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Tennis Icon Maria Sharapova Inks Long-Term Partnership With Therabody

Cheryl Robinson

Investing in a company no longer consists of just providing capital. Many investors now seek opportunities where they can add value beyond the money. These new types of partnerships are rapidly emerging throughout Silicon Valley. A recent example of this business model comes as Therabody, a leading global tech wellness company formerly known as Theragun, announces a long-term partnership with five-time Grand Slam title winner and entrepreneur Maria Sharapova. Additionally, she will be instrumental to the brand as a Therabody advisory board member and consultant, helping develop products and going beyond the traditional role of an investor.

"Maria wanted to be more than just an investor," states Therabody CEO Ben Nazarian. "We wanted her involvement because we knew she offered a different perspective to our company. As a professional athlete who has traveled the world, Maria has been provided with the opportunity to understand the wants and needs of not just professional athletes but everyday people across the globe. She has first-hand experience of understanding different backgrounds and cultures. We will lean on her expertise in those areas as our company continues to expand and grow internationally."

Sharapova is known globally for her skills on the tennis court. Years before preparing to retire from sports, which she officially announced her retirement in early 2020, she began positioning herself to succeed off the court. Having the opportunity to partner with established brands such as Nike, Evian, and Porsche early on in her career developed her interest in starting a company of her own one day. While she worked with reputable companies, she made it a point to take a seat at the table to understand how businesses strategized and operated. She learned the fundamentals of negotiating contracts, discussing the value of a brand and marketing campaigns.

"I remember sitting in some of those meetings when I was just a teenager, not really understanding what was being discussed, but knowing that it was such a unique opportunity to be learning from some of the top executives in their field," Sharapova explains. "Working with these partners was such a valuable experience, but I think even after seeing all of the in's and out's of a business, nothing quite prepares you for the moment when you're in the driver's seat and actually running your own company on a day-to-day basis."

In 2012, she launched Sugarpova, a premium candy brand, which quickly became an extension of her brand and making her an entrepreneur. Over the past eight years, she has invested in other up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Her portfolio includes Supergoop!, the UFC, and most recently, Bala Bangles as a guest shark on Shark Tank.

"So much of my entrepreneurial mindset was fostered by my approach as an athlete," Sharapova explains. "Hard work, consistency, attention to detail, it all applies directly to how I've approached business. As a player, I always wanted to surround myself with experts and people who could push me to improve and get better, and I look at business the same way."

Sharapova was introduced to Therabody while she was still playing tennis. After launching in 2016, Dr. Jason Wersland and his team have been on a mission to provide effective and natural whole-body wellness solutions to help people feel better. She was drawn to how the company has a positive impact on people's lives. Earlier this year, when the company rebranded its name, it also expanded its product offerings. It now provides not only percussive massage therapy devices but also a USDA Certified Organic CBD line, a first of its kind Bluetooth-enabled Smart Percussive Therapy devices and an educational platform.

With her expanded role at the company, Sharapova's initial focus is on supporting its continued expansion in the European and Asian markets. Also, she'll be working with the team to advise on the future of the business, from partnerships and growth strategies to concepts for new products.

“We recognized the value Maria could offer in a business sense, being a successful entrepreneur herself with a strong grasp and understanding of the fitness, recovery, and wellness industries," Nazarian comments. "She will help us educate consumers on how our technologies and products can benefit them."

As Sharapova embraces retirement from professional tennis and focuses on new ventures, she shares the following essential steps to other professional athletes driven to start their own companies:

Follow your passions. Life is about balance, and while sport can often consume every minute of every day, it's essential to find other areas of life that excite you and inspire you.
Learn along the way. It can sometimes be hard to realize now, but there are so many lessons that sports can teach you that you can apply to other aspects of life.
Surround yourself with a great team. Since an early age, I've prioritized surrounding myself with coaches and experts that I can learn from in both sport and business.
"As an athlete," Sharapova concludes, "I've had a close eye on emerging businesses in the health and wellness space, so it wasn't so much a singular moment as waiting for the right company. What excites me most about joining the Therabody team is the opportunity, not just from an investment standpoint, but to really roll up my sleeves and help inform the company's growth strategy and the path forward."


