Baseball legend Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, who is now up for nomination for the 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame, is joining a venture capital fund.
Pudge is joining z9 Capital, a $25M fund based out of South Florida that focuses on making seed investments between $250k – $4M. He will be taking a VP spot, and focus on both looking for new investments, as well as using things he learned during his post-baseball business career to actively advice and help grow current portfolio companies.
While z9 considers itself a traditional VC fund, the group only invests in companies that will benefit from its active investing philosophy. In fact, the group even provides its portfolio companies with in-house financial guidance, marketing advice and customer service.
The fund also requires companies to be generating about $500,000 in annual revenue before they invest. Essentially, z9 wants to find serial founders who have been successful enough to establish their business, but now need help taking it to the next level.
A requirement like this is common in cities like Miami, where the venture capital scene is not yet large enough to support companies that aren’t focused on generating revenue. Chris Uhrig, VP of z9, explained that this forces companies in the area to do whatever it takes to generate revenue and survive, which benefits them in the long run.
These restrictions mean that the fund generally focuses on B2B and SAAS companies. That being said, they are still open to investing in companies that could benefit from Pudge and the connections he could provide on the world of professional athletes. Uhrig explained that if it was a fit, z9 could help portfolio companies leverage Pudge’s likeness and access to accelerate their brand.
That being said, Pudge was adamant that this isn’t just a case of fund using his name. Since leaving baseball he has been active in the business world, investing and guiding companies in various industries.
But is Pudge even interested in tech and startups? While he cautioned that his business experience “isn’t necessarily technology focused, you have to focus on technology now to be successful in business. It’s the future”.