Keith Bank is the Founder and CEO of KB Partners, a leading early-stage sports and technology venture capital firm. KB Partners have recorded successes, with many of the companies they back either having been acquired or gone public.

Before founding KB Partners, Keith served as a Principal at Hiffman Shaffer Associates, Inc., a Chicago-based national real estate development, investment, management, and brokerage firm. He’s been a highly successful entrepreneur, real estate developer, and angel investor. Keith is one of the Founders of the Illinois Venture Capital Association and was the recipient of their highly coveted fellows medal for leadership.


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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Keith Bank talks about the final closing in the sports tech fund
  • What Keith looks for in an early-stage startup
  • How KB Partners gets hands-on with the businesses they back
  • Some fantastic companies Keith has funded — and why
  • Keith shares insights into the challenges of starting and growing Club Champion Golf
  • Why Keith started Chicago Select Golf Invitational
  • How Keith became an entrepreneur and started a venture capital firm
  • Keith recounts a big investment mistake
  • Mistakes people make when trying to sell their company
  • Is Keith passing on the entrepreneurial gene?
  • Mentors that influenced Keith

In this episode…

The venture capital space is as risky as it gets. Yes, they do a bunch of research to decide which companies to back, but they still have to rely on their guts and experience to choose one or more of the qualifying companies to fund. That alone does not increase the chances of success — getting hands-on does.

What does getting hands-on mean for a venture capitalist, and how do limited partners potentially influence a startup’s success? And if you’re a startup owner who’s looking to sell, what are the mistakes to avoid?

Listen to this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast with Dr. Jeremy Weisz featuring Keith Bank, Founder and CEO of KB Partners. They discuss the goings-on in the sports tech fund space, how Keith became a VC founder, what he looks for in an early-stage startup, how they get hands-on to help their companies succeed, and lots more.

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Episode Transcript

Jeremy Weisz 0:19

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here, Founder of InspiredInsider.com where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs leaders. And before I introduce you to formulate the Keith Bank of KB Partners, Keith, I always like to mention a couple other past episodes people should check out. And since this is like bridging the sports world in the tech worlds, am picking one of their sports related this isn’t really sports tech, but the Founder of Big League Chew was really interesting. I’d Rob Nelson on how he came up with the shredded bubblegum in the bullpen of his minor league baseball game, which just caught fire and founder of P90x Tony Horton. And what I like about the stories to get is not just like the success stories, but he talked about just starting out and driving cross country when he’s first decided he want to do kind of like Personal Training, and he actually made money as a street mime. So he put his head on the street, and he would be a street performer. And that’s how he made his food and rent money early on when he moved to California. Obviously, he’s, you know, since selling, you know, whatever, lots of hundreds of millions of dollars of P90x, it’s a little bit different now, but that checkout many more episodes on InspiredInsider.com, and this episode is brought to you by Rise25 and the Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships, partnerships. And we do that by helping you run your podcasts. You know, for me over the past over decade, podcasting has been amazing because I get to profile the people and the relationships I admire and I love and I get to shout out what they’re doing from the rooftops on my podcast and share with the universe. So if you have thought about podcasting, I would say do it. If you have questions, go to Rise25.com check out more, learn more, and you can email us if you have anything that you have a question for. And this is a big shout out to Chris Baskin, who introduced me to today’s guest Keith Bank. Keith Bank is the Founder and CEO of KB Partners is a leading early stage sports and tech VC firm. He’s been a highly successful entrepreneur, real estate developer, angel investor prior to starting his own VC firm 26 years ago, and if you go to KBPartners.com and their portfolio page, they have a long list of companies they’ve been that have been acquired, and that they work with, including there’s a couple on their Active Network and Rubicon Technology at an IPO Golf.com that was acquired by Time Inc. and many more companies that we’re going to talk about today. He is one of the Founders of Illinois Venture Capital Association, and was the recipient of their highly coveted fellows medal for leadership. Keith, thanks for joining me.

Keith Bank 3:08

My pleasure. Glad to be on on the air with you.

Jeremy Weisz 3:11

You know, we are talking about what’s Top of Mind now and I’d love for you to talk about the final closing in the sports tech fund.

Keith Bank 3:22

Yeah, so we, you know, we’ve been investing in this sports tech vertical for about five years now actively, I’d made a few previous angel investments in the space. But you know, our first fund we raised in early 2018, that’s now fully invested in 16. portfolio companies, we have some money reserved for follow on in those companies. And in early 2021, we set out to raise fund two, with a target of $100 million. It was a very audacious and ambitious target because no one had ever raised that early stage sports tech fund anywhere near that size. In the past, there have been plenty of venture funds way larger, many times larger, but not in this specific vertical. And please do announce, you know, we expect to blow past our $100 million number and then x 30 to 45 days, which will make us in the largest early stage sports tech fund ever raised. we’ve committed to five investments in the new fund already, which we’re super excited about. And think we’ve built just a phenomenal platform team. And we just love love the space. We think we’re really in the early innings kind of where FinTech was 20 years ago, just so much innovation is occurring. And we can talk further about some of the areas which we have investment interest in. But the space is just exploding.