Kevin Durant Follows 3-Time Super Bowl Champ Rob Gronkowski Into the Weed Game
Durant’s Venture Capital Firm Thirty Five Ventures Joins Forces With Canopy Rivers
Recently we’ve seen musicians, actors, and NFL players join the ranks of celebrity-endorsed cannabis ventures. Now for the first time, a high-profile NBA player is throwing his hat in the reefer ring: the 2x NBA champion, 10x all-star and current Brooklyn Nets Power Forward, Kevin Durant.
Along with his business partner, Rich Kleiman, Durant’s venture capital firm, Thirty Five Ventures, joins the strategic advisory board of Canopy Rivers (TSX: RIV) (OTCPK: CNPOF), a venture capital firm that specializes in cannabis. The move marks Thirty Five Ventures’ second cannabis-related venture, following its investment in the online cannabis dispensary and delivery startup, dutchie, earlier this year.
“We’re thrilled to have Thirty Five Ventures join the Canopy Rivers team,” says Narbé Alexandrian, the President and CEO of Canopy Rivers. “We’re excited to combine our venture capital knowledge and cannabis domain expertise, and we believe this partnership will drive success for our portfolio as we continue to grow in the years ahead.”
A Canadian Cannabis Connection
The budding partnership will allow Durant’s growing venture capital startup to expand its global portfolio by connecting with Canadian cannabis giant, Canopy Growth (TSX: WEED) (NYSE: CGC), which is affiliated with the investment company Canopy Rivers. As a publicly-traded investment firm, Canopy Rivers will also aim to co-invest with Thirty Five Ventures in other cannabis-related brands in the future — with the intention of leveraging the celebrity of Durant and the business expertise of Kleiman.
“We wanted to partner with a company that shares this vision for the cannabis sector and that’s how we landed on Thirty Five Ventures,” explains Alexandrian. “Their experience in venture capital, particularly investing in specialized companies that are the best at one or two things, knowledge of sports and entertainment, and success in CPG investments were all big factors. We believe that by working together we can achieve more.”
In addition to benefiting from the business experience of Durant and Kleiman, Alexandrian expressed his excitement regarding the diversity the duo brings to the table.
“We’re excited to leverage that experience as we work towards raising the potential of the global cannabis industry,” said Alexandrian. “On top of their venture capital success, Kevin Durant’s career in professional sports, and Rich Kleiman’s expertise in the sector are absolutely things we hope our portfolio benefits from. When we look at consumer brands, we see that high-performance athletics as one area that is full of opportunity, and we look forward to the expertise the Thirty Five team brings in that regard.”
A Canopy Rivers spokesperson echoed Alexandrian’s sentiment: stating that the goal is to build off of Durant and Kleiman’s “experience in brand development, marketing, and the sports and entertainment industry.”
Cannabis: A Game of Diversification and Data
Canopy Rivers President and CEO, Narbé Alexandrian, went on to explain the importance of staying focused on data in the fast-growing and always-changing market of recreational cannabis.
“On Canopy Rivers’ end, it’s all about being focused,” says Alexandrian. While “many companies are focusing on being everything to everyone” Canopy Rivers has chosen to follow the data and focus on consumer behaviour. Their conclusion? Recreational cannabis is becoming a diverse landscape where each pot player must carve out a niche to survive — including performance, lifestyle, wellness, sleep, or recovery.
Durant’s partner — and the business mind behind Thirty Five Ventures — Rich Kleiman, also expressed the importance of embracing data when choosing what to invest in.
“We’ve recognized that Canopy Rivers has taken a data-backed approach to map out forward-looking opportunities in the industry,” explained Kleiman. He went on to say how excited they are to work with “some of the most disruptive founders in the space.”
A Board of Experts
The Thirty Five Ventures team joins a diverse lineup of corporate executives on the Canopy Rivers’ board, including John Ruffolo, Co-founder of the Canadian Council of Innovators (and founder of OMERS Ventures), Meg Lovell (former co-head of M&A at Imperial Brands), Philip Donne (former President of Campbell Canada), and Julian Burzynski (Regional President of Breakthru Beverage Canada).
The right pieces are in place. Now let’s see what comes of this innovative new pot partnership.
— Thirty Five Ventures (@35Ventures) April 10, 2019
Source: Thirty 5 Ventures Twitter
Shares of Canopy Rivers closed Friday’s trading session at $1.27 per share, up 4.96% on the day.
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