LA Venture: Kairos Ventures’ Alex Andrianopoulos on the Massive Investment Opportunity in Academia

Minnie Ingersoll
Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+ Shift.com, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.
Kairos Ventures’ Alex Andrianopoulos

On this episode of LA Venture, Kairos Ventures Chief Research and Development Officer Alex Andrianopoulos talks about his firm’s strategy of investing in the world-changing research coming out of the nation’s top-tier universities.

Kairos was founded about six years ago out of the belief that innovation that begins in academia has the power to reshape medicine, climate and the world we live in -- though much of it never sees its full potential realized in the business world.


"So, we here at Kairos decided that we need to create a venture fund that invests exclusively on innovation emanating out of research labs in the nation, scientific innovation — both in the physical sciences and the life sciences domain," said Andrianopoulos.

Originally focused on the research coming out of Caltech, Pasadena-based Kairos has since spread its focus — and its approximately $300-million investment fund — to a dozen other top educational systems.

"If you were to look at our standard of living, even a short 60, 70 years ago, it was nowhere near to what it is today. And that is due to the scientific inventions coming out of research labs [at] universities," said Andrianopoulos.

He sees his mission as a VC to invest in big ideas that can most impact the world for the better. His hope is that Kairos’ success can encourage other venture capital firms to steer away from a focus on, say, disrupting the food delivery space or developing an app for dog walking — which can be profitable but not particularly impactful — and toward the world-changing ideas emanating from academia.

"Despite the fact that we are talking about mind-blowing scientific inventions — inventions that will definitely change the path of humanity for the better [...] not that many VCs are willing to take a pitch from [these teams]." said Andrianopoulos.

In this episode, hear why Andrianopoulos believes VCs should take bigger chances, how he sees research and development being done today and how the peer-review process fits into Kairos’ investment strategy.

dot.LA Engagement Intern Joshua Letona contributed to this post.

Hear the full episode by clicking on the playhead above, and listen to LA Venture on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Derek Jeter’s Arena Club Knocked a $10M Funding Round Right Out of the Park

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Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

sports trading cards
Arena Club /Andria Moore

Sports trading card platform Arena Club has raised $10 million in Series A funding.

Co-founded by CEO Brian Lee and Hall of Fame Yankees player Derek Jeter, Arena Club launched its digital showroom in September. Through the platform, sports fans can buy, sell, trade and display their card collections. Using computer vision and machine learning, Arena Club allows fans to grade and authenticate their cards, which can be stored in the company’s vault or delivered in protective “slabs.” Arena Club intends to use the new cash to expand these functions and scale its operations.

The new funding brings Arena Club’s total amount raised to $20 million. M13, defy.vc, Lightspeed Ventures, Elysian Park Ventures and BAM Ventures contributed to the round.

“Our team is thankful for the group of investors—led by M13, who see the bright future of the trading card hobby and our platform,” Lee said in a statement. “I have long admired M13 and the value they bring to early-stage startups.”

M13’s co-founder Courtney Reum, who formed the early-stage consumer technology venture firm in 2016 alongside his brother Carter Reum, will join Arena Club’s board. Reum has been eyeing the trading card space since 2020 when he began investing in what was once just a childhood hobby.

The sports trading card market surged in 2020 as fans turned to the hobby after the pandemic brought live events to a standstill. Since then, prices have come down, though demand remains high. And investors are still betting on trading card companies, with companies like Collectors bringing in $100 million earlier this year. Fanatics, which sells athletic collectibles and trading cards, reached a $31 billion valuation after raising $700 million earlier this week. On the blockchain, Tom Brady’s NFT company Autograph lets athletes sell digital collectibles directly to fans.

As for Arena Club, the company is looking to cement itself as a digital card show.

“Providing users with a digital card show allows us to use our first-class technology to give collectors from all over the world the luxury of being able to get the full trading card show experience at their fingertips,” Jeter said in a statement.

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