Surprise! Serena Williams posted on Instagram today that she's been investing in companies "that embrace diverse leadership, individual empowerment, creativity and opportunity" since way back in 2014. Today, she officially launched Serena Ventures publicly, with a list of the companies she's been secretly supporting for the past five years. And not only that, but it's clear that she's connecting to issues she cares about in her work, judging by the list of over 30 companies in the portfolio.
Recipients range from Propel, which provides financial software for low-income Americans, to the reproductive care company Lola (they've got the best tampons around, in my experience), to home fitness system Tonal, to fresh baby food delivery company Little Spoon, to female-driven community The Wing, to online learning resource Masterclass. The common focus for many of the companies seems to be empowering women, individuals of color, and the betterment of lives—both professionally and personally.
Serena's also made it explicit on her website that Serena Ventures is focusing on mentoring young entrepreneurs and encouraging collaboration between founders:
Serena Ventures focuses on early stage companies, and giving them the opportunity to be heard. As we grow, we hope to mentor young founders and take burgeoning entrepreneurs to the next level. Serena Ventures extends relationships, encourages collaboration among portfolio companies, and expands partnership opportunities across my vast network. Similar to many of the companies we have invested in, we are just getting started and are hoping to make a difference.
Her VP is Alison J. Rapaport, a CPA formerly at J.P. Morgan who's overseeing Serena Ventures' portfolio and sourcing new investments. The total market cap of the portfolio is $12 billion.
The tennis pro, entrepreneur, and friend to Meghan Markle is no stranger to starting her own company—or, for that matter, fully embracing disruptions to a traditional industry. In May 2018, she launched her own eponymous clothing line Serena, and in December, she added "Great" sizes (instead of calling them "plus" sizes). "I got tired of the word 'plus.' I don't want to be 'plus.' I want to be great," she told MarieClaire.com at the time. "I want other women to feel that way too. I wanted to make clothes that would fit a curvy women and have them feel great, let's focus on that."
Just last month, Serena announced she would be an investor in dating app Bumble's Bumble Fund, which "backs early-stage businesses founded and led by women of color and underrepresented groups." She's also a board member of Poshmark and SurveyMonkey. In that same article, Serena Ventures was mentioned by name as one of the ways Serena is investing in women and minority-owned businesses—so the company wasn't fully a secret in the tech world, but this is likely the first time Serena is speaking publicly about her own involvement.
So Serena Ventures is just another move in the same forward-looking direction. Here's the original post about Serena Ventures this morning:
I guarantee this isn't the last we've heard of the company—and I love that Serena is fully committed to impact in more ways than one.
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