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JWS Fundraise: Meet our Investors

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Just Women’s Sports has raised $3.5 million in seed fundraising. These are the investors who made it happen.

Will Ventures

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.”

35Ventures 

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 

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.

Supernode Global

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

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.”

Jim Quagliaroli

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

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

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

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

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

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.”

Kleiner Perkins Scout Fund 

For five decades, Kleiner Perkins has partnered with intrepid founders to build iconic companies that make history. Today, they continue that legacy, investing in founders with bold ideas that span industries and continents, partnering with them from inception to IPO and beyond to maximize the potential of their ideas.

Midge Purce-Backed Docuseries ‘The Offseason’ to Drop This Summer

cast of the offseason nwsl reality series
'The Offseason' follows a group of NWSL stars as they prepare for preseason play. (The Offseason)

The Offseason, a reality series created by Gotham and USWNT star Midge Purce, has officially confirmed its streaming debut, Purce announced in Cannes on Tuesday.

The six-episode, half-hour docuseries will stream this summer on X, though a specific premiere date hasn't yet been set.

The Offseason was filmed in Miami, two weeks before the NWSL preseason. It's a crucial time for athletes, a period where they prepare to join their respective teams and compete for both starting and roster spots. Production designed all the facilities, bringing in top-tier trainers, masseuses, chefs, and gym equipment to create a high-level training environment, ensuring the players were in peak condition, per the show's release. Throughout filming, athletes lived together in one house — a reality TV conceit rife for entertainment.

The series follows a number of NWSL stars, including Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Maria Sanchez (Houston Dash), Lo’eau LaBonta (Kansas City Current), Michelle Alozie (Houston Dash), Taylor Smith (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Nikki Stanton (OL Reign), Ally Watt (Orlando Pride), Taryn Torres (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Paige Nielsen (Angel City FC), and Ify Onumonu (Utah Royals).

"We wanted to create a series that truly captures the essence of what it means to be a professional athlete," said Purce. "This series has always been about more than just sports — it's about the human experience behind the athlete, as well."

The show promises a behind-the-scenes look at professional women's sports, teasing major life decisions, on-field tensions, and players taking stock of the environments they'll be entering once their preseason trip is over. The series delves into the real-life challenges faced by the athletes, including club trades, contract negotiations, burnout, and the relentless pressure from outsiders commenting on the players' personal lives.

The Offseason's official trailer, released on Tuesday, shows snippets of Hubly contemplating retirement, Sanchez joining the group after signing a high-profile contract, and a healthy amount of banter about on-field achievements.

The spirit of the series is reflected in its producers: Box To Box Films is known for their sports content (Drive to Survive, Break Point, Full Swing), whereas 32 Flavors is the creative force behind Vanderpump Rules and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The series was funded by Seven Seven Six, and executive produced by Purce.

Lilia Vu adds Meijer LPGA Classic to tour wins record

Lilia Vu won in her first tournament in two months. (Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Lilia Vu won her fifth LPGA Tour event on Sunday, taking home the Meijer LPGA Classic title in her first tournament since March. 

The world No. 2 had been sidelined with a back injury, but returned with a vengeance. She began the day eight shots back of leader Grace Kim, and survived a three-hole playoff against Kim and former champion Lexi Thompson to take the title. 

“I think this is the most meaningful win,” said Vu, “because there was a time two months ago where I was just crying on the range not being sure if I would ever play a tournament again without pain.”

A two-time major champion, Vu hadn’t before won the Meijer LPGA Classic, but a birdie on the third playoff hole helped secure it. She’s now 2-for-3 in LPGA Tour playoffs. 

She said on Sunday that being unable to defend her title at the Chevron Championship was the “breaking point” in her season.

“Not being able to compete there really killed me,” she said. “I feel like I thought I was taking the steps in the right direction, but I’m glad that I was able to take a couple months off and reevaluate my body, let it recover, do what I needed to do to get back out here again.

“And we did the right thing and took two months off. I think it hurt me not to play competitive golf because I literally live for competitive golf, but we did the right thing and that’s why I’m here today.”

Top tennis players pull out of Olympics citing health reasons

Aryna Sabalenka will not play in the Olympics. (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images)

Ons Jabeur and Aryna Sabalenka joined a growing list of tennis stars opting out of the Olympics on Monday.

Sabalenka, the reigning Australian Open champion and world No. 3, told reporters in Berlin that she was looking after her health while citing WTA tournament participation requirements. The Belarusian had struggled with a stomach bug during the French Open, where she lost in the semifinals of a major for the first time since 2022. 

“Especially with all the struggles I was having last month, I feel like I need to take care of my health. … It’s too much with the scheduling,” Sabalenka said. “It’s just too much. I made the decision to take care of my health.”

Similarly, Jabeur cited the health risks that come with the change of surface. The world No. 10 has been battling knee injuries this season, and lost in the French Open quarterfinals to Coco Gauff. 

Players will spend the next few weeks playing on grass in the lead-up to Wimbledon, while the Olympics will be played at Roland-Garros and be held on clay. 

“After consulting with my medical team regarding attending the Olympics in Paris, we have decided that the quick change of surface and the body’s adaptation required would put my knee at risk and jeopardize the rest of my season,” Jabeur posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Unfortunately, I will not be able to participate in the 2024 Paris Olympics. I have always loved representing my country in any competition, However, I must listen to my body and follow my medical team’s advice.”

The two join Emma Raducanu in opting out of the Olympics. Raducanu – who has dealt with a number of injuries since her US Open win in 2021 – cited the changing surface as “not worth the risk.”

Jaedyn Shaw Breaks NWSL Record for Most Goals Scored as a Teenager

Jaedyn Shaw of the san diego wave
Jaedyn Shaw is now holds the record for most NWSL goals as a teenager. (Julia Kapros-USA TODAY Sports)

Jaedyn Shaw continues to make NWSL history, surpassing Trinity Rodman for the most NWSL goals by a teenager on Saturday. 

She did it in a game against Rodman's Washington Spirit in the 20th minute of the 1-1 draw. It brings her total to 13 league goals, after making her NWSL debut at 17 years old in July 2022. 

The goal is her third this season. Shaw currently leads Wave alongside Makenzy Doniak. 

Shaw has also been a member of the USWNT, alongside Rodman, netting seven goals over 14 national team appearances. If she gets called up to this summer’s Olympics under Emma Hayes, it will mark her first official tournament with the USWNT.

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