How a Russian supermodel became an angel tech investor — and her advice for entrepreneurs trying to do the same

  • Natalia Vodianova is one of the world's most successful supermodels but has found a new passion: angel tech investing. 
  • The Russian supermodel and philanthropist began her investing journey with a charity app called Elbi and has now invested in 16 companies, from feminine health app Flo to her newest venture, e-gree.
  • A purposeful investor, Vodianova shared her investment journey with Business Insider, and why she's excited about e-gree's potential. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Natalia Vodianova has been ranked as one of the highest-earning supermodels in the world. 

But now she's taken on a mission as an angel tech investor.  

Since founding a charitable organization, The Naked Heart Foundation, 15 years ago, Vodianova has helped raise more than €50 million for people with special needs and children across Russia. She said the experience was fundamental to her becoming an investor. 

"I loved that I was able to use my profile as a model for good," she said, which led to her following her charitable venture with Elbi, an app that aims to "democratize philanthropy" by allowing users to financially support over 60 charities in 80 countries by clicking a button on their phone. 

When Apple featured Elbi as an app of the day in more than 70 countries soon after her investment, Vodianova said more investment doors started opening.

"Soon after, other social entrepreneurs started approaching me and my business partner, Timon Afinsky, asking us to advise them on how to grow their purpose propositions. Advice often leads to investment, and that's how I've come to invest in some cutting-edge tech platforms including e-gree, the app I've just launched, and Flo – a leading female health app."

Her latest investment, e-gree

With her desire to empower others and pursue philanthropic causes front of mind, Vodianova's latest venture, the new app e-gree, allows anyone with a smartphone to create their own legal contracts.

"In its most simple terms, e-gree gives anyone the tools to quickly and easily build their own legal contracts without the need for an expensive lawyer," she said. The tool could disrupt the entire legal industry with a design that helps people protect themselves, no matter their profession or social status, she said. 

And e-gree speaks to Vodianova's investment principles, with a mission to build an extension to the formal legal system that provides real protections for everyone – not just the rich. 

Commenting on e-gree, and her other investment pursuits, she said, "Above all, they're trying to remove unfairness, injustice, and achieve inclusion and opportunities for everyone."

Her advice for investors

"I'd encourage people to find out what their passion is and let that guide them. For me, that was helping people with special needs, and that's why I created the Naked Heart Foundation. Seek out what you consider to be unfair, lacking, or broken in society and find a way to be a solution to the cause."

Now an investor in 16 companies, Vodianova told Business Insider the best things about modelling for her have been the connections and partnerships she's made in the industry that have allowed her to do good, from her charity to the companies in which she's invested.

Despite the lack of control angel investing sometimes brings, Vodianova said she loves what she does, and has a tip for entrepreneurs trying to do the same. 

"My advice to anyone in business is make decisions quickly," she said. "Sensibly, but quickly." 

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