Home PublicationsData Innovators 5 Q’s for Philipp Omenitsch, CTO of sequel

5 Q’s for Philipp Omenitsch, CTO of sequel

by Ayesha Bhatti

The Center for Data Innovation spoke with Philipp Omenitsch, chief technology officer of sequel, an online platform for professional athletes to invest in startups that make a positive impact on the planet. Omenitsch spoke about empowering these athletes to invest in startups, a new tool for improving startup pitch decks, and the unique value of having a professional athlete invest in a startup.

Ayesha Bhatti: Can you tell me a little about how sequel came about, and its main purpose?

Philipp Omenitsch: sequel helps athletes build a legacy for their families, and for the world. Our founding team have been operating and investing in startups for over a decade. We saw a growing interest from athletes to invest in and contribute to companies that will change the world for the better.

Beyond financial returns, athletes see sequel as a platform to learn about investing, entrepreneurship and to build their reputation outside of sport. Our investment app has dozens of hours of educational content and provides athletes with the opportunity to seamlessly invest small tickets alongside the best venture capitalists in the most promising startups in the world.

Bhatti: How does your platform leverage athlete data to identify and engage potential investors?

Omenitsch: We foster strong relationships with our members to better understand their personal preferences, actively engaging with them throughout the process. When athletes sign up to sequel we capture data on their areas of interest and earnings to help us optimize our data-driven sourcing engine, called “Senna.” This information massively helps to search through thousands of startups to find interesting candidates and then engage with the best of them.

To become a member of sequel, athletes need to be referred by other members, in addition to meeting certain criteria. A potential future member would need to meet a specific level of net worth with the ambition to learn about startup investing, since sequel serves the dual purpose of contributing to social good, and educating high net-worth individuals on investment.

Bhatti: Could you elaborate on the data analysis techniques your team employs to assess the potential impact of startups on various industries or communities? 

Omenitsch: We use a variety of techniques to assess the impact of startups. First and foremost, we use large language models (LLMs) to filter the areas startups are active in. This helps us to quickly identify the startups that are most interesting to sequel. More importantly, the LLM helps us to filter out companies that could, in our eyes, have a negative impact on mental or physical wellbeing.

In terms of scoring, we built a tool called PitchLeague.ai. Startups can use it to improve their pitch decks, but more importantly, we can use it to calculate what we call the “sequel score,” which gives startups an indication of how well we think they fit sequel’s ethos. We are still working on improving this score, but it gives us some first useful results.

In addition to this, some funds or companies self-measure impact for the industries they are active in. For example, health tech often uses quality adjusted life years (QALY) to measure impact by asking questions like how many people did we help, and how many “qualitative” life years did a patient gain through an intervention. The idea behind this metric is to optimize the tech not only for a long life, but also for a happy/healthy human, so they can enjoy their life. I personally really like this concept, and we are actively looking into ways to quantify impact across industries.

Bhatti: Why did you decide to focus on startups that “do good” like education tech and planet positive?

Omenitsch: These are the topics that our members are most interested in and passionate about. Choosing these startups aligns with sequel’s overall goal of making a positive impact. Both the sequel team and our members believe that some of the most important topics of our time need not only more capital but more attention, and this is one way of acting on these beliefs.

We’re yet to publicly announce our initial startup cohort but we have invested in a sleep health device company, a diagnostic imaging marketplace, an upcycled live shopping platform, and an AI platform reducing homelessness and helping get people into jobs.

We want to empower athletes in the investment space, and we see our service as getting athletes as a demographic access to the best deals in sectors they care about. It is then on athletes to decide for themselves for every deal if they want to invest or not. This is why we create a lot of educational video content for our athletes about topics that are relevant to them starting out in their startup investment activities.

Bhatti: In what ways do you anticipate athletes actively contributing their expertise, networks, or influence to further support the startups they’ve backed?

Omenitsch: This is a core value proposition of sequel. We know that athletes can add tremendous value, especially to early-stage startups, by giving them exposure, network, and expertise. There are many famous examples of athletes helping founders.

Shaquille O’Neal made key introductions that significantly boosted Ring’s growth. He connected the company with influential people in the tech and business worlds, leveraging his extensive network. Shaq’s endorsements and public appearances also brought substantial media attention to Ring, helping the company gain recognition and credibility. His efforts played a crucial role in Ring’s rise, leading to its acquisition by Amazon.

We facilitate the same type of growth to a range of highly potential startups, and we recognise that athletes in particular offer great opportunities for this growth. sequel achieves a mutually beneficial arrangement, empowering athletes to invest in technology that benefits the planet, whilst also contributing to startups with guidance, financial backing, and media attention, shining a light on the most important topics of our time.

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