Inspired by Ronen Ainbinder’s recent Halftime Snacks podcast with the founder of Chicago-based KB Partners, Keith Bank, I’ve had a bit more of a look at this sports technology venture capital firm.
KB Partners invests at an early stage, roughly the seed round, a bit of Series A, and their approach to working with founders is collaborative – KB, and their partners, will take active roles with companies they back. They’ll take board seats, they’ll look to find customers, look for growth opportunities.
They back innovative ideas and some of that goes back to their founder Keith Bank’s investing past in computing hardware, software and industrial technology. A bit of that has informed the move into looking at sports technology.
Investments: Out of 19 current investments – I’m still including their backing of Full Swing – have taken in, in very broad terms, health and fitness, gaming and esports, broadcast, marketing, performance and training, data and SaaS and interactive experiences.
In 2021 they have invested in:
- Asensei – A cloud-based, connected coaching platform that allows coaches to give athletes real-time audio feedback.
- Compliable – A gaming license platform provider. Compliable offers US-based betting companies a solution that simplifies onboarding and managing employees’ gaming licenses across multiple states.
- Phenix – A real-time streaming tech platform that streams at very low latency to broadcast-sized audiences.
- Kensho Health – A personalised ,research-backed holistic health discovery platform.
My Take: KB’s mantra is to drive the technical and infrastructural aspects of sports and technology.
To me they are innovation and systems focussed rather than looking at splashy and trendy investments. They are about finding opportunities in the sports tech space that is user-focussed and provides greater accessibility for the end user. This sets them up to be able to back companies in emerging sports, health and fitness and esports.
They won’t ignore the North American based opportunities in wagering or betting of course. There’s a lot of data, software, content and compliance opportunities there.
The fragmentation and digitisation of the health, fitness and wellness spaces suggests new industries and opportunities continues. The notion that companies validate in sport and high performance athletes which filters down to the general populace makes me think that they will heavily seek opportunities in those spaces too.
Big shouts to Ronen, check his podcast out right here, it is excellence guaranteed.