Meet Julie Wroblewski, Managing Partner at Magnify Ventures

Steven Loeb · June 2, 2022 · Short URL:

Magnify, an early-stage firm investing in the care economy, just raised a $52 million fund

Venture capital used to be a cottage industry, with very few investing in tomorrow's products and services. Oh, how times have changed! While there are more startups than ever, there's also more money chasing them. In this series, we look at the new (or relatively new) VCs in the early stages: seed and Series A.

But just who are these funds and venture capitalists that run them? What kinds of investments do they like making, and how do they see themselves in the VC landscape?

We're highlighting key members of the community to find out.

Julie Wroblewski is co-founder and Managing Partner at Magnify Ventures.

Wroblewski spent over a decade as an investor and advisor with institutional-scale family offices and mission-focused organizations, including launching and leading the venture capital investment portfolio and strategy at Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company created by Melinda French Gates to advance social progress in the United States. In her roles, Julie has invested in pre-revenue startups, category-defining companies, and industry-leading venture capital firms, and she’s built partnerships across sectors to seed innovation in emerging markets. 

She is a frequent speaker on purpose-driven venture capital, gender lens investing, and the care economy. Her interests as an investor have been shaped in part by her role as a family caregiver, and her earliest work experiences as a helicopter-certified EMT and caregiver for older adults and the disabled. Wroblewski is a Kauffman Fellow and member of All Raise, and resides in Los Angeles with her family.

VatorNews: Tell me about Magnify Ventures and what you're all about: your philosophy, your methodology, and where you sit inside the venture ecosystem.

Julie Wroblewski: We just closed our first fund at $52 million and we invest in early stage technology companies in the care economy, which is a large and growing market. We're really one of the first firms to step out with a thesis around the care economy and, for us, that really looks across the modern family life cycle, from pregnancy and parenting to household management to aging and end of life. The care economy, as a whole, covers all of the time and money we put into caring for people, from the moment they're born until the end of their lives. 

I developed the thesis for the firm when I was in my previous role: I spent about a decade working as an advisor with Melinda French Gates and launched and led the venture capital strategy at Pivotal Ventures, which is a Melinda French Gates company. I was doing some work around the care economy, sizing the market, and starting to see really incredible entrepreneurs and technologies starting to build companies across consumer enterprise and healthcare in areas of care that, maybe 10 or 15 years ago, were pretty untouched by technology, whether that's parenting or child care or how we care for older adults. So, I curated the thesis, recruited my partner Joanna Drake and started our firm.  

We invest primarily at the pre-seed and seed stage, and the bulk of our capital is at seed; we do a little bit of Series A investing as well, but very thesis driven. So, I mentioned the broad focus, but we're really looking for, first and foremost, founders who have fire behind them as entrepreneurs and the potential to attract talent and build and scale large businesses in tech. We also think a lot about the market opportunity in areas of care. For example, in childcare, we go very deep in understanding market dynamics and thinking about competitors, opportunities, challenges in the space. So, we're preparing a more traditional, founder-focused venture model with a thesis-driven investing approach.

VN: Do you go B2B or B2C? Or is it a mix?

JW: It's a mix. We will invest across healthcare, enterprise, and consumer. We have seven companies in the portfolio so far, and it is a real mix: we have B2B and B2C companies. We’re investors in a company called Cocoon, which is a B2B company focused on scaling a software solution for employee leave in the employer market. So, currently a very costly and complex process for employers, whether that's offering parental leave or sick leave or other forms of leave, and they have a software solution that helps to streamline and reduce the costs. So, that's a B2B example. We're also investors in a pre-seed company called Milo, which is the first operating system for the home, helping to recognize, reduce, and redistribute household labor, whether that's driving kids back and forth from activities, to who's going to cook the family meal at night, and things like that.

VN: I would imagine that this is an interesting time to launch a fund focused on the care economy, considering the last two years, with people working at home, the shift from the office to the home. People had to take care of their children and their families and elders and there was a big shift. So, talk to me about what you've seen in the last couple of years, and how that's changed the care economy.

