NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Morgan Stanley Investment Management announced the final close of Morgan Stanley Next Level Fund, L.P. at its target size $50 million of total capital commitments. Investors in the strategy include the inaugural corporate partners Hearst, Microsoft and Walmart as well as Altria, Ten Figures Ventures and Phalanx Impact Partners.
Next Level, part of MSIM’s $200 billion alternative business, builds upon the expertise of the Morgan Stanley Inclusive Ventures Lab and HearstLab to invest in primarily early-stage technology and technology-enabled companies with underrepresented members as part of the founding team. Target sectors include technology, consumer/retail, financial technology, healthcare, consumer products and media and entertainment. In addition to capital, each portfolio company may benefit from access to the global resources and capabilities of the corporate partners invested in the Fund.
At close, the Fund had deployed a quarter of the capital across nine companies. Many of these companies were not only founded by underrepresented groups but serve them as well. This includes funding for HourWork, a SaaS recruiting and retention platform founded by Rahkeem Morris and Rob Snyder to transform hourly work and the gig economy by matching employer demand for labor to workers who have certified skillsets in specific areas and are available for work. Additionally, the Fund participated in Series A funding for Bodily, which was founded by Tovah Haim to provide information and products to support women from pregnancy to postpartum and those experiencing pregnancy loss. A full list can be found here.
Commenting on the fundraise, Alice Vilma, Co-Portfolio Manager, Morgan Stanley Next Level Fund said: “There is an immense opportunity to provide overlooked entrepreneurs with much-needed capital and resources to help them succeed. With the support of our corporate partners, we are committed to driving a more equitable funding landscape for promising startups.”
“We are pleased to increase access to capital for underrepresented founders in our target sectors, and we are proud to partner with like-minded companies that share our commitment to closing the early-stage funding gap,” said David N. Miller, Managing Director and Head of Morgan Stanley Private Credit & Equity. “In addition to providing capital, our differentiated investment approach alongside our fund partners’ strategic expertise seeks to improve financial and operational outcomes for our portfolio companies.”
Debevoise & Plimpton served as legal counsel to Next Level in connection with the fundraise.
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