At Kinnevik, we know that building leading digital businesses is very difficult to achieve. Kinnevik is a well-capitalised investor with deep sector expertise and a long-term investment horizon, working side by side with entrepreneurs for the entire journey. We don't just provide capital, we work together to create the conditions for success in each and every one of our businesses. We also help our businesses adopt sustainable business practices.
Meet Our Entrepreneurs
We partner with entrepreneurs and leaders who we believe in, whose passion we share, and whose values we respect. Read interviews with and testimonials from some of our founders below
Interview with Cityblock's co-founders Iyah Romm (CEO) and Dr. Toyin Ajayi (Chief Medical Officer), describing why they founded Cityblock and their vision for the company.
What problem does Cityblock solve?
With Cityblock, we address a massive need in the US, which is the challenge of individuals and communities with low access to effective primary care, behavioural care and social services. These individuals and communities combine poor outcomes with a disproportionate use of hospital care for issues that typically would be managed effectively by primary care providers in a more integrated model.
We partner with health insurers to take on financial risk for outcomes of this population, and we deliver value to payer partners, as well as to the company by improving outcomes over time and decreasing the use of hospital, emergency and other services that can be avoided through more effective preventive care.
What brought the two of you together to start Cityblock?
We have worked together for a decade and both of us are committed to doing work which provides the opportunity to improve social justice in a financially sustainable way. In many ways, the best businesses are born out of frustration and we are frustrated that the US health system is not focused on humans, but stuck in complicated structures.
I (Toyin) am a primary care doctor and I have always been deeply passionate about caring for the people that get left behind by our healthcare system, people who struggle with disabilities and mental health needs. Having seen first-hand the costs of healthcare and the generally poor outcomes, I know that we can intervene much more effectively by strengthening the way we provide care to people in the community in a sustainable and scalable structure. In addition, we are both very interested in building a truly diverse workplace: a multidisciplinary and multicultural workplace where people can bring their whole person to work.
Who is a typical Cityblock user?
We serve low income populations that qualify for state funded insurance, Medicaid, and people who are older and qualify for federally funded insurance, Medicare. We take care of some of the most vulnerable and high-need populations in the country that could have much better health through the type of care that we deliver. The size of this market is around 1.3 trillion dollars of taxpayers' spend on healthcare and there is ample room for improved efficiency.
How does being a patient of Cityblock change the healthcare experience?
Let us give you a real example of a patient, we can call her Sonia. She is a person in her mid-forties with a lot of trauma in her past, and now living in Brooklyn but without a steady address and with no permanent employment. When she lacks a place to sleep for the night, she goes to the emergency room where she will be admitted, get a bed for the night and something to eat. For years, she has been going to the emergency room up to 20 times a month, but she struggles to follow up with an ordinary doctor; instead she returns to the hospital.
When she gets assigned to Cityblock, someone from our team will reach out to her, and we have local teams from the neighbourhood that understand the community. The team will support her in moving her location of care away from the hospital and into a place that is more sustainable. Over time, the Cityblock team builds a relationship with her and will start to understand the full picture. She will be connected to a behavioural health specialist to get therapy if she needs it and we will get her a phone to ensure we can reach her and so that she can contact us. We will also connect her with social services to get relevant support with housing or food, if she needs it.
It is easy to see the human impact for a patient like Sonia. But in addition to that, we also see a 70 percent reduction in hospital use and a 45 percent reduction in healthcare spend over time.
Where do you want to take Cityblock in ten years?
In ten years’ time we want to serve ten million people across the country with a company that touches people in every community and every city in the US. We want to achieve this by creating a trusted brand where people can come for high quality, respectful care that makes them want to come back for more.
And what do you need to reach the goal?
We need people and resources for sure, to build the team, the company culture and strong processes. Of course, building technology is very important, in particular figuring out how we build technology that is accessible to people that have highly variable access to technology. To be efficient, we need to build strong community partnership to make sure that we can bring all the resources needed together. And finally, we need investors who understand and support our vision, and who realise that we are building a company for a generation rather than for two or three years.
"In ten years’ time we want to serve ten million people across the country with a company that touches people in every community and every city in the US. We want to achieve this by creating a trusted brand where people can come for high quality, respectful care that makes them want to come back for more."
Interview with Brad Hargreaves, founder and CEO of Common.
Tell us about your background and what led you to start Common?
Prior to founding Common, I co-founded General Assembly, a bootcamp teaching tech and design skills. When building that company, we saw a huge challenge for students and staff to move to places such as New York and San Francisco. They really struggled to find affordable, high quality housing and many ended up in sketchy living situations that they found on Craigslist. We saw an opportunity to create a residential brand and operating platform that not only delivers a better experience for the renter but also generates a higher return for the building owner, a win-win.
What learnings have you brought with you to Common?
Like General Assembly, Common is operationally heavy and for both companies we were able to get a real lift from adding technology and brand. Both companies also touch people’s lives in a significant way. Common is not a “nice to have” offering, but a product that people live and work in. Paying rent is a huge spend and often the largest share of the consumer wallet. We have a huge opportunity to improve people’s lives if we do a good job.
