From buying custom oversized mattresses for his Brooklyn Nets teammates to launching a tech-focused interview series during a global pandemic, we cover it all on this episode of The Game Plan.
Mason Plumlee of the NBA's Denver Nuggets joins us to share his perspective on investing, and how his hometown of Warsaw, Indiana played a key role in why he likes to focus on healthcare for his alternative asset exposure.
In this episode, we talk to our guest about the NBA hiatus and its upcoming return. This includes learning more about what has drawn him to start an online show of his own, "Founders Series", on FB Live.
At the end of the show, Tim and Jay also introduce a new segment called "Partner Rundown" where we each take a turn giving our 1-minute perspective on five topics covered in the conversation with our guest. This Partner Rundown includes:
*Please excuse any and all typos, errors and mistakes in the following transcript as an automated service is used to generate this text*
I think everybody comes into the NBA. And you look at the business moves that the LeBrons and the Kevin Durant's make. And you know, that's great. LeBron took Beats from inceptions at 30 million or Kevin Duran, you know, he can invest in, the watermelon water, whatever there are guys who can completely change the prospects of a company with their star power and that's undeniable, but depending on what your interest is. You can have an incredible impact in a certain sector that could be completely untouched by athletes.
Our guest today is making the most of his NBA hiatus by feeding his curiosity and speaking to founders to learn more about various startups today, we welcome seven. Your NBA, veteran and Denver Nugget. Mason Plumlee to the game plan. Mason, thank you so much for joining us.
Hey guys. Thanks for having me on.
So Mason, we're excited to talk to you today about your founder series and the investing that you're doing off the court. But first I want to take it back a bit to the beginning of your NBA career. When you joined a really interesting nets team that had been newly formed and brought in veterans like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnette.
you know, I I've heard, and I'm wondering if it's true, but it seems like Kevin Garnett was a bit of a mentor for you in those first years.
That was a heck of a team to come into the league on those, or, just two of many guys that I had watched growing up. And, there was, a great roster. You adjacent kid hall of fame player was our coach kg. Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, Joe Johnson, Darren Williams, Brooke Lopez. We just had, I mean, if you, if you think back we were on the cover of sports illustrated, people were picking us to beat the heat.
And, it was a heck of a rookie year. It was a lot of, memories and, and experience that I'll never forget.
Yeah, it sounds like a lot of personalities in that locker room. Now that you've been in the league for seven plus years, looking back to that versus, you know, different teams you've been on and other personalities, how do you contextualize it versus the other experiences you've had?
I would say that was The collection of the most strong personalities I've ever been around. you know, even guys who, you know, you had guys who weren't even in the rotation as much, if you look to like Reggie Evans or. guys at the end of the bench, myself, we all were very opinionated.
We all felt a certain way about how things should go or not go. And, it was interesting how it all played out. You know, we got off to a really poor start. Brooke broke his foot early in the season. and then we ended up turning it around after Christmas. we actually ended up playing a lot of small ball.
with me at the five Paul Pierce at the core, Joe Johnson at the three. And, and that was kinda what turned the, the season around for us. But, it was a fun season, man, just for us to make it to the sixth seed after what we had been during the regular season. And then we went and lost to the heat in the second round, but it was a fun year for sure.
Yeah, that's, that's pretty cool. So, you know, we got introduced to you through Milton Lee, who was in the nets front office at that time. And Milt, mentioned there was a story about a time. You, brought mattresses into the office for everybody.
Yeah. So like his players, his heart, you know, we're, we're big guys and I had never had a mattress that fit and, and I had a friend that worked at a foam cutting factory. So he didn't actually work for like Serta or. A Tempurpedic, but he worked at the factory where they cut the foam. So he was like, Hey, I could cut you some seven, eight foot slabs.
And I was like, that'd be awesome. And so I, you know, we being the rookie, I'm like, Hey, does anybody want a big bed Kaiser? We're like, yeah, of course. And we're getting them for nothing. So my buddy actually drove up in a moving truck, a bunch of custom cut mattresses the guys.
So, you know, it was some guys, took them, some guys didn't, but it was a, just a small gesture to say, sleep well.
love that, man. I love that it pays to have a buddy who works at a foam cutting factory.
I was going to say, it seems like you've kind of had a entrepreneurial spirit, even from those playing days. So as you think about now, coming into your own as a investor, as somebody who has an interest in entrepreneurship, When you look back on your career, where did that interest really start? Did it start with mattresses or was there something that got you excited about investing in entrepreneurship?
For the record, I made no money on the mattresses. That was just something to do for the guys. But, you know, I've always been interested in people starting up, their own businesses. I think. I was introduced to it more at Duke where you hear the stories about, you know, like Duke managers who have graduated and started their own businesses.
and then when I graduated and moved to New York, I met a couple entrepreneurs, started going to coworking spaces and learning more stories. So. There is an attraction early on. And then I never, I never viewed myself as an investor. you know, I never even anticipate great and having the means to do that, but to me, it was a way to engage and be a role player the growth of what I thought was an exciting company.
While I don't have the time to be a full time founder or entrepreneur myself.
