Serena Williams is not just a tennis superstar, she is also skilled at many other things. For example, she is a certified dog trainer and has trained her own dogs. Also, she is an accomplished musician and has played the guitar since she was a teenager. But what is more important for today’s topic is that Williams has established herself as a savvy investor.
Let’s talk about Serena Williams’ business acumen and her commitment to supporting innovative companies that are making a positive impact.
Investing in things you believe in
Serena Williams’ investment philosophy is to invest in things she believes in, specifically consumer-facing technology that serves the communities she wants to help.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Williams emphasized her focus on gender and racial equity within healthcare, mental health, and wellness. These are problems that affect a lot of people and especially women. Williams sees this as an opportunity to make a difference and create change.
Williams also values authenticity and passion, and she looks for those characteristics in the founders she works with. According to people around her, one of Serena’s strengths is her ability to read people. She reportedly can even assess if they are someone she wants to get to know better or not just after one meeting.
Establishing Serena Ventures
Serena Ventures is a venture capital firm founded in 2014 (with Alison Rapaport Stillman as a co-founder) with a mission to provide opportunities for underrepresented groups. The firm’s financial support is only part of the equation; portfolio companies also get access to resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Since its inception, the VS firm has invested in over 30 companies, predominantly led by women and minority founders.
Last year, Serena Ventures announced the launch of its inaugural fund. At the time, it was valued at $111 million. The fund’s objective is to invest in startups that have been historically overlooked but still have the potential to become “champions”.
Learning from mistakes
Serena Williams and Alison Rapaport Stillman acknowledge that some mistakes were made. In the interview, Williams said that she regrets passing on a French startup early on in her investing career because she didn’t have the infrastructure or time at that time.
Although she didn’t name the company, Williams said it was before people were doing rideshares. Despite the missed opportunity, Williams sees it as validation that her instincts were right.
Notable examples in Serena Williams’ portfolio
Through her VC firm, Williams has made several notable investments in innovative companies across various industries. A few featured on the VC website are:
- CALICO (manufacturing) helps DTC and retail brands manage their supply chains
- FOODY (creators) allows culinary creators to publish their recipes
- JUNO (healthcare) is dedicated to providing quality care to everyone
Notably, 79% of Serena Ventures’s portfolio is composed of under-represented founders, including 54% women founders, 47% African American founders, and 11% Latino founders. And overall, these and other investments demonstrate Williams’ commitment to promoting diversity and social impact in a range of industries, making her an inspiring figure for both investors and entrepreneurs alike.
SV Investments, Sereva Ventures
While Serena Williams plays her final matches at U.S. Open, here’s how she’s building her off-court investing, Forbes
How Serena Williams brings her killer instinct to early-stage investing, Tech Crunch