Invest like Socrates – Brain activity gear – Exercise intelligence – P2P sports wagering – Treating neuropsychiatric disorders – Artist-Centred Music Therapy – Virtual behavioural health
Skin In The Game is a weekly newsletter dedicated to investing in sports & health. We highlight the startups and investors shaping the future of sports and its adjacent markets.
We also run a regulated investment club that connects sports investors with founders and domain experts across emerging technologies like the Metaverse, Web3, AI, and Psychedelics.
Last night I attended the pre-launch party of Exceptional Ventures, a new venture fund from Matt Cooper and Paolo Pio with a focus on (amongst other things) health. Amazing hospitality and some fascinating people in the room. Over copious amounts of Prosecco and Somerset cider we talked about the mimetic nature of investing, tokenising domain expertise, and biohacking. I learned a lot. Thank you guys for a great night and leaving me with lots to think about!
In other news, Scott and I have been busy building two subscription communities for founders and investors. Making progress and looking forward to getting an MVP to market in the coming days. As a reminder, for an affordable monthly subscription users get access to:
An exclusive newsletter with insights, deals, investors, curated resources, and events (investors also get proprietary deal flow from our founder community)
Database with deals and active investors across sports & health
Private LinkedIn group and regular Zoom coffee mornings to bounce ideas and solve problems peers.
If you’d like to find out more, let us know.
“I know only this – that I know nothing.”
Socrates’ famous proclamation is more than a pithy quotation. It’s the foundation of all knowledge acquisition. And I believe that it should be the foundation of any investment portfolio.
In a world full of thought leaders, false prophets (with big profits) and Instagram affiliates flogging everything from supplements to alt-coins, it’s hard to know where to turn for investment advice. Everybody seems to have a view, an answer to the perennial question – what does the future hold?
A heuristic that I have found useful in life is to seek out people who are honest about what they know and what they don’t know. I have found they tend to make good wives, friends, co-founders, and drinking partners.
The same applies to founders and investors. The Socratic Method conditions the right kind of behaviours when sourcing, screening, and structuring investments.
I’m not equating Warren Buffett with Socrates, but there is no denying he deals in the same kind of unpretentious wisdom that continues to make the great Greek philosophers relevant thousands of years after their heyday. They call him “The Sage Of Omaha” for a reason.
Buffett has said that:
“What counts for most people in investing is not how much they know, but rather how realistically they define what they don't know.”
He’s also argued that:
“Knowing what you don't know is more useful than being brilliant.”
These are quietly provocative statements with implications for investors and indeed founders.
Being brilliant is dangerous. You begin to believe your own hype. You lose precious feedback mechanisms that modulate behaviour. You mismanage people’s expectations, benchmarking your performance unrealistically and encouraging reckless risk-taking. Elizabeth Holmes, Adam Neumann, and a host of other self-mythologised founders remind us of the dangers of brilliance, its ability to dazzle and blind even the most skeptical people.
Another powerful man, perhaps less fondly regarded than The Oracle of Omaha but smart nonetheless, once observed:
“There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know.”
Donald Rumsfeld understood and manipulated the cognitive blindspots that characterise international relations, just as they hamper our attempts to predict the future of sports and health.
Brilliance is overrated. Far better to be humble, admit your flaws – intellectual, psychological, and the rest – and develop pragmatic strategies to mitigate them. The ubiquitous investor’s checklist is one example, but how many early-stage VCs sing from the hymn sheet when time is short and competition for deals is intense?
When you admit what you don’t know – whole-heartedly, without false-modesty – interesting things begin happening. You start looking for answers, rather than waiting for them to come to you (which makes you vulnerable to snake oil). You reach out to people who can help (hopefully those with the right incentives). You begin to engage with the problem, whatever – and however intractable – that problem is.
You also begin to spot charlatans who don’t have the answers, but pretend they do. You look at things from a fresh perspective, leading to contrarian insights and opportunities for outsized value creation. You free yourself to ask stupid questions, and realise that people cannot answer them (now you know how my kids feel).
You become more likeable, accessible, and attractive to work with. You create opportunities for storytelling by learning in public. You learn by acquiring knowledge from the ground up, creating a solid foundation to master a field and expand outwards into adjacent spaces.
It sounds crazy, but the smartest people often don’t seem smart compared to the wannabes. When I worked in investment banking, a colleague of mine was regarded as funny man, smooth talker, and a gifted sales guy, but no great intellect. He said little in meetings. He held loose opinions on important things. He went with the flow. Few people knew it, but he was actually the smartest guy in the room (and that room was the size of several rugby pitches, filled with literal rocket-scientists trading fixed-income derivatives). He disguised his brilliance because he knew it gave him great power and optionality. As a manager, it made him more likeable, which enabled him to do more with less.
