Walking into the offices of Nextdoor, the private neighborhood social network started by Sarah Leary MX'88, one can easily feel the sense of community and collaboration of the start-up. Of the 68 (and growing) employees, Tyler Green MX'07 shares a special connection with Sarah: a Middlesex diploma.
After graduating from Middlesex, Sarah went on to Harvard and later Harvard Business School, as well as working for an impressive list of companies ranging from tech to Venture Capital. Sarah co-founded Nextdoor with CEO Nirav Tolia, in an effort to address the growing isolation in American neighborhoods. (According to Nextdoor statistics, only 26% of Americans actually speak to their neighbors.) The Nextdoor platform, available on the web or via a mobile app, connects neighbors via a private social network to create safer, more interactive communities. Tyler joined the company a year ago, after graduating from Dartmouth and working at a Global Security company. Their goal as a company, Sarah says, is "to make Nextdoor a household name that helps bring back a sense of community to neighborhoods everywhere."
The same community network ideals that Nextdoor was founded upon are evident in both Sarah and Tyler's reflections on their time at Middlesex. Sarah, now a member of the Board of Trustees, remembers how "Middlesex's small community meant that no one was simply a spectator-- you were constantly being asked to be involved." Tyler echoes this sentiment, adding that his high school experience directly influenced his decision to work at Nextdoor. "In so many ways, Middlesex is the ultimate community-- one in which your teachers, mentors and friends are also your neighbors and the people you must rely on daily. I see Nextdoor as a way for me to promote the power of community on a global scale."
Though they graduated years apart, Sarah and Tyler share many mutual Middlesex experiences, including strong involvement on their respective athletic teams. Sarah was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003 for her contributions to soccer, basketball, and lacrosse, while Tyler played football and baseball during his time.
Sarah remembers being inspired by older Middlesex grads and the things they were able to accomplish only a few years out of school. "It helped me raise the expectations for what was possible." In many ways, Sarah and Tyler's new connection is indicative of the power of the alumni community. Tyler suggests, "Being a Middlesex alum means that you have access to thousands of premier innovators, thinkers, and leaders. Don't be afraid to ask a fellow alum to coffee or simply ask for career advice via email. The best thing about our community is its willingness to support or promote each other from within." During the interview process, Sarah utilized a Middlesex connection and called football coach Joe Lang for "an honest assessment of [Tyler's] work ethic, attitude, and grit. A ringing endorsement from Coach Lang, combined with high marks from everyone who interviewed him is why Tyler landed a job here." However, it is clear that Tyler did not earn his job just because he was a fellow graduate. "If anything," Sarah says, "my expectations for a Middlesex graduate are higher than for other applicants because I know they have had a great education and are very capable."
Years after retiring their respective Middlesex athletic uniforms, Sarah and Tyler are now teaming up professionally. "After years of competitive sports," Sarah reflects, "I finally realized that a start-up is the ultimate team sport. You win and lose as a team. I am as proud of the Nextdoor team as I have been of any team in my athletic career."
Written by Anonymous (not verified) on January 31st 2014