater lengths with our checks. We can’t wait to have some of you join us in this journey and to share what we learn in the open.
The Roundup ☀️
Friend of the newsletter Alex Sarlin just launched a 4-week Edtech Product Management cohort program to help aspiring and existing product folks with strategy, metrics product dashboards and more. Grab some of the last remaining spots!
You can now mint your Invisible College NFT to support this student-owned school we highlighted in last week’s newsletter!
Will you be at the Mobile World Congress/4YFN in Barcelona or ASU GSV in San Diego? The Transcend team will be there, reply to this email and let us know!
Network Jobs 👩💻
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