Tennis superstar Serena Williams began her second act while still at the top of her game in the first one. She founded Serena Ventures in 2014 with a strategic focus on helping level the playing field for startups led by Black people, women and other marginalized groups.
During the company’s first five years, Williams didn’t publicly announce the 34 companies she quietly invested in. In 2019, she became more vocal about why she got into the venture capital business.
“I want to be a part of it,” Williams told Forbes. “I want to be in the infrastructure. I want to be the brand instead of just being the face. … What better way to preach that message?”
Williams was also a keynote at Black Tech Week in July and expressed her excitement to continue helping underrepresented founders. “Thank you @blacktechweek for giving me the stage today. I loved being on that stage and seeing everyone. Let’s keep the support!” Williams tweeted after the event.
According to its website, Serena Ventures invests 47 percent of its funding into Black founders. Williams isn’t making this impact alone.
Her firm boasts a talented and passionate team of investors and staff that help fulfill its tagline and “write checks that power change.” Most of them are also Black women.
Black Americans Have the Highest Mortality Rates But Lowest Levels of Life Insurance
Are you prioritizing your cable entertainment bill over protecting and investing in your family?
Smart Policies are as low as $30 a month, No Medical Exam Required
Click Here to Get Smart on Protecting Your Family and Loves Ones, No Matter What Happens
Meet the Black women who help power Serena Ventures and work daily to change the landscape of VC into a more equitable one.
Serena Williams has long been a global icon due to her gifted athleticism, which helped her break many stereotypes and barriers in tennis. With 23 Grand Slam titles, she is largely responsible for inspiring other young Black girls to pursue the sport.
She’s also no novice to making smart business decisions. Now a wife and mother, Williams uses her time, talent and treasure to help support others working to impact the world for good.
Ashelë Woods joined Serena Ventures in June. In her role, she is responsible for sourcing, diligence and portfolio support initiatives. She boasts an array of skills and experiences that made the opportunity to explore new industries and sectors a welcome one.
Her previous experience includes working in programming at Kauffman Fellows and being a startup founder. She holds a B.A. in French and Francophone Society and Culture from the University of Chicago and a certificate in Bloomberg Market Concepts.
Kyra McCarthy joined Serena Ventures in May 2021. She is responsible for running the day-to-day operations at the firm. Her duties also include assisting with managing LPs, Portfolio Founders and prospective investment companies.
McCarthy’s previous experience includes working as in investment operations specialist at Equitable Advisors and being a teacher and company director at Rowlett Dance Academy. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a Bachelor of Science in Math from Southern Methodist University.
Olivia Griffian joined Serena Ventures in June 2021. As a startup founder herself, Griffian knows how important having the proper support is to success in business. She founded SevenSkin Beauty, a company that fuses skin care with science, technology and education.
Her experiences are what led her to her current work in VC. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Education and Family, Youth & Community Science from the University of Florida.