Responding to a popular request, we are now sharing transcripts of our investor podcast interviews in this new series. The following interview with Deepen Parikh was recorded in May 2019.
Deepen Parikh is Partner at Courtside Ventures, a firm focused on investing in sports-related ventures. He provides a fascinating window into a little-discussed sector.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by having you introduce yourself and Courtside Ventures to our audience.
Deepen Parikh: I’m a Partner at Courtside Ventures. We’re an early-stage venture fund that invests in seed to Series B across five main areas of interest. The first is digital media, primarily, as it pertains to sport. We invest heavily in live events and venue technology. We invest in fitness, health and wellness, e-sports, and gaming. More recently, we invest in this whole new infrastructure around betting. Those are our five main areas of focus.
Our LPs come from a strategic background. One is a gentleman by the name of Dan Gilbert who owns Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team. The other is WPP, which is the largest advertising agency globally. We have access to a lot of these media companies as well as to some of the world’s top brands. We have invested in about 35 companies thus far. We are global investors. We do invest fairly heavily in the US and have also done investments all throughout Europe.
Sramana Mitra: What draws you to this sector? It’s a particularly interesting and unique investment thesis. What is your background?
Deepen Parikh: Growing up, I was a huge sports fan. I never really saw a career in sports. As I like to tell my wife, my dreams and genes didn’t align. I always stayed really close to the sports ecosystem.
Right after college, I moved to New York to work at UBS in a rotational program they had. It was 2007 to 2010. The markets were feeling the pain. As a young, straight-out-of-college professional, it was an amazing experience. I got a chance to see all the different parts of the bank.
It was during those three years when I started exploring different opportunities and just talking to folks and understanding the different businesses that exist around sports. Sports is a function of the media and entertainment ecosystem.
At the end of the day, sports is really community. I started working on my own idea right after UBS. I was building a CRM platform for professional and college sports teams. I had partnered up with a childhood friend of mine and we started this company. We worked on it for two years.
We built a good product but at the end of the day, it wasn’t necessarily scalable. It was more of a platform that was a bit more service-oriented. We felt we could build a good business, but we weren’t sure how large of a business we could really build.
We made a difficult decision where we decided to wind it down after two years. We had put our own capital into it. We hadn’t raised any outside capital. The decision was a bit easier. During the conversations when we were winding down, I got connected with a family office that was heavily involved in sports and media.
I came on to help them. That was the spark of the investment side in the ecosystem of sports. I then helped start an incubator in an early-stage fund that was not involved in sports. Then I got an opportunity, about four years ago, to come together with my business partner now and start Courtside Ventures.
He started out of his dorm room at Penn. He started a company called Crossover, which was a video analytics company for the sports industry. He ran that up until they sold about two years ago. It was a great opportunity for us to come together and start investing in these opportunities.