General Partner & Head of Growth Equity, ZX Ventures

Ep #10: Bert Navarrete

In episode ten, we stop in New York. Dhani Jones speaks with Bert Navarrete, General Partner & Head of Growth at ZX Ventures to discuss his path to leading growth equity at ZX Ventures - the investment arm for AB InBev.

ZX Ventures logo
Industry:
Investments, Venture Capital
Advisor:
Bert Navarrete
I think one thing that's lost on a lot of people, at least those who are not investors, is how much of being a venture investor involves being a salesperson. You have to sell your firm, you have to sell your value proposition. You have to sell yourself as a contributor to an entrepreneur's story.
Bert Navarrete, General Partner & Head of Growth Equity, ZX Ventures

Bert Navarrete's experience

Bert Navarrete

Modern Dealmaker & Investor

Bert leads the Growth Equity Fund at ZX Ventures and manages a global investment team focused on Direct to Consumer, B2B, Fintech and Circular Economy investments. Bert has over 20 years of venture and private equity experience and has invested in over 100 private companies.

  • General Partner/Head of Growth Equity, ZX Ventures
  • Board Advisor, Bullpen Parlay Acquisition Company
  • Venture Partner, Bullpen Capital
  • Co-founder and Managing Director, Beta Bridge Capital
  • Member - Board of Directors, Eko Communications
  • Senior Managing Director, Odyssey Infrastructure
  • Venture Partner, KohFounders
  • Co-founder and COO, Connected Sports Ventures
  • VP of Acquisitions and Venture Partner, Internet Capital Group
  • Vice President - VC and Technology Business Development, Merill Lynch and Co
  • B.A. from Harvard University

Episode highlights

Bringing EQ into your Dealmaking mindset

 

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT:

Bert Navarrete (00:09):

ZX is the investment arm for AB InBev, which is one of the largest beverage companies in the world. Most people who recognize a lot of our premium brands in the market like Budweiser and Modelo and Corona and Stella Artois.

 

Dhani Jones (00:27):

The Pathfinder podcast is presented to you by Ansarada. Ansarada is the modern deal and virtual data room technology designed to make M and A capital raising divestments restructures and IPOs as simple as possible. Since 2005, Ansarada has been trusted in over 24,000 transactions, and powered over 1 trillion worth of deals. Ansarada is a secure space that includes workflow tools, AI power data rooms built in question and answer and integration frameworks. It's the data room trusted by modern deal makers. You can start for free today at ansarada.com. You know I like a winning team. So say it with me. ansarada.com for your next winning outcome.

 

Intro (01:06):

Welcome to the Pathfinders. The modern deal maker series brought to you by Ansarada. Now here's your host,Dhani Jones.

 

Dhani Jones (01:17):

Welcome back everybody to the Pathfinders, presented by Ansarada. I'm your host, former NFL player, investor and entrepreneur,Dhani Jones. Today I'm joined by Bert Navarrete. Bert is general partner and head of growth at ZX Ventures. He manages a global investment team focused on direct to consumer, B2B, FinTech and circular economy investments. He's with us today to share a few deal making stories, discuss the path his career has taken him, and give us a little insight into how ZX Ventures is empowering entrepreneurs to unlock exponential growth. Welcome Bert Navarrete. What's going on Bert?

 

Bert Navarrete (01:58):

Hey, Hey, how's it going?

 

Dhani Jones (01:59):

Don't act like that. We go way back. Come on, man. I know you sitting in that amazing office doing deals all across the board, I'm not even going to get into what circular economy actually looks like right off the gate, because I want to go back into your history. We spend time, you've actually helped me so much, now I got to figure out what I was actually learning from you.

 

Bert Navarrete (02:21):

Okay. Well, first of all, it took your retirement for the Bengals to go to the Super Bowl, huh? Do you want going to talk about that first?

 

Dhani Jones (02:28):

Don't talk about my team, but, Joe Burrow, he might come out of this game and he might say, "You know what? I did a great job. I invested in myself." But you know what? I helped, we helped, the team helped put the Bengals on the right path when I was there too.

 

Bert Navarrete (02:47):

That's right. Tell me one thing before we get started, because, I don't know, because I'm not a Bengals fan, and you dropped me off at a giant scheme one time and left me on my own. So we'll talk about that another time, but what is the whole Who Dey thing?

 

Dhani Jones (03:00):

Who Dey? I mean, that's our chant. That is the evolution of our chant that represents the entire team. I mean, that's how we get amped up. That's our battle cry. Everybody in the world of sports has their own individual battle cry and that's the Bengals battle cry. But I got to ask you, you're the Harvard grad, what was your battle cry?

