Power Players

The rule that comedian Hannibal Buress applies to investing

Comedian Hannibal Buress at Rise conference in Hong Kong on July 9. 2019.

Hannibal Buress is perhaps best known for being one half of American surrealist comedy series "The Eric Andre Show" and the star of Comedy Central's "Broad City."

The 36-year-old got his big break writing for NBC's "Saturday Night Live" and regularly appeared on the late night comedy circuit alongside the likes of Jimmy Kimmel and David Letterman, before going it alone with a string of headline gigs.

Less well known, however, may be his shift into the world of business as an investor in early stage start-ups, ranging from tech to coffee.

Yet, there's an important strategy the comedian has taken from the stage to the boardroom, he recently told CNBC Make It.

"The way comedy helps with businesses is just idea generation: Being able to come up with a lot of ideas and concepts that connect and might not connect," Buress said at RISE tech conference in Hong Kong.

"Come up with 10 and yeah, two or three are going to hit, ya know," he continued.

Comedian Hannibal Buress at Rise conference in Hong Kong on July 9. 2019.

That's been an important approach Buress has applied to the companies he invests in, he said, because it helps him decide if the idea has room to run in the long term.

"When I am investing in a company and I talk with the founder, if it's a product or his idea or a company where I immediately start thinking of ideas for them — how to promote or how to expand — then that's usually a company I'll invest in," said Buress.

"If it strikes creativity for me, that makes me excited to invest," he said.

That creativity recently saw Buress form a community center — named Melvina Masterminds — to provide activities in technology and the arts for young people in his former neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago.

"If I'm immediately thinking of ideas, then that's something that's not going to end," he said. "The process kind of continues."

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC and CNBC.

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