While M&A may have slowed due to the global coronavirus pandemic, wellness has remained an outlier for investors.
“With COVID-19, I think one place consumers will continue to invest more money and resources in is wellness,” said Kelly Dill, principal at Imaginary Ventures, during a wide-ranging conversation with senior editor Allison Collins. “We understand how important it is for our mental and physical health.”
Imaginary’s portfolio includes wellness-minded consumer goods brands such as Hum Nutrition, Daily Harvest and Dirty Lemon.
The concept of wellness has broadened significantly in recent years.
“Wellness is self-care and we are redefining that space right now — it opens a bunch of different doors,” Dill continued. “It’s reinvesting in yourself, health, nutrition and fitness — wellness can mean many different things.”
Dill said the firm is on the hunt for “innovative companies” and is especially intrigued by concepts it hasn’t encountered before.
“We definitely have a thesis [for many areas] of wellness, from mental health to women’s health to fem-tech go ingestibles,” said Dill. “But we’re excited when an opportunity comes our way and we hadn’t thought of [the category or function] before.”
Dill’s background as a start-up employee at companies such as Glossier and Uber has helped her be more empathetic to the challenges founders may face, she said. “It’s easy as an investor to say, ‘OK, go launch a product,’ but not really understand the processes and people that go into that,” she noted. “We really want to help founders build companies.”
As COVID-19 continues to spread and support for social movements such as Black Lives Matter remains at the forefront of consumer mind-sets, Dill said that diversity and inclusivity for both Imaginary and the brands it invests in will be of increased importance going forward.
“Black Lives Matter highlighted the need for diversity in wellness and across venture [capital] in general,” said Dill. “It’s been a focus at Imaginary within our existing portfolio. As members of boards, it’s our responsibility to understand what companies are doing to address diversity, but we need to make concrete, actionable changes and hold ourselves and our companies accountable.”
“We’ve been through the period where we’re like, ‘Let’s think this through,'” said Dill. “Now it’s time to make change, and there’s no excuse.”
Wellness is a more attractive category than ever to investors, said Dill, but she is hoping that the category becomes significantly more inclusive as a result of swelling consumer demand.
“I hope investments change in that we have more representation, more diversity, more Black investors, more Black founds.”