Businesspova is back 😎
 

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Tennis champion Maria Sharapova invests in tech wellness brand Therabody

PUBLISHED TUE, AUG 11 2020 8:29 AM EDT

Jessica Golden
@JGOLDEN5

Five-time Grand Slam title winner and entrepreneur Maria Sharapova announced on Tuesday she’s investing in wellness brand Therabody (formerly called Theragun). Sharapova, who retired from tennis in February, will serve as a strategic advisor to help the brand with global growth strategy and partnerships.

“I think my biggest strength as an investor is that I’m able to bring a 360-degree outlook to the table — as an athlete, an entrepreneur and a consumer,” Sharapova told CNBC in email. “Since Therabody’s launch, they have continued to demonstrate they are on the cutting-edge of combining technology, fitness, and wellness, bringing more balance to people’s lives.”

The company, first known for its Theragun massage tool, has grown to include several high-end massage therapy products that are frequently seen on the sidelines of professional sports teams.

In addition to Sharapova, Therabody has relationships with NBA All-Star Paul George and 2020 PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa who serve as brand ambassadors. Last month, the company expanded its offerings to include a product line of CBD oils and lotions.

“As we continue to innovate and offer whole-body wellness products, Maria shares Therabody’s vision to improve people’s lives with natural wellness solutions. As a former professional athlete, she knows exactly how to recover and take care of her body on and off the court,” Benjamin Nazarian, CEO of Therabody, said in a statement.

Therabody declined to tell CNBC how large of a stake Sharapova took in the company.

The tennis star is no stranger to entrepreneurship. She came to the United States as a seven year old with just $700 in her pocket. The Russian-born tennis player’s career quickly took off beginning at the age of 14, when she turned pro and became one of the top tennis players in the world.

Throughout her 28-year career, Sharapova gained high profile endorsement deals with brands such as Nike, Porsche, UBS, Tiffany, Gatorade, Tag Heuer, and Land Rover.

Sharapova started her own company in 2012, a candy and sweets brand called Sugarpova. With an initial $500,000 investment, the brand now reportedly earns about $20 million per year.

Forbes estimates Sharapova’s total career earnings to be more than $325 million from prize money and endorsements, making her the second highest paid female tennis player of all time (behind Serena Williams). For 11 straight years, she held the title of highest paid female athlete.

Following a failed doping test for use of meldonium in 2016, Sharapova spent 15 months on the sidelines suspended. When she returned, she faced nagging injuries and ultimately announced her retirement from tennis at the age of 32.

“I’m ready to scale another mountain—to compete on a different type of terrain,” she told Vanity Fair at the time.

Now that she’s not traveling the world on the professional tennis circuit, Sharapova has set her sights on focusing on her businesses and spending more time with her loved ones.

“Having more flexibility in my schedule, and not having to change things or plan things last minute, has been one of the biggest joys in this new phase. Lately, I’ve been able to explore new ways of working out, or dedicate most of my day to the Sugarpova business,” she said.

In addition to her latest investment with Therabody, Sharapova’s portfolio includes investments in Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) and sunscreen company Supergoop, of which she’s a co-owner. In February, Sharapova appeared as a guest judge on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” where she and Mark Cuban teamed up to invest in a wearable weights company called Bala Bangles.

Sharapova is working with architect Dan Meis to design and deliver branded tennis, health and wellness spa facilities worldwide. An announcement on their collaboration is expected in the coming months.

“I try to create deeper and more meaningful partnerships that go beyond just having my name on a product. More than anything, I like to play a strategic role in my investments and pursue opportunities where I’m able to share my vision and experience,” she said.

“I like to think I’m a curator of good quality and that I have an eye for what works versus what doesn’t.”

 

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Maria Sharapova Reveals Her Next Chapter After Retirement from Professional Tennis: 'I'm Excited'

The five-time Grand Slam title winner announced a new partnership with Therabody on Tuesday

By Ashley Boucher August 11, 2020 10:00 AM

It's been six months since Maria Sharapova announced her retirement from professional tennis — but that doesn't mean the athlete and entrepreneur is slowing down.

Sharapova, 33, has begun her new chapter in life as an investor and recently joined the tech wellness company Therabody, which is behind the hugely popular smart percussion device the Theragun, as a strategic advisor.

