Last year many employers expanded their family health benefits, increasing programs designed for caregivers. However, nothing was off the table; companies implemented Working Parents Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), expanded parental leave, and added fertility benefits, among other tactics. According to Human Resources Executive, 64% enhanced childcare support, 55% provided paid leave to care for a child or other family member, and 48% offered backup childcare support.
It’s no secret witnessing the many struggles employees faced during the COVID-19 pandemic made employers boost their financial investment into health and wellness. Such an accelerated effort is virtually impossible without outsourcing parts of the work to contractors and startups familiar with the industry. (Case in point: my consulting firm saw a 300% increase in requests to create guidelines and charters for new Working Parents ERGs.) But where does a company interested in improving its benefits find innovative family health solutions?
Answer: Parenthood Ventures. With nearly 300 companies, they’re an ecosystem for early-stage startups focused on family health. Categories range from caregiving to education and fintech. With the global corporate wellness market increasing by 200% in four years, there’s a strong probability that the 2030 “Google, Twitter, or Facebook” is affiliated with Parenthood Ventures. Founder Charlotte Michailidis explains:
“Our objective is to fuel the next wave of innovation, for a new paradigm of parents and their little ones – via content and community tailored to the needs of Parenthood founders, along with an expansive network of investor allies interested in the space.”
In 2020, new San Francisco mom Michailidis believed the epicenter of tech and innovation should’ve better addressed the outdated solutions employers offered. But the legacy infrastructure of the tech world (12-week accelerator sprints, network-based VC intros, in-person meetings) evolved around the needs and lifestyle of bro culture. Coincidentally, young families used that very tech to share their predictable yet preventable needs via social media and blogs.
“I kept reflecting on how and why innovation wasn’t thriving, especially in the face of massive macro trends toward reproductive health, early interventions in child development, increasing value placed on wellness, sleep, nutrition, gender equality in the workplace, racial equity, inclusion of dads and all types of family structure, support for working families and the growing spotlight on the childcare crisis… I could go on.”
FamTech (and its subcategory, ParentTech) hadn’t been yet established as a category, and startups trying to solve the needs of working families were scattered across digital health, caregiving, fintech, and other verticals. That fragmented state made it virtually impossible to come together and cross-pollinate learnings. Also, the few private and corporate investors aware of the market opportunity had no aggregate view into data and closed deals.
Frustrated, Michailidis started Parenthood Ventures to provide visibility into ParentTech solutions, boost investor awareness, and expand access for parents to try out and share feedback on new concepts. Familiar startups on the platform include Nest Collaborative, a collection of International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants who conduct online video appointments to help guide parents through the breastfeeding process, and Motherly, an uplifting online community that produces one of the most extensive surveys on millennial mothers: the annual State of Motherhood survey.
The next chapter of Parenthood Ventures includes expanding into offering startups access to parents who also have various professional experiences, from engineering and product management to growth marketing. The intent is for parents to provide a personal and professional perspective on their topics of expertise. Michailidis also plans to welcome more angel investors into Parenthood Ventures, creating forums where they can gather to discuss deals, learn about investing, and meet founders.