Right. And you talked earlier about, you know, coming into the league around this veteran team with all these personalities, and I'm sure they had plenty of, you know, advice on how you carry yourself on the court. But looking back on those guys, there's quite a few of them that have also had. Tremendous success off the court.
I'm thinking of kg specifically, you know, obviously in movies, but, but also just how he carries himself. So what advice from those players or even other players that you've played with, still rings true to you about how you carry yourself off the court? outside the NBA.
Yeah. I mean, kg was great. I mean, I talked to him the most and he was a great mentor to me. And in terms of off the course stuff, what was so valuable from him as well as like Andre Kirilenko, who had a lot of business interests off the court. Jason, Terry, these guys they were willing to share what they had done wrong.
which I really appreciated. Cause I think a lot of guys would shy away from that. because it's easy to talk about your wins and the smart moves that you've made, but they took the time to tell me why, the restaurant deal went bad or this real estate development went wrong or who they trusted and how they didn't vet them as a business partner.
So those guys were, were very transparent with me and I felt like it helped me avoid some mistakes that I could have very easily have made early in my career.
Yeah. I guess speaking to those mistakes based, and like, we, we hear these narratives right. About the broke athlete and obviously there's the ESPN documentary and there's folks that sort of ad nauseum will cover, these guys that made a hundred million dollars and then you sort of follow them five years out of league and they're having hardship.
I've heard you say in the past that this comes more from generosity than bad business moves. Can you help us understand that a little bit? What are your thoughts on this narrative of the broke NBA player or the broke athlete?
Yeah, I think it's exactly what you said the first, you know, people love to look at, athletes and say, Oh, dumb money, or, you know, you're responsible or whatever. But the guys who I've gotten to know who have had. incredible wealth and loss. It tends to be, believe it or not from philanthropy, from, good intentions and trying to take care of their families and friends, you know, entire communities really, depending on them to support.
And, I think it's a balance, obviously between how much can I give someone? To empower them and not enable them. you know, one thing I heard that I really liked is like, give people enough to do something, but don't give them enough to do nothing. And I feel like, when I see like the 30 for 30 broke, yeah, they'll point to a bad business move here or there, or they'll point to a nice house or a nice car, but when guys are making 50, a hundred million dollars, you can afford to do those things.
it tends to be the, The people that they're, you know, being generous to, and they're doing it over the course of five, 10, 15 years, where they're just taking care of people where that's not highlighted in those, narratives.
What's so interesting about professional athletes as it relates to their network and people coming to them. And we actually, we talked to Spencer Haws about this, who was a guest on the game plan is that it's like the only profession where your income is broadcast. We can, people can just Google search how much money you've made.
you know, is that something that you've like, how do you deal with that as a pro athlete?
Yeah, Spencer's great. By the way, he's helped me out with some stuff. I visited him on Seattle one summer and, shared some real estate stuff with me, but, you know, that point, really is like, where else can you go? Except maybe like CEOs and executives of public companies and realize exactly how much they make.
And then when people see. Our salaries, they just think, okay, you signed a $20 million deal. They think you have $20 million cash in hand. The day you sign the deal, which is just, funny to me because you know, a lot of people don't, don't take into account taxes, agent fees. They don't even know that 10% of our contract each year goes into escrow.
Like, and then we get a portion back depending on how the league does. These are all things that. when you get into the real math of it, people don't see that they just see that you signed a $20 million deal. So
Yeah. And everything going on with the hiatus this year is a perfect example of that. Even guaranteed money can be up for grabs.
Exactly. And this, this has been a learning experience to me because I always bragged about, well, the NBA has the best collective bargaining agreement. We have guaranteed contracts, blah, blah, blah. And then I find out what a force, majority clauses. So there's a lot of unknowns that go into it and look, we're.
We're well compensated for what we actually deliver to society where we're highly overpaid. So I'm not complaining about it, just to your point of people seeing how much we make, and then, you know, seeing us as targets. It's not as much as they think it is.
Yeah, that's right. I mean, you touched a little bit on the idea of investing in real estate. I'm sure. since you've become a pro athlete, there've been quite a few folks that have approached you with different opportunities. So before we get into the VC stuff, which I know our listeners are going to be super interested in.
how do you think about your investing portfolio? How do you think about, as an athlete allocating your capital across whether it's VC real estate, different investments, how do you plan for that? How do you think about that?
So I rely heavily on, on a wealth manager. So I use a group called summit trail. They've been great. And what I do with them is I give them. I would say 80, 85% of what I make. And then with the rest of it, I, I take a calculated risk, in the private sector. So like you said, real estate venture, whether it's franchising, like I'll look at a lot of different stuff and.
I'm really counting on the wealth advisor to keep me from ever going broke. but I enjoy learning process that comes with, vetting my own deals seeing what's out there in the private sector. So that's, that's my approach.
Yeah, I liked that answer a lot, Mason, because I think, folks really only read about the VC and alternative investment stuff. Right. It was again, that's, that's, what's interesting. If you come in and say, Oh, I'm putting money to this kind of land, or, you know, I'm allocating to blue chip stocks. that's not gonna get any clicks, so they all want to read about the latest unicorn that you invested in.
