These guys get it and are for real. I’ve known Mike Duda (@mikeduda) for a few years now and he’s onto something. Let me explain why I think they have an opportunity to help create a new type of investor class that adds real strategic value.
The Front Man
Who doesn’t want to take a phone call from a player who has been a 2X NBA league MVP and 7x NBA All-Star? Think you can get a meeting with someone? I’m going to bet that Steve Nash can open more doors than the above average biz/corp dev person. If you are one of his portfolio companies, Nash should be able to open the door anywhere. For the sheer fun of it, I’d take a meeting with Mr. Nash and let him tell me about any of his portfolio companies. Recently, WFAN 660AM took me out to breakfast with Boomer Esiason… a future hall of fame NFL QB. That was awesome though the conversation wasn’t. While the reporters loved Nash’s internship at Deutsch, I promise you that he’s not going to be sitting in the office working on campaign slogans… that’s the ad-mans turf.
The Ad Man
For those of you who are not familiar with Deutsch, it’s one of the top integrated shops left on Madison Avenue. My agency, kbs+p is often compared to it and even Mike worked there back in the 90s. Buddy Mike was one of the youngest partners ever at Deutsch and was directly responsible for some of their largest business including running the Anheuser-Busch InBev and Under Armour acccounts. Duda also launched some businesses for Deutsch to much success and is highly regarded as one of the industries top ad-men operators.
Why Take Their Money?
In these frothy capital-rich (crazy to say that in a recession) days where it seems everyone is opening a seed/venture fund, the actual money to invest is just the table stakes. What separates early stage investors from one another is the network that they keep and the value that they can add from a strategic and tactical planning perspective. Many major early stage investors have been technical guys who were either product managers or startup CEOs that made it big… but I rarely, if there is even anyone out there, see people coming at it from a marketing angle. Steve Nash has built his own brand which is world renown and Mike has built up multibillion dollar brands. Startups need to understand how important their own brand is when talking to the world as it affects every conversation that they are having with consumers, investors, acquisitors, and potentials.
If you look at all the companies who get hyped on TechCrunch, TechMeme, GigaOM, AlleyInsider, and others, more times than not, their brand stands out. Goodwill counts.
A Serious Bet
While GigaOM posted about another celebrity moving into tech with weak results, I see this celebrity having an awesome sidekick in Duda. The area that I’d love to see them fill out is on the investing front end and they will have a nicely well rounded team. Lets revisit this post in 365 days from now and see where they are… but want to send the boys’ Duda and Nash my most sincerest regards and best wishes!
Note: I’m not an investor in their fund or currently working with them in any capacity. I’m just excited to see some innovation in the space I love: Marketing and Investments