Stephen Curry Is Investing in Tech Companies. Here’s How He’s Winning With an Unconventional Approach to Entrepreneurship by Inc.com

“Stephen Curry Is Investing in Tech Companies. Here’s How He’s Winning With an Unconventional Approach to Entrepreneurship” | Written By: Jason Aten / Inc.com

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Stephen Curry Is Investing in Tech Companies. Here’s How He’s Winning With an Unconventional Approach to Entrepreneurship

It’s not that different than how he approaches basketball.

By Jason AtenWriter and business coach@jasonaten
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Stephen Curry knows how to take advantage of a good opportunity. Whether its a wide-open three-point-shot (or even not so wide-open), or an open teammate at the other end of the court,  Curry has made an habit of seeing opportunity and taking advantage of it. 

At the same time, he’s faced criticism for, in some ways, ruining the game of basketball. It’s hard to argue that the game hasn’t changed as a result of the surge in three-point shooting since the two-time league MVP and and three-time NBA Champion entered the league. But, while it took a while, it’s an approach he’s picked up and run with not just on the court, but off it as well.

Last night Curry and his business partner, Bryant Barr spoke at TechCrunch’s Disrupt SF conference, about their investment company, SC30 Inc., and why they’re getting involved with tech companies. So far, that includes eight investments in companies like the travel platform SnapTravel which lets people book hotel rooms through messaging apps, and Palm, which is trying to reinvent the already crowded smartphone space by helping people better manage their device addiction. 

Living near Silicon Valley, there have been no shortage of new opportunities to take advantage of–in terms of both relationships and access to a constant stream of ideas and companies. And Curry’s approach has been a lot like the way he approaches basketball, only this time the game he plans to ”ruin” (or, as they say, disrupt) is tech startups. 

I had a few minutes to ask Curry and Bryant about their approach, and what they shared were a few principles every entrepreneur should embrace.  

Don’t be afraid to ruin things. 

Curry has clearly embraced his strengths, both on the court and off, and that’s been the key. Sometimes that means looking at how things have always been done and understanding that it’s okay to not do things the same. Curry told me:

I’ve really adopted the ‘ruining the game’ kind of mentality, where how I play on the court is kind of re-envisioning how basketball should be played. I’m kind of re-imagining things. I like to be disruptive on that front and I’m trying to bring that personality and that kind of message to the companies that we align with, with every investment.

You might catch some heat from people who don’t understand, but the reality is that businesses that succeed are the ones that see their field differently, and do what others aren’t willing or able to do. 

Let go, and rely on your team.

There’s often a tendency, especially early in a entrepreneur’s journey, to think that you’re able to do it all. Even as you build a team, it’s not always automatic that you’ll actually depend on them to help you move the ball down the court, so to speak.

Certainly in Curry’s case, his basketball career is the primary driver of everything else, but he recognizes that he needs a different kind of team. Which is why he brought in Barr, his former college teammate and best friend.

Though their paths after college basketball obviously diverged, with Barr graduating from business school, and working for Nike, that difference are actually a huge benefit. ”We understand our differences and where we both bring value,” Curry says. 

It’s okay to fail if you learn.

SC30 Inc. isn’t the pair’s first venture into startups. That distinction belongs to Slyce, a company the duo eventually shut down after three years. That might seem like failure, but Barr looks at it differently:

What Slyce provided was the opportunity to be kind of like, thrown into the fire and have all of these experiences in a short period of time. I got my MBA, and then I got a better MBA by being a startup founder. And yes, it was disappointing. And it was humbling that ultimately, it did not work and we had to shut down the company. But I would go back and do it all over again. Because what I learned in that three year period of time was better than I could have gotten any other job environment.

That’s an important perspective to have because sometimes when something fails the natural reaction is to feel like you are a failure. In reality, however, it might be just the lesson you need to prepare you for the next thing–the right thing.

This too shall pass.

Curry says he has some “audacious goals,” and they aren’t just about winning more championships (though I have no doubt that’s on the list). In fact, in our brief conversation, his focus was clearly on what happens after he walks off the court for the last time. 

The reason for this is simple. Curry says he’s ”trying to build something amazing that’s going to last long after my basketball career.”

That might be the best lesson of all, and in some ways the most unconventional. It’s easy to get caught up in the now, especially when “now” is the thing you’re passionate about. But, whether it’s basketball or a business, eventually it will pass. What you do now determines whether or not you’ll be ready when it does. And what you’ll do next.

Published on: Oct 3, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
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“Stephen Curry Is Investing in Tech Companies. Here’s How He’s Winning With an Unconventional Approach to Entrepreneurship” | Written By: Jason Aten / Inc.com
October 3, 2019 at 10:06AM
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