Human Ventures is an NYC-based early-stage venture fund and startup studio founded by CEO Heather Hartnett, and serial entrepreneur Joe Marchese. The firm both backs and builds consumer technology companies, taking a unique dual venture-studio approach to investing by identifying talented entrepreneurs who are building the frontier of “the human needs economy.” Through Human Ventures’ business creation platform, companies have access to the necessary tools, community, and resources to build and scale with purpose. One such program is Humans in the Wild, a 100-day cohort-based incubation program which brings together experienced entrepreneurs into an accelerator community and provides them with strategic advice and intros to key operators, investors, and corporate partners. The team has also built out the Human First Angels community; members invest alongside institutions such as Lightspeed, Sequoia, and First Round and get access to curated co-investment opportunities.
Before founding Human Ventures, Heather worked in various roles at firms including Claremont Creek Ventures, City Light Capital, and LightSpeed Ventures Partners. She led the development at David Lynch Foundation, crystalizing her professional expertise and operations with the largest family offices and sophisticated investment firms. Heather is active in the community—she serves on the leadership board of tech: nyc and the board of Transact Global, was listed as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in America by Hearst Digital Media Publications, and is a frequent speaker a TC Disrupt and a regular contributor to Forbes.
Heather is joined by two other general partners, Jesse Morris and Michael Letta. Jesse brings experience as a former founder and operator, having co-founded and led go-to-market for Very, an IoT platform, and ReadyCart, which was acquired by Grapevine. Michael, COO of Human, brings deep financial and operational experience from his roles in corporate M&A and finance at Deloitte and as CFO at charity:water, where he spearheaded the company’s growth and capital raising of more than $175 million.
Human Ventures focuses on the “Human Needs Economy,” which broadly includes focus areas for seed to Series A companies operating in health and wellness, future of work, food and sustainability, and community and media. Each Humans In the Wild program focuses on one of these verticals, with their current cohort focusing on founders building in the health and wellness space. This unique program allows founders to receive hands-on guidance throughout the development of ideas and the execution of a go-to-market launch; it also helps them scale through combined operating experience of the partnership. In addition, Human leverages their network and the pipeline of companies in their programs to support subsequent rounds of funding and connects them with other investors in the Human Ventures network.
Why we invested
We appreciate the unique approach that Human Ventures is taking to seed a vibrant venture ecosystem through their dual fund-studio structure and building out one of the leading women-led startup studios in New York. In speaking with Heather, Jesse, and Michael, we came to appreciate the specificity with which they spoke about different “human” industries, and we were impressed by the diverse go-to-market, capital raising, and investing experience. We always get excited by partners who try to take a different approach to venture capital, and we look forward to being a part of the active community that Human Ventures has built.