‘Friendly neighbor’ app developer Venn raises $60 million from investors

Venn’s software enables residents to connect with others nearby, offer their services and get food from the local café

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Venn has developed an app to facilitate neighborhood experiences and provides ways for people to better connect to their neighbors and neighborhood (Courtesy)
Venn has developed an app to facilitate neighborhood experiences and provides ways for people to better connect to their neighbors and neighborhood (Courtesy)

Venn, the developer of an app that aims to facilitate neighborly interactions, said Wednesday it has closed a $60 million Series B investment round. The funding brings the total investment raised by the Tel Aviv-based startup to $100 million, the company said in a statement.

Venn’s app is a neighborhood management platform that it supplies to real estate developers. It allows neighborhood residents to connect to one another and to nearby businesses. Residents can offer their own services on the platform, such as yoga lessons, or order coffee from the local café or groceries from the store via the app. Neighborhood-appointed community managers can use the app to organize virtual and in-person events and gatherings.

“Loneliness was an epidemic long before COVID-19,” said Or Bokobza, co-founder and CEO of Venn, which was set up in 2016.

“Remember when we used to be able to walk down the street and run into our friends? Or go to the grocery store and be greeted by name? We’ve lost touch with something elemental and vital for our lives and progress: the idea of ‘neighborhood,’ Bokobza said.

This is the problem that Venn was built to solve, he said.  “We are using the power of community to build better neighborhoods for neighbors, property developers, and local businesses alike.”

The latest investment round was led by Los Angeles VC fund Group 11, with from Israel’s Pitango, Hamilton Lane and Bridges Israel participating. The startup raised a $40 million series A funding round in 2019.

Venn co-founders Chen Avni, right, and Or Bokobza outside Venn HQ in New York City, June 2021 (Courtesy)

The company said the new funds will be channeled toward recruitment efforts, the development of new business, and US operations. Venn plans to fill dozens of new research and development positions across the company’s international product engineering team, increase its business partnerships with property managers, and expand its reach with local businesses and services to create new opportunities for neighborhood involvement, the statement said.

Venn said it saw 1,200 percent growth in 2020 as communities from Brooklyn to Tel Aviv, Kansas City to Berlin have used Venn’s platforms.

“Over the years in our neighborhoods, we’ve learned that individual and community levels of loneliness and connection are highly accurate predictors of people’s likelihood to stay and put down roots. And we’ve learned that Venn can support three behaviors to improve people’s sense of connection: real-life social links between neighbors; support for the local economy; and civic/community service,” said Chen Avni, co-founder and CPO of Venn. “Ultimately, a neighborhood is made not by people who move there, but by the people who stay. We’re in the business of making people want to stay and participate in their neighborhoods long-term.”

According to the startup’s 2020 Annual Impact Report, Venn Neighbors who participated in two or more of the company’s local programming and events were 90 percent more likely to remain in their neighborhoods and put down roots, resulting in better business for property managers and local businesses.

In 2020, Venn saw a 37 percent reduction in people leaving their neighborhoods and a 20 percent increase in people moving in. Venn will expand to five more cities in the US in 2021, the startup said in the statement.

“People want to live in communities that make them feel that they belong, and Venn has found a way to achieve that through its technology, expertise, and experiences,” said Dovi Frances, managing partner at Group 11.

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