JW: We started thinking about launching our firm before the pandemic and then, all of a sudden, the pandemic, as you said, really put a spotlight on the challenges that families and caregivers are facing in this country, and really highlighted, at a macro perspective, the broken system around caregiving. I mean we, of course, saw millions of women drop out of the workforce, as women, in particular, shouldered a greater amount of the burden at home for homeschooling, managing parenting, while also trying to work. So, there's been just a really bright spotlight put on the challenges of care but then, at the same time, real acceleration of the role of technology in helping us to manage our everyday life and life in the home. That's really across demographics: we saw that, whether it's leveraging technology to find and manage childcare to just managing household responsibilities. In older adult populations, you really saw a very big acceleration in the use of technology; my mother had never used an app to order her groceries, and never saw that as a necessity, and we saw a real acceleration of technology. Telehealth, of course, is the example people often refer to, but the acceleration of technology and the movement of tech into more intimate areas of our lives, and helping us manage personal caregiving responsibilities, was really accelerated during the pandemic as well. So, it was great for our fundraising; when we were out talking to LPs, we were framing the challenges of modern parents and isolation and loneliness among the older adult population and it resonated to a person with everybody we were talking to. So, that was very helpful, I have to say.  

VN: I Imagine two years ago, it might not have been as easy to have them understand, there might have been more of a conversation. But now, everybody gets it.

JW: Everybody gets it. Maybe three, four years ago, I would be talking to people about that market and some people would think, “Oh, that's childcare,” and some people would think, “Oh, that's care for older people.” And people are increasingly starting to think about the care economy in this space as really broad and massive and covering a lot of different areas of tech. The pandemic was instrumental in that respect.

VN: You said you invest mostly in seed, but a little bit of Series A, so what does that come out to be in dollar amount on average, in terms of initial checks and over the life of the company?

JW: Obviously, this is a tricky question right now, given round sizes, but at the Series A we’ll write $2 to $2.5 million checks, but they we’ll only do a couple of those; the bulk of our capital is at seed, and we'll write between $1.2 and $1.8 million checks, so a good size. We also have a pre-seed bucket where we'll write $250,000 checks to entrepreneurs that are very early, and just starting with their business, and we’ll do just a couple of those. But most of our checks are $1.5 to $1.8 million average seed stage checks.

Like everybody in the market right now, we are calibrating as the environment changes quickly. We're seeing the leading indicators of that, we're seeing that deals are taking a longer time to get closed. So, deal pace has slowed down but, obviously, valuations and even round size will be lagging indicators, especially just given how much capital is out in the market right now. So, we may adjust a little bit as we go forward, depending on what happens in the venture market.

VN: How many investments do you make in a typical year?

JW: We will make 30 to 35 investments over a four year deployment period. We did warehouse a series of investments while we were raising our funds, so those will be in addition to the investments that we already have made in place. We will distribute those on a quarterly basis, but it's a little bit hard to say right now our exact pacing; we will front load our investments a little bit, or have planned to front load and do more investments in the earlier part of our fund cycle and less later, but we may adjust that as the market changes. We'll do, on average, six to seven investments per year, but in the last year we'll probably do three or four.

VN: Talk to me about traction. If you're doing a Series A, I imagine that there are numbers that you need to see from that company, but if you're doing a pre-seed it would be too early. What are you actually looking for from those companies?

JW: We only do a couple of Series A investments and, of course, there’s a pretty big variation when we're looking at a B2B company versus a company in the consumer space. On the B2B side at the Series A stage, we look to see if they not only have contracts and clients in place, but proof of monetization and product market fit and revenue traction. So, that varies quite a bit; if you talk to a company who's in the FinTech space, and they have a very specific metric around revenue that they're looking for at the Series A stage, we don't have that because we are investing in different types of companies, but we really do look to see revenue traction, proof of product market fit, and monetization of contracts and client relationships on the B2B side. 