 

Bert Navarrete (03:23):

Show up to the game.

 

Dhani Jones (03:26):

No, but seriously, when you went to Harvard, I know that you all had a tremendous football team, and you guys had, really, really, really, really competitive. You went to some of the games, and you saw players, Ryan Fitzpatrick, great quarterback, he's doing a lot of different things, and I think he's played for a significant amount of time. And I think he's arguably one of my favorite quarterbacks. But as you have move through campus, what took you down the trajectory of entrepreneurship?

 

Bert Navarrete (03:56):

For Me, I sort of lucked my way into it, to be honest. I don't think I was ever really set out to be an entrepreneur other than perhaps when I was younger, I worked a lot of jobs that involved selling things that were traditionally hard to sell. So I think one summer, I live in Princeton, New Jersey, which is a lovely college town, which you visited. And I, at one point in high school, went door to door selling used printer cartridges. And I don't think there's a tougher sell than going around to all these small, medium businesses trying to convince them that they need to replace their factory label, printer cartridges with generic ones. But I always found myself working in some customer facing role, whether it was sales or retail jobs, et cetera.
And in terms of how I got into venture, when I graduated from school, traditional finance was pretty much the path a lot of people followed, whether it was investment banking or consulting or management consulting. And I had sort of set my sites on at least being in New York, being on Wall Street, that was supposed to be my keys to the kingdom, if you will, at least the 21 year old self told myself. And I really lucked my way into venture.

I know you and I have talked about this many times, I was working at Merrill Lynch at the time, and we had a brand new chief mark officer join our company really to educate our board about what the internet was. So this was the late '90s. That gentleman's name is James Gorman, who is now the chairman and CEO Morgan Stanley. And he joined from McKinsey as our first chief marketing officer, told our board and our senior leadership team that we really needed to innovate technologically, digitally in order to address this new market in the internet. And part of one of the strategies that he put in place was a series of investment funds to invest in companies that we, as a firm could also partner with, help to co-create or even in some cases acquire these companies. And so that sort of put me down that path, if not for right place, right time, I luck my way into it.

 

Dhani Jones (06:10):

I often find that it is those unique moments where you just take a chance, and you're having the conversation and people are like, let's just dive into this. And you kind of raise your hand in the same entrepreneurial fashion that you did with selling printer cartridges. For me, I remember back in high school, I was selling blow pops out of my locker because I was trying to figure out different ways to understand what people wanted. But if I wanted to go get something, I had to sell something at a little bit higher markup in order for me to go spend some extra cash so I could be an entrepreneur. I think these are the fun things that we look back upon our childhood that are watershed moments that really propel us into where we are in the future.

 

Bert Navarrete (06:53):

Yeah. It's funny, you mentioned that. So now I'm thinking back even deeper, when I was in middle school, I went to a boarding school, and pretty local to my house, and I think I was running the black market of candy distribution for my dormitory. My mother would drop off Twix bars, and candy bars, and I would mark them up at 25 cents a piece. And I remember we were supposed to leave the candy with our house parenting. You'll only gain access to it on the weekend, but because my mother would drop him off, I'd leave him in my room.

I remember our headmaster called me in one day and he said, "I understand you're running a little enterprise out of room seven, right?" And I said, "Well, somehow candy just found its way to circulate in my room." And he said, "Well, you can circulate your way to work detail." Which was like a form of detention. So I had to pick weeds from the little walkway outside of my school for about a week as detention and punishment for selling candy in my dorm room.

 

Dhani Jones (07:48):

But look, those are the things that give us our steadfast endurance to kind of [inaudible 00:07:54] our way through investing, because it is the little details. And it is the weeds that grow up through the cracks that you got to knock down in order to make sure that deals go through that make sure you find the right deal. There's just so many pieces of relevance. So thank goodness the headmaster of the school made you do cleanup duty.

 

Bert Navarrete (08:15):

Yeah, no, we laugh about it nowadays. In fact, I think you end up speaking to a lot of my old former classmates, we laugh. It's really that sort of discipline that we at the time probably didn't like so much, but we really looked back fondly on it now.

 

Dhani Jones (08:30):

And do you think that those moments prepared you better for your time now at ZX? Or do you think it was your time at Merrill Lynch?

 

Bert Navarrete (08:37):

I would say everything. We're at a point in our lives and our careers where we've taken this collective experience across many different cycles, many different markets. There's a whole generation of investors now who have never experienced a bear market and having have those battle scars and those bruises, I think teach a lot about how to best prepare you for the present. I can't say there's a one singular moment, but it's really just more of a combination of all those experiences.

