Gerome Sapp, a former NFL player for the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts, is now the founder and CEO of Rares, a sneakerhead investing platform that allows consumers to invest in real sneakers by buying and trading fractional shares of the shoes. His company has already acquired original Yeezy sneakers worn by Kanye West himself for $1.8 million and is planning to launch an IPO in the near future. Portfolia’s Rising America Fund II, the first fund team led by Black and Brown women, is one of the company’s major financial backers.
Portfolia is a collaborative equity investing platform founded by and for women. Since 2020, the company’s Rising America Fund II, led by Karen Kerr, Daphne Dufresne, Noramay Cadena, Juliana Garaziar, and Lorine Pendleton, has invested in 16 companies that are minority-led (specifically Black, Latinx, and LGBTQ), located in geographically dispersed areas and operating at diverse stages. This incredible group of Black and Brown women is making headlines as one of the few funds in America to invest in promising entrepreneurs and companies that are often underfunded and overlooked by traditional venture capital firms.
Why invest in sneakerhead culture?
Currently valued as a $79 billion industry and projected to grow $126 billion by the year 2026, sneakers are now one of the highest performing alternative asset classes out there.
“Investing in Rares, Black and Brown people will have access to a new asset class, can retrieve ownership of a culture we built, and ensure that future generations will benefit from it as well,” explains Pendleton. “We are passionate about leveling the playing field so that individuals who look like us experience equitable access to resources no matter the type of investment class or industry.”
In Black and Brown communities, sneakers are a staple of culture and mean more than a fashion statement. Rising America Fund II sees Rares as an opportunity to be a game-changer for Black and Brown communities who were once priced out of the sneaker market through fractional investment. Rares will also launch Rares University to teach financial literacy and bring a culture of investing to Black and Brown communities.
“Being candid and completely honest, receiving this investment from the Portfolia Rising America Fund I & II has meant the absolute world to me personally,” says Rares founder and CEO Gerome Sapp.
“My heroes growing up were my grandmother and mother, two strong intelligent, insightful women. To have Lorine and the strong brilliant women of the Rising America Fund I & II believe in the concept of Rares and make an investment in my team and me, allows me to feel the spirit of my late grandmother watching over me letting me know that I’m in good hands,” adds Sapp. “My insatiable desire to lead the Rares team to success has only gotten stronger because of this investment!”