Megan O'Connor & Heather Hartnett

Cofounders of Human Ventures

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON April 27, 2016

Discussion

Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
Hi - We are Heather Hartnett, CEO of Human Ventures and Megan O"Connor, Chief Growth Officer of Human Ventures. We run a build studio and co-found companies with great humans. We've partnered with a wide variety of early stage tech startups in NYC and have lots to share on this topic. We're super excited to chat with you all - ask us anything!
COSTAS ANDRIOPOULOS@candriopoulos · https://medium.com/strictly-curious
Hi Heather and Megan, how do you identify emerging trends and how do you pick ventures in nascent markets? Also, which publications, websites, etc. do you rely on for this?
Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
@candriopoulos all great questions... diversity is key with keeping up with trends.
Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
@candriopoulos you should always make sure you aren't only listening to people in your own sphere of influence. You need to find entrepreneurs in areas you know nothing about. You start to ask questions about their motivations and behaviors.
Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
@candriopoulos great publications and newsletters I read every morning: Strictly VC, The Skimm, Pitch Book, Venture Beat, Economist for long-tail information, NPR EVERY morning
COSTAS ANDRIOPOULOS@candriopoulos · https://medium.com/strictly-curious
@heatherhartnett Thank you so much for your great insights!
Filip Johansen@filip_johansen · I make SoMe 🎥 series for the next 🦄.
Hi! What's the first thing you should do if you have an business idea ?
Megan O'Connor@meganmoconnor · CEO and Co-Founder of Clark
@filip_johansen If you have a great business idea, the first thing you should do is figure out what skills you have that make you uniquely positioned to solve that problem and then identify the skills you need in a founding team to complement you.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
First off, thanks for letting me and @suzywillow camp out at Human Ventures HQ last month. 🙌 I'm curious to learn more about your ideation process when building and growing startups you incubate?
Megan O'Connor@meganmoconnor · CEO and Co-Founder of Clark
@rrhoover you are so welcome! You and @suzywillow are welcome any time :) As for ideation process it all starts with a problem we as Human Ventures want solved. From there it is about the people we partner with. No idea ends up where it starts out, so for us it's important for to identify top talent to solve problems with. We partner with amazing co-founders as soon as possible in the ideation process.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What are your favourite questions to ask founders?
Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
@bentossell Are you ready to get a crash course in humility? :)
Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
@bentossell building an early team, you have to be very aware of personal dynamics. Personalities are the hardest things to navigate and knowing how to motivate your employees, investors, customers. I like to ask founders if they know how much people management is involved in building a company!
Megan O'Connor@meganmoconnor · CEO and Co-Founder of Clark
@heatherhartnett @bentossell I also like to ask potential founders "how are you at taking the trash out?"
Megan O'Connor@meganmoconnor · CEO and Co-Founder of Clark
@heatherhartnett @bentossell because it's important for people to to remember that starting something from scratch comes with a lot of "non-sexy" responsibilities
Jenna Abdou@jennaabdou · Host & Producer of Beyond the Headline
Nick Reber@nickreber · Investor
Hi guys. I'm interested in what has been the biggest adjustment for you in transitioning from working on a single business to trying to build several companies at once?
Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
@nickreber it's incredible to see the level of organic cross collaboration between companies and how genuinely interested people are in helping one another.
Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
@nickreber I guess that didn't answer your original question.. you face a lot of the same challenges with multiple companies as you do with one. Time management, maintaining good health and keeping your energy up.
Snah Desai@s_haverford · Operations Analyst, ServiceTitan
How does a first time founder get in contact with Human Ventures or how can one go about potentially being part of the Human Ventures team?
Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
@s_haverford our approach is heavily referral based. All of the founders we are currently working with have come from a trusted source. It's always good to find a common connection when approaching someone, whether it be a potential hire, an investor, or co-founder (like Human). Warm introductions give necessary context. It's a good rule of thumb.
Snah Desai@s_haverford · Operations Analyst, ServiceTitan
@heatherhartnett Have you seen many individuals you are introduced through referrals people who have targeted Human Ventures or is it a more organic way they have reached that point in their life?
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What have been some life experiences that you think have helped shape the way you approach decision making?
Megan O'Connor@meganmoconnor · CEO and Co-Founder of Clark
@ems_hodge I like this question a lot. Both Heather and I have worked in the nonprofit world and that makes us "mission first" decision makers.
Megan O'Connor@meganmoconnor · CEO and Co-Founder of Clark
@ems_hodge That also means that all the companies at Human Ventures exist to make people's lives better. When deciding what projects to take on we come to the table with our desire to make real impact in the world.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Heather and Megan! Thanks for joining us today. What motivates you?
Megan O'Connor@meganmoconnor · CEO and Co-Founder of Clark
@ems_hodge Hi Emily! Thanks for having us. What motivates us is the opportunity to work with incredible founders - people who want to solve real problems and have a unique approach to doing so.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What do you look for in startups that you partner with?
Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
@ems_hodge At Human we are founder first. Everything starts with the founder. Where are they in life? What is their motivation for starting a company? Are they in this for the long haul and most importantly, what problem are they obsessed with solving?
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What character traits do you commonly see in successful startup founders?
Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
@ems_hodge the ability to grow as a person.
Corey Hubbard@corey_hubbard · Founder - DreamHighr
Hello Heather and Megan, what are you thoughts supporting early stage HR Tech startups?
Megan O'Connor@meganmoconnor · CEO and Co-Founder of Clark
@corey_hubbard my thoughts are positive! The people are the most important part of any business. At Human Ventures we believe great company always start with a good Human. Companies building thoughtful solutions in the human resource space are very important.
