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Steph Curry disrupted basketball by making seemingly impossible three-point shots look routine. Now the Golden State Warriors guard is looking for disrupters in business as he scouts out new investments off the court.
His latest bet is Canadian travel startup SnapTravel, which helps users make hotel bookings through messenger platforms like WhatsApp. Curry and Telstra Ventures, the investment arm of Australian telecom giant Telstra Corp., were among a group that invested $13.2 million in the company, which closed its series A funding round at $21.2 million, according to a statement Tuesday.
“My team has been on the search in terms of companies that are being disruptive and having obvious success,” Curry, 30, said in an interview at SnapTravel’s headquarters in Toronto.
Curry, the highest-paid player in the National Basketball Association, has been building up his investments over the past few years by taking stakes in companies like Pinterest and Palm, while launching Slyce, a platform that helped athletes enhance their social media communications. Now, he’s trying to ramp up his credibility early on as a smart investor as his business network and deal pitches grow.
“There’s no shortage of deal flow. Obviously, if I really wanted to be a little reckless with my money I would call it, there’s so many different ways you could spend it,” Curry said. “We’re trying to be very strategic, again, find winners early.”
Curry sees a parallel between his play on the court and his investments style.
“I’ll call it, running the game on the court, being disruptive, playing the game my way my style, I wanna bring that same mentality to how we make sound judgments and investments,” said Curry, who was in Toronto last week as his team faced the Raptors.
Curry’s company SC30, Inc., which manages his investments, brand partnership, media and philanthropic interests, was introduced to SnapTravel through Telstra Ventures. Having Curry on board will help with the company’s growth and brand, Hussein Fazal, chief executive officer and co-founder of SnapTravel, said by phone.
“Normally people would pay Steph Curry tons and tons of money just to be able to use his name, but we have the best of both worlds where we got him to invest in SnapTravel and are able to use his name,” Fazal said. “To create that brand power and brand legitimacy around that, for us, this was a no-brainer.”
SnapTravel’s AI-based algorithms help curate personalized hotel deals accessible immediately through platforms including Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, SMS, iMessage and Alexa. Founded just two years ago, the platform has engaged with over 2 million customers in over 150 countries and has led to more than $50 million in hotel sales this year, 450 percent more than last year.
Being situated in the back yard of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech giants and venture capital firms helps find early bets, Curry said. And it’s helped make him a better investor.
“The network out there is amazing — when you go to our games and kinda look around the court-side seats, it’s major VCs, major corporations, CEOs,” Curry said. “I could have a long list of people that run in with just a simple conversation or followed me and things like where you just learn.”
He’s also taken tips from basketball players such as former San Antonio Spurs player David Robinson, who have carved out a name for themselves in business and philanthropy.
“There’s plenty of guys that have done it well: I’m trying to do it my way but obviously need some of that advice as well,” Curry said.
For now, SC30 is looking at making about 8 to 12 investments each year and hoping to partner alongside reputable, institutional investors that can assist in doing a deep dive into prospective companies or industries, like Telstra did with SnapTravel, said Bryant Barr, president of SC30, Inc.
“My biggest goal for Stephen is to build credibility and a good reputation for him as an investor,” Barr said in an interview. “It’s less about trying to find that next 100x return right now, and how do we just make sound, thoughtful investments.”
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.