They started as friends at Duke, where three freshmen met during the first week of school and also befriended one of their RAs, who was attending the Fuqua School of Business at the time.

Now, they’re business partners at an investment firm called Meteor MCCK, investing in and helping to grow startups.

Meteor MCCK started when famous NBA player Mason Plumlee ’13 had a friend who founded Detox Water, a startup Plumlee admired. The friend wanted to work with Plumlee to promote his product, and Plumlee suggested a long-term endorsement in exchange for equity.

Plumlee got his friends involved – the same friends who, when they were back in college during the time Facebook went public, used to talk about about companies on the rise.

“We said, ‘We’ve been talking about this for years; why don’t we just do it?’” said co-CEO Connor Crown ’13, who was Plumlee’s roommate and a track and field athlete while he was at Duke. “The four of us decided to pool our resources and networks to create a company to help other companies.”

From that first official meeting in a Panera Bread, with the meeting minutes written on a napkin, the company has grown to a firm with four companies in its portfolio. Meteor MCCK invests seed, venture or growth-stage capital in startups that appeal to its partners.

The portfolio companies are all in the health, sports or tech sectors, Crown said. So far, Meteor MCCK has invested in SuperLeaf, the parent company of Detox Water; MySweatStyle, a subscription-based fitness apparel company; GuardLab, a custom mouthguard company; and ChalkUp, an education tech company that is helping students communicate with teachers.

“We’re not hands-off investors,” Crown said. “We help our companies run as fast as they can.”

These efforts include facilitating strategic partnerships, introducing products and services to new markets and helping to raise capital.

“We’re not the starters of the team, but we’re coming off the bench and supporting these founders in their efforts,” Plumlee said. “It’s a fun side project.”

The founders of Meteor MCCK come from different backgrounds – finance, sales and athletics – and they use their networks and varied expertise to help their portfolio companies.

“The working with companies and learning has been phenomenal,” Crown said.

Plumlee said that helping startups is important because “creators are defining our generation. And for those of us who don’t have the time to pursue our own startup lives, it’s been great to help others with theirs.”

Although Meteor MCCK hasn’t invested in any Duke-affiliated companies yet, the Duke alumni co-founders say they’d jump at the chance.

Ultimately, they’re looking for founders they’d like to partner with – people who have grit and a positive attitude, as well as people who are coachable.

“We’re not saying we have all the answers,” Crown said. “But we want to work together with companies to figure it out.”

To learn more about Meteor MCCK, visit its Linkedin.

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