NBA all-star Kevin Durant and manager Rich Kleiman started their company Thirty Five Ventures in 2016 as an umbrella organization to house their sports, entertainment and technology-based business interests. Since its founding, the company has become a major player in Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Kleiman explains their journey in a recent episode of The AAFCA Podcast.
Kleiman is not new to entertainment or producing. He started out in the music industry working with Jay-Z’s company Roc Nation where he represented several artists in their portfolio and produced his first film – the concert documentary, “Fade to Black” in 2004. Kleiman explains he and Durant’s new company provides a home for all their business ventures.
“We wanted to build our own digital media brand and we wanted to be able to have a platform in which we could create content in all different forms,” says Kleiman. “We felt like there was a conversation around the business of sports that needed to be told and in the way in which we saw it and then the kind of unconventional way in which it’s taken form. We have original video series, we have podcasts, we have a newsletter, we have a college program, we have a trading card vertical and we’re relaunching The Boardroom. We are building this within the infrastructure of our overarching business and finding brands that want to invest into it.”
Thirty Five Ventures made a splash in Hollywood with the release of their groundbreaking, award-winning documentary, “Q Ball” in 2019. Since then, the company has released several film and television projects with more on the way including the company’s first scripted feature series, “Swagger.”
“It’s loosely based on Kevin’s upbringing in Seat Pleasant, Maryland, and his AAU experiences and kind of the world within the world of youth basketball,” Kleiman explains about the show premise and how their company partnered with film and television producer Brian Grazer.
“I obsessed over ‘Friday Night Lights.’ At a Google Camp a few years ago, we were able to meet Brian Grazer and we connected on this right away and envisioned it the same way,” said Kleiman. “I think part of being a good entrepreneur is knowing what you’re good at and what you’re not good at. And at that point in our business, we didn’t have the infrastructure to be the production company on the project. And this is a major scripted series of different sized budget and Imagine (Grazer’s production company) is the best.”
Listen to the full interview on the AAFCA Podcast.