Will Ventures closes second fund with $150M to invest in sports technologies • TechCrunch
This Boston-based low-profile venture doubled the size of its second fund to $150 million thanks to its approach to investing in sports technologies with the help of its community of sports backers who help foster and grow portfolio companies.
Will Ventures was started in 2019 by former professional soccer player Isaiah Kacyvenski and Brian Reilly, who both have a background in product management. They’ve known each other for more than a decade, having previously worked together at the then wearable tech company MC10. The company has continued to raise more than $100 million and has grown to more than 80 employees.
“We saw firsthand what it was like to be an entrepreneur,” Riley told TechCrunch. “During that time, we were primarily working in the consumer health or health and wellness sectors, in digital health and consumer technology, launching these wearables that were used for elite athletes and chronically ill patients.”
Two years ago, they started Sports Division Lab that specializes in sports technology research and consulting, which Riley said has helped build their expertise in all of these sectors and in sports and entertainment media.
In 2020, Will Ventures closed its first fund of $55 million with support from college endowments, professional sports team owners, and entrepreneurs.
Now armed with $150 million for the second fund, the company will continue to invest in upstream companies in the consumer, health, sports and entertainment sectors. The limited partners of this fund now also include foundations and dozens of professional athletes and founders from venture capital firms and private equity firms.
“The increase in fund size was to take advantage of all the opportunities we saw in the market, and to be able to get more ownership in companies that we really care about,” Riley said.
He noted that Will Ventures practices a low-volume, high-persuasion investment model. Instead of investing in 50 to 100 companies “for fun,” the company is “slow and deliberate” to build a portfolio of 20 to 25 companies so it can “maintain discipline, patience, and a research-based approach.”
There are also some new additions to Will Ventures, including a partnership with OneTeam Partners, which manages the marketing and licensing rights for more than 4,000 professional athletes. Ben Gardner also joined the company as Partner and Head of Portfolio Success. Ex-professional soccer player, hails from Andreessen Horowitz, where he was go-to market partner.
So far, the company has invested from the second fund in companies like Ness, which they describe as “AmEx Health and Wellness”; Mighty Health, a health and wellness platform for seniors; The Post, a professional club for current and former athletes; and Street FC, a sports pick-up market.
“We did what we said we would do with the first box and put the right processes in place to deliver reliable and repeatable results,” Kacyvenski told TechCrunch. “We have incredible relationships with athletes, with leagues, with team owners and talent agencies. This is one piece of the flywheel that will continue to help us deliver differentiated value.”