NextStep is led by Chris Hedrick, Charissa Raynor, and Justin Beals, who have deep experience in learning, technology, and healthcare.

Chris Hedrick


Before founding NextStep, Hedrick served as CEO of Kepler, an innovative online/offline university program in Rwanda and CEO of Intrepid Learning, a venture capital-backed learning technology and outsourcing company. He previously served as Science and Technology Advisor to the Governor of Washington state. He was also the first employee of the Gates Library Foundation, the precursor organization of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and managed national philanthropic programs for Microsoft.

He has a deep background in public health, leading an Africa-wide malaria prevention program, working as country director for the largest Peace Corps program in the world, and serving on the board of PATH, the global health non-profit. A graduate of Stanford University, Hedrick was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.

Charissa Raynor

Executive Vice President

Charissa is a nationally recognized as a thought leader in job training and workforce development. She has more than 20 years of experience in healthcare, workforce development, and adult education. Prior to co-founding NextStep, she was Executive Director of a unique 50,000 student blended learning educational institution focused on home-based care. She holds a Master’s degree in Health Service Administration and a BS in Nursing.

Justin Beals

Chief Technical Officer

Justin Beals has developed companies, products and technologies across the human capital marketplace for the last 20 years.  An expert in solutions that make use of AI and enterprise technologies he has helped guide fast growth companies and institutions to delivery and large scale impact.  Prior to Nextstep Justin was the CTO for Koru which developed AI systems for hiring and talent management.  Justin was the VP of Product for Hotchalk which allowed legacy higher education institutions to rapidly join the online learning marketplace.  Justin has also held roles as the Executive Director of R&D for Macmillan Publishing and CEO and Founder of Roundbox Global developing next generation educational technologies.  Justin has a BA in English/Theater from Fort Lewis College but learned Apple Basic in grade school and never looked back.


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NextStep is supported by a group of world-class venture firms with expertise in neuroscience, technology, learning and healthcare.

Jazz Venture Partners

JAZZ Venture Partners invests in companies that extend the boundaries of human performance — improving how we live, learn, work, play, and experience the world. JAZZ seeks breakthroughs at the intersection of cutting-edge neuroscience and digital technology that are increasingly influencing the human experience, such as augmented reality, immersive gaming, artificial intelligence, and closed-loop human-computer systems. JAZZ portfolio companies are unlocking human potential in broad markets, including health, mind-body wellness, accelerated learning, training, sports, entertainment, and the enterprise. For more information, visit


LearnStart is the dedicated seed fund of LearnCapital, one of the world's largest venture capital firms concentrating exclusively on the global education technology sector. LearnStart is creating the largest, most detailed pipeline of global education technology startups. Based in Silicon Valley, Learn Capital and LearnStart invest in innovative learning content, platforms and services engaged in the global transformation of educational engagement, access and effectiveness in formalized schooling, corporate and consumer settings. For more information, visit

Pioneer Square Labs

Pioneer Square Labs is a Seattle-based startup studio and venture firm that creates, launches, and finances technology startups. For more information, visit

SpringRock Ventures

SpringRock Ventures focuses on investing in the next cycle of healthcare innovation. Based in Seattle, SpringRock funds entrepreneurial teams that are solving important problems in disruptive ways. For more information, visit