The five-time Grand Slam title winner was drawn to the health and wellness industry because of "all the ways it can have a positive impact on people’s everyday lives," Sharapova tells PEOPLE, adding that she's excited to put her passion for business to good use with the company.

"What drew me to Therabody is their amazing technology and how they are bringing a better road to recovery for all kinds of athletes," Sharapova says. "From my very first conversations with their team, it was apparent that they had a great vision and I’m excited to work closely with them to help advise on the future growth of the company."

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak hit the United States just weeks after Sharapova announced her retirement — but the athlete and entrepreneur has been focusing on the "silver linings" of being able to slow down a bit after years of constant travel.

"When I was competing, I’d only get to spend a few weeks of the year at home, so it’s been nice to have more time to relax, catch up with loved ones and focus on my businesses," she says. "As much as I love to travel, not having to rush off to the next tournament has been really nice."

Sharapova has been sheltering in place at her home in California and says that she feel "incredibly lucky" to be able to spend her extra time with her parents.

Like many people during the pandemic, Sharapova and her parents have turned to cooking as a creative outlet.

"We’ve been spending almost all of our time in the kitchen — cooking meals and baking treats, and at one point, we even pulled out an ice cream machine, which I hadn’t even taken out of the box for years," she tells PEOPLE. "We even started growing our own garden out back — so you know things are getting serious!"

While Sharapova says that while she's "hit balls with my friends a few times just for fun" since leaving professional tennis, she's been enjoying finding new ways to get in her workouts. "Mainly I’ve been trying to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible — either doing a boxing workout on the beach or hiking some of the trails nearby," she says.

Sharapova announced her decision to step away from tennis in February, saying at the time that she was ready to challenge herself in ways off the court.

"Tennis showed me the world — and it showed me what I was made of," she said in her announcement in Vanity Fair. "It’s how I tested myself and how I measured my growth. And so in whatever I might choose for my next chapter, my next mountain, I’ll still be pushing. I’ll still be climbing. I’ll still be growing."

 

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Maria Sharapova exclusive interview: 'I realised tennis was a business at 11'

Russian revolutionised earning power of women athletes but she knew from a young age she was involved in much more than a game of tennis

By Molly McElwee
27 August 2020 • 6:00am

Maria Sharapova recalls the moment she knew she was worth investing in. She was still a child, boarding at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

Four years earlier she had left Russia for the US with her father Yuri Sharapov in a gamble to become tennis’s next superstar. Money was so tight it would be two years before there was enough for an air ticket for her mother, Yelena, to join them at the academy famous for producing tennis icons Andre Agassi and Monica Seles.

One night, in her dorm room, Sharapova heard a knock at the door. It was her coach, summoning her to the practice courts. Sharapova was about to find out she had been hand-picked as the academy’s next success story.

Speaking from her home in Los Angeles, her first interview with a British newspaper since retiring in February, she describes a moment that would shape the next two decades of her career.

She tells the story animatedly, the memory still fresh in her mind. “A coach knocked on the door and said, ‘Would you be able to go to Centre Court and play some tennis?’ ” recalls the 33-year-old. “Playing tennis at 7pm at the academy was off limits, like no one was allowed on the courts any more. But I walked over and there were all these men in suits lined up – I was 11 or 12, and [it was] the first time I felt that this was a business.”

Stood under the court floodlights, pinging her now-signature hard, flat, groundstrokes, the precocious Sharapova had her first taste of how business powers professional sport. And it felt good. “At that time, I had no idea what an investor was but I remember leaving thinking, ‘Wow, I was called up,’” Sharapova says, the pride still evident in her voice. “I mean, for me it was like a night match at the US Open – I left thinking, ‘Oh, I like this feeling of being called into Centre Court, to be the one that potentially someone wants to invest in’. I liked the pressure.”

Six years later and Sharapova was on top of the world. Beating Serena Williams to win Wimbledon aged just 17 in one of the most memorable finals. She would go on to win four more majors and 36 singles titles.

She also became the most marketable woman in sport. Forbes estimate she spent a phenomenal 11 consecutive years as the highest-earning sportswoman on the planet, with career earnings of $325 million. While she graced the covers of fashion magazines, behind the scenes she worked at growing a business empire.

