Meet Our Founders

Chris Hedrick
Co-Founder & CEO

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
Co-Founder & Executive Vice President

Charissa is nationally recognized as a thought leader on creating a qualified and sustainable long-term care workforce and addressing the coming care crisis. She has more than 20 years of experience in healthcare policy, research, and practice..  Prior to co-founding NextStep, Charissa was the founding Executive Director of an organization that delivered training and healthcare benefits to more than 50,000 long-term care workers annually. She holds a Master’s degree in Health Service Administration and a Bachelor’s degree  in Nursing.

Meet Our Investors

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

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