How Ex-NFL Safety Ryan Mundy Operates As A Young Technology Investor
July 8, 2017 | Mark Burns | Forbes Magazine Online
Former NFL safety Ryan Mundy has one message for technology companies: he’s “ready to play ball.”
Last month, the 32-year-old Mundy shared the testament on an athlete investor panel at sports media, technology and digital conference Hashtag Sports. Mundy, who is Chief Strategist at Chicago-based Techlete Ventures, said that when he started down the venture capital path a few years ago, there wasn’t a manual or blueprint for becoming an angel investor or even what differentiated a good investor from a great one.
He was teaching himself the tools of the trade but still received an invaluable piece of advice from a fellow venture capitalist about how to navigate the early-stage and seed investment waters, saying that he was encouraged to review 200 deals before writing that first check.
“I really held fast and strong to that piece of advice because there’s tons of opportunities out there and ways to allocate your capital. With me, I really wanted to understand what I was getting myself into,” said Mundy as he sat alongside fellow investor and New England Patriots wide receiver Andrew Hawkins along with ex-NFL wideout Marques Colston, who is also the founder of sports technology consulting company Dynasty Sports Group.
For Mundy, that education meant learning basic financial principles like how to read a term sheet and what’s a convertible note, among other steps in the due-diligence process. Through a fact-finding education, the eight-year NFL player also said he didn’t want to be the “dumb money in the deal” or just “write a check because I had a lot of money.”
“I needed to know what I was getting into,” added Mundy, who also explained that he’s interested in industries outside of sports including healthcare technology, bitcoin and software as a service (SaaS), among other areas.
Through his early-stage and seed fund, Mundy commented that he’s passionate about “changing the narrative” athletes have as businessmen and businesswomen in addition to further providing players the tools, resources and education necessary to combat that discussion.
According to the Pittsburgh native, the key is getting athletes engaged in the subject matter and presenting it in a way that gets them excited. If not, “the athlete stereotypes will come out” and “someone will be the dumb money in the deal, get taken advantage of or go bankrupt,” as he described.
“Everybody thinks we make X amount of dollars, and they end up on ‘30 for 30’ Broke. ... You’re an athlete, you got money, you mismanage your money and now you’re bankrupt. ... That’s the narrative out there, right? Mundy said.
“That’s not what is reflected right here. That story does not get told. I’m really passionate about changing that narrative, and the way that we change that narrative is we start educating guys. That’s why I really went on this fact-finding journey. I was like, ‘Man, I need to figure this out.’ I’m not in a rush to make an investment. I want to know what I’m getting into.”
When asked about about what he looks for in entrepreneurs and startup founders, Mundy said that there’s certain qualities and characteristics he looks for but also a special ‘it’ factor as well.
As athletes, we had to size people up for a living and figure out how to engage with them to win a play or a game. It’s no different when you’re talking to a founder,” Mundy said. “Immediately you can tell a phony and this guy doesn’t have it. There’s still some high IQ and analytics that goes into it, but that’s how we made our living so we need to apply that to how we evaluate entrepreneurs and this guy has X, Y and Z. He’s very headstrong, and he’s very focused. Setbacks really won’t affect this guy. Those are some of the truest measures of an entrepreneur. … The proverbial, you get knocked down but you get right back up.”
Former NFL Safety Ryan Mundy Launches VC Firm Techlete Ventures
August 16, 2017 | Joe Lemire | Sports Techie
After his seventh NFL season in 2014, Chicago Bears safety Ryan Mundy knew he was entering the “twilight” of his career. Though only 29 and fresh off his best year, he was cognizant of the sport’s finite longevity.
“When the music stops,” he asked himself, “what am I going to do next?”
Mundy enrolled in the University of Miami’s executive MBA program to take courses part-time, a hybrid of classroom work and online learning. A back injury kept him sidelined for the 2015 season, and after arduous rehab all winter, he decided to retire after a career spent playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants as well.
Around that time, retired Lakers star Kobe Bryant had launched his $100 million venture fund, and a number of athletes were diving into the investment space. One of Mundy’s friends from his native Pittsburgh suggested he look into angel investing. With his MBA completed — to go along with an undergraduate degree from Michigan and a previous master’s degree in sports management from West Virginia — Mundy cold-called and emailed dozens of professionals for what he calls his “fact-finding journey” that culminated in his March launch of Techlete Ventures.
“At Techlete Ventures, it’s just me,” Mundy said. “I am the GP, the LP, the associate, the analyst. I do it all, soup to nuts — I search my own deals, evaluate my own deals.”
One of the best pieces of advice he received came from Laurence (Lo) Toney, a partner at Google Ventures, who advised Mundy to evaluate at least 200 deals before making his first financial commitment. Not wanting to be just someone who wrote a check, Mundy is taking a methodical approach. He said he has a few pending term sheets out for review now but isn’t quite ready to announce his first deal.
“I worked really hard for my money, and I used to have to run into people to get it,” he said. “So I had to be very mindful about where I was writing checks.”
Mundy has spoken on panels such as June’s Hashtag Sports tech and media conference in New York, although sports technology is just one area of interest. He prefers to be “sector agnostic” when scouting deals and so far has been most interested in the fields of enterprise software, financial technologies (including cryptocurrencies), health care and consumer packaged goods. He’s also considering buying stakes in small-to-medium sized businesses as well as classic angel investments in startups.
“When you reduce your opportunity set, it magnifies the difficulty to actually achieve a winner,” Mundy said. “There’s a duality to that. Yes, I have domain expertise [in sports]. I could bring value to these sports companies. But then on the flip side, I’m more than just an athlete.”