Highlights from the Humans in the Wild Spring 2020 Incubator Program

Human Ventures
Aug 20, 2020 · 6 min read

Last Spring, Human Ventures embarked on a bold experiment — to expand our individually tailored company-builder to a cohort-based incubator, so that we could scale our ability to reach and support dozens more entrepreneurs each year. We called this new program Humans in the Wild, to reflect the pivotal point in a founder’s career when they are about to begin their next entrepreneurial journey. Surrounding each founder with expert strategic advice, a rich peer community, and access to Human Ventures’ deep network, we witnessed an inspiring surge of entrepreneurial activity, as our program participants sprinted through customer discovery work, product design, leadership self-assessment, and fundraising processes. And all in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, as we successfully figured out how to bond, teach, learn, and build via Zoom and Slack!

As we reflect upon last Spring, we wanted to share some highlights of our inaugural Humans in the Wild program. The founders graduated the program with huge strides in their businesses, new friends, and excitement for the future.

But before we dive into the highlights, we also want to note that we’re ramping up our second Humans in the Wild program, dedicated to helping entrepreneurs building in the area of Future of Work, which will run from October 5, 2020 — January 15, 2021. Applications are now open, and interested entrepreneurs can join an upcoming Webinar on August 27th to learn more.

Humans in the Wild Program Deliverables

Through a mix of strategic advising, peer community support, guest speakers, and learning Workshops, Humans in the Wild was able to deliver significant value to program participants:

  • Customer discovery and demand assessment through interviews, surveys, and landing page testing — facilitated over 600 in-depth customer interviews across 10 founding teams.
  • Product testing, MVP building, PRD development, early ad effectiveness testing — contributed product and business design support to launch 6 MVPs with founders.
  • Deep insights into personal leadership style, gaps, and co-founder needs — implemented Big 5 Personality Traits model across cohort and delivered personal consultations by Human Ventures’ in-house Founder coach, helped 3 program participants find co-founders.
  • Fundable pitch deck — directly invested in 3 concepts incubated in the program via Human Ventures Fund I, and helped facilitate angel funding for cohort members from Human Ventures network and guest speakers.
  • Rich curriculum of weekly content and learnings — organized over 25 hands-on workshops and fireside chats with leaders such as:
    -Carolyn Witte, Co-Founder and CEO, Tia
    -Zach Weinberg, Co-Founder, Flatiron Health
    -Akash Shah, Co-founder, Care/Of
    -Megan O’Connor, EIR Kaplan Test Prep; Co-founder of Clark (Acquired)
    -Jim Lowry, Founder, James H. Lowry & Associates and first African-American consultant at McKinsey
  • We’re proud to note this wide mix of programming elements drove a Net Promoter Score of 100 from the founders in the program!

Founder Testimonials

“Throughout this program, I found so much value in Human Ventures’ massive, quality network of people. Between my fellow cohort members, the Human team, and an extended group of entrepreneurial-minded folks, I’ve made connections that I know I’ll maintain throughout my career. Building these relationships as an early-stage entrepreneur has been invaluable in moving my business along.”
Taylor Majewski

“The Humans in the Wild program is truly effective. The framework enabled me to validate my high-value consumer, my digital health product and build my MVP. To sum it up, the Human Ventures incubator is 100 days of intense collaboration, inspiration, growth and camaraderie all wrapped in an amazing culture.” — Janine Silvera

“The HITW program was exceptional primarily because of the cohort and co-pilots — the team did a great job in selecting formidable entrepreneurs and fostering a culture of collaboration and connection. Almost immediately people were reaching out to connect me with influential founders in my field — or sharing valuable knowledge. Being all-virtual levelled the playing field so I didn’t feel like an outsider not being based in NYC. Over the course of 100 days, I built my business surrounded by experts in every arena; I became markedly more effective in many areas — marketing, behaviour & self-analysis, press-relations, customer discovery. The list goes on.” — Chening Duker

Case Study: Dan Miller, Founder and CEO, Spora Health

“The HITW program was instrumental in accelerating the momentum of Spora Health and helping us get from zero to one. Entering the program we didn’t have a product, weren’t fully set up as a practice and we didn’t have a clear direction of what our product needed to be for our community. By the end of the program, we had achieved all three and closed our lead investor.” — Dan Miller

About Spora Health: Spora Health is a primary care network that provides telehealth access to physicians, mental health and chronic condition assessments, and mindfulness and nutrition behavior change programs to people of color that have trouble accessing convenient, trustworthy, quality care.

Outcomes from Humans in the Wild:

  • Accelerated concept testing and experiments
  • Refined product vision
  • Launched MVP in market
  • Gained insight into pre-seed fundraising landscape
  • Developed relationships in VC ecosystem
  • Raised first round of financing

Key Areas of Impact
Coaching and Thought Partnership: At the onset of the program, Dan and his team were in the midst of conducting research to ensure they were tackling the right problem. Humans in the Wild provided support to accelerate this research and testing, enabling Dan to refine his product vision and strategy.

Through Humans in the Wild, Dan was partnered with a co-pilot from the Human Ventures team — a dedicated guide with expertise in innovation and product ideation. With the support of this co-pilot, Dan was able to identify the primary care market as Spora’s strongest opportunity area and redefine his key product offerings around the needs of this market.

Product and Technical Expertise: Humans in the Wild provides access to tools and expertise to support founders of all technical skillsets. Human Ventures’ engineers provided Dan with insight and guidance as he designed and built Spora Health’s MVP. With Humans in the Wild’s curriculum and product office hours, Spora Health supplemented their existing technical skills to chart a path to launching in market and quickly triage and troubleshoot technical issues along the way.

Fundraising Guidance: Human Ventures invested in Spora Health at the end of the Humans in the Wild program, as Dan’s first investors on his cap table. The Human Ventures team took an active role as partners in Dan’s fundraising process, facilitating numerous introductions to relevant investors, including other funds and individuals that participated in this initial financing round.

About Human Ventures

Human Ventures is a business creation platform, comprised of a venture fund, studio, and enterprise agency. We invest in ambitious founders who are building in what we call the “Human Needs economy​.” Human Needs encompasses products and services that address material human problems — specifically those in the areas of health and wellness, the future of work and community. In our fall cohort of Humans in the Wild, we are looking to partner with entrepreneurs redefining the future of how we work. If you are building an early stage business in this space, we’d love to hear from you.

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Human Ventures is a business creation platform. We go beyond the business model and seek opportunities to build Model Businesses with ambitious founders.

Human Ventures

This is where we share all the latest news and thinking from Human Ventures, with articles about our startups, our studio, and our approach to company-building.