The Financially-Savvy Reason Model & Philanthropist Natalia Vodianova is Branching Out to Invest in Start-Ups
Proving she’s more than just a pretty Russian supermodel, Natalia Vodianova impressed the world with her rags-to-riches life story growing up in a poor district in her home country to earning a seven-figure salary from Calvin Klein. She even made Forbes list for top-earning models in 2012 when her annual income reached $8.6 million.
And it looks like she managed her money well judging from the various ventures she’s been investing on in the past years.
One of her latest investments is put on United Kingdom-based company called Little Tummy which is a baby food delivery service. This is significant because the investment is actually her first foray outside the technology sector. What more, it’s also her first time to lead a funding round herself.
But, aside from the financial benefits that this decision brings, it looks like the company is close to Vodianova’s heart who’s a mother herself. According to the model-turned-entrepreneur, finding Little Tummy was ‘love at first sight’. Apparently, the mother of five was actually looking to begin her baby food company ten years ago saying how she’s the type of mom who used to cook baby food herself.
According to Vogue Business, it was Nadine Hellmann, one of Little Tummy’s co-founders, who messaged Vodianova after finding her email on Instagram. While they were already in contact with 60 other venture capitalists, Hellmann says that she felt like the model’s passion for the company’s products would be helpful in building their brand.
Mixing Business & Philanthropy
Meanwhile, Vogue described her strategy of investing in for-profit companies as part of a ‘purpose-minded investment thesis’ which mixes both philanthropy and business. This is evident in Little Tummy’s activities of donating meals to a community fridge as well as hosting free weaning workshops. As Vodianova explains, she believes that businesses which are also purposeful will win in the long run.
This business philosophy is also reflected by the other companies she chose to put her money. There’s Elbi, which is a platform that lets people make donations to a charity on social media. Founded by Vodianova herself in 2015, the venture is done in partnership with publicist Timon Afinsky. There’s also Flo, an app for monitoring women’s health, which has reportedly become the largest female community online in the world.
Vodianova is not alone as a model-turned-venture-capitalist though. In fact, a new ‘class’ of high-profile investors who also have successful careers in other industries, from entertainment to fashion, has been observed in recent years.
There’s supermodel Karlie Kloss, for one. Aside from being an in-demand model, the 26-year-old has backed various companies from Lola , a feminine care brand, and StockX, which is a site dedicated to reselling sneakers. Meanwhile, tennis star, Serena Williams, has even started her own fund, Serena Ventures, to support startups owned by women and people of color.
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