Former Israeli NBA legend Omri Casspi, the first Israeli player to break into the NBA, announced this week that he has launched Sheva (Seven in Hebrew), an early-stage tech-focused $50 million venture capital (VC) fund. The former basketball player, who retired less than a year ago, launched the fund with veteran VC investor David Citron, a former Israeli partner of European VC firm Global Founders Capital.
The fund, which is directed towards pre-seed, seed stage, and opportunistic Series A investments, aims to invest $1-2 million in 20 young tech-centered companies.
Sheva became active in the beginning of the year, and has already made a number of investments in fintech, cyber security, and web3 ventures. The fund’s investors include institutional investors, family offices, tech entrepreneurs, and highly active crossover funds that have made heavy global investments.
Casspi played in the NBA for over a decade and served as the captain of Israel’s national basketball team. During his career, he played alongside athletes who were active tech investors, which influenced him to later become an active angel investor himself. Upon his retirement and return to Israel in July 2021, Casspi grew a portfolio consisting of more than a dozen early-stage tech companies before getting more invoiced in Israel’s VC ecosystem and crossing paths with Citron.
“Omri initially reached out to me on LinkedIn. I’ve always been a fan of the game of basketball and grew up watching Omri represent Israel. But, a connection request from someone like Casspi seemed like a phishing attempt,” said Citron, who previously invested in Israeli startups like Frontegg, Sorbet, and Cyolo. “We hit it off immediately and started co-investing in a number of early-stage startups. Our chemistry was so good, that it got to a point that our joint portfolio companies suggested we team up on our weekly calls. We were already thinking about the viability of starting a fund, but hearing this message from founders more than once gave us a real indication of product-market fit, so we decided to go all-in and launch Sheva”
“I’ve always been the hardest worker; first one at the gym, last one to leave. I believe that the same level of energy is what’s required of an early-stage founder, and I’m eager to bring my hustle and robust network that I was fortunate enough to build over my career to provide real differentiated value to our founders” said Casspi in the statement. “David and I have very little overlap in the value that we bring to our portfolio, which we believe is a significant force multiplier. This combined with our fantastic community of LPs (limited partners) who include celebrities, influences, unicorn founders, angel investors, and successful GPs is what we believe to be a winning formula for true value add.”
“We’re combining two successful VC models that have been battle-tested around the world; the celebrity and veteran VC pairing, and an early-stage investment model that focuses on investing in as many companies as possible at the early stage, and then doubling down on the emerging winners together with the LPs. We believe LPs should be far more involved in the investment lifecycle of the portfolio, and our investors are very eager to participate in direct investment opportunities together with us,” Citron concluded.