While neighbors helping neighbors doesn’t exactly sound revolutionary, the two businesses discovered that during quarantine, people often found themselves without a potential safety net. “Our idea was to optimize human connection,” says Chen Avni, co-founder and chief product officer of Venn. “What we learned about our neighborhoods—specifically after Covid—is that when people feel connected to one another and the neighborhood they’re living in, they’re more likely to stay and bring their friends to live there.”
Avni says during the pandemic, new categories of needs emerged: people who needed an outlet for outreach. “Sometimes it was just the most basic needs, like quarantined neighbors who couldn’t even get their Amazon delivery from down the stairs,” he says. “So many people understood others were leading very lonely lives.”
Now residents at all Mac Properties throughout Midtown have access to proprietary digital technology that can connect them to their neighbors, nearby events, programming, and even nearby shops and stores of interest to them. “Belonging requires participation,” says Or Bokobza, co-founder and CEO of Venn. “Everything Venn does—resident and partner technology, custom space design, local experts and programming—is all focused on connecting residents to the neighborhoods around them.”
While successful prototypes were launched in Tel Aviv, Berlin, and New York, the introduction of Kansas City is the Venn’s most elaborate neighborhood build-out to date. “This is the biggest and probably most exciting project we have so far,” says Avni.
Residents will be able to use (and customize) a handy Life at Venn mobile app that fosters a community-based connection, with an emphasis on meeting fellow neighbors, supporting local businesses, and volunteerism.
While pool parties and ice cream socials remain in the mix, the app is both hyper-specific and hyper-localized, which enables deeper communication between Mac Property residents. Want to find fellow bike riders? Looking for breadmaking classes? Cultivating a garden? Check, check, check. The app also provides users with a Marketplace through which they can sell goods or offer services. Because convenience is key, residents can also pay their rent and send maintenance requests via the app as well.
With a pipeline of new construction coming over the next year, the Mac+Venn community—which is already nearing 3,000 residents—will see exponential growth. “We see that need to foster that growth,” says Avni. “A completely different approach to urban planning.”
Over the weekend, the partners held a community-wide celebration and street fair to support local businesses with a Maker Fair. With over 1,000 RSVPs, the event was a hit. A perfect way to kick off their new venture of strengthening the vibe in Midtown.