Why do you operate under different brands?
Our first solution was a co-living service allowing the renter to keep the good parts of living with flat mates, i.e. the social environment and the affordability, while letting us take care of the annoyances such as cleaning, shared kitchen and bathroom, rent splitting and utilities. Today, we operate three brands. Common is our millennial and urban oriented brand, Kin is designed for families with kids, and our most recent and fastest growing brand is Noah, which is focused on workforce housing.
These three brands enable us to appeal to different consumers groups. Ultimately, our primary client is the institutional real estate owners. They have multiple types of assets, such as urban assets, suburban residentials and perhaps also hotels. We want to be the operating platform from which they can manage a variety of assets.
What is your vision of the company in ten years?
We want to be the world’s largest residential operator. We think there is a huge opportunity to shape the future of housing, one that is more affordable, more equitable and fully leverages technology to both make operations more efficient as well as improve the experience for the residents. In order to get there, we need to secure the best inventory by building strong relationships with real estate owners. And equally important, we need to be the consumers’ first choice and really deliver on our promise to them.
"We want to be the world’s largest residential operator. We think there is a huge opportunity to shape the future of housing, one that is more affordable, more equitable and fully leverages technology to both make operations more efficient as well as improve the experience for the residents."
Interview with Jakob Dahlberg, co-founder & CEO of Joint Academy.
What led you to start Joint Academy?
Around 80% of global healthcare costs stem from 15 chronic diseases, and chronic joint pain is the fifth most common. Almost all chronic diseases have some connection to lifestyle choices and are also often mistreated with medication and surgery. Knowing this, and with his leading expertise in chronic joint pain, my father developed a methodology for osteoarthritis care which included meeting a physical therapist regularly, focusing on behavioural change and exercises. The methodology works very well on a clinical level and has been refined over several years with data from thousands of patients. As I was studying Computer Science, I realised that we could digitalise his methodology to make it globally scalable and much more cost efficient.
How does the collaboration with your father work today?
He comes from the world of academia and focuses on clinical research, whereas I am more of an entrepreneur and engineer and thus more product focused. We work in close collaboration and our different roles complement each other very well. I think we make a very strong interdisciplinary founding team and the combination of our different skillsets are very valuable in the field of healthcare.
What is the uniqueness in Joint Academy’s method?
Sweden has some of the best osteoarthritis data and outcomes in the world, much to do with the methodology my father developed. We have a very strong clinical program and evidence to rely on, which we amplify with technology and our own findings. We also have world leading professors and specialists on chronic joint pain on payroll. This contributes to us being able to generate outcomes that exceed those of the face-to-face method and on a clinical level.
Which are your competitors?
That's the status quo. The market is still very underdeveloped, focused on medication rather than prevention. The opportunity for us is re-routing patients away from that to a more preventative care model focused on behavioural change, education and exercises.
What is your vision for the company in ten years?
We want to be the global standard treatment for chronic joint pain. As soon as a person has been diagnosed, or are experiencing hip or knee pain, Joint Academy should be the first line of defence. Our vision is to be implemented with all the major health plans around the world, to work with hundreds of thousands physical therapists and treat millions of patients globally. To get there, we need to contract more payers, onboard more physical therapists and reach a much broader audience of patients globally.
"We want to be the global standard treatment for chronic joint pain. As soon as a person has been diagnosed, or are experiencing hip or knee pain, Joint Academy should be the first line of defence. Our vision is to be implemented with all the major health plans around the world, to work with hundreds of thousands physical therapists and treat millions of patients globally."
"Kinnevik has been an ideal partner, ready to step in, not just with capital, but ideas, contacts, and support, when we’re considering ways to move the business forward. They have also demonstrated flexibility, with clear goals but the willingness to accomplish them in steps. Capital is easy. We look for long-term partners who share our vision and are willing to back big ideas that can make a difference."
Glenn Tullman, Founder and CEO of Livongo
"Kinnevik is a visionary firm of great integrity, one that invests in transformational businesses. Part of the reason we love Kinnevik as a partner is your beliefs align with our own: customer first, be bold in innovating to serve the customers, and build quality products that will endure. Kinnevik, more than any firm I know, seeks to get to know the founder and the team assembled. They invest in excellent teams, observe them and constantly apply gentle pressure to improve both team and process, with a collaborative, supportive approach."
Jon Stein, Founder and CEO of Betterment
Kinnevik is a unicorn in the venture capital world. They’re a generational business with the longest-term perspective I’ve seen among their peers, but at the same time they’re extremely fast moving and agile. I’m especially impressed by how their culture focuses on the most ethical way of doing business; it’s clear that there's a strong value system that drives the entire team.
Avi Meir, Co-Founder and CEO of TravelPerk
"Kinnevik has been a critical long-term partner to GFG, instrumental in build the business from the beginning. They have a deep understanding of emerging markets and an ability to navigate the opportunities and challenges there. They are sophisticated investors who have supported us in structuring complex transactions. They have a strong network that we have leveraged to source important partners and talent. Above all, Kinnevik are bold, highly committed and patient."
Christoph Barchewitz & Patrick Schmidt, Co-CEOs Global Fashion Group