Israeli NBA alum Omri Casspi launches VC fund

By partnering with veteran VC expert David Citron, Casspi hopes the fund will be a slam-dunk.

 Omri Casspi and David Citron, co-founders of Sheva. (photo credit: SHEVA)
Omri Casspi and David Citron, co-founders of Sheva.
(photo credit: SHEVA)

Veteran basketballer Omri Casspi has traded his baggy uniform for one of those trendy “Start-up guy” T-shirts.

The athlete who played in the National Basketball Association for over a decade and serves as captain of Israel’s national basketball team is launching Sheva, a new venture capital fund to invest in early stage start-ups. The fund is co-founded with veteran early stage VC investor David Citron, who most recently served as partner to Global Founders Capital, leading the large European firm’s activities in the Israeli ecosystem.

The pair’s $50 million fund will focus on pre-seed, seed and opportunistic series A investments. Sheva began operating at the beginning of 2022, and has already made a number of investments in fintech, cybersecurity and web3 ventures.

“I’ve always been the hardest worker; first one at the gym, last one to leave,” said Casspi. “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.”

During his time in the NBA, Casspi played alongside several players who were active tech investors, and decided to become an active angel investor himself, investing in projects like DocuSign and DayTwo.

AFTER UNDERGOING knee surgery early this year, Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Omri Casspi was back on the floor for Monday night’s 81-75 victory over Hapoel Haifa. (credit: DOV HALICKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY)AFTER UNDERGOING knee surgery early this year, Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Omri Casspi was back on the floor for Monday night’s 81-75 victory over Hapoel Haifa. (credit: DOV HALICKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY)

Following his retirement from the league, Casspi returned to Israel and became involved in the early stage tech scene. In Casspi’s efforts to enter the venture capital ecosystem, he met David Citron.

“Omri initially reached out to me on LinkedIn. I’ve always been a fan of the game of basketball, and grew up watching Omri represent Israel, but a connection request from someone like Casspi seemed like a phishing attempt,” said Citron.

“We hit it off immediately, and started co-investing in a number of early stage start-ups,” he said. “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.”

Though the idea of celebrity investors is far from novel, Citron believes that with the addition of his veteran knowledge, the two have created something unique.

“We’re combining two successful VC models that have been battle tested around the world; the celebrity and veteran VC pairing, and an early stage investment model that focuses on investing in as many companies as possible at the early stage, and then doubling down on the emerging winners together with the limited partners [LPs],” he said.

Casspi noted, “David and I have very little overlap in the value that we bring to our portfolio, which we believe is a significant force multiplier. This, combined with our fantastic community of LPs, who include celebrities, influencers, unicorn founders, angel investors and successful general partners, is what we believe to be a winning formula.”