Kevin Durant is not only one of the best on the basketball court, he is also among the brightest athletes off the court when it comes to putting together a diverse portfolio of investments that have serious potential for growth. Durant undoubtedly focuses the majority of his time on his craft and thus needs a strong team around him to help with diligence on the various opportunities that sprout up.
"I have to give a ton of credit to the people who forced me to think outside of the box a bit because it's changed my life and made my life more interesting," Durant recently stated in an interview with HoopsHype. Perhaps the most influential person in his circle is Rich Kleiman, Partner at The Durant Company and Thirty Five Media, which recently partnered with YouTube to launch athlete channels on the platform.
I spoke with Kleiman about what it is like to work so closely with Durant and the strategies they use for investing the money for the 5th highest paid athlete in the world.
What separates Kevin Durant from other athletes who desire to be or consider themselves entrepreneurs?
Kleiman: Kevin is brilliant at reading people. That is one of his best attributes both on and off the court, and it has translated extremely well in our investing experience. He can recognize right away in an executive if they have the drive and the vision they need to succeed, which says as much about the company as their product does. He's also naturally curious, which means when he gets interested in a company or an idea, he's going to learn as much as he can about it.
Take me through a bit of the process of how you and Durant conduct diligence before deciding to make an investment in a company.
Kleiman: Being in the Bay Area has afforded Kevin and I the privilege of being able to meet with some of Silicon Valley's best and brightest. As you can imagine, The Durant Company gets approached by VCs on a weekly basis for investments, but we work closely with people who know us well and only send us the companies they think will really resonate with us.
We first look specifically at what the company is doing and will only pursue further if we can really understand its use in everyday life. We then try and figure out the concept and try to explain it in one sentence. If we can't do that, the regular consumer won't understand it quickly.
Aside from doing our due diligence on the product itself and understanding its use and value, one of the biggest factors of if we'll invest is whether the executives are wired similarly to Kevin and I. If they are driven, refuse to lose and are passionate about what they're doing, it's palpable.
Do you and Durant prefer early stage or late stage companies, and why?
Kleiman: The majority of the companies The Durant Company has invested in have either been in Series A or Angel Round. If we believe the company is well-positioned to differentiate itself or be a significant disruptor within their sector, we believe getting in early is the smartest strategy.
Will you refuse to invest in an entity if it will not sell a certain threshold percentage of equity? What is your sweet spot?
Kleiman: No, we truly don't look at it in that capacity. When we are given additional equity for services, then there is obviously a fair value we must get for that, but there's not a magic number.
Are there any specific categories of products or services that you're currently focusing more heavily on for future investment?
Kleiman: The Durant Company has currently invested in approximately 50 companies, ranging from businesses in AI to esports to FinTech to Health to Hospitality/Beverages to more traditional tech.
This year we've really been looking at companies that we can tell will have a real impact on consumers, no matter what field they're in. Whether that's through youth basketball (Overtime), esports (Vision) or even drone technology (Skydio), we think that there's room for growth as long as they're fulfilling a real need or desire.