Famously, Harvard Business School used her career as a case study on how to “market a champion”.

Achievements aside, most media narratives liked to focus on whether she was likeable. Her former coach, Bollettieri said: “She’s very selfish, she wants to help herself. And that’s what it takes to be a great warrior or business person. She’s not mean to other people … but it is Maria Sharapova.” She was just 14. Her formidable on-court demeanour fed that characterisation and she made no secret of the fact she had no interest in making friends. She was frequently described as “steely” or “unapproachable”.

Speaking to Telegraph Women’s Sport she does not come across that way. She is warm, personable even. Did she think the scrutiny was unfair?

“Well, I never thought of it as creating a ‘Maria Sharapova brand’ – I was always doing things that I really loved,” she says of her business interests. “The bottom line is people determine who you are and what you are by the things that they read and see. When I woke up every morning, my priority was to become a champion at my sport.”

Does she think she dealt with more scrutiny than male athletes who built similarly successful brands off the court? She shrugs off the idea, but Nike’s retirement advert for her spoke volumes about the stereotypes she contended with: “They wanted you to smile more … But instead of becoming the player the game wanted you became the player the game needed.”

The greatest recognition of that last point could only come from equal rights pioneer and tennis icon, Billie Jean King, who said of her: “She really helped the sport a lot because she brought a lot of attention to it – not only was she a great player, she did very well off the court.

Sharapova was never the outspoken activist fighting for equal pay. But the fact that nine of the top 10 highest-paid female athletes this year were tennis players, that Naomi Osaka made a record-breaking $34 million in endorsements in 12 months, is without doubt a key part of her legacy, as well as that of long-time rival Williams.. Sharapova’s business trajectory was consciously driven by her, using downtime during her career to capitalise on her time at the top.

“I sensed that tennis wasn’t going to be forever,” she says now.

Her candy business, Sugarpova, was founded while she was injured. She also learnt French, did her high-school diploma and explored her interests in architecture – most recently taking a hands-on approach in designing her own home. During the now infamous 15-month ban she served for what the World Anti-Doping Agency ruled as “unintentional” doping, she kept working, attending Harvard Business School and interning at an ad agency, Nike and the NBA.

The scandal that created global headlines did not prove to be catastrophic in business terms, costing just one of her endorsement deals in the aftermath. But the response from her fellow professionals was less forgiving; former top seed Eugenie Bouchard said she should not be allowed to return at all. Did she ever consider quitting then?

“When you win a Grand Slam, when you become No 1 in the world, it’s a phenomenal feeling – and you don’t have anything to prove,” she says, firmly batting away the question. “Giving up is not part of my character, I’ve overcome so many challenges throughout my career – the road from Siberia to Centre Court is a long one. I wanted to perform for myself.”

Her comeback brought her little joy on the court though, and her shoulder pain was unbearable. In a show of her ability to transcend sport, she made her retirement announcement a month later by penning an open letter in the pages of fashion magazines Vogue and Vanity Fair, after confiding in American Vogue editor Anna Wintour about her plans to draw a line under her career. “Dosvidanya,” she wrote, a nod to her Russian roots.

What followed was a relatively seamless transition to post-tennis life that not many in sport enjoy. She laughs recalling the day after she went public with the news, as she forewent downtime and instead was straight into business meetings. The slower pace of lockdown life in the ensuing months has been a blessing after 28 years of tennis, spending time with her parents and partner, British businessman Alexander Gilkes.

Her business instinct, though, has not slowed. Most recently, she invested in Therabody, a health and wellness brand with a range of sports recovery massage machines, and plans to have a hands-on role in the company. It is a match that makes sense, considering her last years on the Tour were spent trying to coerce her shoulder, an injury that dogged her for more than a decade, to let her play through chronic pain.

Now, as the first major since her retirement kicks off at the US Open next week, she will be looking on at her first grand slam as a fan. Sharapova names 16-year-old Coco Gauff as the athlete to emulate her own success and become a teen champion. Gauff’s activism for the Black Lives Matter movement also impresses her.

“I remember when I was 13 years old, Billie Jean King came up to me for the very first time,” she recalls. “She said, ‘Whatever you do does not just shape your path, but it shapes the path of the generation to come’. At the time, [it] didn’t resonate. But I think Coco’s doing an incredible job of that – she’s using her platform to make a difference. I admire her a lot.”

