A Look Inside our Fall 2020 Entrepreneurs-in-Residence Cohort
Building the Future of Work
Building the Future of Work
As investors in The Muse, Valence, and Kindred, Human Ventures has grounded its investment thesis in the belief that the traditional professional journey will change drastically in the next decade and has backed entrepreneurs reimagining the way in which we, as humans, work. Technological advances have started to outpace the human condition, as individuals search for their place and purpose in an increasingly competitive and fast-paced labor market. Furthermore, the global pandemic brought many nascent trends into prominence. In addition to changes in individuals’ behaviors, companies also realized that they would need new solutions to thrive in this new normal. There’s so much work to be done to help organizations not only survive this seismic shift, but also use it as an advantage. Having experienced this ourselves when adapting our Humans in the Wild program to flourish virtually, we realized that our second cohort had to focus on building in the Future of Work category. Why? Founders are solution-oriented — they look for challenges and rise to the occasion — and the future of how we work is now more important than ever.
We identified four areas of opportunity best positioned to serve the human side of work over the next decade: New Work Environments, Lifelong Learning, Redefining the Resume, and Worker Wellbeing. Read our full Future of Work thesis in TechCrunch here.
As we reflect upon last fall, we wanted to share some highlights from our second cohort of Humans in the Wild. The founders completed the program, having made huge strides in their businesses, new friends, and excitement for their futures and the future of work.
Humans in the Wild Program Value
Through a mix of strategic advice, content, peer community, and Human Ventures’ network, Humans in the Wild was able to deliver significant value to founder participants.
Strategic advice and guidance from 1–1 “co-pilots” as well as sector-specific investors who served as dedicated Advisors throughout the program:
-Jarrid Tingle, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Harlem Capital
-Clara Brenner, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Urban Innovation Fund
-Jason Spinell, Director, Slack Fund
-Chris Brown, Principal, Inspired Capital
-Manish Patel, General Partner, Highland Capital Partners
Rich curriculum of weekly content and learnings organized through 25 hands-on workshops and fireside chats with leaders such as:
-Kathryn Minshew, Co-Founder and CEO, The Muse
-Isaac Oates, Co-Founder and CEO, Justworks
-Charles Hudson, Founder and Managing Partner, Precursor Ventures
-Katie Jacobs Stanton, Founder and Managing Partner, Moxxie Ventures
-Jenny Fielding, Managing Director, TechStars
-Michelle Horn, Chief People Officer, SoftBank Group
-Dillon Ferdinandi, Investor, Slack Fund
-Jeremiah Zinn, Chief Product Officer, Freshly
-Zach Sims, Co-Founder and CEO, Codecademy
-Priyanka Jain, Former Head of Product at Pymetrics
Pushed founders to collide with the market through product testing, building MVPs, securing anchor pilots, and early customers.
Entrepreneurs received deep insights into their personal leadership style, gaps, and complementary co-founder needs through Human Ventures’ proprietary Founder self-assessment tool and individual consultations and through Human Ventures’ in-house Founder Coach.
Human Ventures directly invested in 3 startups incubated in the program via Human Ventures Fund I and helped facilitate angel funding for cohort members from Human Ventures’ network and guest speakers.
We’re proud to note this wide mix of programming elements drove a Net Promoter Score of 100 from the founders in the program
“Being part of a cohort really made a difference. I truly felt Human picked gems of people to go through the program with. I think the Humans in the Wild has been exceptional for me — I received so much direct attention and so many 1-on-1 resources.”
— Suchit Tuli, Founder, Quantime
“Holistically, I loved the framework HITW used for presenting content on how to launch an early-stage company. It was eye-opening for me. Once I was given this framework of how to navigate building my company, I felt more confident moving in the start-up space.” — Markell Baldwin, Founder, Resonance
Case Study: Manon DeFelice, Founder and CEO, Inkwell
“I had been sitting on this big idea and did not know how to take it from a big idea to a SaaS business. The weekly guidance, touching base, and having a constant thought-partner through the Humans in the Wild program gave me the support to execute on my new SaaS product offering.” — Manon DeFelice, Founder, Inkwell
About Inkwell: Inkwell allows companies to tap into diverse candidate networks at scale by leveraging referrals. Inkwell focuses on filling business-critical roles with top-notch talent, as well as providing strategic advice on integrating flexibility into the workplace.
Outcomes from Humans in the Wild:
Developed a SaaS model to disrupt the traditional executive search market
Refined customer base and product offering
Launched pilot program to 10 paying clients, resulting in first-of-their-kind, community-driven, candidate referrals (first placement was for a CFO and was executed in 2 weeks)
Built detailed business plan, product one-pager, financial model, and pitch deck to tee up the funding process
Key Areas of Impact
Coaching and Thought Partnership: Manon came into the program as an established leader in the Future of Work space. She wrote for Forbes Women on the Future of Work and had already nurtured a diverse “well” of women executives looking for flexible hours that she was placing at companies through her startup, Inkwell. But she needed to re-strategize two major tenants of the business. First, the pandemic redefined “flexible work.” What was Inkwell’s edge when work-from-home was now ubiquitous? Second, how could she use technology to scale the business to the degree needed to be venture-backable? Through the Humans in the Wild program, Manon was partnered with a co-pilot from the Human Ventures team — a dedicated guide with expertise in innovation and venture-capital builds. With the support of this co-pilot, Manon was able to convert her services-heavy business into a technology-based, venture scalable business.
Fundraising Readiness: Since Manon re-strategized her business model, she needed to develop a new financial model and company narrative to reflect this change. Manon worked closely with her co-pilot and the greater Human Ventures team to generate all the materials she needed for a pre-seed fundraise: business plan, financial model, and pitch deck.
About Human Ventures
Human Ventures is a business creation platform comprised of a venture fund, startup studio, and enterprise agency. We go beyond the business model and seek opportunities to build Model Businesses with ambitious founders who are innovating around human needs. By unlocking access to a powerful network of founders, investors, and corporate partners, we are creating a blueprint for the future of business to be built on purpose. Humans in the Wild is a unique, 100-day incubation program for founders who are in the early stages of developing their next big idea in Health & Wellness.