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The Thesis Driving Our Investment Strategy

April 6, 2023

At a Glance

JFF Ventures introduces a new fund to invest in early-stage companies building innovative solutions at the intersection of education, workforce development, and human potential.

Yigal Kerszenbaum Managing Partner
Sabari Raja Managing Partner
Practices & Centers

In recent years, the long-standing challenges facing workers in low-wage jobs have been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic, economic uncertainty, and more, creating an acute need for investors with workforce expertise who want to have a positive impact on society.

JFF Ventures is meeting the moment by launching a new fund to invest in the next generation of innovators, nurture their businesses, and help scale their impact.

Our Investment Thesis

We believe that purposeful technological innovations can improve the well-being of workers and expand their prospects for economic mobility, making it possible for millions of people currently facing systemic barriers to advancement to work and thrive in quality jobs.

That thesis drives all of our investment decisions. By launching a second fund, we’re creating an opportunity for new partners who share our vision to join us as we invest in early-stage companies building groundbreaking new solutions at the intersection of education, workforce development, and human potential.

JFF Ventures is the nation’s leading impact investing fund specialized exclusively on emerging future of work and workforce development technologies with the potential to improve economic mobility for workers from low-income backgrounds.

Collectively, we have a wealth of experience in venture investing and business operations. Our backgrounds and lived experiences allow us to understand our target populations, the technologies that companies are developing, and the ecosystems in which they operate.

We were the first impact investor that specialized in workforce technology, and with our new fund, we’re ready to expand our impact with new partners. We’re now accepting inquiries from potential partners who are interested in joining us in this new venture. Sign up, and get connected:

Our Approach

We have adopted the following multi-pronged approach to making investment decisions:

  1. We identify and invest in early-stage companies (pre-seed to seed), with a strong focus on founders from a wide range of backgrounds whose perspectives and lived experiences are representative of the diversity in our society.
  2. We have a commitment to people who work in low-wage jobs, and therefore we invest in technologies that are designed to support their progress through the education to workforce continuum.
  3. We are committed to empowering people from communities that have traditionally been underserved by public and private institutions, including Black and Latinx workers, women of all backgrounds, immigrants, and people with records of arrests, convictions, or incarceration.
  4. We are guided by our Corporate Innovation Council. A group of forward-thinking corporate leaders with expertise in talent acquisition, learning and development, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and corporate social responsibility, the council advises our team and the entrepreneurs who lead the companies we invest in. Meet the council.

In keeping with the main tenet of our investment thesis—that purposeful technological innovations can improve the well-being of workers and expand their prospects for economic mobility—we invest in companies that specialize in these four areas: adult education platforms, workforce technology, human resources (HR) tools, and wraparound supports.

Here are examples of the companies we invest in and the types of innovations we focus on in each of those categories:

Adult education technology. We look for companies that provide learners and workers with access to training and education opportunities that enable them to build the skills they need to prepare for and advance in quality jobs and careers. We are proud of the impact three companies in our investment portfolio—ChargerHelp, Korbit, and Major League Hacking—have had in this area. Our next investments will be in companies that focus on in-demand fields like green technology, health care, manufacturing, artificial intelligence (AI), extended reality (XR), and IT. We’re also interested in AI-enabled learning platforms for personalized digital learning.

Workforce technology. We look for companies offering products and services that facilitate job placement and help workers navigate pathways to advancement. Offerings from companies in this category include career navigation tools, apprenticeship experiences, skills assessment and job-matching solutions, job search and placement platforms, and systems that support the use of digital learning and employment records. The companies in this category that we’ve invested in include FactoryFix and Forage.

Human resources technology. We’re interested in HR-focused companies with offerings that meet employers’ workforce management needs and contribute to building a more equitable talent ecosystem in the workplace. Examples of offerings from companies in this category include workforce analytic tools that identify internal mobility and advancement opportunities, innovative models for amplifying employee voice, and products and services that promote professional advancement through coaching, mentoring, micro-learning, and more. We have invested in some of the best companies on this category, including Plum, Anthill, and AdeptID.

Wraparound supports. We believe that any effort to build equitable pathways to economic advancement must address the holistic needs of workers and learners. Therefore, we invest in companies with products and services that enable employers, educators, and workforce development programs to provide total rewards benefits packages and comprehensive wraparound supports like child care and transportation assistance; solutions that promote personal well-being; and financial education programs and affordable financial services. Companies in our investment portfolio with these types of offerings include Compt and ClimbCredit.

Get Connected

We value collaboration across industries and are interested in building this field with partners who share our mission and vision. We welcome new ideas, and we’re looking for opportunities to collaborate to scale high-impact workforce technologies. Sign up, and get connected:

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