Serena Williams’ early-stage venture capital firm Serena Ventures has invested an undisclosed seven-figure sum in OpenSponsorship, a new sports marketing platform that connects athletes with companies, to help the company expand into the United Kingdom.
OpenSponsorship is the world’s largest internet marketplace for athletes and companies to collaborate. The entity assists customers including Walmart, Sperry, FanDuel, and ESPN and has over 11,000 athletes across 160 sports (including over 50% of the NFL and NBA). The organization recently raised $4.5 million in a growth round from NBA franchise owners, athletes, famous VCs, and world-class accelerators.
Serena Ventures recently funded $111 million (€103 million) to invest in innovative businesses such as MasterClass, an online learning platform, and Daily Harvest, a plant-based food brand.
“Brand sponsorship is vital to an athlete’s career and OpenSponsorship is giving them more control and ownership over that process. But this is also something that businesses will benefit from,” Williams said in a statement. “I love the fact that this platform puts supporting athletes at the core of its business and am proud to be a part of their journey as an investor”
“Since launch we have been lucky enough to receive investment from some of the most iconic names in the US sporting industry and with Serena at the heart of this Serena Ventures investment, we couldn’t be more excited,” stated Ishveen Jolly, OpenSponsorship founder and chief executive. “To have the support of those who understand the sports and marketing industry from first-hand experience tells us that we’re building something special”
“The UK market has matured in recent years and as more brands and athletes in the UK become more aware of the benefits of a streamlined sponsorship process, we’re excited to be in-place to welcome them to our platform,” Jolly concluded.
Ata Football, a women’s football-focused media portal, recently partnered with OpenSponsorship and Williams’ investment brings the total amount raised by the company to $5.5 million. More than 12,000 professional athletes from 160 sports and 120 nations are now part of the OpenSponsorship network.