But I appreciate you articulating that. That's only a small subset of what you invested.
Yeah, exactly. And I personally have no interest in reading up and in following the public markets. So it's just what, you know what, I have an interest in and I count on other people to do the public stuff. So that's, where on that.
Jay, that reminds me of that season of hard knocks with the Browns. I think it was last year where one of the offensive linemen in the linemen room was showing the players what compound interest was. And everybody's mind was just completely blown.
I remember that I wrote that. Yeah, it is interesting. Like, we've talked to some of our guests now and it gets to the point where you realize, like, how many of these conversations are happening in the locker room. You were talking about Seattle. We had cliff Avril on and cliff was telling us, he was like, yeah, in the lunchroom.
It's like him and Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman. And they're sitting around talking about deal flow. And as like a fan that kind of blows your mind. You're like, wow, these conversations are happening on the regular basis.
Yeah, and it's fun. I mean, guys, guys are becoming more responsible, more in tune with, the things that they're doing off the court. And I, I think it's a great trend with an all sports leagues.
Yeah. So, so let's talk about, on the VC side, cause I know that that's where a lot of your interest has been and where you've been spending time building. You're a bone, a fetus as an investor. So we know you've invested in some great companies like court, like butterfly IQ, form sense, blueberry pediatrics.
So, tell us what you look for in a company or founder. And I guess what gets you really excited or makes you feel like this is the right investment for Mason Plumlee to get involved in.
Yeah. So, founder is number one. the, the person that I want to. You're essentially betting on the person, right? Because I think everybody has a vision and they can vision map out to, you know, how they're going to achieve X amount of the market share. And this is an undeniable solution and it's differentiated and blah, blah, blah.
But I'm sure as you guys know. Things start out a certain way and they, they go a completely different way, but you want to bet on the person that's going to be able to navigate all the obstacles and challenges. think one of the most popular cases of that is Slack Slack set out to become something very different than what it ultimately became.
So. I like to feel like in these meetings, I'm sitting across from the smartest person in the room and somebody who's, who's all in with what they're doing. you know, I've heard of some venture capitalists, not betting on an entrepreneur unless they have a third of their net worth into the project.
but I don't have any stipulation like that. I just want to get the sense that it's, it's their full time thing. It's not. You know, I'm doing a nine to five and then I'm selling this beverage after hours or on the weekends. It's, I'm living this, they're obsessed with, with what they're trying to solve.
And that's, that's my first attraction to a company. And then obviously, You know, for me, it's, it's gotta be something that I understand or I, can lean on people who really understand the, the sector and can break down for me why this is solution, or this is a good business model. So those are some of the things that I look for before I get involved.
Yeah. So, so let's talk about, let's go a layer deeper, I guess, on some of the categories of investment that you've done. I think the two biggest ones that stand out are, you know, sports related investments obviously makes a ton of sense. Given you're a professional athlete, you've got those networks and obviously have a deep, deep understanding of.
Of what it takes at the highest level, but then also healthcare. And that seems like a category you've spent a lot of time looking at whether it's portable ultrasound devices or tele-health for pediatrics. How do you get smart about healthcare? I mean, it is such a complex, value chain across the board.
How do you feel like you've really diligence to healthcare opportunity and know that it's the right thing to invest in.
Yeah. So, so I love healthcare. Random fact, Warsaw, Indiana is orthopedic capital of the world. That's where I grew up. so I had, you know, Zimmer biomed Depew sent these, all these companies were headquartered in my hometown. And then you also had presidents from like Medtronic Johnson and Johnson, My town was all about orthopedic implants.
So I was curious about it early on. and then I have no formal education in medicine, but a lot of my family members are doctors and surgeons on, especially my extended family. So when I started to see the deal flow, on the medical side, whether it be device or, Different, coding solutions or, like you mentioned, the, pediatric solution.
Those were things that I was able to reach out to a cousin and uncle, you know, my parents and say, Hey, what do you guys think about this? And get some really good, thought. Cause you know, family tends to give you a little more time than, than going to like Dancery or a Gersh environment. And, and just getting a report back from somebody that really.
Knows the space. So, I leveraged that in, I've put bets on some companies. I tend to get in early stage, but my thing with healthcare is feels more meaningful than just the financial reward. when you're able to like you, you referenced butterfly IQ. When I sat down in that meeting and they told me like, look, 70% of the world doesn't have access to medical imaging and we're going to be the ones to afford that because we're going to.
Offer a probe at eventually a $500 price point. And the Gates foundation is involved and, UNICEF is involved. Those are things that, that got me excited. Like this, is bigger than me. This is bigger than the money involved there. They're going to change the world. So, that was an attractive thing to me.
And I think in healthcare, when you see, like, there are definitely like, The efficiency models. And, like I said, like some coding companies that I've met with, but, the device, when you see that the impact that it can have, in really the butterfly comes out of this incubator in Guilford, Connecticut called port catalyzer, but That entrepreneur, Jonathan Rockford that's his whole thing is, is democratizing healthcare. So, that's, that's been an inspiring investment and those are the companies that I'm most attracted to.
