Meet the metaversers: Rachel Herauf
Outlier Ventures have been helping startups to accelerate their learning within the metaverse since 2014 (that’s right, way before most of us even knew what an NFT or web3 was!). We caught up with Outlier’s Senior Program Manager, Rachel, to find out exactly what her hopes are for the future of the metaverse, why it’s essential to develop decentralised tech within the metaverse space, and why she’s excited that Outlier Ventures are on the right side of this development.
Tell us a little bit about your role at Outlier Ventures?
I work with startups & founders. I’m the Senior Program Manager for the Outlier Ventures accelerator program, Base Camp. I work with teams from recruitment, planning and structuring, through to program exit. My job is to make sure the program runs smoothly and that the founders have access to all the resources they need – SMEs, workshops, mentors, research, etc. I really enjoy what I do. I get to work with a world-class team of people to support world-class founders through all aspects of their businesses. The role also gives me a lot of exposure to new things happening in web3, so I feel like I’m constantly learning and growing.
Over at Outlier you've focused on the Open Metaverse since 2014. How does it feel to know that the metaverse and web3 are expanding at such a rapid rate?
It feels good to be working for a company that is on the right side of this development. We’ve always invested in teams and projects that are actively contributing to making technology more decentralised, open and accessible. I think there’s currently a big gap between web2 companies using the metaverse as a buzzword, while still maintaining control of your identity, data, assets and web3 businesses that are truly building towards user sovereignty. But there’s been an accelerated growth in the blockchain and web3 space in the last few years especially. I remain optimistic that as the world changes and as more people are empowered to build the world they want to see instead of following old, tired systems that only benefit the few, this will continue to expand and develop in the right direction.
What are your hopes for the future of the metaverse?
I have high hopes. As much as the space has grown in the last few years (or more depending on who you talk to), there’s a lot of room for improvement. Mainly in terms of people building in the space. For the metaverse to truly be accessible & open, there needs to be more diversity & inclusion for underrepresented communities – women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+. This is starting to change, but it’s still somewhat at the stage where you need to have a Bored Ape to be considered “worthy” of being a thought leader. This is unfortunately not a small undertaking but the more Outlier Ventures, as an investor, can help to support and bring these founders into the space, the better. On a more personal level, I have hope that at some point in the near future, people will no longer be shocked to learn what I do for a living.
What is one tip you would give to businesses operating in the metaverse?
Don’t get distracted by the hype. Keep building your business the way you want and make sure you’re working with the people that are going to add value. There’s a lot of noise in the space right now – lots of capital and lots of people wanting to get involved, maybe not all for the right reasons. Especially for early-stage businesses, it’s okay to wait for the right investors & partners who will support & guide you to achieve your goals.
What does a day-to-day look like for you?
Depends if I’m running a program or not. But I spend a lot of time talking to people - with the founders, my internal team, our in-house experts, and externally, mentors, new founders & potential partners. Then, I focus on actually doing things - facilitating intros for the teams, connecting people, chasing people for things, trying to “herd cats”, problem-solving, and ultimately, attempting to stay a couple of steps ahead of what people need.
Before working for Outlier, what was your career experience?
My career experience prior to Outlier was more traditional – especially for where I grew up. I worked in Supply Chain Management for a professional consulting services firm in the Oil & Gas sector for almost 5 years back in Canada. It was a good starter job and taught me some valuable skills but ultimately was not what I wanted my career to be. I wanted something a bit more challenging and rewarding so I moved to London to do an MBA program with the intent of working in finance once I graduated. I quickly realised that I preferred the strategy and operations side of business and started at Outlier Ventures as a Program Associate back in February 2020 for the second ever Base Camp program.
If you could give your younger self one bit of career advice what would it be?
Listen to your gut. The times I’ve chosen to ignore that feeling have not served me well - when I’ve stayed in a job I didn’t like for too long because I worried about starting over at “my age” (I was 24). Or when I’ve made excuses for bad coworkers or clients and the times I’ve listened to that feeling have been when I finally left the job to go back to school and when I started a short term position in a completely new industry after an MBA. This turned into the amazing career I have now.