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Wayne KimmelWayne Kimmel is a Managing Partner at SeventySix Capital, a venture capitalist company investing in passionate entrepreneurs and startups in the sports tech, esports, and sports betting industries. Besides being a sports tech VC investor, Wayne is an entrepreneur, author, and podcast host. In 2022, he was named the Sports Tech Power Player by The Sports Business Journal and awarded the Most Admired CEO award from the Philadelphia Business Journal. His book, Six Degrees of Wayne Kimmel, offers a glimpse into how he networked and found investors in his early twenties.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Wayne Kimmel shares why he founded SeventySix Capital and its purpose
  • How Wayne built his network and raised capital as a young entrepreneur
  • Wayne reminisces on his career highlights
  • What are the startup investment criteria to consider — and how can you foster relationships?
  • Wayne’s career lessons and what excites him about the future of sports technology

In this episode…

Kickstarting a business idea is an ambitious goal requiring innovation, vision, and funding. While innovation and vision rely solely on the founder, finding the capital to launch your company may be the most arduous step in the process. Seeking investors to offer the financing necessary can give you the momentum you need to build a successful business.

What criteria do venture capitalists look for when considering startups for investment?

Entrepreneurs are passionate about their work and what they hope to accomplish with their innovative ideas. Wayne Kimmel, a venture capitalist, has invested in many startups throughout his career and has determined the nonnegotiable requirements he seeks from the visionaries he chooses to invest in. Aside from passion and social intellect, Wayne prioritizes professionals who also want guidance and relationship from their investors.

On this episode of the Top Business Leaders Show, Chad Franzen introduces Wayne Kimmel, a Managing Partner at SeventySix Capital, to discuss the criteria venture capitalists should consider when making investment decisions and how to continue fostering the relationship after the initial investment. Wayne also shares how he built his network and raised capital as a young entrepreneur, his career lessons, and what excites him about the future of sports technology.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:04

Welcome to the Top Business Leaders Show. Powered by Rise25 media, we feature top founders, executives and business leaders from all over the world.

Chad Franzen 0:20

Chad Franzen here co-host of the Top Business Leaders Show, where we feature CEOs, entrepreneurs and top leaders in the business world. This episode is brought to you by Rise25 We help B2B businesses launch and reach their dream relationships by starting their own podcast. We connect more clients, referrals and strategic partnerships and get ROI through done-for-you podcast. If you have a B2B business and want to build great relationships, there’s no better way to do it than to profile the companies and people you admire on your podcast. To learn more, go to or email us at support at Wayne Kimmel is a Managing Partner at SeventySix Capital. He is a sports tech venture capitalist, entrepreneur, author and podcast host. In 1999, he founded SeventySix Capital, a venture capital company, which invests in startups, sports betting eSports, and sports tech companies. The Sports Business Journal named Kimmel a sports tech power player in 2022, and he was also awarded the 2022 most admired CEO award from the Philadelphia Business Journal. Hey, Wayne, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?

Wayne Kimmel 1:31

I really appreciate you having me on your show. Chad, this is awesome.

Chad Franzen 1:34

Yeah, great. Hey, great to have you. So tell me a little bit more about SeventySix Capital. I find it I’m a pretty big sports guy. So I’m pretty fascinated by it. Tell me about what you guys do.

Wayne Kimmel 1:44

Well, at SeventySix Capital, my partners and I, we are investors in the entrepreneurs who are doing the next next big thing in the sports industry. And what we mean by that is entrepreneurs that are looking to build innovative sports tech businesses, really looking to take the sports betting industry to the next level, thinking about how gaming and eSports and really looking to do the next thing across all these different areas. And what we do at SeventySix is we invest in the entrepreneurs, look to we help, we want to help them and back them, and really do anything we can to help them succeed.

Chad Franzen 2:27

Yeah, it’s been around for, as I mentioned, you founded in 1999. So it’s been, you know, almost a quarter century. Now, how did the idea come about?