Yeah. I love that. You know, especially when it comes to something like medicine, especially medical devices, where the development cycles are so long. Tim and I talk about this idea of earned secrets, right? You're you want to invest in experts? And one of the biggest things that experts, especially in the category, like healthcare bring is earned secrets.
It's like, unless you work in that space, unless you've worked in medical devices, you don't even fully appreciate all the steps that it takes to get something from inception to launch.
And so I love that idea that you said of like sitting across from an expert and just feeling like they are the best person in the world to make this happen.
Because especially in healthcare, like you have to have that.
Well, I was just going to say to that point, How, how do you think about healthcare in terms of a timeline for a return on investment? Because there are patents involved, there's clinical trials that are needed. I mean, depending on what you're looking at, and it also depends how early you're investing, which is, sounds like it's pretty early.
If you're looking at companies coming out of an incubator, for example. So what's like the horizon you have in mind when you're making those investments?
Yeah, so long, I would say long. I, I haven't done any, I've looked at some drug plays, I stay away from drug development, but in terms of device, These are, like you said, long longterm investments, seven to 10 years. unless they get acquired early, but like you said, you got to go through, FDA clearance.
Now. What's interesting given COVID like a lot of that's getting expedited and I feel like a lot of regulation is being relaxed, especially for the tele med solutions. But, these are not quick turnarounds. but. they're meaningful businesses and they serve a purpose. And if you're willing to stay in for the long haul, there, there can be a reward financially at the end.
it's not your, you know, it doesn't scale probably as quick as some of the just pure tech companies. but you know, there's still good businesses and, and, of interest to me.
a lot of, great technology has come out of Duke's medical school. Do you look to Duke at all for deal flow in the healthcare space?
You know, I, I, I don't, I seen some stuff out of there, but actually the founder of, one of the founders of blueberry pediatrics was a Duke student. So I connected with him through the Duke network. at the time he was coming out of the, his Y Combinator class and one of our mutual friends connected us, but you're right there.
There's great stuff coming out of Duke. and I probably should tap into that more.
the Duke mafia.
You gotta take advantage, man.
so Mason, the other stuff that you've been investing in is in the sports space. And we touched on that a little bit earlier, but the sports, you know, investment category, especially at the early stage, actually spans a lot of different things. As you look at your portfolio or deals that you've looked at that touch sports, What gets you interested in doing a deal in and around sports and, and sort of, where are the bounds of that?
Like, do you go into something like connected fitness? Do you go into something like in stadium tech, what does sports investing mean to you?
Yeah, it's a good question. I think I look at sports as well. I'll take professional sports. I've seen a lot of companies that come and say like, okay, Let's do this. And we're going to service every professional sports team to me. That's while there are a lot of professional sports teams, that's not a big enough market typically for how companies value themselves early and what they expect to achieve.
So, You know, you mentioned form says earlier in the interview, to me, I view pro sports as a validator of their technology and what their garment can show. So form senses of form analytics company. But ultimately I think their biggest market is the pro suit, the prosumers, and then the people going through the rehab protocols for post-surgery.
So, To me, anything that's just strictly sports, unless it can reach the youth level, like in a home core AI, it's just not a big enough market. but with that being said, we have the top sports science guys, we have the top trainers, you know, like the guy who runs our union, the chief medical officer of our union, Joe Rakowski is, great.
And you can definitely, promote yourself as a company by working with NBA teams or NFL teams. But to me, that's just not big enough market at the end of the day. So, it's good to share things with our, our group internally at Denver and then figure out what's the business case outside of that?
Yeah, Tim, I'm curious for your thoughts on this, because you obviously spent a lot of time, with the, the GSPs and figuring out how to. Have sports, be a validator for these things. So I know you and I have this conversation about what value sports can have as an investing category. I'm curious for your thoughts, Tim.
yeah. In context for you, Mason, I ran this group called the global sports venture studio with the Dodgers major league baseball, major league soccer, NHL, and others. And the whole point was exactly what you said it was about. How can these sports properties serve as validators for companies? And the thing that we were really, that I really believed in had a ton of conviction about was that the companies we invest in or work with it, shouldn't never be our belief that bringing in the Dodgers or bringing in another.
Group was going to make or break those companies. Like those companies are ones that we should believe in purely on their own basis for investment. But our participation is to help validate and really serve as like jet fuel to what they were already doing.
that makes a lot of sense. I agree with you guys on, on that.
How does that tie into then you and your involvement as an athlete into these companies? Right? So these are, these are sports companies. They've got an NBA athlete involved in them. Do you feel like you bring specific value, or not? That's, that's a weird way to say it. You obviously bring specific value.
Do you feel like there's a inherent advantage that you bring being Mason Plumlee to this, you know, to the startup?