On the seed stage side, it’s obviously a little bit more wide ranging and flexible. Of course, most of them are pre-revenue, but we have invested in a few that haven't quite yet found product market fit, and are still a little bit more at concept stage. At pre-seed, those are usually founders who are concept stage, maybe have a deck, a concept, one or two people on board, but are still really putting together their ideas. 

Because we're thesis driven, especially at the pre-seed and seed stage, one thing that's a little bit different is we really want to see that the founders we're investing in having a very strong grasp of the market area within care that they're tackling. So, a good example of that was our first investment, a company that I invested in when I was at Pivotal and warehoused for Magnify, and then we followed on, called Papa. They’re now a Series D company, but we originally invested in the A and then followed on the B and the C. I met that company when they were a seed stage company and it was just very clear at that time that they had a very strong grasp on healthcare for older adults and, in particular, the available funding for non-medical support for older adults in this country. They were setting out to create a whole new class of care workers that were non-medical workers, and so that vision, and understanding of an unmet market opportunity, is really what we're looking for most at seed.

VN: When I talk to early stage investors, the thing that they say is most important is the team, and that sounds like what you were saying as well. So, beyond having experience in the space, what are some of the other aspects of those founders and those entrepreneurs that you want to see for them? How do you vet them to make sure that they are the right person to invest in?

JW: One thing that we really look for very early is the ability to attract and inspire talent, especially in this market; it's more important than ever, if you're a seed stage founding CEO, that you are able to recruit and bring in top tier talent. Second thing is we really look that there's somebody on the founding team with experience building and growing startup operations, that's served on a founding team or been part of growing an early stage company. It's very hard to do if you don't have that. Another is functional expertise and exposure; I don't think that's necessarily a must have for us, but we'd like to see it. And then the last is, of course, technical expertise and capability: there has to be somebody on the team who has real leadership and skills on the technical side, and who's going to be able to build out initial product and technology, but also bring with them a network of engineers and technical talent to the table. So, oftentimes you have one founder CEO who, maybe, has a couple of the things that I just mentioned, and we really want to see that they understand their own gaps and what they need to fill and who else they need to bring to the table. Even more critical than how many of those boxes they check is, do they really understand which of those that they don't? And are they able to inspire and motivate people to join them? That is incredibly important.  

Even before the founding team, I pay a lot of attention to who they're bringing to the table as advisors at the earliest stage, even before they've made their first hire, because that's an early indicator of their network and their ability to really get people to believe in their vision and what they want to build.

VN: You mentioned functional talent. I'm not really sure what that means. Can you define that for me? And what do you look for in that aspect? 

JW: I'll give you an example: Cocoon’s three founders came out of Stripe and Square. So, FinTech backgrounds, building a company in the B2B employer space, and they very early on understood that they didn't necessarily have a background in HR, benefits, payroll compensation, but they've been able to bring together advisors who have that functional expertise in that space. It's very difficult to build a company in a space like benefits and HR if you've never worked and understand how HR and benefits work, what motivates those sorts of people. Another example is Andrew Parker, the CEO and co-founder of Papa, who brought with him just a very strong healthcare sales background; he understood that to build Papa he was going to need to sell into health plans, he understood those sales cycles, he understood what it required to recruit sales talent. So, functional expertise means the core skills and exposure to areas of business that are going to be required to grow at the early stage. Sometimes that's HR, sometimes that's healthcare sales, it really depends on the company. 

VN: How do you vet the product? I imagine that's easier on a B2C company, you just download an app, see if it works, but it's harder, probably, on a B2B company. What's your due diligence on the product?

JW: We spend a lot of time upfront on all the things that everybody does: product demos, and we'd like to see early pilot testing and beta feedback. Two of the things that we do is, first, we have a pretty extensive advisory network that we leverage that's across healthcare, enterprise, and consumer. So, we'll often engage one of our advisors to directly test and give us feedback on the product and on things we might not be thinking about. Second, we have a partner called the Holding Company, which is a design lab that sits inside of IDEO, which is focused on the future of family caregiving. They work with early stage startups, growth stage startups, corporations, and government entities around designing products and solutions in family care. Oftentimes, we'll put a call into them for their advice and feedback; sometimes they work directly with our portfolio companies to develop beta testing strategies or pilots to give feedback, but sometimes we just call them up and say, “Can we bend your ear on this and get your feedback on the product?” because they sit inside of IDEO and they're really incredible product designers and leaders. That’s two examples of how we leverage our own network.

