Ask ten people what it means to live a purposeful and meaningful life, and you’re certain to get ten different answers. But, if they were being honest, they’d all agree on at least one thing – it simply isn’t possible to lead such a life without the fun, warmth, sustenance, and empowerment that we get from the people around us.
But what about our neighbors, the people who live right next to us? Not only does it seem that we’ve forgotten them, but we’ve forgotten all the small, yet meaningful, moments they’ve brought us. The delicious homemade cookies the family down the street delivered to welcome you to the block. The backyard barbecues that were the soundscape of summer. The chicken soup your next door neighbor would bring any time you were feeling under the weather. These are the sights, smells, and sensations of a real community. Where did all that go?
As our virtual networks expand ever wider, our real life social circles are shrinking. Enter “loneliness epidemic” in Google and you’ll get no fewer than 2,380,000 results. But the forces that are setting us apart are not inevitable and irreversible. Ask people why they think that more and more of their neighbors feel lonely and disconnected, and you’ll notice a common theme – a hectic urban lifestyle that leaves fewer and fewer opportunities for connection, social participation, and support networks. Our generation has searched for community online, but has found something missing. We need to rebuild community in the real world – close to us, in our neighborhoods, animating our lives.
We founded Venn to do exactly that.
“A hectic urban lifestyle leaves fewer and fewer opportunities for connection, social participation, and support networks”
We’ve seen firsthand the power of community. While we had different experiences growing up, we all came of age in a community where each neighbor had a real sense of place. During our service in an elite army reconnaissance unit, we became lifelong friends and vowed to someday live in the same city, working together and raising our families together.
When we set out to put down roots in Tel Aviv, though, we shared an experience that millions of young people around the world can relate to – we found the city expensive and disconnected.
So, what did we do? We started to reimagine urban living, connecting a network of homes and shared spaces that became Venn. We launched our urban neighboring revolution in a developing neighborhood in Tel Aviv: Shapira. We knew that in order to create a platform for real life community, we needed to lay down the physical and social foundations. So we renovated apartments, opened a coffee shop, built a local workspace, and opened a cultural center. We connected neighbor-to-neighbor with community initiatives and dynamic events. We didn’t just want to build a neighborhood where people would come to sleep after work, we wanted a place where people could live — a home beyond the house.
“We didn’t just want to build a neighborhood where people would come to sleep after work, we wanted a place where people could live — a home beyond the house.”
Three years later, we’ve come a long way. Our community of young urbanites has grown to New York and Berlin and Venn aims to be up and running in 100 cities worldwide by 2030. We’re revolutionizing urban development with an approach rooted in SROI – the social return on investment, because we don’t just measure our success in apartments rented, stores opened, and revenue streaming in. Our mission is to build real communities that create the neighborhood of their dreams, which is why we’re so proud that 98% of our community members report feeling socially supported in times of need, and our research has found that our members report a 33% drop in loneliness after just six months with Venn.
This is what rebuilding community looks like. And we’re only getting started.
We’re deeply gratified to announce that we’ve just completed a Series A round led by Pitango Venture Capital, Hamilton Lane, and Bridges Israel, with a total of $40 million in funding to date. The generous support of our partners shows that they see what we see: that with a rapidly growing community of members who believe in the transformative power of open doors, inclusivity, creativity, and entrepreneurship, Venn is well on its way to becoming a truly global phenomenon. More and more people are joining our movement around the world, and we look forward to meeting you, wherever you are.