Perhaps Socrates went too far? To know nothing is no good to us. To know everything is impossible. But to know something… we can build on that. Founders and investors waste a lot of time telling each other what they already know. Perhaps it’s time we started admitting what we don’t know, and working together to fill in the gaps?
💊 OK Capsule, A Personalised Nutrition Company, Raises $9.5 Million In Early Funding – OK Capsule, a doctor-founded company with over 20 years of experience in primary medical practice, naturopathy and business innovation that formulates, sells and delivers personalised supplements, has secured $9.5M in initial investment led by Mucker Capital and Next Ventures, and supported by DSM Venturing and Findaway Adventures.
🕶 Quintar raises $3M for live sports and entertainment AR platform – Quintar has raised a second seed round of $3 million to build out its augmented reality platform for live sports and entertainment. The round was led by SeventySix Capital and included a pair of strategic partners: Nreal, a maker of consumer AR glasses, and SharpLink Gaming, a pioneer in sports betting technology, said Sankar “Jay” Jayaram, CEO of the company.
🇪🇬 Egyptian e-health startup Otida raises $340k pre-seed to help diabetes patients – Egyptian e-health startup Otida has raised $340,000 in funding to boost its goal of improving the lives of 5,000 diabetes patients in Egypt and the Middle East this year. Founded originally as instadiet, diet management app Otida acts as a nutritionist, fitness coach and physician, among other roles, for patients with diabetes who struggle while navigating their day-to-day lives.
🩸 Apple Health Pioneer Introduces COR: The Only Company to Measure Personal Blood Response to Food and Fitness with $12M in Funding – COR is the first and only in-home spectrometer that measures personal blood response to food and fitness. Using data and infrared spectroscopy (a way to glean molecular information through a beam of light), COR provides insight into how well individuals respond to scientifically proven food and fitness interventions over 21-day cycles. The company is also announcing $12M in Series A funding led by Khosla Ventures and Founders Fund, with participation from West Ventures, and Bellamack Partners. The round brings COR’s total funding to $15M to date.
⌚️ Fisher Wallace Completes 2.5 Million Dollar Investment From SHUFL Capital – Fisher Wallace Laboratories, the market leader in prescription wearable technology for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders, closed a funding round that will provide the company with $2.5M of capital to pursue its growth strategy. The round was led by SHUFL Capital, a leading early-stage investor in the Sleep, Health, Fitness and Leisure sectors founded by British businessman and growth investor Simon Webster.
🇮🇱 Israeli startup to test brain-activity gear on space mission to ISS – Israel's Brain.Space, a four-year-old startup that studies data on brain activity, is set to put its gear to test on astronauts in space next week during a SpaceX shuttle flight to the International Space Station (ISS). Three astronauts on the planned private space-flight firm Axiom Space's mission to the ISS will use a special electroencephalogram (EEG)-enabled helmet made by Brain.Space. The company raised $8.5 million in a seed funding round, bills itself as a brain infrastructure company and is working with the cognitive and brain sciences department at Israel's Ben Gurion University to transform terabytes of data into usable insights.
🎧 SoundMind Raises $800,000 in Pre-Seed Funding to Expand Artist-Centred Music Therapy Platform – SoundMind, the audio-visual mental health app, has raised $800,000 in its pre-seed funding round led by #1 Los Angeles Times best-selling author Dr. Venus Nicolino (Dr. V). SoundMind has received funding from Rough Draft Ventures (powered by General Catalyst), Gaingels, and Chasing Rainbows VC, as well as angel investments from leaders at Airbnb, GoDaddy, MagnaCare, the United States military, and other organisations.
💰 Svexa receives funding from Yamaha Motor Ventures to accelerate growth – Svexa, an innovative exercise intelligence company, closed a $2.8 Million seed round, with Yamaha Motor Ventures as the lead investor. Yamaha Motor Ventures is leading the funding round, and Navigio Capital and Black Lab Sports are providing additional investment and industry knowledge, building on an original pre-seed investment from Getty Sports Science.
🏃 Eckuity Makes Strategic Investment in the Professional Triathletes Organisation – Eckuity, a global investment firm that invests in early-stage life sciences and health-tech companies, made a strategic investment alongside Sir Michael Moritz, partner at Sequoia Capital, in the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO), the professional body of triathlon.
