Tyra Banks, the talk show host and former supermodel and actress, is going in a whole new direction. She has formed a venture capital group, Fierce Capital, whose mission is to invest and develop early-stage start-ups specializing in female-led or female-focused businesses.
Banks, who is slated to host a new daily lifestyle talk show on ABC in 2015, has never been one to sit still. In 2012, she completed a nine-week course at the Owner/President Management program at the Harvard Business School. She launched Fierce Capital as an extension of her longtime work involving the empowerment of young women (fierce is a word and concept that Banks uses like a motto and applies across many of her ventures). In 1999, for example, she founded TZONE, a foundation aimed at helping to develop teenage girls’ independence and self-esteem.
Fierce Capital’s first venture, in 2013, was The Hunt, a crowdsourcing shopping platform that helps shoppers who spy a particular item they like to use social media to find out where to buy it. Banks told Women’s Wear Daily, “It truly sucks to discover a great style item but not be able to find and buy it. The Hunt solves that fashion dilemma in a fun and innovative way, as women help other women find their perfect outfit [head to toe]. I am excited to be part of this new approach to collective retail and styling.”
Later that year, Fierce Capital invested in Locket, an Android application that brings advertising content to smartphone lock screens. Locket now has 350,000 users, with more than 10 million impressions every day. Fierce Capital recently invested in Flixel, an animated picture app that provides compression technology enabling the streaming of live video and video-on-demand to any mobile device.