It is an observation that feels surprising, considering social consciousness never seemed like a priority in her own career.

And yet, when we look back we see how Sharapova helped shape the script on the potential of a sportswoman to excel both on and off the court. In doing so, she empowered a whole generation of female sportswomen to know their worth too. Her new life, easing into a retirement centred around her entrepreneurship, is testament to that, and to the girl that clobbered backhands down the line under the Centre Court floodlights in Bradenton all those years ago.

 

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This Startup's Product: Remote Coaching From Maria Sharapova, Michael Phelps, and Other Olympians

Inc.
Sept 1, 2020

The Skills offers video instruction from professional athletes of every stripe.

In the midst of increased remote work, a new company is showing what the future of coaching might look like.

The startup, called The Skills, launched on Tuesday with a website that lets users watch instructional videos on skills ranging from spiking a volleyball to perfecting the breaststroke. The tutorials are given by some of the world's top athletes, including 23-time Olympic gold-medal swimmer Michael Phelps, career Grand Slam tennis champion Maria Sharapova, snowboarder Shaun White, beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings, and NFL wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, among others.

Founder and CEO Omer Atesmen says the idea for The Skills was inspired by MasterClass, the company that offers online courses taught by experts in subjects like photography and acting. Atesmen thought there would be an audience for a similar product focused exclusively on sports.

"We were able to pretty quickly get a lot of the athletes to come on board, despite the fact that no one knows who I am," Atesmen says. "So I think that speaks to the idea."

Atesmen previously founded solar company Clean Energy Experts, which claimed the No. 79 spot on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America in 2014 and the No. 337 spot in 2015. He sold the company to Sunrun, the largest residential solar firm in the U.S., for more than $50 million in 2015.

Atesmen used some of those funds to start building The Skills last year. He got help from his friend and former co-worker John Harper, now the COO of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, to sign up elite athletes. The Skills raised a $2 million seed round last fall that included investment firms Global Founders Capital and Maveron.

The product is increasingly relevant in the age of social distancing, even if Atesmen didn't plan it that way. "People are becoming more accepting of being able to educate themselves in a remote environment," he says. "I think it's a trend that's going to become stronger and stronger."

The courses cover technical skills as well as topics that transcend the court or field. In one video, Sharapova talks about the proper grip and technique for a forehand; in another, she talks about developing the ability to maintain focus amid distractions.

"This was something that hadn't been done specifically in the sports world," Sharapova says, adding that she tried to share some of the knowledge she gained from her father and her coaches throughout her career. "I hope anyone watching can learn lessons that could be valuable not just in sports, but in their careers and their lives."

A crew recently filmed Sharapova over the course of two days in Los Angeles. The tennis great says it was a new kind of experience for her. "When you're an athlete, so many of these things become second nature," she says. "So I really had to get into my own mind to become a teacher."

Sharapova and Fitzgerald both have taken advisory roles and own equity in the company. Atesmen set aside equity for some of the first athletes to come on board. "That's a really big thing for athletes nowadays--to have equity and feel like they're involved with the company, not just transactionally, but are invested beyond that," Atesmen says.


The Skills has seven full-time employees, all of whom work remotely, with plans to grow to 15 or 20 by the end of the year. The startup hires an L.A.-based production crew for each shoot, which can take place locally or on location--like for White's, which took place on a snowy mountain in Colorado.

In addition to several-part courses from star athletes, the platform will also offer one-off videos from others who aren't quite household names, like X Games medalist skateboarder Dashawn Jordan and Paralympic track and field athlete Scout Bassett. Its yearly price ranges from $69 for a single athlete's full courseload to $149 for everything on the site. The company plans on releasing new videos weekly to keep customers engaged.

Atesmen says The Skills' target demographic is youth through college-age athletes, but he hopes it will appeal to all age groups. "We've already seen the sort of weekend warrior casual athlete purchasing it in our beta testing," he says. "The vision is to be able to have a platform that engages sports fans in general: If you like watching that documentary on Netflix about Lance Armstrong and his career cycling, you're probably going to like watching Michael Phelps teaching."