I think it all depends on the company. I mean, I'm, I'm pretty, I'm learning to be more, forthright in my investment on the front end and telling the entrepreneurs like, Hey, this is a passive check, or I can help you in these ways. and I'm always willing to help, but I think, you know, there are some things that, that I just, I can't, but if it has to do with.
with sports or like you said, form sensor, home court, AI, like, look, I'd love to have you guys featured it and my summer camp, or, you know, I'd love to introduce you guys to our sports science director. Those are the things that I can do. and then also just, sometimes more just the conversation, like form sense.
the founder is a, an ex Qualcomm guy who came up with a proprietary sensor. He's very tech savvy. had no real understanding of what the life of an athlete's like at the pro level. So, you know, a lot of our conversations are just like, Hey, you know, what are you doing in the off season? when you're not with your strength and conditioning.
Okay. You guys have two strength and conditioning coaches in Denver, but you're in New York working out, how does he know what you're doing in the weight room? those are the kinds of conversations that ended up being valuable because, entrepreneurs, they tend to be really strong and have really, high level backgrounds in, in one area, but they could completely miss another area.
So, that's where the value comes in. If the founder is not an athlete or a former professional athlete.
Yeah. And obviously one of the other things that you can provide them is a platform, right? So it's not even just about, your involvement as an advisor, but also that. whether passive or not, you can help elevate them in the eyes of maybe future investors and things like that, which I guess dovetails nicely into the work that you've been doing now with the founder series.
So for those of our guests that aren't familiar with, what the founder series is that you launched a few years ago, tell us about what that was. And obviously now what it's become because of the NBA hiatus.
Yeah. So when they shut our season down, I had to find something to do day to day. So, we started off the first week we had five interviews and then we were doing two a week and now we're down to about one a week, but I just wanted to create a platform for founders to come on, share their stories in their own words.
And really just highlight them in the best light. So, these are not all companies I've invested in. I think we've probably done 20, 30 episodes now. I may have only invested in one or two of them. but we started out with, a group of founders that I knew. And now we get a lot of inflow on people asking to come on and be featured.
So, been fun. the founders really like it, it's not incredible viewership. I think we get, you know, anywhere from two to 5,000 views and episode, but, the people that are tuning in are just like, I'm sure your audience is interested in the space or just hearing somebody's story and what they're trying to do.
Yeah, and it's a pretty wide ranging bunch of founders who we've seen connected fitness companies like hydro, Bitcoin payments, like moon pay nonprofits, like off their plate, which I actually really enjoyed that one. How are you finding these guests? And I guess, how do you think about the categories of guests that are coming on?
Given something it's like as wide ranging, as fitness to Bitcoin?
Yeah, that's a good question. so a lot of it's word of mouth and recommendation of founders saying, Hey, you know, I went on and this was, this was good content to share with. with other people or to just get the word out. We've had investors interact with founders. We've had people purchase like we had a cereal company on, I think after that show, a lot of people went and ordered the cereal after the show.
so was fun, things like that. And. to the range of, of what we look at, I think Bitcoin was a bit of a stretch, and we've even done like three, three D cyber security and all these different things. You know, I, I try to big companies that the general audience can understand and comprehend.
and even myself, sometimes I have a hard time, with short notice understanding what, these founders are trying to achieve. But with that being said, like, we have, a salmon share company from Alaska, come on, that, that anybody who's ever had fish in a restaurant could understand.
So we try to pick things that are fun, that are engaging, and the audience will like.
Yeah. What, what was, probably the most surprising thing that you learned as you were interviewing these guests, and that can be about a specific guests, or even generally your perspective of these founders. What has surprised you the most as you've been doing the show?
Oh, man. Just, I guess, you know, business leaders can come from any background. you know, you have guys who haven't even graduated high school, you have guys who, book of degrees. and what was so interesting to me is how, like, when you ask them about their journey and their career path, you know, kind of what, what inspired them at different points of their journey that ultimately led to them founding the company that they're they're running.
So, those are the things that always surprise me, and then also, you know, I admire the commitment. the willingness to go out and, as you guys know, like a startup is a very risky venture, no matter what you're doing, no matter how smart you think you are, no matter how much funding you have is it's high risk.
So, I'm a big fan of these, you know, these people and their, their, ability to take that risk and run with it.
yeah, Jay and I have enjoyed watching the show. I'm bias. I especially enjoyed the episode you did with Zach Wiener, who's president of overtime, a company that I've invested in, but it seems like being a host. comes naturally to you.
Yeah. Well, I'm learning from you guys right now. So
but is that something you've enjoyed? I mean, you know, the other thing that's interesting is you you've chosen Facebook live as the platform for this versus maybe doing a podcast or using other platforms like LinkedIn, what kind of drove you to bring this live on Facebook?
So I don't have enough followers on LinkedIn to live stream. Apparently I don't. so the visual for me was being able to show, It doesn't fit every company, but some companies want to show like a little promo, like a 30, 62nd promo video. some are easier to understand, like we had a company on called, tutor fly, which was, peer tutoring marketplace.
And the founder wanted to show how tutors in two interact and what that tech would like. So. that was the reason behind having a visual for it. You know, we we've thought about transitioning it and offering it as a podcast as well. But, you know, there are a lot of really good, people like yourselves putting out podcasts.