Justin Travis@justintravis · Front-end at HODINKEE
Hi Heather and Megan - What are some common pitfalls you've seen among early stage companies?
Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
@justintravis where to start? Starting a business is definitely not for everyone. I think before someone wants to start their own company, they should really consider their motivation. The media may glorify starting companies or make it seem easy, but it's definitely not the only path. This is often a reason why teams break up or ideas don't take off. Execution depends on a lot of people working together. It takes a village.
Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
@justintravis hiring is so important in the early days. Not just hiring for what is on someone's resume is key. You need to know what they are actually good at and if they can be an early team player. Motivations have to be aligned.
Joanna Chen@chenjoanna · CEO & Co-founder of CatchThat
Hi Heather and Megan! I was wondering what tech trend do you find underrated and would like to see gain more traction?
Megan O'Connor@meganmoconnor · CEO and Co-Founder of Clark
@chenjoanna great question. A trend in general we find underrated, that is starting to gain more traction is men being more involved in the developmental stages of their children's life. Fatherly is doing a great job of this and deserves more traction.
Jenna Abdou@jennaabdou · Host & Producer of Beyond the Headline
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
I love the studio model. What are some of the biggest challenges in running it?
Megan O'Connor@meganmoconnor · CEO and Co-Founder of Clark
@bentossell Thanks, we love it too! Honestly, the biggest challenge is pacing ourselves. There are a lot of great ideas we want to work on and a lot of amazing potential founders we want to partner with and we wish we could do it all at once! However we see great value in the quality over quantity approach to adding companies to our family.
Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
@megan_o_connor @bentossell I'd agree. Being very disciplined and focused with your time allocation is of the utmost importance. You have to be able to balance giving the founder the room to figure things out on their own, while creating an environment of resources and support.
Sam@samgimbel · Co-Founder @ www.hiclark.com
Hi Heather & Megan! What sets Human Ventures apart from the models of other startup studios like Betaworks?
Megan O'Connor@meganmoconnor · CEO and Co-Founder of Clark
@samgimbel we are a huge fan of the startup studio ecosystem as a whole. We put a lot of focus on getting to know people at all stages of their careers and identifying when the time is right for them to join an early stage team at Human. For us recruiting is not a sprint, but rather a marathon.
Megan O'Connor@meganmoconnor · CEO and Co-Founder of Clark
@samgimbel Putting the effort in to get to know talent over a long period of time has helped us place amazing individuals into Human companies.
Evan Petrack@petrev01 · People Researcher; Loves GIS & Data
What is the number one piece of advice you could give to a young(er) individual looking to make a career change?
Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
@petrev01 Hi Evan, that is a really great question, I would be happy to discuss with you some time offline as well since it's such a big one and very specific to each individual. My biggest piece of advice comes from something my parents always instilled in me very young — follow your bliss. There are so many shiny things out there that tell you what you "should" be doing. You are going to be best at the thing that makes your heart sing. It doesn't have to be a huge "aha" moment. You don't have to know it all at once. People put pressure on themselves to have it all figured out. What piques your interest? What is the thing you read about in your spare time?
Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
@petrev01 Another great thing to do is read books that are biographies of people in industries you are interested in.
Snah Desai@s_haverford · Operations Analyst, ServiceTitan
@heatherhartnett @petrev01 This is a great question and equally great answer. As a recent grading working in the tech industry in my first formal job I have began to search for my path. If I may suggest one thing that may help, it is to read "The Defining Decade". I have started to read it and heard a lot about it from my peers and it has brought some great insight into the future and my next steps.
Evan Petrack@petrev01 · People Researcher; Loves GIS & Data
@heatherhartnett Hi Heather - so sorry I didn't reply yesterday, but work called, womp womp! I'd love for the chance to talk though - thank you so much!
Evan Petrack@petrev01 · People Researcher; Loves GIS & Data
@heatherhartnett and another great point about the bios, thank you!
Tomas Paulauskas@tomaspaulo
Do you prefer potential founders to approach you with a concrete idea or it's better to nail down the problem with you first?
Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
@tomaspaulo Starting very soon, we'll have a formal process on how to approach Human Ventures since the response has been incredible for founders to want to co-found with Human. We are delighted that so many people believe in the opportunity.
Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
@tomaspaulo we don't take outside pitches. Each founder is different. Usually we are partnering with a founder because they have an outside expertise in something and we can help bring value and build out.
Snah Desai@s_haverford · Operations Analyst, ServiceTitan
Having worked in Non-Profits before, what are some up and coming or even established Non-Profits that you are excited about?
Megan O'Connor@meganmoconnor · CEO and Co-Founder of Clark
@s_haverford Pencils of Promise is an amazing organization providing quality education in the developing world. I say that having worked there right before Human Ventures, but since I have left I have been so impressed with their growth. The David Lynch Foundation is another phenomenal organization providing meditation to at-risk communities. charity water is a the organization that thought the whole nonprofit landscape how to use technology to get massive amounts of people involved in your mission.
Megan O'Connor@meganmoconnor · CEO and Co-Founder of Clark
@s_haverford I always say that working at a nonprofit is like training with weights on. I love to hire people with a nonprofit background because they know how to do so much with very little resources.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What are some key growth tactics early stage startups can implement without huge budgets?
Heather Hartnett@heather_hartnett · CEO of Human Ventures
@ems_hodge there are some great inexpensive tools that provide data analytics to everyone in your company. Tools like Metabase and Looker. Data should start to inform all of your decisions. Listen to your customers/users and watch their behavior. Don't project what you think they should be doing. Unless of course, you are building a new product that they don't know they need and will love. :)