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May 2, 2022 12:55 pm

Israeli Former NBA Player Omri Casspi Announces $50M Investment Fund for Israeli Start-Ups

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Omri Casspi, left, and David Citron, the co-founders of Sheva. Photo: Sheva.

Veteran Israeli basketball player Omri Casspi has co-founded a venture capital fund that will focus on investing in early stage Israeli companies, he announced on Monday.

Casspi — the NBA’s first Israeli basketball player, who retired from the sport last year — has co-founded Sheva, a $50 million early-stage VC fund, together with investor David Citron. The fund will focus on pre-seed and seed stage companies, as well as series A investments, and aims to invest between $1-2 million each in 20 companies. It has already invested in fintech, cybersecurity, and web3 ventures and is now looking for more companies to back, Casspi told Israel’s Mako news.

“I’ve always been the hardest worker; first one at the gym, last one to leave,” said Casspi, who was formerly captain of Israel’s national basketball team. “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.”

Even before his retirement from basketball, Casspi became an active angel investor and has invested in over a dozen companies in the past few years, including in 10 high-tech ventures, according to Mako. Wanting to get more involved in venture investing, the former Golden State Warriors player reached out to Citron on LinkedIn. Citron recalled the moment, saying, “I’ve always been a fan of the game of basketball, and grew up watching Omri represent Israel. But, a connection request [on LinkedIn] from someone like Casspi seemed like a phishing attempt.”

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“We hit it off immediately, and started co-investing in a number of early stage startups,” Citron added. “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.”

Casspi, who returned to Israel after retiring from the NBA, told Forbes that after his “unbelievable” basketball career spanning more than 25 years, including 16 years as a pro player, “I was determined to expose myself to new sectors, and grow as an individual. I feel that my old and new career paths have a lot in common, as ambition and personal drive are the key to success in both.”

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