Will Ventures is on board with the current fashion for specialized venture capital funds. This high-flying Boston-based VC firm has grown its second fund to $150 million thanks to its strategy of investing in sports technologies with the support of a community of athlete backers who help promote and build the portfolio firms.
Isaiah Kacyvenski a former professional football player and Brian Reilly a veteran of product management founded Will Ventures in 2019. They’ve worked together for nearly ten years and are old friends from when they were both at MC10 an early company developing wearable technologies. The business now has over 80 workers and has raised over $100 million.
Reilly told TechCrunch, “We got to learn what it was like to become entrepreneurs firsthand.” At the time, “we were largely engaged in the consumer health or health and wellness verticals,” introducing wearables used by professional athletes and others with chronic illnesses.
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Reilly claims that their work over the past two years as founders of the sports technology research and advising firm Sports Division Lab has allowed them to gain knowledge in all of the aforementioned fields in addition to the sports media and entertainment industries.
The first fund for Will Ventures totaling $55 million was closed in 2020 with backing from philanthropic foundations business owners of professional sports teams and other entrepreneurs.
With its new $150 million Fund II, the company plans to continue investing in early-stage businesses serving the consumer, healthcare, sports and entertainment industries. There are currently dozens of professional athletes, as well as the founders of venture capital and private equity businesses, among the limited partners in this fund.
Reilly explained that they increased the size of the fund so that they could “gain more ownership in the firms that we truly cared about” and take advantage of the market opportunities they saw.
He remarked that the investment strategy used by Will Ventures is “low volume, great confidence.” This company “slowly and intentionally” builds a portfolio of 20–25 firms so that it can “keep a discipline, patience, research-driven approach” rather than investing “for fun” in 50–100 companies.
OneTeam Partners which handles the marketing and licensing rights of more than 4,000 professional athletes has joined Will Ventures. Ben Gardner is a new partner and will be in charge of the company’s portfolio success. He was previously a partner on the go-to-market team at Andreessen Horowitz and played professional football.
With the first fund, “we executed what we said we were going to do and put the appropriate systems in place for repeatable and reproducible results,” Kacyvenski told. We have incredible connections with players, league unions, team owners, and talent agencies. That’s a cog in our flywheel that will keep adding to our competitive advantage.
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