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Volume 7 No. 149
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Sharapova Used Time Away From Tennis To Build Business Empire

In addition to Sugarpova, Sharapova has business investments in UFC, Supergoop and an app called Charly
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Maria Sharapova used her 15-month suspension in '16 after testing positive for meldonium to focus on her candy line, Sugarpova, becoming "more hands-on" in the business, according to Alyssa Giacobbe of ENTREPRENEUR. Sharapova "showed up for meetings at Bed Bath & Beyond and Kroger, and visited food shows and fairs." She also "enrolled in a 10-day strategic management program at Harvard Business School" and interned at the NBA, working with Commissioner Adam Silver. Candy "may not seem like the most natural fit for a professional athlete's entrepreneurial foray," but Sharapova learned that the candy business was "not just big but huge, with plenty of room for growth." The industry is "predicted to hit" nearly $19.6B in revenue by '25. Besides candy, Sharapova's business portfolio includes investments in UFC, sunscreen maker Supergoop and an app called Charly that lets users message celebrities. Additionally, there is an "upcoming partnership codesigning hotel gyms with architect Dan Meis." Meanwhile, Sharapova and longtime agent IMG Tennis VP Max Eisenbud "began talking about ways to build up her recognition as a businesswoman while also promoting the sort of female-to-female mentorship" she felt she "missed out on in her own careers." On Sharapova's behalf, N.Y.-based global business development advisory and investment firm Traub "researched and interviewed dozens of women's organizations as potential partners before approaching the National Association of Women Business Owners." NAWBO and Traub worked together to "create the Sharapova Women's Entrepreneur Program, which provides customized mentoring and education to winning participants" (ENTREPRENEUR, 12/ '18 issue).