 

Dhani Jones (09:07):

I know you're not making predictions in terms of what's happening with our economy and our current situation, but say things get a little bit trying for anybody, or how do you think the generation will deal with a potential bear market versus bull market? It's bound to happen at some point in time, but how do you think that people are going to react to that? How do you think people are going to take their experiences and apply them into a current economy?

 

Bert Navarrete (09:33):

I think most people don't recognize it's happening to them until it really affects them personally. And I would say that when I'm talking to my team, especially those who are of a generation who maybe have not experienced the bear market, I keep reminding them that this is where you earn your stripes as investors and mentors and advisors, because when things are going well, you almost never hear from your companies. I mean, the companies that are doing really well, they never need to call you and need to tell you or ask you for your advice as an investor. And you know from being an advisor, that it's the tough times where you really prove your contribution.

And I like to remind them that they should, you and I have talked about this many times before, but I think one of the most important skills as an investor and mentor and advisor is to really have a strong sense of empathy for the folks that you work with and the folks that you mentor, because, like I said, in good times everything's going well, no one really needs any help, but even in good times, people often struggle, and they struggle with decision making and are they making really good decisions on behalf of their company and their employees and just need to be open and receptive to understanding what they might need from you, which is not necessarily writing another check or helping them with a sales plan. Sometimes it's just listening to the vent, you and not do all the time.

 

Dhani Jones (10:57):

Well, I think that, taking from the words of Carla Harris, it's all about that advice and counsel. And no matter the good times or the bad times, people need those. It just sits in my brain because as an investor, as an advisor, people are asking for it all the time. And when things get tough, people are going to start asking those questions. How was your experience when you were on the board of directors for ancestry.com? Did you ever get to those moments where people ask you those difficult questions, and how did you find your way through it?

 

Bert Navarrete (11:26):

Not just Ancestry, but any board. I think Ancestry was a very interesting investment for me and for just us as a firm. So we had invested in the precursor at Merrill, and it was at the time called third age media. And we're talking very much about the early days of the internet, the V worldwide web, where it was a very novel thing.

 

Dhani Jones (11:49):

1.0.

 

Bert Navarrete (11:50):

That's right. 1.0.

 

Dhani Jones (11:51):

Now we're on 3.0.

 

Bert Navarrete (11:53):

[inaudible 00:11:53]. So it was a very novel idea to put something online that was open for mass consumption. And at the time there was a group that was focused on making almost landing pages for families. So you could have the dhanijones.com and it'd be a personal portal pre-Facebook and pre geo cities where you could have this independently branded website. And they quickly pivoted through a variety of different product iterations and mergers to really tap into one of the largest genealogical repositories in the world, which is based in Utah. And that began the journey through ancestry.com.

So, to say that I had any real influence over that is to give them a disservice, but I will say, during the first technology bubble, when the market was imploding and everything was... No one really understood what business model would continue on. I did spend a good period of time with their CFO on the phone, talking about different solutions for them who they might be able to call. They ended up raising around from a large private equity firm and continue to do quite well. But it's in those moments where you need to be, I often tell people that you would be amazed about how much of a job as a psychologist you play as an investor beyond just the check and the management review that sometimes you just need to sound out ideas with folks, and that's been consistent across every investment that I've done, whether they've been wildly successful or have failed. You end up spending all of your time servicing your companies and the management teams that are brave enough to create them.

 

Dhani Jones (13:40):

So how much of that do you incorporate into your deal making mindset?

 

Bert Navarrete (13:44):

Like I said, it all goes back to really having... One thing I've been proud of in terms of my maturation and age and just in general experience, is I feel that I've developed just consistently better EQ over time, really trying to understand, sometimes entrepreneurs, co investors, partners are aren't the best at expressing themselves, but on getting to the root of what their real anxiety is surrounding or trying to help them problem solve. I think only is accomplished through really close listening and spending that time, really trying to almost put yourself in their shoes.

I think we lose sight of the fact that creating new businesses is extremely hard. You've created new businesses, I've created new businesses and it's a lonely existence in so many regards, where it's so easy to get lost in your own head. And I pride myself on my ability to connect with people in general, in entrepreneurs. That's why you and I are just good friends. We met each other 11 years ago and we instantly collect. So I think that's an intangible skill. We often talk about entrepreneurs possessing this grit and resiliency, and this never say die attitude, but you also need to be really sympathetic to the fact that it is still inherently hard to create something new, and being attuned to that, I think is really key.

