Sidebar Launches With Tech-Powered Peer Matching for the Future of Career Growth

Lexy Franklin

Sidebar Founder & CEO

Today Sidebar is officially launching. It’s a private leadership program that offers expertly matched peer groups, goal tracking, messaging, and facilitated sessions customized to each person. The program has a waitlist of more than 5,000, with current members who include Fortune 500 execs, founders, Oscar winners, and Olympians. 

Social accountability, expert guidance, and clear results make all the difference. Unlike professional networks, Sidebar is a program that drives outcomes. In fact, 93% of members reported a positive and significant change –  such as a promotion, launching a company or breakthrough idea, finding a new role after a layoff, or greater team success – in their first few months.

Leadership can be lonely, especially in the virtual world. When I was a Facebook Product Management Lead, I was surrounded by some of the smartest people in the world, and my goal was to learn as much as possible from them. There was plenty of room to collaborate, but we lacked a consistent forum to learn from peers. If this was challenging at Facebook — a company known for excellent execution — it was likely a problem everywhere. I saw a massive opportunity to connect like-minded peers to grow in their careers. This need only grew in the aftermath of COVID. 

Remote working has deepened the divide between meaningful connections leading to a huge opportunity to connect peers in a world that shows no signs of returning. Today, 40% of workers in the U.S. are either fully remote or hybrid. This number is expected to double in the next year. 

The power of peer-based coaching: a workout program for your career

Peer-based coaching is an untapped competitive advantage that can’t be found with social networking. The defining factor for Sidebar is small peer groups with expert facilitators focused on outcomes over networking. It’s effectively the difference between a gym membership and a fitness program with a personal trainer.

Peer-based coaching works:

  • Members access diverse insights from peers who have been in similar situations without the bias that comes from the other relationships in their lives.
  • We tend to remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, but up to 90% of what we teach to others or practice in a group setting. 
  • According to research, small coaching groups create safe spaces where peers can grow, have accountability, and take risks.

Today we’re also announcing we’ve secured a $13.55 million seed round to advance our work. Investors include Steve Vassallo of Foundation Capital, Elizabeth Weil of Scribble Ventures, Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp, former Pinterest president Tim Kendall, Meta CMO Alex Schultz, Head of WhatsApp Will Cathcart, Roy Erez and Roy Rubin of R-Squared Ventures, and Front CEO Mathilde Collin. We’re using the foundational backing to grow our tech, team, and programming to include resources like live events and libraries for members, as well as exploration of the program as a corporate benefit tailored for specific partners and industries.

“In this rapidly shifting economy, there's a void of time and resources for leaders to find the resources and support to help accelerate their career growth,” shared Elizabeth Weil, Founder and Managing Partner at Scribble Ventures. “Simultaneously, the next generation thrives on technology-first solutions. Sidebar is the platform for these business leaders, combining technology and real-world interactions to supercharge careers and drive impact.”

"As a former engineering teacher and rowing coach, it’s been especially rewarding to watch Sidebar members experience lightbulb moments as they learn and grow and reflect on how the program has reshaped the entire trajectory of their careers,” said Steve Vassallo, general partner at Foundation Capital and early Sidebar investor. “Whether you’re building the next AI-powered software startup or leading teams inside of a Fortune 500 company, Sidebar's conscious leadership program is designed to help your highest potential leaders become the very best versions of themselves.”

Sidebar finds your people

The magic starts with getting the right people together. We use technology and a vetting process that matches the top minds in leadership with the people who can provide them the most benefit to achieving their goals. 

But gathering exceptional leaders isn’t enough. Once small groups of 6-8 people are assembled, they meet twice a month in structured, facilitator-led sessions that follow a curriculum ensuring each member gets personalized attention, can set clear goals, and has their peers hold them accountable to those goals. 

Every day our members support each other to achieve their career goals and solve challenges. Recently, one member founded his own company with encouragement from his group; another took on the role of CEO, and another pivoted from a career in tech to pursuing being a coach and writer.

“With the Sidebar cohort model, you get a lot of eyes on your problem, as well as encouragement, support, and challenge — diverse perspectives and opinions are the whole point,” shared Sidebar member and tech entrepreneur-turned-coach and writer Jason Shen. “This means you get a level of encouragement, clarity, and BS-calling that you wouldn't from friends or work colleagues.”

"Sidebar is a radically inclusive community,” said Subha Shetty, VP of Product at Fanatics. “It’s great that in this age of all AI tools and automation, there is a high-touch and personable community and a product out there like Sidebar. It’s a place where I can gather honest, unbiased, real feedback on and perspective on any topic. That process is very difficult for me to be able to do outside of this, where I need to send a few emails to trusted people, schedule time with them, and get feedback. But with Sidebar there is already a sense of trust and engagement in our peer groups. The matching process is curated and the facilitators manage everybody's time and conversations expertly."

Ashley Chang is a Sidebar member who recently founded her own company after leaving Carta where she was Head of Investor Experience Products. She shared, “Sidebar has really accelerated my career. You get this awesome group of people to give you a well-rounded perspective. I feel like I'm learning ten times as fast as I was before Sidebar because I get to work through other people’s challenges and solutions. Sidebar helped me make the jump to starting my own company and have enough confidence in myself to do so. I definitely wouldn't be where I am today without being a part of Sidebar."

Interested in joining Sidebar? Sign up for the waitlist!

Hi-res product images can be found here.