So we were just looking for something a little different and it'll evolve. Like we don't, you know, it's early. I'm still trying to figure out how to fit it in as our she's in ramps back up. But, I'm excited about it. The founders really like it, which is all that really matters and, and we'll, we'll let it evolve.
as we go.
I know it's early days. Have you heard back from any of the founders about positive things that have come out of the show? Have investors reached out to them because they saw them on your show or new customers or anything like that?
Yeah. And that's what's made me want to keep doing it. Right. So some people have had investors reach out. some people have had customers reach out. for example, we had a, a company called go the on, which is, you know, there are some, health care benefit reform that Trump put into action back in March and Savvis taking advantage of it.
Well, they had a couple of small and medium businesses reach out to them to use their service, to afford. healthcare reimbursement to their employees. So those are the things where it's, like I said, small audience, but engaging and makes it makes me feel like it's worth doing.
I don't even think it's that small man, like the, the value that we're seeing in what people call niche audiences, and they sort of use it in like a derogatory sense. It's like, no, the whole point of a niche is that. It's avid fans, right? So it may only be a few thousand people, but because they're avid, the conversion rate is that much higher.
And so, I think, look, obviously it's going to continue growing. And I guess to that point, my question is like, what is your aspiration for the show? Obviously you want to grow the audience and help, reach more people with these founder stories. But for you personally, is this something you want to continue doing?
Even after the season comes back?
Yeah, I hope to, I mean, we'll be stuck down there in Orlando. I'm sure I'll find an off data to pull one off a week, but, you know, it's funny. I didn't have any, personal agenda with this other than, You know, like a lot of these founders say, when we ask them for advice, just start, just go do something and, and see where it goes.
So that was kind of how I, I approached this. I've even considered having like a cohost or letting somebody else host it, but we'll, we'll see where it goes. again, I just liked, the platform. I like that it's letting the founders show themselves in the best light. And, you know, we actually, full transparency, like I'll, I'll get with them before the episode.
And I'll say like, Hey, what do you want to be asked? what should we highlight about your company? What are some visuals that we can share with the audience? so those are the things that we want to accomplish with interview series. And I think it's been well received.
so you alluded to the season coming back and we're recording this in mid June, but I think it's going to be really interesting within that bubble environment. seeing the different things guys are doing. I mean, we've had a couple of guests on our show, Baron Davis who's, you know, obviously retired, but he's got a media company that's focused on raising the profile of athletes.
That's obviously what we do here on the game plan. So interested to see if anyone, is going to be doing that kind of content creation within the bubble. how are you thinking about the bubble environment?
Yeah, I'm sure it'll be really interesting because I don't know how big this bubble is. I've seen pictures of the hotel. I know the MBA's going to do everything they can to make it great. I know guys, just, the unknown is a little scary, but. I'm a big fan of, of Adam silver and what he's done. And every time the MBA's had an activation, it's been first-class.
So I'm not overly worried about it, but like you said, there's going to be a lot of downtime. I see things coming up like players, TV. I see, you know, like LeBron has the barbershop, guys are doing things, right. So I think there's going to be a lot of media coming out of it. I think with everything going on in the world, people are going to be tuned into how the NBA and its players respond to the social issues.
so I think it's a great platform. I'm glad we're doing it. And, I'm just really glad we're going to have a season again.
Yeah, I'm sure you're thrilled to get back to basketball and to play. It's definitely going to be unique environment. I've heard some guys talk about how they look forward to it. Cause it's almost like going back to the AAU days a bit. Yeah.
Exactly. Yeah. That's what I mean. We played, I remember in high school we played at the milk house. I don't think we were playing at the milk house again, but we'll be on Disney property and it'll be, it'll be a lot of fun.
well, listen, we know there's a lot going on in the world right now, but Jay and I are excited to see you back on the court. Again, whenever that happens, it's been our pleasure having you on the show, Jay, is there anything else you want to hit on?
Yeah, I mean, we always end on this question and I know that you ask your guests this as well, but Mason, as you. think about advice that you would give your younger self, or even if it's not to yourself, maybe to, to other younger athletes that are thinking about making the most of their professional platform, what is some advice that you wish you had known, or what is some advice that you would like to give to them?
the, the advice I would give is, I think everybody comes into the MBA. And you look at the business moves that the LeBrons and the Kevin Durant's make. And you know, that's great. LeBron took beats from inceptions at 30 million or Kevin Duran, you know, he can invest in, what, what was it?
the watermelon water, whatever there are guys who can completely change the prospects of a company with their star power and that's undeniable, but. , , depending on what your interest is. You can have an incredible impact in a certain sector that could be completely untouched by athletes.
So, , be true to yourself, engage in what inspires you. And you're looking at it from an investment perspective, I would encourage you to not just write a check, but also engage with the founders. Asked to be a board observer, ask for, whatever information is flowing through the company so that you can learn.
Cause what's more valuable than any return , is being engaged in learning what the life of a company looks like. And, , I've had people, matter of fact, I had dinner, last year with a guy from the nature Conservancy and he was like, , Hey, is this something that you're passionate about?
