Hannah Grey launches its $52M inaugural fund

Focusing on “Customer-centric founders redefining everyday experiences,” venture firm Hannah Grey told me it just closed its oversubscribed $51.6 million fund. The company’s thesis focuses on “studying macro-societal forcing functions and evolving human behavior to identify areas of opportunities.”

The team told me it was planning to raise $25 million but found a lot more interest for its thesis, eventually closing more than twice that. The firm is backed by LPs such as Screendoor Partners, JPMorgan, Twitter, Carta, Stagwell Group, Insight Partners, Equity Alliance, and other foundations, fund of funds, family offices and strategic industry veterans.

The firm is the brainchild of Kate Beardsley and Jessica Peltz-Zatulove. Beardsley was founding member of Lerer Hippeau and Upslope Ventures. Before that, she was an early Huffington Post employee and chief of staff to Martha Stewart. She’s been in VC since 2009. Peltz-Zatulove formerly ran the CVC of Stagwell Group and spent 10-plus years working with Fortune 500+ brands commercializing emerging technology. She’s been investing since 2014, and co-founded Women in VC, which has since scaled to over 4,000 women across 65 countries.

The firm invests at the pre-seed and seed stage, writing checks ranging from $400,000 to $1 million. It leads a lot of the rounds it invests in. Hannah Grey is named for the firm’s partners’ oldest daughters — Raya Hannah and Gunnison Grey, now 4.5 and 5 years old, respectively. The firm uses its name as a touchstone.

“[The name] is a constant reminder that we are investing in companies building for generational change,” Peltz-Zatulove told me. “The firm’s name is also a tribute to the human side of venture capital — which can be overlooked. We feel privileged to be long-term partners with our portfolio founders, empathizing and empowering them through the highs and lows of both everyday life and building businesses in the decades ahead.”

The firm has hired its first full-time employee. To my surprise, that person wasn’t an associate or an admin person, but a marketing and branding expert in the form of Michael Miraflor:

“The assumption is we probably hire an associate first. Jess and I have been doing the work, and are used to doing the work. We expect to continue to do all of the work in that capacity,” says Beardsley. “Tech talent is more available than it was in the early days, but there’s not an understanding of brand in the same way. That’s where we found a huge opportunity. Founders tell us that ‘we don’t care about technical talent: we have our team from this previous company. We care much more about this area; we don’t come from a marketing background, and we need to lean on your expertise to find the right hire.”

With its focus on brand and marketing, Hannah Grey is positioning itself as a catalyst and amplifier for companies that need to make a big splash. It offers assistance with go-to-market and acquisition strategies, brand voice, visual identity, content strategy and the full gamut of brand guidance and monitoring.

The firm has already made 13 investments out of its fund, leading four of them. Investments to date include money deployed into learning platform Subject, period care company August, web3 DAO company Upstream, web3 home-base company Based, digital medical records company Credo Health, emotional health company Wave, shoe Gales and HeroMaker Studios.