22 February 2022 |

Be Like Mike – Rubin



1. Be Like Mike – Rubin

On Friday, Fanatics announced a $250M acquisition of Mitchell & Ness, the vintage sports apparel company. 

Fanatics is partnering with some big names to make the purchase a reality, including Jay-Z, Meek Mill, Lil Baby, Maverick Carter, and the D’Amelios. 

This move represents another step in CEO Michael Rubin’s quest to create the Amazon of sports. Over the past several years Fanatics has:

  • Established the #1 sports apparel platform
  • Shared plans to launch sports card/NFT exchange by securing rights to every major sports league in the US
  • Acquired Topps Cards 
  • Announced plans to launch a sportsbook
  • Pushed into sports ticketing exchange

Will Rubin & Co. be able to make his vision a reality?

Yes. And in many ways he’s already there. 

What Michael Rubin is doing is almost unbelievable. Out of nowhere he’s become one of the most powerful men in the business of sports. 

He followed Amazon’s model in building a strong core of not-so-sexy businesses, then expanded to build an empire. 

Rubin established a vision, convinced VCs (represented by the company’s most recent $325M round valuing the company at $18B), built relationships with key stakeholders, and stayed aggressive yet disciplined in securing rights.

He made the impossible look incredibly simple. 

This most recent acquisition of Mitchell & Ness is just another example of Rubin’s understanding of the economy of tomorrow: social media, eyeballs, and celebrities. When the celebs mentioned above are rocking Mitchell & Ness gear to the biggest concerts, sporting events, and TikTok vids, the people and the money will follow. 

Prediction: In the year 2030, everything sports-related will revolve around Fanatics.

2. MindMaze’s Global Aspirations

MindMaze, a digital neurotherapeutics company, announced a $105M funding round led by Concord Health Partners. 

This company is beast. Its most popular product is a video game-like platform that allows patients with various physical therapy needs—including those recovering from strokes or navigating Parkinson’s disease—to engage in a recovery process that is fun and allows providers to monitor their progress remotely. 

Their tech is off the charts. They’ve even partnered with the ultratech world of F1 Racing: drivers wear a helmet with MindMaze technology that not only can read the neural processes of drivers but also transmit medical information to the team doctors if an injury occurs. 

Along with the funding, the Swiss company announced a partnership with the American Hospital Association, which includes over 90% of US hospitals and doctors, to help fuel their launch in the US, MindMaze will be used to help treat neurological disorders.

Alan’s Angle: 

Sorry to break it to you Zuckerberg, but this is where AR/VR (what he’s betting on with Meta) will be most lucrative. 

Yes, video games in the metaverse will be big, but outside of that, healthcare is where it will be massive—and MindMaze is the clear leader.  

I’m most excited to see the impacts that it has in the mental health space. Almost ~5% of the US population suffers from OCD or PTSD annually, two anxiety disorders that have historically not responded well to medicine and/or therapy. 

One therapy that has proven effective is Exposure Response Prevention, aka exposing patients to their fears and desensitizing them. This is where AR/VR will be huge by immersing patients in triggering—yet controlled—environments.  I anticipate that this is where MindMaze will make its next big push. 

MindMaze is legit and could be a medical giant. 

Prediction: Every NFL helmet will be equipped with MindMaze technology by the end of the decade, enabling team doctors to monitor concussions closely and allowing for rapid intervention.

3. ICONic Homes

ICON, a 3D printing home builder, announced a $185M funding round led by Tiger Global at around a $2B valuation. 

The company was responsible for building the first 3D printed-home in the US in 2018, a 350 square foot house that took 48 hours to build using concrete. 

Since then, ICON has built 1K-2K square foot homes and partnered with construction company Lennar to build a 3D printed community of 100 homes, all in Austin, Tx. 

Do people actually want to live in 3D printed houses?

Alan’s Angle: 

Many people do!

There are a few key factors that make 3D printed homes incredibly attractive: 

  • Sustainability
  • The speed in which they are built
  • Reasonable cost
  • Modern aesthetic

I think ICON’s secret weapon and key to their success will be the social good that the company accomplishes. They are making a massive push to solve homelessness not only in the US but around the world. 

The company agreed to a deal with a local nonprofit to build a community of 3D printed, low cost homes for the homeless in 2019 in Latin America. The houses can be built in 24 hours for $6K each. 

ICON should look into the Toms Shoes approach: whenever you buy a pair of shoes, the company donates a pair to a person in need. Consumers will love and support the company’s social impact, and that will be a big reason that ICON will become iconic.

Finally, I think ICON will succeed because of the disciplined approach it’s taking to seize the market opportunity at hand. 

