Just Women’s Sports has raised $3.5 million in seed fundraising. These are the investors who made it happen.
Will Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm that leverages the power of sport to shape the future across health, media, and consumer.
Brian Reilly (co-founder and managing partner at Will Ventures): Prior to founding Will Ventures, Brian served as Vice President at Blue Star Innovation Partners, where he was responsible for deal sourcing, due diligence and execution of growth equity investments. In addition to his investment expertise, Brian has deep technology experience, gained as a Founding Member and the Director of Product and Research at the Sports Innovation Lab, the premier sports technology research and advisory firm, and as a product manager at MC10, where he was responsible for the development and commercialization of next-generation sports, fitness and healthcare wearables and software systems for big data storage and machine-learning. Brian earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University and was a member of the college’s varsity football team. He is from East Windsor, New Jersey.
“It’s hard to believe that the founders of ESPN struggled to convince investors that a 24/7 sports network was a major opportunity,” said Reilly. “We expect to look back at the opportunity in women’s sports and feel the same way. There’s nearly a 50/50 gender split when it comes to sports participation, but only ~4% of coverage is dedicated to women’s sports. That gap represents a venture-scale opportunity, and we’re confident that Just Women’s Sports is uniquely positioned to seize it.”
Co-founded by two-time NBA champion Kevin Durant and his business partner Rich Kleiman, Thirty Five Ventures incorporates the duo’s business entities across sports, tech, media, philanthropy and more. Recent Thirty Five Ventures initiatives include The Boardroom, a multi-platform sports business/culture-focused vertical, the basketball-themed scripted series “SWAGGER” with Imagine Entertainment and Apple, an equity partnership with premium audio brand Master & Dynamic, and the Durant Center, a state-of-the-art educational and leadership facility in Durant’s hometown in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
“We’re excited about this investment in Just Women’s Sports not only because we recognize the huge opportunity for growth in the space, but because Haley is exactly the kind of founder we want to be in business with,” said Rich Kleiman. “She uniquely understands what’s missing in the conversations around women’s sports, and she’s also building her business with incredible knowledge and foresight.”
OVO Fund is a seed stage venture capital firm that provides funding and support to startups at the earliest stages. They partner with exceptional teams with real technology looking to build transformative yet capital efficient businesses. OVO Fund leverages an extensive network of industry veterans to provide focused value-added capital to our entrepreneurs. Prior to this round, OVO Fund also invested in JWS pre-seed.
Community + Capital for startups that are shaping the future of how we learn, work, play and communicate. Supernode Global is focused on the digital content ecosystem, supporting early-stage startups building or using technology in the creation, distribution, or monetisation of digital content.
Drive by DraftKings is a multi-stage venture capital firm that invests in SportsTech and Entertainment. Drive is unique among investment firms as a fully independent and highly strategic venture capital partner. Together with founders pushing the frontier of new markets and categories, their mission is to ‘drive’ the future of sports, gaming and media by supporting people with the ‘drive’ to unlock their full potential and chase big ideas.
“Despite women making up 40% of all participants in sports, they only receive 4% of sports media coverage, which leaves a massively undervalued and untapped industry ripe for growth, support and opportunity,” said Meredith McPherron, Drive by DraftKings CEO and Managing Partner. “Just Women’s Sports has taken an early leadership role in promoting equality in sports and bringing visibility to the exciting success and stories behind exceptional female athletes. We’re so pleased to have them join our portfolio.”
Co-founder of Silversmith Capital Partners, Jim Quagliaroli, has served on the board of 20+ tech companies. Jim partners with passionate founders of growing SaaS companies focused on product leadership. His software investments are targeted on supporting competitive, team-oriented CEOs who want to invest in aggressive go-to-market initiatives to drive growth. He lives with his wife, son, and daughter in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he roots for the Celtics, is a rabid EPL fan, and has learned that he is a better coach than player. A recipient of the John P. Reardon ’60 Award, given annually to Harvard’s top male scholar athlete, Jim has sports running through his blood. He has served on the Advisory Board of the Harvard Varsity Club (HVC) since 1997, and currently serves on the board of Friends of Harvard Soccer (FHS).