VN: How do you determine market fit?

JW: By getting all of the traditional indicators directly from consumers, and feedback directly from consumers, clients, and customers, and really understanding, are we beginning to see evidence not only of uptake, but a utilization of stickiness? For example, on the employer benefit side, are we actually seeing utilization beyond just signing up to offer the product? Are we seeing early indications of actual use? On the consumer side, what are we seeing, not just in terms of NPS, but on continued use and engagement with a product over a period of time? Those are important signs of early product market fit. Oftentimes, people focus on the leading indicators, whether that's NPS or getting a large contract in place, but we really want to see signs of stickiness of use, both on the B2B and B2C side.

VN: You want to make sure it's “have to have” versus a “nice to have.”

JW: Exactly. Yes. That's a great way to put it.

VN: We mentioned valuations and you mentioned round sizes earlier. So, talk to me about how you see those trending. At least on the public market side, we've seen valuations come down, especially around healthcare; a lot of healthcare companies ended last year down quite a bit. But it seems like companies are raising rounds at higher and higher valuations, or has that come down as well? Where do you see that trending and where do you see that going?

JW: We're still in the very early stages of this correction and what we're seeing in the market are deals that, maybe a couple of months ago would have gotten done in a few days, are now taking several weeks. So, the leading indicators that we're seeing in the early stage market is the slowdown of deal pace, and the fact that it's taking longer for deals to get done. We are not yet seeing the correction in valuations, as they're seeing on the growth stage side of things, because, obviously, that's just going to come sooner and be closer to public markets and the slowdown in IPOs. That will come, but valuations are a lagging indicator; deal pace and time to get deals done is a leading indicator. We’re a little bit earlier in the correction and the signs of the correction in the early stage, but we're certainly going to see that and it'll be forthcoming across the market. 

What's really interesting right now in venture is that there's just so much capital in the market. You've had so many funds go back to raise in the last two years and last year, so we're going to continue to see deals get done, people are going to continue to have to keep some level of pace. Not to try to be too much of a forecaster but it's going to take a little bit of a longer period of time for this to play out in the early stage, just because there's so much capital in the market. It's going to be a very different type of correction in venture than it was in 2008, which was just very different and didn't affect early stages much. It may be a little more akin to 1999 and 2000, but the industry is just so much larger, and there's so much capital out there that it's just going to take a little while for this to play out. 

VN: That's the second time you mentioned it taking longer for deals to get done. If that's an indicator, what exactly does that indicate to you? Does that just indicate that investors are doing more due diligence on these companies, that they're taking their time that they weren't talking before? What exactly does that mean to you?

JW: People are taking their time and being more hesitant to put capital out in the market. People are expecting and realizing that valuations are going to fall, but it hasn't quite happened yet, so that's one piece of it. The second piece of it is, there's a lot of folks who are watching their reserve strategy right now. We're seeing that companies that are going to come up for growth funding in the next nine to 18 months, because of what's happening in the growth stage and in public markets, they're maybe not going to be able to get that. So, there's going to be a lot more extensions, and a lot of people having to get behind the companies that they believe are going to get there, but that maybe just can't raise those growth stage rounds yet. Then there’s just an expectation that LPs are already over allocated to venture and then experiencing severe volatility in the public markets, that's just going to slow down their ability to do reups at the same pace that they've been able to do in the last two years.

VN: It sounds like you're saying that round sizes are going to come down as well. Do you think that companies are going to wind up taking down rounds going forward?