When CEO Jason Ballard was asked about the massive, global opportunity, he said:

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”


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EdTech Explosion

Source: Link

  • After learning about Paper’s $270M raise on Friday, I had to dig deeper into EdTech 
  • In 2021, the US saw $8.3B of VC funding go to EdTech funding, ~3.5x the 2020 amount 
  • ​​​​​​​With the rise in remote learning and lucrative opportunities in EdTech, I anticipate 2022 will look much closer to 2021 than 2020 

The most interesting aspect of these numbers is how the US compares to the VC funding in other countries—something I’ll break down on Friday.



What They Do: Non-intrusive, subsurface imaging platform that creates a 3-D map of buried objects

Amount Raised: $29M seed round

Lead Investors: Zeev Ventures & 10D Ventures

Why It Matters: 

Every year, $100B is spent on unnecessary drilling before construction projects to ensure no pipes, oil, or other hazardous materials lie under the surface. 

The monetary cost is significant, but the environmental cost is huge. Exodigo’s product creates a 3D map of any buried objects, enabling construction workers to plan and execute projects in a more efficient manner—and without heavy machinery. 

The company will wrap up its pilot programs in California, Texas, and Florida over the next few weeks. 

I don’t think anyone will be complaining about a little less early morning drilling outside their home – let’s hope Exodigo is a winner!

Learn More: Press Release & Company Website


What They Do: Virtual events platform with strong emphasis on using and optimizing data from attendees

Amount Raised: $10M seed round

Lead Investors: Unusual & Hubspot Ventures

Why It Matters: 

As we sadly all know, our favorite events and conferences have gone virtual. Here are some stats: 

  • 25-40% of marketing budgets are spent annually on conferences and events
  • Number of virtual events increased by 1K% since COVID began

The big leader in this space currently is Hopin who:

  • Raised $400M Series C at $5.65B valuation 
  • Acquired competitor StreamYard for $250M in January of 2021

The main reason that I’m bullish on GoldCast is due to the investment from HubSpot, which provides many services to Hopin. HubSpot likely sees there is room for a disrupter that leverages data from marketers as a key component to business—enter GoldCast. 

I always look closely at who is investing where, especially when they work with another company in the space. 

Learn More: Press Release & Company Website


What They Do: AI that makes the manufacturing process significantly more efficient and discovers bottlenecks before they happen

Amount Raised: $10M Series A 

Lead Investors: Blumberg Capital

Why It Matters: 

One way to fix the global supply chain crisis is to cut down on defective products and manufacturing process hiccups. Specifically, mistakes from poor manual inspection processes cost the global supply chain $300B a year. 

This is exactly what Overview, founded by former Tesla engineers, looks to solve. The company’s main product, Snap Platform, can be fully launched in just 7 days and is a big reason for the company’s rapid success. 

Some of the biggest US corporations are bringing overseas manufacturing back to the US for either social or security reasons. For example, Intel Corporation, announced that they’re building a ~$20B factory in Ohio. 

With factories coming back to the US, labor costs will increase greatly. How will companies look to offset these costs?

  1. Robotics & Automation
  2. Companies like Overview

Learn More: Press Release & Company Website


What They Do: Sim City-like platform that models companies’ and cities’ ESG plans

Amount Raised: $5M seed round

Lead Investors: Buckley Ventures, Sequoia Scout, Craft Scout

Why It Matters: 

I shared this thought in newsletter #6:

“My prediction? Five years from now every VC-backed company will be considered ESG friendly, or they will not be funded.”

Almost every ESG-focused company is all about data tracking and reporting. With Actual finally providing an engageable visual, companies will be able to creatively manage their services more effectively.

Also – Actual’s co-founders have quite the pedigree: 

  • Rajesh Chandran – Ex-CEO of Heighten (acquired by LinkedIn)
  • Karthik Balakrishnan – Co-founder of Coin (acquired by FitBit)
  • Derek Lyons – Rhodes Scholar

With the right team in the right place at the right time, Actual is one to watch.

Learn More: Press Release & Company Website

Tova Farms

What They Do: Commercial agricultural firm specializing in avocado 

Amount Raised: $1M seed round

Lead Investors: Pharos Investment Group (Michael Coudrey)

Why It Matters: 

Because more avocados.

As we all know too well, the global avocado shortage is real, and Tova Farms is here to save us. The company owns over 5K acres of land across Europe dedicated to avocados and plans to increase profits by taking out the distributors and going direct to market. 

Tova has some serious tailwinds behind them as the global avocado industry (sales) is growing quickly:

  • $12.8B in 2019
  • $17.9B in 2025

If Tova Farms can find success in Europe, there might be some business for them in the US too.

80% of US avocados come from Mexico, and with security concerns causing the US to temporarily halt imports from Mexico, there could be desire to find other sources.  

Learn More: Press Release & Company Website