Will Smith is serious about creating a lasting legacy. Beyond his acting and directorial work, Smith has been harnessing his platform and capital to invest in the next generation of entrepreneurs.
The star co-founded Dreamers VC with Japan's World Cup soccer star Keisuke Honda last summer. The firm set a goal of raising $100 million of Japanese money from institutions and individuals to invest in early stage U.S. startups. Investments include high quality milk tea startup Boba Guys, tech-based personal fitness app Tonal, jewelry maker Pietra, and Elon Musk’s two startups — The Boring Company and Neuralink.
“What’s really great working with Keisuke Honda — he’s out of Tokyo — so we’re trying to expand and take a look at the whole world. Collaboration is one of the big things we’re looking to do — like mash people up and see what people can create. We’re want to have a little slant toward people who want to put positive things in the world,” he told Yahoo Finance at TechCrunch Disrupt.
“We’re wide open. I have things that I enjoy — I’m partial to storytelling and to arts and education so that’s generally the things that I look at, but through the fund, we have people with many different tastes.”
Plus, Smith adds, “I had already been investing and he had already been investing and our values were in alignment. We want to solve some of the world’s problems. We want to do well by doing good,” he said earlier in the day on a panel about the future of action cinema.
When asked how he would describe himself as an investor, Smith paused for a moment, let out a laugh and said, “I am easily excitable.”
Smith actually spontaneously awarded $10,000 to the founder of Socionado, which helps companies expand and deepen their social media presence. Several startups participated in an elevator pitch contest where the winner would be awarded a selfie with Smith, but he decided to add another layer to the surprise.
Melody Hahm is a senior correspondent at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and culture. She also hosts Breakouts, an interview series featuring up-close and intimate conversations with today’s most innovative business leaders. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.