JW: Oh, yeah, for sure. There will certainly be down rounds for sure but, again, there's so much capital in the market that it'll be interesting to see how long that takes to play out. But, yeah, of course, we are going to see companies that, three years ago, would be able to raise additional capital just not be able to do that at all, and then we're going to see a correction in valuations that’s been coming for a long time and everyone's just now bracing for that, as it starts.

VN: That's probably not good for those companies that can't raise funding but it sounds like the best companies will raise funding and companies that maybe shouldn't have been raising money before won't be able to anymore. It's going to separate the wheat from the chaff, basically.

JW: Yes, exactly, it's a correction that's been needed and expected for a long time. But now the question, for us and for funds that maybe just raised, what is the pacing that makes sense? We're long term investors, these companies take 10 years to build and exit, so we're not short term investors but, at the same time, you have to be careful about pacing, be careful about valuation corrections. At the end of this year, next year is going to be a great time to do deals.

VN: Talk to me about your differentiation. A lot of firms probably go after the same LPs, so there is competition there. When you meet with them, what's your pitch to say, “here's why I should be the one to deploy your capital”?

JW: We are a domain focused firm, so when we sit down to win a deal, we're not competing in the same way as a vertically focused fund, like a healthcare or B2C fund. We're also, obviously, not competing the same way as the large generalist firms. We're bringing expertise, domain knowledge, partnerships to help our portfolio companies grow, and we're seeing that founders want to create a space for us at the table because of that differentiation. 

One example of that is, I see tons of parenting deals; when I sit down with a founder who has a child care company, I've seen all the child care companies, I have the view on that market. If I invest in that company, I'm going to bring different networks and partnerships to that deal than a generalist and vertically focused investor. So, that specialization and thesis driven approach, and then what we bring to the table because of that, was a big part of our selling point to LPs, and it's a big part of our selling point to founders. 

That said, Joanna and I, together, have over 30 years of experience in venture. Joanna has hired thousands of people across the Valley, we help companies on all aspects of company building, whether that's talent recruitment, building out operations, so we bring that stuff too. But our special sauce is our thesis driven approach and then the partnerships, advisory network, and insights that we bring because of that.

VN: I was going to ask you what your differentiation is to founders as well, but you sort of answered that question. Is there anything else you want to add to that?

JW: I mentioned our partnerships that we've built out with groups like the Holding Company, which is the design lab at IDEO. We also have a partnership with EHIR, the Employee Health Innovation Roundtable; it's this large collection of employers from Apple to Disney to Delta who are interested in HR tech and benefits innovation. We have a whole academy that we run with them around family tech and care. Just double clicking on that point: our partnerships and the exposure and opportunities that we bring to founders are very different from what other firms might bring to the table.

VN: You've mentioned a whole bunch of companies that you invested in. I don't know if you want to talk about a few others, or if you want to expand upon the ones that you already mentioned. What was it about those companies when they sat across from you? What did you see in them that made you want to invest?

JW:  I'll mention our company called MiSalud because it's a great example of the opportunities that we’re going after. MiSalud is the first digital health and wellness solution for the Hispanic population in the United States, so Spanish speakers. Through the pandemic, there was so much money poured into telehealth and digital health solutions and, at the same time, we saw the Hispanic population in the United States really suffering from exposure to COVID because of challenges of healthcare access. So, we invested in MiSaul’s seed round and they connect Spanish speakers in the United States, though a virtual health telehealth platform, to Spanish speaking doctors who are located in Guadalajara, Mexico who serve as coaches and navigators for them, connecting them to English speaking doctors in the US healthcare system. They also provide free health and wellness content and information to Spanish speakers in the United States. So, a really incredible company. We were the largest investor in the seed round alongside Ulu Ventures, Lowercase Capital, a whole bunch of other folks.  

