Magnify Ventures’ founding partners are Joanna Drake (left) and Julie Wroblewski (right).
Joanna Drake and Julie Wroblewski became friends in 20 minutes when they met in a car to the airport from the 2018 Equity Summit conference. They shared a lot of common ground: Both were from the Midwest, and both were VCs who wanted to diversify the industry. Both also had experience in caregiving. Wroblewski knew precisely who she should call when she tried to make her care economy investment thesis a venture company.
Wroblewski came up with the idea for the company in 2019 as she ran the Pivotal Ventures venture investing arm of Melinda French Gates. Wroblewski kept finding exciting companies trying to solve problems in the care industry, so she began researching philanthropic work around this category. Wroblewski said that she soon realized the magnitude of the opportunity. “I began to see a compelling, growing category for venture investment in venture-around care economy and family tech,” she said. “I was seeing truly incredible entrepreneurs and companies.”
Drake was not immediately convinced. He believed that the care economy was a niche, more experience than a category. However, this didn’t last. Drake stated that although it may seem specialized at first glance, the concept is diversified in every family. It’s genuinely diversified across the entire population. It’s a vast, massive market.
According to Wroblewski’s 2021 report, the care economy is $648 billion and affects half of the population. Nancy Folbre is an economist who focuses on the care industry and its relationship to gender. She tells Forbes some people mistakenly believe that the care market is only related to healthcare. However, it extends far beyond that. Folbre states that it is huge, more than half the GDP currently measured. “I believe the pandemic highlighted that, and I think venture capital is great at identifying that.”
Drake and Wroblewski launched magnify Ventures in 2020. It just closed $52 million on its first fund. Pivotal Ventures will anchor the fund. The fund will invest in early-stage companies and further up the capital stack. The fund will concentrate on four key sectors: family and parenting, future work, household optimization, aging and longevity, and aging. Wroblewski states that although many of the issues in the care industry existed before Covid-19 was created, many were brought to the forefront by the pandemic. This has prompted entrepreneurs to participate and led to a strong pipeline of seed deals.
Magnify Ventures has made investments in seven companies, including Papa, which connects seniors with people who can guide them with their daily tasks and offer companionship. The company, based in Miami, is currently valued at $1.4 million. MiSalud is an early-stage company that connects Spanish-speaking doctors with those who speak their language in the hopes of improving quality care. Folbre said Drake is particularly interested in companies that provide solutions for no cost to the consumer. Folbre believes this is crucial to changing the status quo.
As large corporations seek to attract and retain employees, the firm is also looking at B2B opportunities. Magnify portfolio company Cocoon assists companies with the complicated process of employee leave. According to CEO Mahima Chawla, Forbes, this is something between 7% and 10% of employees will do. She says, “This is becoming such a top-of-mind employer. We have seen all the demand.” “Employers are willing to do everything they can to support their employees in this year’s economy.”
Magnify plans to leverage its domain expertise to assist companies such as Cocoon to grow and its partnerships with organizations like AARP or The Holding Company. These partnerships can provide feedback to companies and help them meet potential customers. Wroblewski states that they are excited to invest now that fundraising is over. “Investing in great founders is our number one priority. We also want to build category leaders in this area.”