Trail Mix Ventures, founded by Soraya Darabi, Will Nathan and Marina Hadjipateras, seeks to find businesses that intersect health and wellness, with a focus on how people work, how they spend their free time or how they use their talents.
So far the early-stage investment firm has invested in 16 companies, including The Wing, Parsley Health and Sphynx. The venture fund counts Neil Parikh, co-founder of Casper; Nick Taranto, co-founder of the meal kit company Plated; and Neil Blumenthal, co-founder and CEO of Warby Parker as outside investors.
In an interview with Glossy, Nathan and Darabi discussed emerging trends in the wellness space, including the willingness of people to experiment, the reason experiences are so popular within wellness and expectations for the future of wellness. Their answers have been edited for clarity.
What trends are you seeing in the wellness space?
Will Nathan: From my perspective, people are more open to experimentation. It’s very difficult in today’s age to know what the true benefits are of the different new ways of looking at your health, and in the culture and environment of fake news, people are looking to brands and startups to help them navigate brands or topics they either hadn’t been exposed to or that historically were not culturally acceptable.
Soraya Darabi: We are seeing a real shift in [multiple] generations of how they want to spend their dollars and how they want to spend their time. People are now, all of a sudden, incredibly mindful about things they were not in the past. And technology is making it easier to enable healthier behavior.
There are a lot of wellness experiences in retail these days. What is the connection between experience and wellness?
Nathan: The experiential is an important channel because many folks are oversaturated by ads and offers, and there is a lot of information thrown at people from the Internet. Going offline, and connecting with your body and to what you can experience in the real world is something people gravitate toward and is crucial right now. These experiential and personalized components are one of the areas that are helping brands connect and find consumers in a way that it hasn’t been possible or hasn’t been as effective lately because of all the noise on the Internet.
Darabi: [Millennials] are not spending money on luxury items, and they are postponing families of their own — they are delaying everything from childbirth to marriage. But what millennials do have is what The Wall Street Journal called a ‘$500 dollar a month workout habit.’ And that might be a hyperbole, but that generation will spend more money on health and wellness than anything else, other than their immediate family. So knowing that, experiential marketplaces for us are of interest. Really, it’s any new paradigm — any new model that did was Peleton did five years ago, which takes an existing habit in the real world and virtualizing it, in some way.
Where is wellness headed?
Nathan: We see a trend toward taking care of yourself because then you can be in a position to take care of others. And people spend more time and money with the services and tools that help them better take care of themselves. That’s where the market is going because there is a whole spectrum of new services that people are identifying with and really connecting with in a new way. One thing we have noticed is that people are associating themselves with brands in order to express their identity, and that is something that is extremely important for the solubility of companies people are subscribing to and purchasing from.