What we saw in that company is two things: first of all, Bismarck Lepe, who's the founder and chairman, is a serial entrepreneur, multiple venture backed exits, so really experienced in building and leading and scaling technology companies. He brought incredible talent to the table with him from the very start, including the CEO, Devon Huff, who's a fourth generation doctor, and Wendy Johansson, who’s an incredible product designer. So, you had a founder with vision, experience, ability to convene talent. Second of all, it was really tapping an overlooked market need and problem for families in this country. In that case, it was Spanish speaking families, and lack of access to health care. And then, along with that, you have significant potential to do things like reduce cost of care, improve social determinants of health, and things like that. So, MiSalud was a great example of an immediate fit with our thesis and a founding team who had all the characteristics that we look for in a company investment. It's one of those companies too, that when we mention it to people, they immediately get what it is and the need for it. 

I briefly mentioned Papa and they are a Miami, Florida-based company that connects older adults at home with companionship and support and clinical care. They started by leveraging gig workers, primarily college students, to come in the home and help with things like transportation and grocery shopping. They found that that exposure helped to reduce isolation and loneliness and reduced health care costs for older adults and payers. So, they're now partnered with every major health plan in the United States, including the largest providers of Medicare Advantage. Through the pandemic, they launched a vertically integrated health care and telehealth service for older adults, but they’re a really incredible company that's scaling, essentially, family on demand for older adults and support.

The pandemic put a spotlight on isolation and loneliness for older adults and, in a value-based care system, the ability to reduce costs, while addressing social determinants of health, is hugely valuable. So, Softbank just led a Series D $150 million round last year, valuing the company at $1.4 billion. They're now the leading company in the aging tech category in the United States and they're really category leaders. I mean, they will change the aging tech category in the years to come. They’re also a really interesting example because it was a founder with great vision, the right background in health care, a huge unmet need, but, initially, a lot of venture investors that looked at that company might have thought, “Oh, this is a services company. Like, we're bringing people into a home to do work.” But really, there's an incredible technology and data component; I mean, they're tracking things like health care costs, fall risk around the home, hugely valuable and important areas of costs for healthcare payers. They're now scaling with the employer benefits landscape as well, so they've moved into that space. Papa is just an incredible, incredible company and a bit of a rocket ship for our portfolio. 

VN: Talk to me about yourself about your career a little bit, what brought you to venture? What are some of the things that you've learned since becoming a VC?

JW: I previously spent about a decade as an advisor and an investor to high net worth individuals and family offices. The majority of that time was working with the Gates', and Melinda French Gates in particular. Most of my focus in venture for the six years prior to launching the firm was actually on the LP side. So, investing in funds, and some direct investing as well but, as that work was unfolding, I really wanted to spend my days working with founders to help build companies in big areas of unmet need. I recruited Joanna as my partner, because her operating background and experience in building and scaling venture backed companies was a great complement to mine. 

Personally, I have been an active family caregiver myself for many years; I'm very involved in caregiving for my aging parents, managing their health care, and really seeing the need there. I worked through college in an ambulance, and I also worked in long term care facilities. So, caregiving, whether it was in my earliest jobs, or in my own life, has always been in the background of my career, and a lot of where I spend my time and focus. It was really my work investing with family offices, foundations, and high net worth individuals that brought those things together and seeing a market opportunity in need.

VN: That's great that you could take all that experience and launch a fund where it sounds like your whole career can be used to now invest in these companies.

JW: Someone just asked me recently, “What's the connection between working on an ambulance and being a VC?” I was like, “I never thought about that.” As an early stage investor, these companies are really in the trenches. I mean, every day is something new going on, and very intense, high pressure situations. And I was like, “Actually, there is a little bit of a similarity between being an emergency medical technician and working in early stage markets,” but I had never thought about that until recently. 

VN: I would imagine after that job, there's no job that could be more pressure than that.

JW: Yeah, that’s true. I was certified to fly on helicopters, which I didn't do very often; I did it a couple of times. That, I think, is one of the most high-pressure jobs in the country, being a helicopter paramedic. 

VN: I would imagine. So, the second part of that question was about lessons that you've learned as a VC. So tell me a couple of things that you've learned?

