Chris Hollod is one of the top VC’s in the health & wellness space. He’s the Founder & Managing Partner of Hollod Holdings, an early-stage consumer VC fund based in LA. Through Hollod Holdings, Chris invests at the convergence of culture and wellness, with a portfolio that includes Sweetgreen, Blue Bottle Coffee, Recess, Pressed Juicery, Elysium Health, JuneShine, MatchaBar & Dirty Lemon.
Prior to starting his own fund, Chris served as Managing Partner at A-Grade Investments alongside Ashton Kutcher, Guy Oseary and Ron Burkle. A-Grade’s portfolio includes Casper, Warby Parker, Spotify, Airbnb, Uber & Pinterest. Chris is also a Founding Partner at Inevitable Ventures, with notable investments in Memphis Meats & Thrive Market.
On his morning routine. I typically wake up naturally around 7:15 every morning. I absolutely hate setting morning alarms, so I do everything in my power to avoid them. As soon as I get up, I chug coconut water to feel hydrated when I start the day. I always make a point to look out my bedroom window & admire the natural sunlight before my eyes are inevitably blasted with artificial light from my phone & other electronics.
I tend to fluctuate on breakfast & often experiment with intermittent fasting. I sometimes enjoy a beverage from one of my portfolio companies, like MUD/Wtr, Dirty Lemon or Matchabar. Regardless of my breakfast, I never sacrifice my morning walk. I do the same 2-mile walk in the Hollywood Hills every morning while I listen to one of my countless curated playlists. I then return home to do a little stretching & meditation so that I start the day with a clear head.
On a minimalist lifestyle. Over the last year, I’ve become obsessed with the following quote from the ancient philosopher Loa Tzu, “To attain knowledge add things every day. To attain wisdom subtract things every day.” Since I entered the workforce in 2005, I’ve been desperately seeking more knowledge, so I’ve relentlessly added things to my schedule each year. More meetings, emails, events & experiences. If I lose awareness, even for a day, I can easily slip into a never-ending treadmill. After working hard for the last 14 years, I’m now hyper-focused on subtraction & I’ve never felt more satisfied.
I truly believe that simplicity breeds tranquility, and that’s where you ultimately find sustainable happiness & fulfillment. This may not be sound advice for my 26-year old “hustler self” that first moved to LA, but at some point in your life, I think you need to make the transition from knowledge to wisdom & addition to subtraction. To quote Socrates, "Beware the barrenness of a busy life."
On wellness trends. I think the consumer wellness space will continue to add more specificity around functionalization. When I was growing up in Atlanta in the ’90s, I fluctuated between drinking soda, water & Gatorade. The options were sparse and unhealthy. But now, you can fine-tune your entire day with a never-ending supply of health-focused functional beverages. It’s no longer compelling for a food or beverage brand to market a mass product to a wide demographic. Instead, wellness products are becoming more specialized, personalized & hyper-functionalized.
With regards to innovation, I’m currently most excited about the following trends: CBD, alternative alcohol, adaptogens, ingestible beauty, natural sleep aids, and nuanced approaches to caffeine consumption. As a society, I think we’ll need continued assistance with improved energy & sleep, so I try to stay at the cutting-edge of both massive categories.
On disconnecting. First, I don't take any business meetings or calls before a specified time each week. The time may fluctuate on a week-to-week basis, but once I set the time threshold for that week, it becomes an unbreakable “work rule.” If I miss a deal or important intro because of this weekly rule, so be it. In order to maintain a sustainable work/life balance, I think it’s important to set morning and nightly boundaries around phone use.
Similar to my morning limit, I always put my phone away at least one hour in advance of going to bed. I also don't check my phone while I’m walking, because my walks are sacred activities. I never want to be someone that's so tethered to their phone that they lose the ability to be present. When it comes to tech, I always ask myself, “Is this device or activity serving me or mastering me?” As long as it’s serving me, I continue the activity.
On LA's wellness scene. I grew up in a relatively homogenous suburb in Atlanta, so when I first moved to LA in 2009, I was blown away by the sheer variety and volume of new health trends & products. I slept on my friend’s couch for the first month, and he was 100% vegan. While he generously let me stay with him, I made a promise to also be vegan. Although I’m definitely no longer a vegan, in hindsight, this experience was a pivotal moment of my life.
I became fascinated with health & wellness trends and wanted to experience everything first-hand. I also realized that there was a massive innovation gap between boutique “health & wellness” stores and more mainstream ones, which were still peddling outdated, unhealthy products. I quickly realized LA was the epicenter of health & wellness, and by continuing to be an early adopter, I’ve been banking on the fact that I can predict nascent trends and behaviors that ultimately permeate the rest of the country.
On his nightly ritual. I’m a huge fan of red wine, so I tend to have one or two glasses each night. I think red wine in moderation is healthy, and the nightly ritual definitely helps me wind-down and demarcate the end of a busy workday. I also enjoy taste-testing my portfolio companies‘ products, like JuneShine hard kombucha & AMASS botanical gin. Before dinner, I love geeking-out at one of our local grocery stores and discovering new health & wellness products.
I’m a lucky guy because my girlfriend is an amazing cook, so we typically eat a healthy homecooked meal followed by a movie or a good Netflix show. I used to put tremendous pressure on going to bed early & getting a good night’s sleep, which ultimately added stress to the activity. Instead, I simply get in bed once I’m tired, whether it's 8:30 or 11:30. I’m admittedly a high-maintenance sleeper, so I have lots of pillows, comfy sheets, blackout curtains & earplugs.
— Chris Hollod, Founder & Managing Partner at Hollod Holdings