Arianna Huffington announced on Thursday she was leaving The Huffington Post, the news organisation she cofounded 11 years ago, to focus on a new startup called Thrive Global.
Thrive Global describes itself in the press release announcing Huffington’s move as a “corporate and consumer well-being and productivity platform.”
To find out what a “corporate and consumer well-being and productivity platform” actually does (and how it will make money), we got our hands on Thrive Global’s investor deck (scroll down to see it in full below) and hopped on the phone with the company’s president, Abby Levy.
As the deck shows, Thrive Global will have two tiers — corporate and global — and it plans to do everything from commerce to events to dominating the wellness space.
Pillows, trackers, and events
Thrive Global will begin its efforts on the consumer front in fall of this year. Through her books “Thrive” and “The Sleep Revolution,” plus her social media and mainstream media appearances, Huffington has long been using her personal brand to promote conversations around wellness topics.
Now Thrive wants to move Huffington’s wellness brand beyond books into other Thrive-related products — think pillows, candles, and food supplements.
Levy said Thrive will also offer “curated commerce.”
She explained: “There are so many choices out there and the pace of innovation is so fast, health and wellness consumers are looking for someone to help them vet which products and services and technologies are real and which aren’t.”
Elsewhere, there will be a “hub,” consisting of a website and apps that will help people learn about wellness and track their own progress. The hub will be monetized much like other media ventures, through brand partnerships, advertising, and subscriptions.
Offline, Thrive has a bunch of live events planned and the company has already signed partnerships with basketball players including Kobe Bryant and Andre Iguodala, and football coach Pete Carroll. Consumers can also pay to go on Thrive retreats.
Levy explained that most other players in the wellness space focus on just one element of the topic — like nutrition, or meditation, or fitness — but Thrive intends to offer a “science-based integrated view of the whole human,” with opportunities to have a “deeply-human connection with our brand.”
Thrive will be a “human talent consultancy” for corporations
Over on the corporate side, Levy describes Thrive’s ambition to be a “human talent consultancy” — essentially a management consultancy that helps workforces get fitter and healthier.
“Arianna has an amazing ability to connect with people. It’s an important differentiator of our approach in engaging corporations in this journey. We are doing the best to replicate that in our platform and channel her energy and spirit,” Levy said.
Already, Thrive has trained “several dozen trainers” to go into companies and run workshops — ranging from a few hours to weekend retreats — to help them tackle some of the challenges that commonly face employees, such as stress, burnout, depression, and other chronic health issues that are brought on by work.
Thrive’s trainers — which can include Huffington herself if a company requests it, plus partners like the ALTUS sports medicine and training institute and The David Lynch Foundation — will also go on to train employees so they can train their co-workers in helping to deal with these types of issues.
Levy said: “It creates deep personal bonds and deep conversations. These aren’t the type of issues people talk about [but in these sessions] people talk about their personal struggles, or challenges with technology — these are the kinds of things that need to be encouraged and brought to life.”
Thrive says in its press release that stress and burnout cost businesses $300 billion in the US alone. Levy said there is a clear ROI (return on investment) in companies spending money to tackle these kinds of problems. Those returns include increases in productivity, decreases in absenteeism, and the ability to attract and retain talent.
Corporates will pay consultancy or subscription fees for access to Thrive’s trainers or online services.
But Levy said the company wants to appeal to smaller business and startups too. It is also donating some of its services to non-profits.
“We’ve had one of our [startup] partners say to us: ‘Everyone here does three jobs’. There has been this hero mentality and sometimes in that culture companies want to change that so they can do right by their employees and keep people there for longer.”
Inside Thrive the business
Thrive has raised a $7 million Series A round of funding at a $33 million post-funding valuation, a source told Business Insider.
The round was led by Lerer Hippeau Ventures and also included investment from a number of other high-profile names including Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s venture fund Blue Pool Capital, Greycroft Partners, Bridgewater founder and CEO Ray Dalio, and tech entrepreneur Sean Parker, among others.
Levy said: “We are thrilled by the support of our Series A investors. We all share a common purpose … we wanted like-minded partners with us who also felt the amount we were raising gives us enough running room to pick up the efforts Arianna kicked off.”
For that reason, and the fact that the company is launching a number of products in 2017, Levy doesn’t expect Thrive to be back in the market for Series B financing in 2017.
Levy said she expects that in a year’s time, Thrive’s office, which is based in the same building that The Huffington Post launched in back in 2005 — 100 Crosby Street in the Soho district of New York City — is likely to expand from the seven staff it has currently to around 50. However, she hastens to add that the company will be responsible to assess the opportunity and only scale appropriately.
She added: “This is a big platform we are building that has the opportunity for a global impact on million sof people. The momentum we have accelerating into it is really exciting. The issue of tackling the global economic expense and human expense to productivity is an important challenge that we feel everyone should be invested in.”
Scroll down to take a look at Thrive’s pitch to investors.
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