Responding to popular requests, we are now sharing transcripts of our investor podcast interviews in this new series. The following interview with Keith Bank was recorded in November 2020.
Keith Bank is Founder CEO at KB Partners, a venture firm focused on sports technology.
Sramana Mitra: Tell us a bit about your background as well as what you’re trying to do with KB Partners.
Keith Bank: I’ve been in the venture business for about 25 years. I started out as an angel investor in the mid-90’s when the Chicago and the Midwest had a real void for early-stage venture money. I did a series of one-off investments with my own money and had some good early success.
I parlayed that into a couple of early-stage tech-focused venture funds. Once those two funds were fully invested and harvested, I went back to my angel investing days. I thought I was better at finding interesting entrepreneurs and did a series of one-off deals with my own capital along with other folks.
We had a good run. A handful of those deals happen to be at the intersection of sports and technology. It’s an area that I’m very passionate about. I’ve always loved sports. The more and more I looked at the landscape, there were very few people doing early-stage investing. I thought it would be an interesting niche.
In late 2017 and early 2018, I decided to get back into the fund business and raised a $41 million early-stage fund. I recruited a few partners to join me and we’ve made 12 investments in that fund. We’re going to be launching a new $100 million fund to continue along the same path. We’ve added a new general partner to that fund.
Sramana Mitra: Where do you invest? Is it all over the US or all over the world? What’s your geography?
Keith Bank: Our primary focus is US and North America. We’ve made one investment in Europe to date. For anything outside of continental US, we really have to have a much higher bar.
We’re extremely hands-on. We invest in seed and Series A. We’ve opted for the most part to stick to continental US. It’s served us well to date even though there’re a lot of opportunities all over the world.
Sramana Mitra: Are all the partners of KB situated in Chicago?
Keith Bank: They are. We have three partners. We’re focused in the northern suburbs of Chicago. We’re traveling a lot. We have portfolio companies on the West Coast, East Coast, and Midwest. That came to a grinding halt eight or nine months ago.
We’ve been working remotely since then. There’re a lot of highs and lows with sports being cancelled for a while. We were a bit concerned when that started. Most of our portfolio companies were more positively affected than negatively. We have a lot of investments in video streaming, immersive media, and e-sports.