What we know about venture capital firm Serena Williams

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On March 1, 2022, news of Serena Williams raising $111 million for Serena Ventures made headlines. Although the venture capital firm is generally described as a new start-up company, it has been around since 2014. However, the private company has taken its time in raising significant funds, with the $111 million being its first fund. . Not much is known about Serena Ventures, so here’s everything you need to know about it.

The inspiration to establish it

When Williams attended a conference, she listened to Caryn Seidman-Becker, the founder of CLEAR, inform the public that less than 2% of venture capital funding goes to women. According to The New York Times, the tennis player was in disbelief so she went to see Seidman-Becker to confirm if the number was true. Seidman-Becker said she was right, leaving Williams impressed that 98% of venture capital money has gone to men. She realized that the only way to help people get funding was for another woman, especially a woman of color, to sign the checks. Williams felt that underrepresented groups would always rush for the 2% thus the problem of having to deal with a boys club even in venture capital funding would never be solved. As a result, she partnered with Alison Rapaport Stillman and founded Serena Ventures to focus on businesses founded by women and minorities. Although there is no requirement for founders to be from underrepresented backgrounds, 76% of founders come from historically underrepresented backgrounds. Serena Ventures has achieved its mission by investing heavily in women, especially black women. Fifty-three percent of founders who have received funding from the company are women, 47% of whom are black.

The firm has broadened its vision since its creation

Although Serena Ventures was inspired by the need to help more women get funding from venture capitalists, it has since brought more founders into its fold. According to The Global VC, Williams has expanded the eligibility criteria and the venture capital firm will currently accept anyone with a good idea. Yet the priority is women, primarily women of color. Stillman said that for her, success was not having a quota to meet but waking up one day and finally realizing that they had 70% women as founders. Stillman explained that having a diverse team led by women ensures that the mission is accomplished effortlessly. It can be difficult to find the right company to invest in, but thanks to Serena Ventures expanding her vision, she only needs a recommendation from those already in her portfolio. According to Stillman, the main reason why venture capitalists remain too closed about who to invest in is that they don’t have the right networking channel. As a result, while Serena Ventures receives referrals from all over the place, other venture capitalists choose to ignore other opportunities claiming they can’t find them. Consequently, these companies do not broaden their vision and do not welcome diversity.

He is looking for new sectors in which to invest

Williams’ criteria is choosing the right company to invest in, and she admitted it’s usually difficult at first until you find the right footing. She said when she first ventured into investing it was hard to navigate, but now she’s an expert. The athlete revealed that unless something changes her life or affects the world, she doesn’t feel the need to include it in her portfolio. She added that it’s not about having the biggest company on board, but about having that company that has a major social or global impact. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Stillman revealed that Serena Ventures is interested in other sectors, such as online education. Proof of its interest is the fact that the venture capital firm has invested in Fiveable, an education technology company committed to opening up opportunities for students through social and academic empowerment. This is a free online learning community that aims to help students pass the Advanced Placement exams. Williams has already invested in more than 60 startups through Serena Ventures, saying the best way to grow them is to participate in their growth from the earliest stages. She revealed that she doesn’t like to gamble and is probably the most risk averse investor. Therefore, by making sure she can be on board from the start, Williams reduces the chance of failure. It’s a lesson learned the hard way after investing $250,000 in a startup and losing the funding, albeit long before founding Serena Ventures. Today, looking back, it prefers to invest in startups, and three-quarters of the companies in the portfolio are in the start-up phase.

This is not his first investment

Serena Ventures may be making headlines, but it’s not Williams’ first investment. Her interest in seeing women and people of color have the same opportunities as everyone else also led her to invest in bitcoin. According to Crypto Potato, she has partnered with Cash App to offer women and people of color the opportunity to invest in bitcoin. The athlete said it was important to extend bitcoin investment to minority groups because bitcoin will not always be available, arguing that the 21 million coins that will exist make the cryptocurrency a tool for worthwhile investment. Her investment ability mainly comes from the fact that she doesn’t like to spend money but will splurge on her daughter. She prefers to save her money, a habit instilled by her father. When Williams won her first million dollar paycheck, she took it to the bank. She also often forgot to collect her tournament winnings and the administrators gave her the checks because she never went to collect them. The savings discipline allowed Williams to not only create Serena Ventures, but also invest in Lolli, a company that rewards buyers with bitcoin, and even launch a fashion line, S by Serena.

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