Wayne Kimmel 2:36

You know, for me, I had just gotten out of law school in the late 90s. And I had a number of friends that were getting involved in this, this internet thing, and who are creating these amazing new types of businesses. And as I was going to work in a suit and tie, they were going to work in jeans and T-shirts, and they were telling the suits on Wall Street and all the big banks and all the media companies like what to do. And I said, Wow, that’s crazy what it was when I would go and I’d go to see them at their, at their offices and see what they were doing. And I like, it was just such an exciting time. They were doing some such amazing things. And they invited me to a number of different events. And I used to go to these events with them. And they were always crowds of people surrounding this one kind of individual. And I’m always like, why are those people all trying to talk to that person? And then someone said to me, Oh, that’s a venture capitalist or an angel investor. And I said, What is? What is that? Like? What does it even mean? He said, Well, they’re the people who make our hopes our dreams come true. And I was like, wow, those are people who make your dreams come true. Like how do they do that? So they’re the ones who invest in our businesses and then really help us build, build our businesses. And I said, You know what, I’d love to be one of those people someday. And you know, fast forward, I went out and at 29 raised my first $20 million venture capital fund from all these other and all these different, you know, high net worth individuals and people that I networked with and to meet and built a business and built SeventySix Capital. And, you know, we were initially investors in consumer and health tech companies. And you know, companies like seamless web, you know, which is now GrubHub. You know, we were one of the first online food ordering company companies. It was amazing to watch that. We were investors in taking care of health systems, which are the health care clinics that you see inside of Walgreens today. If you walk into a Walgreens and get checked out by a nurse inside of a nurse practitioner it, a Walgreens, that was our company that we were investors in.

Chad Franzen 4:54

Wow, amazing. So how did you go about raising that money? You know, when you were pretty young You know,

Wayne Kimmel 5:01

It’s interesting. You mentioned earlier I’m an author. So I wrote a book a couple of years ago called Six Degrees of Wayne Kimmel to really tell my story of how, as a 20-something-year-old, I was able to go out and network and meet people and, and, and found the people that would invest in me, and believe in me that I could go out and then find the entrepreneurs to go then invest into go make money so that I could pay my investors back in and get them a nice return. And it was, you know, I’ll tell you a chat, it was it was a lot around, you know, just just kind of tried and true networking, meeting people trying to find people that were interested in getting involved in the startup world. And I just, I found them, I found the people and I talked about it, in my book, I talk about all the different stories and strategies and tips and tricks on how I did that, and how I continue to do that every day. I think that’s one of the things that, you know, one of the things I love your show, and I love what you do, you know, for for so many people, because it’s all about, you know, going out there and, and making contacts, as many as you can every single day and trying to take those contacts and turn them into relationships. And you can do that in person, you can do that online, you can do it in so many different ways today. And look, when we were when I was first doing this back in the in the late 90s. You know, a lot of this, a lot of the information we would try to find was we had to use, we had to go read the newspaper, we had to go try to find like, you know, where are the you know, some of the most important business leaders and where are they going to be? And what are they doing? And that information was in, you know, paper business journals or PEEP newspapers or things like that. But now, you know, you can do a lot of that online as well today

Chad Franzen 6:49

Wasn’t always geared towards sports, even when he first started or eSports. Well, obviously, eSports probably weren’t even a thing in 1999.

Wayne Kimmel 6:56

You know, so it was really about the next next thing at the time. So it was consumer tech, health tech, thinking, you know, different types of companies within the, on the internet side of the of the industry. We switched to the world of sports, about seven years ago, and so decided to focus solely on sports. Because sports was one of those industries that had not been disrupted by tech, by data and analytics. In a lot of the other industries you see in the financial services, world, Technology is everywhere in the healthcare world, technology is in it everywhere. But from a sports perspective, it hadn’t happened yet. So it hadn’t been disrupted. So you know, we, you know, when I say we, it’s my partner’s Chad standard, John Powell. And I, you know, we really looked at this and said, Wait a second, like, this is amazing. Here’s an industry that we have a lot of relationships, and we love the world of sports. And we see that tech and data and analytics is not really being used on the field in the front office, around fan engagement, certainly not in the world of, of gaming and sports betting, there’s an opportunity to really do something special here and back those entrepreneurs. So we went in all went all in into sports. And and it’s really been amazing. And we have some I’ve had some great entrepreneurs, we’ve invested in sold some really exciting companies and are building some of the leading companies across the sports industry today. Yeah, what

Chad Franzen 8:35

are some? So you know, 24 years is a long time, what are some milestones that maybe stand out to you that you’re proud over there that are particularly memorable?