 

Dhani Jones (15:13):

I'm just thinking about that word EQ. So many people just completely forget how valuable that is, especially when you got so much noise coming at you left and right. You got multiple people talking to you, everybody's just death scrolling all the time, trying to figure out more insights and information. You can go to YouTube, you can look up all these different things. You can talk to anybody on the street. People just show up. There's just so much information out there that that quality that you're talking about in terms of listening, people just forget about that. Even if they've reached out to you, Bert, to say, "Hey, I'd like for you to invest in my company, provide advice and counsel to my business. And I'm going to rely upon your insights and skill. And some of that advice and counsel." But then people forget that listening part. How do you incorporate, and I'm hammering on this deal making side, because I think it's really important for people to understand there's so many parts of the deal, and that emotional intelligence around the deal is probably one of the most important pieces that people leave out.

 

Bert Navarrete (16:17):

Yeah, no, I agree. Deal making in and of itself is fairly academic. You have negotiations around the price you want to pay, the price they want to sell, the interest that you want to take, the governance that you expect to maintain, et cetera. I think you're right. The way that I think through it is to have this sense of just active listening. Sometimes I get teased actually at work that I'm rather quiet in meetings, at least initially. And to be honest, most of the time, I'm really just trying to listen and try to get the root of what representing and try to really hear what's most important to them. Because that helps shape the narrative. And just frankly, generates greater ability to get a transaction done or deal make, or involve yourself in deal making when you understand what the true desires of your perspective partner is.
And I also tend to believe that people are very sometimes emotional in what they present, because this is their pride and joy. This is their idea. It's something that they've spent waking hours and sleepless nights working on. And I feel very strongly about affording them that courtesy of intently listening, but also really trying to key in on what is most important to them, because sometimes what's most important to them doesn't necessarily align with what's important to us or to me, or to my shareholders. And we can agree to disagree and perhaps not do a deal together. But as soon as you can cut through that noise that you're talking about, I think you find yourself being most productive that way.

 

Dhani Jones (18:00):

Do you find it's any different in an acquisition versus just an investment when you're on the board of the wedding channel, and inquired by the not... Is that a different circumstance versus placing capital?

 

Bert Navarrete (18:12):

No, it's the same. I would say it's the same in every business interaction that I have, or even every, just initial personal introduction that I have, I try to be extremely observant and actively listening, because I feel that that's the best way to get to know somebody, because at the end of the day, most of this, not most of it, but a lot of this is a result of a relationship you can forge and maintain with a person, whether it's a professional transaction and investment or a friendship. That's the way that I view it.

 

Dhani Jones (18:42):

So you've got all these great experiences that I'm finally learning all about. And all these different investment advice that some of which I've received myself and other now I'm just listening intently. And now you're leading growth at ZX Ventures. And so you got three investment areas, the beverage fund, the new venture fund growth equity fund. What's the main focus, because I feel like you can funnel all of your background and experiences into now this effort. But what's the main focus? As people are listening in.

 

Bert Navarrete (19:14):

I'll just give a quick overview of who we are and then how we play in this ecosystem. So ZX is the investment arm for AB InBev, which is one of the largest beverage companies in the world. Most people who recognize a lot of our premium brands in the market, like Budweiser and Modelo and Corona and Stella Artois, which is a multi hundred year brand.

 

Dhani Jones (19:38):

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Bert Navarrete (20:31):

Like most storied brands, there's a need to innovate and digitize as you're moving from both a physical world to a virtual world. And so our funds are set up to help innovate and accelerate growth for our broader parent company. And in that we have three basic funds that we invest out of. There is a beverage fund, which invests in new brands and new interesting products that we can help bring to the market and take global. We're very proud of things like Cutwater, which is one of our ready to drink canned cocktails. I see you nodding. So you probably have had one and enjoyed one.

 

Dhani Jones (21:12):

Well, I'm just trying to figure out if I had a refrigerator behind me, how much of it would actually be filled with AB InBev product. Or how much should it be filled, because you sent me a bunch of product to take care of me. I could have had it all back here just for you.

 

Bert Navarrete (21:26):

No, no, no. I told you, when we're coming down later on this spring, we'll be operating a bunch of stuff. And then we have two funds that are fairly closely aligned. We have the new venture fund and then the growth equity fund, which I help lead. And for us, it's all about finding interesting technology solutions or services that can help really seek either operational efficiencies for our business or expanding new markets. And in that context, we have three broad areas that we invest into. We're very interested in technology affecting how we serve our product to consumers. So direct to consumer platforms, marketplaces, quick commerce, delivery, et cetera. We have a very large business to business focus area where in some cases we are working with our merchant partners and providing them FinTech services to allow them better access to credit to sell our products, as well as logistics and supply chain. And then you talk a little bit about the circular economy.

