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Ex Harvard Athletes Start Million Dollar Venture Fund

F
ormer football players, Isaiah Kacyvenski and Brian Reilly, have founded Boston-based Will Ventures, the first venture capital fund aimed around harnessing the power of sports.

Four ex-athletes from Harvard university will combine their knowledge and faith in the power of sports as the investment thesis during the early phases of the fund.

Among these is former women’s basketball captain, Kirby Porter, and former women’s lacrosse player, Alexis Nicolia.

Former NFL player, Kacyvenski said: “we believe that sports are going to prove out the next great wave of technological innovation, whether that’s in consumer, tech or media.”

Kacyvenski and Reilly said in an interview that up to $55 million has been raised so far, backed by stakeholders to incorporate two “large” university endowments in both Texas and Boston.

The two also stated that private equity investors, and eight team owners from the four major U.S sports leagues and MLS would be included as partners.

The main premise of the fund is that the reach and capacity for influence held by the sports industry places it in the spotlight as a powerful tool to motivate changes beyond the sports field.

“Sports opens up massive adjacent markets,” Kacyvenski said.

“Starting in sports and scaling to large markets – that’s our entire focus for the fund.

“People need community now in sports more than ever. 

“It’s so aspirational.

“There’s so much intensity it has been a proven ground for innovation,” he said.

An estimated $13 million has already been invested into 10 early-stage technology companies in specific areas that have thrived during COVID-19, including health and wellness, telehealth, sports, connected fitness, and skill-based gaming.

The fund currently holds stakes in Liteboxer, Custom Club, Player’s Health, JockMKT, Breathwrk, Rupie, Rewind, Playfull, Fitbiomics, and Armoured Things.

“We still have a lot of dry powder left for the fund,’’ Kacyvenski said.

“Over history, during times of recession and depression, tumultuous times, there have been amazing ideas and companies created,” he said.

With the blow that the sports industry has taken from COVID-19, many believed that technology would thrive as fans are allowed the opportunity to enjoy viewing from their homes.