Investing in Joy in 2020: Looking Back & Ahead

December 31, 2020 | By Joy Ventures
Investing in Joy in 2020: Looking Back & Ahead

Necessity is the mother of invention

2020 was a year. A year that transformed the world as we knew it, a year that upended our every-day routines, forcing each one of us to shift and adapt, and, of course, a year of tragedies for far too many. But, among the few silver linings, 2020 might also be remembered as the great catalyst for wellbeing innovation and a year of astonishing human achievement, ingenuity and, most of all, resilience. Amidst the chaos, uncertainty and challenges, we saw people prioritizing what matters most, caring for themselves and others, maintaining connection and community, intentionally carving out moments of joy and relief and actively seeking out and demanding digital solutions and experiences to support their wellbeing.

Long after the dust of this year’s events settles, we believe that the trends around wellbeing, which were already underway but accelerated by the pandemic, will prove to be enduring behavioral shifts.

Back in March we wrote that “times of crisis present opportunity for innovation” and we truly saw innovators emerge from all corners, heeding this demand with a tremendous amount of energy, creativity and initiative.

This year we at Joy felt incredibly fortunate to partner with a whole new crop of founders and wellbeing entrepreneurs to innovate consumer products that address some of today’s deepest human needs, in addition to working with our existing portfolio as they continued to grow and reach new milestones.

Looking back

Double the Joy

  • This was the most active year for Joy on record! We doubled our portfolio size and partnered with 4 new joyful companies (3 of them we’ve already announced): Myndlift, Zoog and Embr Labs (our first US investment 😊).
  • Our portfolio companies also adapted to remote operations and market conditions exceptionally well and continued to gain new ground.  A couple of highlights and notable achievements included: Joy’s additional investments in Sanga and Reflect (more on that soon..) and Vi’s strategic partnership with Nautlius Inc.
  • We launched our Entrepreneur in Residence platform,  and onboarded our first 3 EIRs: Matan Berkowitz, Shmulik Grizim and Yair Nativ.
  • In early 2020, we led another cycle of Joy Studio, our two-semester product innovation program, in collaboration with miLAB IDC Herziliya, which resulted in 8 new projects. In November, we also virtually kicked off our Wellbeing Incubator program, in partnership with Tel Aviv University’s Entrepreneurship Center. Today we are full steam ahead with 40 aspiring entrepreneurs (10 teams), now working to validate new product concepts for the consumer wellbeing space.
  • We announced the 13 grantees from our 2019 academic grant cycle (learn about them here). To date we have funded 36 academic projects from globally renowned institutes. Stay tuned for updates on our 2020 grantees.  

Insights from the Joy Team

  • Emerging Wellbeing Opportunities in Gaming Report  
  • Technologies Solving our Loneliness Epidemic, via Fast Company
  • Understanding the Emotion Recognition Market, via Fortune
  • Wellbeing Trends for 2021, via Entrepreneur
  • How to Build Habit Forming Products with Nir Eyal
  • Turning the Spotlight on Empathy Tech, via Geektime
  • How Technology is Bringing about a New Era of Human Creativity, via Thrive Global
  • Meditation Apps are Soaring in 2020, via Geektime
  • The Science Behind the Mind-Body connection, via Joy’s blog

A Global Community of Joy Makers

While we all retreated inwards this year, the Joy team was out there (virtually) more than ever, taking advantage of new opportunities to engage with our global community. Whether it was bringing together 500+  entrepreneurs, innovators and industry leaders at our Wellbeing Academy meetups or speaking at dozens of global events and conferences, we were excited to lead and spark conversations around the future of innovation for wellbeing as public interest and discourse around this space reached new heights. Catch up on some of the fascinating talks and events we organized / participated in:

  • Joy’s Wellbeing Academy Series Part 1 featuring Prof. Pattie Maes, Professor of Media, Arts & Science, MIT: “Augmenting Cognition;” Dr. Ayelet Landau, Assistant Professor, Hebrew University; PI of the Brain Attention and Time Laboratory: “Brain Rhythms and Attention;” Part 2: featuring Prof. Manos Tsarkiris, Professor of Psychology at the Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London, “Being with a (deep) body in mind: Science, Technology, Society;” Prof. Hossam Haick, Full Professor, Technion, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, “Disease Detection without a Needle;” Part 3: “How to Build Habit Forming Products” with Nir Eyal, Best-Selling Autor of Hooked and Indistractable
  • Other highlights: Joy’s event with Startup Nation Central,  “Design, Tech & Wellbeing;” Miri Polachek at Transformative Tech Conference, Joy’s interviews with Forbes, Ctech, Israel 21C and i24

On a personal note – we are immensely proud of the way our founders and broader community have responded to the challenges of this year and we thank them for sharing their journey with us.

We remain joyfully optimistic about the future as the consumer wellbeing movement continues to grow at lightspeed, driving an incredible new pace of innovation for our space.

We look forward to partnering with more inspiring founders developing the next generation of products that address humans’ evolving needs, while bringing much, much needed joy to our day-to-day lives.

If you share our excitement for consumer wellbeing, we would love to hear from you, and invite you to reach out with your ideas, thoughts and feedback!

Cheers to a joyful and healthy New Year for all!

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