Heather Hartnett, Human Ventures

Heather Hartnett

Changing the Face
of Venture Capital

Editors’ Note

Heather Hartnett is the Founding Partner of Human Ventures where she and her team have built one of the most well-regarded company builders in New York City. She was recently featured in Business Insider as “the first female-led startup studio in New York City” bringing a fresh new perspective to the tech scene. Heather serves on the leadership council for TechNYC and was named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in America by Marie Claire. Prior to Human Ventures, Hartnett spent much of her career in impact investing and philanthropic efforts. She serves on the Board of Directors of the David Lynch Foundation and is a long-time practitioner and teacher of Transcendental Meditation.

Company Brief

Human Ventures (humanventures.co) sets out to create a studio structure that replicates the process of creating valuable companies. This process takes the right mix of leveraging their operational playbook, finding exceptional talent, and skillfully addressing the unique opportunities of each company. The Human Ventures team is creating a robust ecosystem in New York wherein industries can learn from each other and enable technology and innovation to provide them with better, more fulfilling lives.

What is the mission for Human Ventures?

Our mission for Human Ventures was to be, in essence, the world’s best co-founder for someone starting a company. It’s really about the evolution of company building and how it has become more systematic and mature.

Startups used to be few and far between and now they provide a way to push forth innovation in many different sectors. We’re seeing a maturation of this process starting to take place.

At the same time, we see venture capital changing as well – more and more capital is being put to work in funding innovation startups.

We’re a company-builder and we are widening the pool of access to the startup ecosystem. We’re not just looking at Silicon Valley-type industries but are addressing what the key industries are that New York is uniquely qualified to accelerate. We can then match founders with funding and give them a playbook in the beginning for managing the start-up.

How broad is your current portfolio?

Industry-wise, it’s very broad. We’re focusing on consumer-facing technology products. This is a specific sector where we’re seeing technology being brought in to help with some of the inefficiencies in traditional industries.

We have a product in education and one in e-commerce that is changing the way that people purchase for others. We also have a company that is in financial technology and is figuring out smart debit cards for children that will have them interacting with banking from an early age.

All these are traditional industries but, with technology and the right human capital, we can service a whole new generation that is coming in and using these platforms.

What kind of innovation opportunities do you seeing in New York?

We’re seeing innovation in a few ways: one is through using technology to make things more efficient at scale. Another is business model innovation where traditional industries are finding new sources of revenue utilizing technology to reach their customers in a different way.

Also, 15 years ago, it might not have been so commonplace to start a company in cities such as New York. Today, we see many seasoned professionals who have deep domain expertise and they’re looking to apply that to a startup and to create a more agile, innovative model to their industry, so that’s where this platform comes into play in New York.