🙋♀️ SteelSky Ventures Raises Largest Women's Health VC Fund – SteelSky Ventures, the leading women's health fund, announced the final close of its inaugural fund focused on improving access, care, and outcomes in women's health. The close of the fund brings SteelSky's total assets under management to $72 million, making SteelSky the world's largest venture capital fund focused on women's healthcare.
🎰 Lucra Sports raises $10m to expand social betting platform – Peer-to-peer betting platform Lucra Sports has raised $10 million in a Series A funding round, paving the way for it to expand its vision of fans betting with each other rather than traditional bookmakers. The investment round was led by Raptor Group and included participation from SeventySix Capital, Victress Capital, Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry, tennis professional John Isner, and National Football League (NFL) wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
👧 Players Health Raises $28 million in Latest Funding Round to Continue Mission of Protecting Youth Athletes – Players Health closed a $28 million funding round to further its mission of creating safer and more accessible environments for kids to play the sports that they love. The revolutionary youth sports technology platform’s lead investors for this round of funding include three-time NBA Champion Andre Iguodala’s firm Mastry Ventures, and global specialty insurer and reinsurer SiriusPoint. In addition to Mastry and SiriusPoint, current investors; RPM Ventures, EOS Venture Partners, and Will Ventures also contributed.
🌆 Oak View Group planning $3bn Las Vegas sports and entertainment district – Venue development and management company Oak View Group (OVG) has acquired 25 acres of land in Las Vegas for the construction of a $3 billion sports and entertainment district.
🤖 Aggero secures $2m in seed funding – Aggero, a UK-based company that uses machine learning and analytics to help streamers monetise content better, has secured $2m in seed funding. The round was led by LAUNCHub Ventures, with GapMinder, SCM Advisors, Klaas Kersting and Phil Mohr also investing in the company.
🕹 Finest acquires Monaco Esports for $10m – Israeli esports organisation Finest has announced the acquisition of Monaco Esports Fédération-owned team Monaco Esports for $10m.
🧐 Nielsen set to be acquired for $16bn by Evergreen and Brookfield-led consortium – Analytics firm Nielsen, which is relied upon by many in the sports and media sectors for audience data, is being acquired by a private equity consortium in a $16 billion deal.
👨👩👧👦 KKR Values Behavioral-Health Startup Brightline at $705 Million – Brightline, a provider of virtual behavioral-health services to children and their families, said it is valued at $705 million after raising $105 million from investors led by KKR & Co. Existing investors including Alphabet’s venture arm GV, Optum Ventures, Oak HC/FT Partners, Threshold Ventures and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts participated in the funding round.
💵 Mark Bezos’ Firm Acquires Fitness Platform Centr – Private equity firm HighPost, co-founded by Jeff Bezos’ brother Mark Bezos, has acquired digital fitness platform Centr and exercise equipment maker Inspire Fitness in a deal that will see the two companies merge. The combined entity is reportedly valued at more than $200 million including debt. Centr founder and “Thor” actor Chris Hemsworth is the company’s second-largest shareholder.
🇮🇳 India’s Games24x7 valued at $2.5 billion in new funding – Games24x7, a Mumbai-headquartered startup that owns and operates multiple mobile games, has raised $75 million in a new financing round. It was led by Malabar Investment and saw participation from existing investors Tiger Global and Raine Group.
🦄 Blockchain Platform Avalanche Unveils $100M NFT Fund – Blockchain platform Avalanche is partnering with non-fungible token platform OP3N on a $100 million fund for digital art and entertainment projects, starting with an "intergalactic childrens' metaverse book" from musician Grimes.
🃏 Collectors Raises $100 Million, Rolls Out Rebrand – Collectors, a Santa Ana-based company that lets collectors buy, sell and authenticate sports trading cards, rare coins and more online, has raised $100 million in new funding and rolled out a corporate rebrand that consolidates its various offerings onto one website. Collectors raised the capital from an investment group led by CEO Nat Turner, D1 Capital Partners, Cohen Private Ventures and TCG Capital Management that acquired the company last year for a reported $850 million. The investment group also included athletes such as NBA star Kevin Durant, NFL great Larry Fitzgerald and former US Open tennis champion Andy Roddick.
The big question playing on my mind this week is whether Ash Barty is going to wind up as a tennis player, cricketer, or golfer. What a ridiculously talented person. It simply isn’t fair!
Yours in sports,
Co-Founder / Skin In The Game
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