⭐ Upside VC profile & Chat: Steve Quinn, CEO, Emerging Media Ventures
VC name: Emerging Media Ventures
Founders: Manoj Badale & Charles Mindenhall
Sector: Sports & Media
VC type: Venture Builder
Typical seed investment range: Up to $5M
Emerging Media Ventures is the UK’s leading sports venture builder. As majority owner of the Rajasthan Royals, they are uniquely positioned to provide exposure to the global growth in cricket and the Indian economy. Within their role as a venture builder, they bring together their resources, infrastructure, network and experience to help support and grow business. Within this, they hold a range of specific capabilities including exposure to cricket, experience in India, sports expertise and venture build services.
They continue to build on their portfolio of assets that demonstrate strong synergies with both cricket and India. Assets currently within their portfolio include the Rajasthan Royals, Barbados Royals, Cricket Star and Emerging Rights Management. They are always looking to hear innovative ideas, build new relationships and meet talented people.
They are the sports and media investment arm of Blenheim Chalcot, the UK’s leading digital venture builder.
Total number of investments: 7
Total number of exits: N/A
Emerging Media Ventures’ latest startup investments: SAT20, Cricket South Africa’s T20 cricket league.
This week, we interviewed Steve Quinn, CEO of Emerging Media Ventures.
📝Show Notes: Through this interview, we touched on his background, his role at Emerging Media Ventures. We also discussed his investment thesis, his area of focus, and what he is typically looking for when investing in startups. We also touched on why top athletes such as Chris Paul, Larry Fitzgerald and Kelvin Beachum invested into the Rajasthan Royals, a top Indian pro cricket team that they own.
🚀Best Quotes: Here’s some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Steve:
On his background:
“So, I was studying law at university in London, and I very quickly decided that the legal profession was going to be a hard grind and it probably wasn't for me. If I'm honest, I have always been interested in a career in finance. And then I was reading in the Sunday paper one time that a chartered accountancy was a useful backdoor into investment banking. You would get to skip some of the early years in banking, which were super tough on graduates”.
“So that's the route I took. I joined EY in London after I graduated, and I very quickly moved into investment banking. Then, after the financial crisis, I moved into the investment side on the buy side. This is where I am today, running a sports investment firm”.
On his firm Emerging Media Ventures:
“So, we're not structured as a fund, we are a permanent capital vehicle. And our assets under management are a little over $1.2 billion”.
“Emerging media Ventures is the major shareholder in the Rajasthan Royals one of the original IPL (Indian Premier League) franchises. The IPL was founded in 2008 as a bit of a punt at the time. No one knew it would have the success that it has. But in the recent media rights auction, which took place just last month, the value per match of an IPL game is now the second most valuable sports property in the world behind the NFL and actually ranking ahead of the English premier league soccer on a per match basis”.
On the areas of investments that his company is focusing on:
“We describe ourselves broadly as a sports and media platform, but really, we are providing exposure to the Indian consumer, and to cricket, globally. And that really just ties into our thesis of us being very rigid and very focused on where we can drive differentiated value add, and our position within the IPL footprint in India means that cricket and India are really the focus for us.”
“Albeit we define that very broadly and there can be some tangential or adjacent businesses that are not specifically tied to cricket, but if they're giving you insights into fan engagement, or on field performance, then those are areas of great interest to us also. And so, anything related to data fan engagements that can be applied to Cricket or in South Asia, would fall within our areas of interest”.
On what his firm is looking for when investing in startups:
“Any investor will tell you that start-ups need to be able to define their business model in one sentence and their total addressable market, and all of those standard things, which we obviously consider. But the two things that we really focus on are the founders and the management team. There are lots of great ideas out there, but there are far fewer great operators who can deliver on their strategy”.
“We invest for the long term, so we really need to believe in the founders, and we need to enjoy working with them and spending time with them (...) We also see a lot of great opportunities which we pass up on because we can't honestly say to ourselves that we will be able to personally drive outsized value in that business”.
“That is in the public domain, but I will make it very clear that I do not speak for any of our investors. However, it’s true, we do have some very high-profile individuals who co-invested alongside us, including some athletes. These athletes are smart and they're well rounded and they put good teams around them”.
“What I have been overwhelmingly impressed by is by how well considered, shrewd and diverse some of these athletes who we've met are when it comes to building their portfolio. They really understand tech. They have very clear investment theses, they know exactly what they're doing, and they're hands on. They also have some smart people around them, and they have an opinion”.
“They're aware that India is a huge growth opportunity and they've very quickly come to realize that if they want to harness some of that India opportunity, but stay within the world of sports, then your only option is cricket. There's not the same sort of big five sports that they have in the US or even what we have here in Europe, amongst different sports. It’s cricket or nothing in India. (..) So I think the growth potential in India and wanting to stay in sports is why they have been interested in the IPL and the Royals”.
“Indian people are fanatical about crickets. Typically, the IPL (Indian Premier League), over the course of a season, gets north of 800 million viewers. It’s massive. I think it's over three times the size of the number of people who watch the Super Bowl if I'm not mistaken”.
On the type of advice he would give to any start-ups looking to raise money right now:
“Do it quickly. We've seen an extended period of low interest rates and easy capital and that is already changing and it's likely to continue to move in the wrong direction if you are raising money. So do it quickly. And be clear of your equity story and, to my mind, be very targeted in who you seek to raise from. I always ask founders what their perfect investor looks like and the founders who can answer that question and describe exactly the profile are typically the more investible companies”.
“And I'm often very surprised when some founders give a very generic answer. They haven't really thought about it. They've thought about how much money they want and how they're going to apply that to their business, but they have not thought about who they want to partner with. And these are long term relationships. So very targeted would be my top piece of advice”.
On what advice he would give to anyone interested in starting a career in the sports investment world:
“I would say, go for it. It's an exciting place to be. And I think we're really just at the start of sports being accepted and understood as an asset class. And that's only going to get bigger and more interesting. I should also add that they should read “A New Innings”. It's a great book on the business of sport. Although full disclosure, I should mention that it happens to be written by my boss Manoj Badale”.
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