This Startup's Product: Remote Coaching From Maria Sharapova, Michael Phelps, and Other Olympians
 

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Introducing The Skills, an Online Education Platform Taught by Icons of Professional Sport

businesswire.com
September 01, 2020

The Skills, the only online education platform to focus exclusively on education taught by icons of professional sport, launches today with course offerings from elite athletes Maria Sharapova, Kerri Walsh Jennings and Shaun White. The company plans to release 12 additional courses in its first year, with offerings featuring Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Phelps arriving this fall. The Skills also announced Maria Sharapova will serve as the company’s Chief Athletic Officer and Larry Fitzgerald will serve as Strategic Adviser focused on growth and diversity.

The Skills believes in the power of sports and how participation in these sports improve all aspects of our lives. Courses will highlight elite athletes giving tips on how to improve at the fundamentals of their sport while also discussing the life lessons that they’ve learned throughout their careers. Users will receive a wealth of technical advice that is sports-related, but even more powerful, will learn about what it takes to succeed in any pursuit or profession.

“There is so much research into the value of sports participation at an individual level. Sports is linked to improved mental health, enhanced social skills, better physical health and success in other aspects of life,” said Omer Atesmen, founder and CEO of The Skills. “We launched The Skills because millions of people around the world want to learn from superstar athletes, but access is often limited to rare, offline opportunities. We want to share our athletes and their knowledge and skills they’ve learned from life experiences both on and off the field.”

The Skills launches with 10 athlete instructors including three Marquee Courses taught by five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova, three-time gold medalist volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings and three-time gold medalist snowboarder Shaun White, as well as seven Skills Shorts from Torah Bright (snowboarding), Dashawn Jordan (skateboarding), Rachael Adams (indoor volleyball), Scout Bassett (Paralympic Track & Field), Elena Hight (snowboarding), Alix Klineman (beach volleyball) and Casey Jennings (beach volleyball).

"Every world-class athlete has unique talents and skills crafted through years of hard work and dedication, but our ability to pass down that knowledge is often limited by time, accessibility and other factors,” said Maria Sharapova, Chief Athletic Officer of The Skills. “The Skills changes that in a way that appeals to the world’s greatest athletes, our fans and the next generation of talent. Our courses offer authentic and exclusive content, covering topics that span both on and off the court. It’s the perfect opportunity to give back, share knowledge and life lessons, and engage with sports fans around the world in a meaningful way.”

“What makes football and other professional sports so exciting is being able to witness competition at the highest level with athletes performing at their absolute best. What we often fail to recognize is that every athlete got to this level by following their own unique path and by developing their own process,” said Larry Fitzgerald, 11-time Pro Bowler and Strategic Advisor at The Skills. “What I love most about The Skills is we finally get to go behind the scenes with professional athletes across sports and learn first-hand how they became so great at what they do.”

Each Marquee Course contains 20+ sessions and 100+ total minutes of entertaining and educational video content, while new Skills Shorts will be released every week covering topics including building confidence, leadership, mental prep, self-care, and more.

The Skills is funded by investors including Global Founders Capital, 8VC, and Maveron, and features an advisory board with members including John Harper, COO of the Los Angeles Olympics, and Tom McInerney, Founder of TGM Ventures.

The Skills is offering subscription memberships ranging from $69.00 to $149.00 at launch. To learn more and subscribe, visit www.theskills.com.

About The Skills

The Skills is the only online education platform to focus exclusively on education taught by icons of professional sport. The company was designed to provide a platform for elite athletes to share their knowledge into both the fundamentals of sport and the life lessons that have helped them become successful. Students will receive a wealth of technical sports-related advice, but even more powerful, students will learn about what it takes to succeed in any pursuit or profession.

Introducing The Skills, an Online Education Platform Taught by Icons of Professional Sport
 

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Tennis star Maria Sharapova stepped up her investing game after retiring with millions. To get her support, she says your startup needs 3 things.

Hillary Hoffower 4 hours ago

Maria Sharapova's investing game is as strong as her tennis game.

The former athlete has a series of investments under her belt. In 2012, she launched Sugarpova, her own candy company, with $500,000 of her own money and no outside investment. And in 2014, she invested in Supergoop, the high-end suncare line. She's also one of many sports stars with an investment in the UFC.