Wayne Kimmel 8:45

You know, I think, you know, going back to 1999 and early 2000, and raising, raising the first fund was, was a big deal. And that was really exciting and having capital, and we had a downturn in the market that the internet bust, as a lot of people called it, you know, happened in, in March of 2000. We had, we had raised $20 million, we had fresh capital to back entrepreneurs during a down market that was huge, you know, then building company, a company like seamless web, which, you know, still can walk around the city and, you know, like near walk around New York City, and you still see stickers of seamless web. Now they’ve gotten rid of the web, and they call it seamless, but you know, it’s seamless Ben and it’s now owned by Grub Hub, like that was one of the things we’re building that business with Jason finger and Paul Applebaum. And you know, seeing the first ever online food order come through and that was just amazing, amazing to see the idea of putting healthcare clinics inside of pharmacies it was that was revolutionary for for our, for our country. To be you know, you’d walk into a pharmacy and like Get checked out. I mean, I know people were like, What? Are you kidding me? Like, why would you ever do that? Right? That doesn’t make any sense. Like you go into the pharmacy after you see the doctor to get your drugs and then walk out with some gum or some candy. But like, that’s what you do in there not, you don’t get checked out there. But, you know, we made we created this convenient care model model, which Minute Clinic got bought by CVS and our company that we invested in take care of got bought by Walgreens. So that was really huge. And then, you know, this whole shift into sports. That was such a big deal for us. And then, you know, one of the one of the companies that we recently sold was a company called VSAN VSAN. The Vegas stats and Information Network is the full name, but it was a company that was started by Brent Musburger and his nephew Brian, and Brian and Brent started this company to say they wanted they were going to create a 24 hour sports betting media network just like how CNBC is what CNBC is to the to the financial markets. VSAN was going to be to the sports betting markets. And we built that business with them. We built this 24 hours sports betting media network, we invest in it, I sat on the board of it, we helped them build it in Las Vegas. It was an incredible journey. And about a year and a half ago DraftKings bought that company from us.

Chad Franzen 11:27

Wow. Wow. Awesome. So when you’re you know, I’m curious when you’re considering now who to invest in? Is there certain criteria that kind of stands above the rest when you’re making your decisions?

Wayne Kimmel 11:40

Absolutely. Chad, it’s a great question. It’s one of the things that’s so such a core part of what we’re all about at SeventySix Capital is the kind of people we invest in, you know, we were very, very, it’s just such an important thing to think about, you know, the kind of person so we describe it, as we’re always looking for entrepreneurs that are smart, that are nice, and that want to change the world and really do something in a big way and change and just a literally a game-changing business. And you know, the one, the one word that we just focus on in such a big way is the word nice. You know, we want to find people that we can work with, that we can help, that they want our help, and that there’s actually some thing that we can do to move that business forward a lot more than just the capital we invest. So that’s, that’s a big deal for us. And you also want to make sure that the entrepreneur is somebody that we can, we want us we want to get their phone call, we want to get their text message, we want them to communicate with us on Slack all the time. Right, we want these types of people that we enjoy being around. And because the thing about investing in startups, whether it’s a consumer tech company, whether it’s a health tech company, whether it’s a sports-related business, these businesses take time to grow, you don’t just put your money into a startup, and then you’re going to the New York Stock Exchange and ringing the bell within 12 months. That’s not, that’s not how it works. It takes time, it’s 12 months, and then it’s another 12. And then it’s another 12. And it’s another 12 It takes time. So you may be partnered with and many times married to entrepreneurs, for 5678 plus years, that you’re going to spend time with them, you’re gonna get to know them, you’re gonna get to know, you know, when they, when they, you know, have get their first boyfriend or girlfriend when they’re getting married, when they have their first kid. Like, they’re these all these major milestones across their lives. As well as your own, that you’ll you’ll be sharing with, you’ll be spending a lot of time with them, you’ll, you’ll be in a position where you’ll have a full day, and it’s 11 o’clock at night, and all of a sudden, you know, your cell phone rings. And it’s like, Oh, my God is one of our CEOs. but it better be someone that you’re like, for the you don’t want to pick up that phone, when you’re finally seeing your spouse and your kids when you’re trying to go to sleep. But like, Hey, this guy is on the east on the West Coast, that’s only it’s only eight o’clock out there and they need help, or they need something from you. And we want to be in a position to want to want to help not just it’s our duty, it’s because we really like these people.

Chad Franzen 14:27

So take me through the process of how these relationships kind of come about, do they? You know, you guys I’m sure pretty well known in that in that world are people calling you? Are you out looking for potential investors? How does that work?

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