Today, the nature of work and skills necessary to succeed in the workplace are changing rapidly. For JFF Ventures, the opportunity at hand is to support entrepreneurs leading companies with a dedicated focus on developing technology solutions that create opportunities for economic advancement.
This takes people who have been there and really know how best to support entrepreneurs at the intersection of education, workforce development, and human potential.
That’s one of the reasons why JFF Ventures, Jobs for the Future’s venture capital fund, is elated to welcome Sabari Raja. As a managing partner, Raja will play a key role in shaping our fund strategy, honing our investment thesis, leading investments, and supporting the growth of JFF Ventures portfolio companies.
Not only is Raja an incredible human being, but she also brings a wealth of experience as an entrepreneur, business operator, and corporate practitioner. We are just thrilled to have her join our team.
Raja is joining JFF after many successful years as cofounder and CEO of Nepris, a first-of-its-kind cloud-based platform that K-16 teachers can use to connect their classrooms to a network of business professionals who can offer students real-world career advice and insights. Nepris was one of the first companies JFF Ventures invested in, and in 2018 it was a member of the first JFFLabs incubation cohort, which was focused on work-based learning.
I first met Raja in 2017, when we were vetting Nepris as a potential investment. Throughout our due diligence process, and during my time as a Nepris board observer, I was impressed by her qualities as an entrepreneur and saw firsthand that she has an incredible ability to make quick connections with everyone.
In 2022, Raja successfully led the sale of Nepris and was instrumental in shepherding a new phase of growth and impact for the company. Her firsthand experience as a startup founder, and her success with raising multiple rounds of capital, finding product-market fit, selling and scaling her company, and ultimately navigating Nepris’s exit from our fund makes her a much sought-after mentor and advisor as she works with our diverse group of founders—all of whom are hoping to achieve the same success.
“I couldn’t be more excited to join the JFF Ventures team, as I now have the opportunity to work at the intersection of impact and innovation in an area that I am most passionate about: equity in education and workforce development,” Raja says. “JFF Ventures is uniquely positioned to support early-stage entrepreneurs through their growth journey. I consider it an absolute privilege to leverage my skills and experience here while continuing to learn from the best.”
In recent years, Raja has established a reputation as a well-respected thought leader, investor, board member, and advisor in the education and workforce technology market. She’s a member of the Hustle Fund Angel Squad, an active angel investor, and a StartEd mentor. An in-demand speaker on the topic of entrepreneurship and education technology, she has delivered presentations at venues like SXSW EDU, TEDx, and the ASU+GSV Summit. In 2020, EY recognized Raja for her leadership skills, naming her an Entrepreneur of the Year for the Southwest region.
JFF CEO Maria Flynn welcomed her to the organization, saying “Raja’s proximity to the entrepreneurial experience makes her well equipped to know how best to support mission-aligned companies and maximize our investments. We’re excited to welcome her to our experienced team who each have lived experiences that allow us to understand our target populations, the technologies that companies are developing, and the ecosystems in which they operate.”
For my part, Sabari’s experiences and perspectives as an immigrant resonate with my own journey, and with those of many of the founders of companies in the JFF Ventures investment portfolio. She will play an important role in our efforts to advance solutions that eradicate longstanding barriers and help ensure that everyone has opportunities for economic advancement.
JFF Ventures is now accepting inquiries from potential partners who are interested in joining our new $50 million impact investing fund. It’s supported by the newly formed JFF Ventures Corporate Innovation Council, which is made up of leaders in talent management and development, investing, and corporate social responsibility who will advise tech entrepreneurs tackling some of today’s most critical challenges related to equity, inclusion, and economic advancement.
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