Because. they don't have an athlete and you'd be awesome. And blah, blah, blah. Now that wasn't a fit for me. Like I care about the planet, but I don't, you know, I don't wake up every morning. Like, man, I can't, wait to grow more trees or, for lack of a, a good example, but I just think whatever's true to you, cause we're all at the end of the day, like.
Or sports are passionate. Right. And basketball's always been my number one thing, but, inevitably have interests off the court because all of a sudden you don't have school and there's a lot of downsides. So whatever that interest is, , align with companies, align with the thought leaders in that space and take full advantage of it.
Because, you know, going back to how we started this podcast, you know, Kevin Martin had told me as a young kid in the league, he was like, Your access while you're one of 450 NBA players in the world is absolute. \ so if you want to learn about something, you reach out to the thought leader or you can damn near have a meeting with everybody, but the president.
So That was his teaching me what it means to be an athlete and a pro athlete. And he also, with that said, that's not the case once you retire. So it was like take advantage of it while you're playing and enjoy it and really learn, while you're in the league. So, so it's a softer landing when you're done playing, but, it's been some good advice that I've received and I just share with
I love that, man. And it's very, very clear that you practice what you preach in this regard, both in terms of the show that you're building also in terms of finding categories like health care. That are maybe not what most athletes would spend their time educating themselves on because obviously as we've talked about, it's harder and there are some entrenched, you know, business models in there that are harder to crack through versus something like, you know, consumer social or, or commerce, but you're passionate about it.
It resonates with you. And it's important for you to feel like, as an investor, you're also making a difference. And so I think with all of those things, it's very clear that you practice what you preach and we are just so happy that you could share that with us on the game plan. And we just want to thank you so much for joining us today.
Well, this is great guys. I appreciate you having me on. And, hopefully we'll connect down the line.
Yeah. We're, we're looking forward to staying in touch and we're looking forward to seeing you back on the court. So thanks so much, Mason.
So this week, we're going to try a new format for the partner meetings, where we talk through a series of topics on a two minute timer. So Tim, I'm going to let you kick this one off with Mason. Plumlee.
so Jay, let's talk about eight foot mattresses and what it's like to have a friend who works in the foam cutting industry. I actually think the point that I find interesting here is like how valuable are gifts to other players. On the team and like, what's the hit rate of how successful the gift is received.
So you see guys like giving shoes, you see guys give like X boxes, PlayStations, whatever. I'm sure. Like, they're always happy to get it, but number one, these guys can all afford these things. So I actually think for that reason, the custom mattress probably ranks ahead of your typical gift and isn't even ranked on like a cost basis, but just on like unique access and the fact that.
He went to the trouble. I guess we could have asked him on the fulfillment of those mattresses. Like, did he have them just all dropped off at the locker room one day, but I imagine he just had them sent to each of the guy's houses.
Yeah. Well, one of the important things to remember here is that he does. Actually make any money off of those mattresses. So, so there was that, that entrepreneurial spirit to go out and try to make a gift instead of, you know, necessarily, buy one. You know, it'd be interesting to see if there is a market for eight foot mattresses out there.
And whether Mason Plumlee could have been the Casper mattresses for NBA players, eh, or, or even down to college players. But I think that the more important fact here is that. As a rookie, you want to find a way to, ingratiate yourself with a team, especially that team that he came into with Kevin Garnett, with Paul pier, sort of these, you know, these huge names that he grew up watching and grew up idolizing, and then to play with them to actually come in with.
Something that showed what a thoughtful individual he was. And you heard it in the interview that we had with him, that he is just so thoughtful about how he carries himself in every aspect of life that I feel like the eight foot mattresses was a hundred percent on brand for him.
all right. Next topic. Should athletes be investing in healthcare?
Yeah. Well, here's my thought on it. We talked about this a little bit. Healthcare is such a long development cycle. Whether you're talking about pharma, whether you're talking about medical devices, software shore, there's a little bit of an opportunity where you might be able to build something that gets acquired or scooped up early and you see an exit, but Mason's an early stage investor.
A lot of these athletes are early stage investors. It takes them so long to see a return on this capital and these are illiquid assets. And so, you know, one thing that's really important is that it's not a massive. percentage of his overall portfolio, he said about 85% goes to real estate, goes to, you know, other sort of safer private equity options.
And then he has a discretionary 15%. So for him, what he's trying to do is use that as this learning platform. So yeah, maybe he's not going to make a ton of money or see a lot of that very soon on healthcare, but it doesn't matter because he's learning about a category that he's really interested in, like healthcare.
Yeah. And back to healthcare specifically, I think for me as an investor, I have a really hard time looking at those types of opportunities, but it's because I have no working expertise or experience in that category. So for him, he talked about it. Like he grew up in what amounts to the nation's capital in.
In orthopedics, right. And his family, both his parents and his extended family all work in healthcare as well. So he's got people he can turn to ask the right questions. Hey, is this something you'd use? If it is something you'd use, like what's the path for this to actually get to market. So he has a diligence process in place for that.
