Company-Building Highlights from our Spring 2021 Entrepreneurs-in-Residence Cohort
Launching Startups in Health and Wellness
Launching Startups in Health and Wellness
This past Spring, we launched our third “Humans in the Wild” Entrepreneurs-in-Residence cohort, a unique three-month program in our venture studio designed to support experienced entrepreneurs at the early stages of their company-building journey. Since our first Health & Wellness cohort launched in the Spring of 2020, the pandemic has greatly accelerated transformations in healthcare. Dramatic opportunities continue to open for startups, so we again put out a call for founders building Health & Wellness companies that serve human needs.
The nine teams in our Spring 2021 cohort are building businesses across mental health, sexual health, women’s health, and health & wellness broadly. While we didn’t set out to have a female-only cohort, it just so happened that the strongest teams we came across in these areas were led by women. This underscores our belief that the future of health and wellness businesses will address the needs of everyone — including those who have been traditionally overlooked — and, therefore, be built by a more diverse set of founders.
The Humans in the Wild Program
Through a mix of unique programming, tailored, one-on-one strategic support, connections to the Human Ventures expert network, and access to a strong founder community, Humans in the Wild was able to drive significant growth for founders.
Six founders closed their pre-seed funding rounds within six weeks of the program ending. Human Ventures made direct investments or facilitated investor introductions for cohort members.
Strategic advice and guidance from dedicated “co-pilots” as well as health and wellness investors who served as Advisors throughout the program:
- Binoy Bhansali, Head of Corporate Development at SCAN Health Plan
- Anurag Mehta, Principal, Consumer Venture Investment at Johnson & Johnson
- Ally Tam, Partner at VMG Partners
- Zal Bilimoria, Founding Partner at Refactor Capital
- Virginie Raphael, Founder and Managing Partner at FullCircle
Unique proprietary curriculum delivered through weekly hands-on workshops and panels with leaders such as:
- Jean-Luc Neptune, Founder, Suntra Modern Recovery
- Akash Shah, Co-Founder, Care/Of
- Marina Tarasova, Co-Founder & COO, Paloma Health
- Steven Gutentag, Co-Founder, Thirty Madison
- Carolyn Witte, Co-Founder and CEO, Tia
Deep insights into each entrepreneur’s personal leadership style through Human Ventures’ proprietary founder self-assessment tool and individual consultations with our in-house founder coach.
“As a second-time founder who is a newcomer to the health and wellness space, HITW was the ultimate program for supporting me with my new venture. The format of the program enabled me to dive deep into the healthcare space at lightning speed with direct access to top-tier subject matter experts, and the camaraderie and strategic perspectives of my fellow cohort members was truly invaluable. I highly recommend HITW to founders; this is a program like no other.” –– Doreen Bloch
“There are so many ‘communities’ for founders out there these days. But what stood out to me in Humans in the Wild was that this is a place to be both a human and a founder. I felt the program focused on you launching your company while also supporting you as a whole person. From the structure of the program, it was clear the Human team is thoughtful and cared about helping us connect as a cohort.” –– Grace Chiang
“I came into the HITW program with a minimum viable product (MVP) in market, and HITW helped me take the learnings and early user feedback I received to make improvements on our MVP and increase engagement. The thing I appreciated the most about the program was that it allowed me the opportunity to drill down further into the actual problem our company is solving. This gave me more clarity on our product roadmap and the new features we should prioritize to continue to provide value to our users.” –– Ashlee Wisdom
Q&A with Natalie Waltz, Founder of Tabu
What is Tabu?
Tabu is a sexual wellness company for bodies that change.
Where was Tabu as a company when you entered Humans in the Wild?
We were starting to hit some early momentum. With our first product in market, sales were starting to pick up and we had two retail partners secured. But, we were still learning and getting to know how to reach and talk to our target customer.
Where was Tabu at the end of the program?
Coming into the program, we had raised roughly $100k from friends and family. Human Ventures helped us develop our story and articulate how we were going after a major opportunity in a differentiated way. With Human’s help, we successfully closed our pre-seed round and are honored to be a part of the Human portfolio.
How did the program help you progress?
It’s no secret that the founder journey can be lonely. As a one-woman show, it was incredibly rewarding to develop relationships with other founders — meeting regularly, bouncing ideas off of one another, and holding each other accountable to goals. It’s really wild how quickly you form meaningful relationships in this setting — both within the cohort and with the Human Ventures team.
Any advice to other founders?
One: never write out a pitch script. It’s easy to want to write every word down verbatim and make sure you cover each point as you intended (and sometimes even read it aloud in our digital, Zoom-only world). All too often we end up sounding like we’re on autopilot (as a Human Ventures team member reminded me during pitch practice) and we lose the connection with our audience. Two: always take the meeting. So many networking calls have led to wonderfully unexpected things in my career and Tabu is no exception. It’s even how I ended up applying for Humans in the Wild.
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 Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program for founders who are in the early stages of developing their next big idea in Health & Wellness.