Arike Ogunbowale is a professional basketball player for the Dallas Wings. At the University of Notre Dame, Arike hit back-to-back game winners to lead her team to the National Championship in 2018. With Dallas, Arike is the reigning WNBA scoring champion and an All-WNBA First Team selection. Internationally, Arike has competed with USA Basketball on multiple levels and has accumulated five USA Basketball medals (four gold and one silver). She has been nominated for ESPYs (2018, 2019) and took home one of those ESPY nominations for her buzzer beater to win the NCAA title.
“I’m a huge sports fan, and I know from being a fan of women’s sports how much we need a place that puts everything behind promoting and covering our sports,” Arike said. “Just Women’s Sports is the clear leader in women’s sports coverage, so I’m excited to be part of what they’re doing. There are great things ahead.”
Elena Delle Donne is a professional basketball player for the Washington Mystics, whom she led to their first-ever WNBA title in 2019. A two-time WNBA league MVP, Elena is the only player in WNBA history to join the exclusive 50-40-90 shooting club. Drafted by the Chicago Sky with the second overall pick in 2013, Elena spent her collegiate career at The University of Delaware, where she was a two-time All-American.
“I’m so excited for what Haley is building with JWS. I believe in her and her vision for this company and platform,” Elena said. “We know fans of women’s sports are an underserved audience, and there’s a huge opportunity for growth. The fact that this is the first female-led media company that is fully VC funded is amazing. I’m beyond thrilled to be part of what they’re doing.”
Said Amanda, Elena’s wife: “I am really excited for Elena and I to expand our portfolio with something we care so much about. There is a tremendous lack of coverage of women sports and women in general. We want to do everything we can to continue to give women the platform they deserve. We feel JWS is the best company for us to partner with and do so. Really excited to be part of the JWS family!”
Hilary Knight is one of the most decorated players in the history of women’s ice hockey. As a member of Team USA, Knight has won an Olympic gold medal, two Olympic silvers, and eight gold medals at the IIHF World Championships. In 2019, she helped found the PWHPA, a group of professional players who are working to create a more sustainable future for women’s hockey.
“I’m so excited to join the Just Women’s Sports team to help expand a platform that will change the way women’s sports are covered,” Hilary said. “As we work to build sustainable professional leagues and bring the stories of incredible athletes to the forefront, we also need consistent in-depth coverage of our games so that fans can be fans all year round. JWS has laid a foundation, and with these investments and more, they’re going to change the game for women’s sports.”
Kelley O’Hara is a professional soccer player, two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, and Olympic gold medalist. She currently plays as a defender for the Washington Spirit in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and the United States women’s national soccer team. She is also the host of the Just Women’s Sports podcast, where she sits down with the world’s biggest athletes to discuss the untold stories behind their success.
“I’m excited to double down on my partnership with Just Women’s Sports,” O’Hara said. “We’re long overdue for a platform to exist that covers the world class athletes competing out there and the amazing stories behind them. As a professional soccer player, I’ve experienced firsthand how important visibility is for women’s sports and in order to grow the game for everyone, we need investment like this.”
Sam Mewis is a professional soccer player who plays as a midfielder for Manchester City and the United States women’s national team. Voted the Best Women’s Player in a poll conducted by ESPN FC in 2021, Mewis has won three NWSL championships, an NCAA title, and the 2019 World Cup with the USWNT. Alongside Lynn Williams, she also co-hosts Snacks, a new podcast from Just Women’s Sports.
“It’s been amazing to be part of the Just Women’s Sports team as the co-host of our podcast, Snacks,” Mewis said. “The team’s vision of what women’s sports coverage can and should be is inspiring. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to play a role in both helping expand our show lineup and investing the resources necessary to grow the platform.”
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