At Construct, we spend all our time trying to deeply understand the biggest problems to unlock within the most foundational sectors of our economy like manufacturing, supply chain, and warehouses. We usually get excited when we uncover a challenge within just one of those sectors, but kept finding that there is a dire need to improve worker experiences across all of these sectors. So, when John McEleney, who I had previously worked with through my investment in Onshape, called to tell me about a company he was advising in this area, I jumped at the opportunity to meet them.
Today, we're announcing our investment into Verve Motion, which is addressing the key reason why worker experience suffers in these environments: stress and strain. Verve has created a new class of wearable technology that integrates robotics into worker apparel and literally offloads tons of pounds lifted daily and measures the results in real time. A group of researchers including Ignacio Galiana, Conor Walsh, Mike Rouleau, Nathalie Degenhardt, and Nicolas Menard spent years together at biomechanics research at the Harvard Biodesign Lab at the Wyss Institute and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. During the peak of the pandemic in 2020, they realized the potential of their work and knew it was the right time to build this company. And we agree.
Verve’s inaugural product, called SafeLift, is a lightweight connected system—an “exosuit”—proven to reduce up to 40% of daily strain for those who repeatedly lift moderately heavy items all day (such as grocery or warehouse workers). We’re excited by the incredible early efficacy of the suit, the initial customers who swear by it, and the value built through the software and data, which help to provide insights to companies and employees around load reduction and proper ergonomics on the job. To date, most innovation in connected products has occurred in the consumer market (e.g. Peloton, Whoop, Fitbit) and we’ve seen how instant feedback transforms individual behavior; we believe Verve has the potential to transform the daily experience of the millions of people who work across logistics, manufacturing, and other sectors that power our economy.
Working conditions inside factories and warehouses has been a mounting problem, exacerbated by COVID. Larger retailers/grocers are seeking solutions to improve worker experiences in order to compete for scarce talent, reduce employee turnover, alleviate labor shortages, and mitigate the rising costs of insurance related to on-the-job injuries. And more recently, Amazon, and many others, are coming under fire for worker conditions, as this past year has highlighted the strain that accelerated consumer demand places on all of those who work to manufacture and move goods from place to place. Verve’s first product is a novel solution to these problems, benefiting both workers and employers.
The market and solution are compelling, but the real story behind our investment in Verve is the team. One leading roboticist we chatted with during our process said “If there is a team to figure out an ergonomically supportive connected hardware + software system, Conor, Ignacio and Verve are the team to do it.” The founders bring the perfect balance of commercially-minded execution and scientifically-driven rigor. Ignacio, as CEO, runs the company very practically, with a clear talent for listening and refining their execution plans based on market feedback. He has a deep design focus and a strong plan to scale, and it’s that balance of attention to detail with big ambitions that make great founders who can turn products into platforms and platforms into huge companies.
We’re thrilled to be partnering with Verve and other investors such as Founder Collective, Pillar Ventures, Safar Partners, John McEleney, and Andy Payne. They are hiring a few great positions in software and hardware engineering, in particular. If you’re interested, let us know! (Email me at [email protected])