Tennis star Serena Williams has pumped more than $1 million (£760,000) into a British sports venture. OpenSponsorship, founded by Manchester-born
Tennis star Serena Williams has pumped more than $1 million (£760,000) into a British sports venture.
OpenSponsorship, founded by Manchester-born entrepreneur Ishveen Jolly, is a site that connects athletes with sponsor brands.
The website, which first launched in the US, will use the funds to enter the UK market. Former Team GB swimmer Charlie Turner will join the board.
Ace backing: Serena Williams is helping athletes to find sponsors
Jolly was a former sports agent who became frustrated with the complex process of landing sponsors for athletes. She created OpenSponsorship in 2015.
‘I thought why is there not an efficient Airbnb-style company that helps sponsorship?’ she told The Mail on Sunday.
‘We have a lot of athletes who are Olympians, but they want to be influencers as well. ‘We had a company retreat recently in Miami and Serena spoke to the whole team. A big thing for her was championing the athletes who previously haven’t had access to sponsorship. We’re seeing a huge increase in coverage of women’s sport, but sponsorship has lagged behind that.’
The latest investment from Williams takes the firm’s total fundraising to $5.5million. Other investors include Crystal Palace part-owner David Blitzer and former basketball player Baron Davis.
Williams made the investment through her firm Serena Ventures, which has backed tech start-ups including Propel and Cointracker.
OpenSponsorship has more than 12,000 athletes globally including former footballer Wayne Rooney and basketball star LeBron James.
Brands including Foot Locker and Levi’s have used the organisation to find athletes and teams for product placements, endorsements, event appearances and speeches.