JW: It sounds a little trite, but I learned this on the LP side, and I'm learning it even more on the GP side, that this is a relationship and people business. As much as you can be focused on deals and transactions and terms and things like that, these are long term businesses. People's careers are long, the industry is big now, but still relatively small. So, the biggest lesson that I've learned probably in the last five years, especially as I stepped out and raised my own firm, is just the importance of building and nurturing long term relationships with founders, other co-investors, and LPs and not being super focused on transactions, but really trying to be there for people even when things aren't going well for them. It's easy to be there for founders and step in when things are going great, but really trying to invest in relationships is probably the first one. 

The second thing I have learned maybe in the last year, I would say, as I've been getting to know the founders in our portfolio, is just the power of lived experience in motivating people and driving the formation of new ideas that are going to change the world and people's lives. So often we focus on individual degrees or what somebody did for their last job but, oftentimes, when you talk to founders, they're really motivated by things that have happened in their own life, especially in our portfolio. The founders at Cocoon, they started a software company for employee leave because they are mothers that took leave, and it was a mess. They were like, “Why does it have to be this way?” Andrew Parker, the co-founder and CEO of Papa, saw his grandfather getting really lonely and isolated and he was like, “How can I use technology to solve this?” So, the power and importance of lived experience, and really taking the time to get to know what motivates people beyond their degrees and jobs and technical qualifications, can be a huge unlock for innovation and creativity.

VN: I definitely see that in this space more than like a FinTech or a social media company. Everybody has that experience, everybody has grandparents who got old, parents who got old, children of their own. And so, everybody can relate to that. 

JW: Yeah, absolutely.

VN: What's the part of the job that you really love the most being a VC, when you go to work every day? What really motivates you to do this?

JW: The founders that we work with and their tenacity and drive. The thing I really love the most is helping them work through specific problems and challenges. I love being the person that they call when they're sorting out a big problem, or maybe something isn't going right; it's great to get the call of, “yeah, we just closed this big contract,” and all that great news is good, but, if we're doing our job well, we are the people that they call when things aren't going well. Being able to have the opportunity to be brought into those situations, and to feel like people trust you to help with challenges and problems, and then working through that with them, is what drives me and why I love to do this job. 

That's been like a theme through my career and all of the opportunities that I've taken. But, yeah, solving big problems with founders. Sometimes those are really small things, they're not always these big glassy things of, "How are we going to change the world?" It's like, “We’ve got to figure out how to deal with the service provider who's not doing their job,” or, “We have this competitive issue,” or something like that, and working through those fine details and feeling like Joanna and I can bring something to the table that will actually create an unlock. That's what motivates me every day. I just saw a bunch of our founders at our launch reception this week and I said, “If we do not feel hounded by you, then we're not doing our job. We work for you and you should be calling us and we should be locking arms in how we're working together.” Otherwise, there's a lot of money in the market, people can get checks from lots of different places; if you're a smart founder, you're bringing investors to the table that not only write a check, but who want to show up and who want to help you.

VN: That ties into the caregiving aspect of it.

JW:  Yeah, yeah, for sure. (laughs) I guess if we're doing it right, we're caregiving for our portfolio. It sounds a little paternalistic, but it's true.

VN: Is there anything else that I should know about you, about the space, or the firm? Anything we didn't touch on, or things we did talk that you want to make sure people know?

JW: My partner Joanna and I are a very complementary partnership. So, there's me and my story and what I bring to the table, but Joanna is a former serial entrepreneur turned angel investor turned GP. She brings years of company building, so that balance between the two of us, between domain expertise and network expertise, and then her operating background, is really important in how we present our firm because it really is the combination of the two of us and it's a true partnership. I always say that I wouldn't have launched a firm as a solo GP; I wanted to find a partner who was complimentary to me. Some solo GPs are great, and they can do it all and they have their particular approach, but the fact that Joanna and I are showing up to this as a partnership that brings complementary skills and expertise is very important for us and how we frame things. 


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Julie Wroblewski

Joined Vator on

Julie is Co-founder & Managing Partner of Magnify Ventures. Previously she spent over a decade as an investor with institutional-scale family offices and mission-focused organizations, including leading the investment strategy at Pivotal Ventures.