Now that the 33-year-old has retired from tennis, she told Business Insider, she's had more time to explore and pursue new investments.

In a March episode of "Shark Tank," she invested $900,000 with Mark Cuban in Bala Bangles, the popular weighted wrist and ankle bands that easily pass as bracelets. Most recently, she invested in Therabody, the wellness brand behind the handheld percussive massage device Theragun beloved by elite athletes and celebrities.

Sharapova said she's always had an eye on the health and wellness space when it comes to investments. But not every company in that industry makes the cut.

She shared with Business Insider the three things a business needs to get an investment from her.

1. Strong leadership

"Throughout my career, both in tennis and business, I've learned the importance of surrounding yourself with thoughtful experts and the best team possible," Sharapova said.

It explains why Sharapova was able to build a multimillion-dollar brand by partnering with major names like Nike and Evian and creating her own candy company, over the course of her 17-year professional career.

At the time of her retirement, she was the third highest-paid female tennis player and eighth highest-paid tennis player overall. Forbes estimated her entire career earnings to be $325 million, including on-court winnings worth $38.8 million and brand partnerships over her 17-year career.

2. A long-term vision

Part of being a strong leader is working toward long-term goals. Sharapova said she likes to work with partners who understand the difference between short-term and long-term success.

"Growth potential is a huge consideration in my investments and I'm most interested in working with forward-thinking leaders," she said.

Experts say a long-term vision is key to building a sustainable business by creating a plan and guidelines that better equip a business to withstand external forces.

3. Differentiation

Sharapova said that when considering an investment, she tries to focus on companies that bring an entirely different approach to a problem. "Whether it's technology or really fantastic design, I look for brands that are trying to disrupt an entire industry and create a category of their own," she said.

It's what drew her to both Bala Bangles and Therabody. Sharapova said she felt the former had a unique perspective on design and the shortcomings of stale fitness gear, while the latter's cutting-edge technology was unlike anything else she'd seen in the space.


This article is essentially the second half of this one by the same author:

 

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She's listed as one of the richest self-made women under 40 by Forbes:

"The list also features two newcomers who are under 40. Maria Sharapova, age 33, worth $200 million, retired from professional tennis earlier this year. A mainstay of Forbes’ list of highest-paid female athletes, Sharapova racked up five Grand Slam wins and a slew of endorsements from brands including Nike, Evian and Porsche. Landing at No. 87 on the list, she is four spots behind former competitor Serena Williams (net worth: $225 million), who is age 39."

Maria Sharapova

Net worth: $200 million

Age: 33

Source: Tennis

Residence: Manhattan Beach, California

Self-Made Score: 9


 

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#87 Maria Sharapova

2020 AMERICA'S SELF-MADE WOMEN NET WORTH
as of 10/13/20
$200M

The Russian-born Sharapova retired from tennis in February 2020 after nearly two decades as a pro and five Grand Slam titles.

Her $39 million in career prize money is third all-time among women, but she earned nearly $300 million more (pre-tax) from sponsors and appearances.

The tennis ace was Forbes' highest-paid female athlete in the world for 11 consecutive years, peaking at $30 million in 2015.

Sharapova launched a premium candy business, Sugarpova, which posted sales of $20 million in 2019; she owns 100% of the brand.

She invested in fast-growing sunscreen brand Supergoop in 2014 and owns roughly 10% of the company.

Her brand was dented in 2016 when Sharapova failed a drug test for a newly banned substance, Meldonium, that she took for a decade for her health.

ON FORBES LISTS

#87 America's Self-Made Women 2020
#88 The World's Highest-Paid Athletes 2016 (Dropped off in 2017)
30 Under 30 - Europe - Hollywood & Entertainment 2016
#88 Celebrity 100 2015 (Dropped off in 2016)
30 Under 30 - Sports 2014

STATS

AGE 33
SOURCE OF WEALTH tennis, Self Made
SELF-MADE SCORE 9
SALARY/WINNINGS $1 M
ENDORSEMENTS $9.5 M
RESIDENCE Manhattan Beach, California
CITIZENSHIP Russia
MARITAL STATUS Single
AGENT Max Eisenbud
AGENCY WME-IMG
SPONSORS Avon Products, Evian, Head, NetJets, Nike, Porsche Automobil Holding

 
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