So I like that he's investing, not just in something that he cares about. Cause you mentioned the piece about how the great thing about healthcare is it's more than just a return on investment. It can actually make an impact, but also something that he has access to really smart people about
Well, let's take it from health care to sports. Tim is sports actually investible as a venture capitalist.
Well, I go back and forth on this. I mean, truly I am an investor who's made. Plenty of investments in sports, but as Mason mentioned, it's gotta be used as a validator, not as the end all be all. So I want to see opportunities where sports can serve as maybe a proof of concept, or is just like a whole nother sector that the product can attack, but it shouldn't be the end all be all in my opinion.
I'm sure there's exceptions to that. Like if something like BAMTech is the most successful sports exit. Of all time. but even that went beyond, like, it was less of a sports company as it was a streaming company, right. that just use sports as the category for it to really break through. So I think that's how you have to frame it.
Especially as a venture investor, that's looking for, exponential return, is that it's got a extra band beyond sports.
I'll pose to you that I think sports is more investible as an athlete than it is for a venture fund. And the reason I say that is because venture funds have to return on a power law basis. And they're looking at having at least one major home run. In their portfolio to return that fund. But when you're investing as an athlete, you don't have a three X hurdle rate.
Right? So for him, if he can do a couple of sports investments, he can start to bring in his network to bear. He can start to bring, as he said, that advisory in that perspective for these founders that maybe don't understand the athlete's perspective. But have a really great product, have something that's, you know, a great tracker or some sort of great, you know, med device for athletes.
He can provide that perspective and he can see a significant return above the market that maybe wouldn't make sense for a venture fund, but makes a ton of sense for him. So I think the question may be is, is sports investing investible for athletes? And I would say yes. Yes it
I think it's a great point. founder series Mason's show that he does on Facebook. Live your thoughts.
Well, this is another thing, right? What is the value that he is bringing to his portfolio companies? And it turns out these aren't even just his portfolio companies. These are just founders that he has met through his travels. He's bringing a platform. I love the idea of him just saying. I didn't really think I was going to get anything out of this.
I just wanted to give it to the founders. And again, it's like his ethos, how he carries himself. I think that's his giving personality that I really love. And, you know, it was funny because we talked about like, you're going from connected fitness to Bitcoin. Like, how do you feel like you get smart as a host about that stuff?
And I'm sure he's still figuring it out, but I just love the enthusiasm and the curiosity that he has. And then also the giving nature to want to elevate the stories of these founders. Most importantly, the lesson that I really love that he learned is that founders can come from anywhere. They don't have to come from a tech background to be a tech founder.
Yeah. And he was smart. It was born out of the fact that the MBA went on hiatus. And as he said, he's like, I needed something to do. and that's okay. Right. Like if it can just be born out of something like that. So it'll be interesting to see how, and if he continues to do it, as basketball comes back, And he has to focus on that a bit more.
I hope he does because I enjoy the show. I hope that he. Tries to dig in a bit more on how he could spread its distribution promoted a bit more. I think Facebook live is an interesting platform for it, and I think it works well with his schedule because he can just do it. It's 15 minutes, 20 minutes.
and then the episode lives on beyond that. But if there's something he's going to continue to put time into, I would love to see him, think about other ways that it could get out there, whether that's through YouTube or, Having the companies promoted a bit more. I think going beyond, you know, just his fan base of people that follow him on Facebook will be a way to really unlock the potential he has with the founder series and continue to be taken seriously as an investor.
Somebody who's passionate about this space.
can start to build his brand like that. Right. And so that comes back to our last point now where we finished with him, which was the wisdom of Kevin Garnette and the advice that he got. So, Tim, what did you think about that?
Yeah. So leveraging your position as an athlete for access is something we talk a lot about on the game plan, and it seems so obvious, but I don't think our listeners, especially those who are pro athletes can hear it enough. You've got to leverage the opportunity you have while you're an active player, because it's night and day from when you're active versus the day you retire.
when you're an active player, anybody in the market you're in, we'll pick up a phone call cause people are sports fans. So how can you leverage that for, learning for meetings, for expanding your media brand? You know, we've seen athletes with their own media companies and they use that as a way to bring guests on.
So obviously. Basketball or, you know, your sports, your core focus, but leverage that platform you have for more access
and parcel with that is that you have to have thought about what it is you're interested in. Right? If you are interested in healthcare, you have to have thought about that before you can start reaching out to healthcare professionals. If you're really interested in commerce, you have to have spent the time and energy.
To learn about that before you start reaching out to leaders in e-commerce. So I think that's the, the corollary to what Kevin Garnett and by extension, when Mason is sharing his advice, which is. Use that time now to start thinking about what is of interest to you, because you don't want to wake up the day, the team routine and your competition are taken away from you.
And now start to figure out what do I do with my life? You start thinking about that early, and you start putting some pen to paper. Now you can start to build a network of experts around you. So, Tim, I think that's a really great place to leave this week's partner meeting. Is there anything else that you'd like to add?
that's all I got, Jay, thanks for joining me on the rundown.