Investing In Passion: Q&A With Wayne Kimmel, Founder Of SeventySix Capital
Forbes by Troy Ruediger
This Q&A with Wayne Kimmel originally appeared on Starters, the global community for sports tech professionals. The Starters Live Chat series empowers members of the community to ask questions and gain insight from leaders working at the intersection of sports and technology.
Wayne Kimmel is an entrepreneur, VC, philanthropist, keynote speaker, and author of Six Degrees of Wayne Kimmel. As the Managing Partner of SeventySix Capital he invests in consumer facing tech companies in the sports, retail and wellness industries. Wayne's partners at SeventySix Capital include Jon Powell, CEO of Kravco Company LLC, and Ryan Howard, Major League Baseball National League MVP and 2008 World Series Champion with the Philadelphia Phillies.
*The following questions are sourced from members of the Starters community:
From a VC's perspective, what are your thoughts on the current investment landscape of sports technology? Do you see it shifting over the next few years?
I think it's a very exciting time to be an entrepreneur that is focused on the sports tech industry. There are more VCs and other investors that are interested in this space than I have ever seen. Therefore, I think the future is bright!
You have a very interesting perspective on the wider sports landscape. In the next few years what does the professional sports landscape look like to you?
We are bullish on esports. We recently invested in N3rd Street Gamers who empowers esports communities with arena facilities, production studios, gaming equipment, administration and broadcast services.
Are there any specific clusters (ticketing, athlete management, etc.) within the sports technology industry that you have noticed which have become over-saturated? If so, how does that affect your decision making when evaluating potential investments in startups?
As a startup investor, we are looking for innovative and new technologies across the whole industry. If something is truly innovative and led by great entrepreneurs, it doesn't matter how many other competitors there are.
For entrepreneurs in the bootstrap stage looking for air support, what are your favorite pre-investment valuation metrics?
Once again, it's all about the people. Spending time with the founders and identifying their hopes and dreams beats any hard metrics.
What are your key metrics you look at first when considering investment in sport tech startups?
At SeventySix Capital, we invest in passionate, smart and nice entrepreneurs who are starting game-changing companies!
What are your thoughts on all of the athletes entering the VC game?
This is a very exciting time for athletes to get involved in the entrepreneurship game. Both the athletes and the entrepreneurs can learn so much from each other. I think it's a smart move.
Are the athletes you work with, interested in strictly sports tech investments (due to familiarity) or are they open to any space as long as the opportunity is a favorable one?
In general, the athletes we work with at SeventySix Capital and Rubicon Talent are interested in a variety of investments. It all depends on the specific interests of that individual.
What is the one thing you feel you can see in companies/people that other investors miss?
I always feel that I can see the value of working with smart and nice people who want to change the world.
As an entrepreneur, Whats skills do you consider are the most important to present an idea/project to a VC?
Entrepreneurs have to be passionate about their business. It's easy to spot an entrepreneur who truly believes in what they're doing.
Start-ups and VC's always talk about finding the right partner. How much of this is formulaic and how much is just chemistry.
At SeventySix Capital we don’t just invest in ideas, we invest in people. For us, it’s about passionate, smart and nice entrepreneurs who create companies that change the world for the better. So it's all about chemistry!
What’s the biggest "hiccup" you see from startups who have yet to launch or possibly mistakes you commonly see after companies launch?
The biggest mistake that I see is when companies try to make their product or service perfect and take too long to launch. You've got to put your product out there and get feedback as soon as possible to know if you are actually moving in the right direction.
Can you speak to the massive shift in early-stage investing from traditional VC to ICOs and token sales? How will this new financing mechanism impact the ownership and community development of future sports tech companies?
I am not prepared to say that there is a massive shift yet, but I am excited for the fact that entrepreneurs have additional sources to raise capital for their ideas and companies. My fund, SeventySix Capital, is an investor in Indiegogo which has done a great job in helping democratize fundraising globally.
How would you say health and wellness apps, including those that prioritize nutrition over fitness, bode for future VC opportunities? Do you see this space growing with more venture backed companies showing up?
All premium health and wellness apps are interesting to athletes b/c it is such a huge part of their focus everyday. We are investors in StartUp Health and there are a number of companies that have amazing apps in this area. I absolutely believe that this industry is going to continue to grow at a rapid pace.
In today’s competitive attention landscape, what are some of the best examples you have come across of athletes and teams using their platforms? How do you see this developing over time?
My partners and I work with our clients at Rubicon Talent to help them use their social capital to support other brands and companies as well as their own. Some of our clients are Greg Olsen, DeMarco Murray, Kerri Walsh Jennings, Cal Ripken, Jr. and a host of sports broadcasters. The best examples I've seen are when the athlete is truly passionate about what they're promoting. It's all about being authentic.
We’re all entrepreneurs, and we’re all working to build profitable companies, but how do we reconcile professionalization/monetization [in youth sports] and positive impact on the long term?
We constantly look for entrepreneurs to disrupt and figure out the impossible. You're correct - this is something we need to work on before it gets worse.
Are you into American sports only or do you watch all kind of sports?
My favorite sports are basketball, baseball and football.
What’s your favorite player of all time?
Of course, my favorite athlete is my business partner at SeventySix Capital, Ryan Howard!