 

Dhani Jones (22:22):

Yeah. You're going to have to expand upon that.

 

Bert Navarrete (22:25):

So simply put, you write the word economy and then you draw a circle around it, and then there you go. No, I'm just joking. We have this really great interesting, it's a very fascinating topic. We are one of the largest producers and consumers of barley in the world. And one of our companies, Evergreen is taking our spent barley from the brewing process and up cycling it into protein and protein alternatives for the market. So we're effectively circulating the product through all of our systems and monetizing in that way. We have another company that we invested in, called BioBrew, which is focused on scaling precision fermentation. So we have decades and decades of fermentation science that we've become experts in given the history of our products, where we're now working in and around biotech to create new proteins. Very interesting.

Another area which I think is near and dear to your heart is, we're going down this whole exploration of new ways to market bring our consumers together. So consumer products in a congregate setting, whether it's a football game, whether it's a barbecue, whether it's a party, but the next generation is congregating in the metaverse or they are doing things on mobile devices. And we're looking for ways to marry both our physical products as well as with these digital products. So we just launched the Bud Light next collection NFT drop. We've generated over 12,000 tokens that celebrate this innovation. We have a brand new beer that is being released. No, the beer was released yesterday, right?

 

Dhani Jones (24:11):

Well, how come it didn't show up on my doorstep, Bert?

 

Bert Navarrete (24:14):

I know. Well, I got to get you some product.

 

Dhani Jones (24:15):

And actually I think you should call the circle economy you should call it just the recycled economy. I think that actually works just fine. So would you say that a couple of those companies that you were just referring to would be things that you're really, really excited about?

 

Bert Navarrete (24:29):

Yeah. They're the future of our company by far. I mean, we're moving beyond just our core product of beverages and really finding and expanding into new markets, health, wellness, all of the future of food. So, as we continue to consume more protein over time there's a lot of effort, as you know, even in the traditional markets, where people are looking for protein alternatives, and we're pretty well suited to handle that.

 

Dhani Jones (24:53):

So how does the metaverse, aside from doing the NFT drops that Bud Light might participate. I feel like it has no bounds for you. I mean, it can create a whole new channel for ZX, for AB InBev. It could just populate any and everywhere. How do you think through that as an investor? How do you think through that as a thought leader? How do you think through that giving advice and counsel to some of the portfolio companies that you work with?

 

Bert Navarrete (25:22):

Yeah. So, we have the great benefit of having an extremely large organization surrounded by some of the best in class experiential marketing and just digital marketing professionals in the world. They know this business cold. They know what type of outreach is required to reach our core consumer, how we would increase our product be perceived as both innovative, fun, again, driving some of those social experiences. And you're right, the opportunity is endless. We are pretty close with all of the major entertainment outlets, whether they are sports, music, film, entertaining. And for us really a product as a creator is the mindset that we take in terms of how we engage in this ecosystem. So outside of the Bud Light NFT, we're co-creating it alongside the launch of a new drink. So Bud Light next, it's here to redefine our Light beer category at zero cards, 80 calories, 4% ABV, available as of yesterday,

 

Dhani Jones (26:27):

Love that plug.

 

Bert Navarrete (26:28):

That's right.

 

Dhani Jones (26:28):

Go get it now.

 

Bert Navarrete (26:29):

Go get it now. But we're able to co launch an initiative in a different way, whereas in the past you might have just seen it in print or in regular media channels. We're now exploring and have done. So launching an NFT alongside a product launch. So you'll continue to see more and more from us in this space. It is probably one of the most exciting areas that we continue to pursue this whole future around socializing. And we have a lot of other marque events that we're either sponsoring or co hosting through the remainder of the year where you'll see a lot more activity around that space.

 

Dhani Jones (27:04):

Well, I love the circular economy. I love pushing the envelope in the metaverse. I love how you guys are thinking about it when it relates to NFTs. And I think that everybody should be thinking about that. At the very beginning of our conversation, we talked about web 1.0, where you essentially started your career.

 

Bert Navarrete (27:19):

Dialogue, baby.

 

Dhani Jones (27:21):

Right. And then you're moving through 2.0 now you're into the world of 3.0. So, over the course of your career, the VC world has just changed. How do you think firms can adapt to the changing landscape? How should firms think about that? How should people think about that?

 

Bert Navarrete (27:38):

So if I were to rewind the tape on where we were in the early 2000s to where we are today. Number one, makes me realize that was 22 years ago. So I'm a dinosaur. But number two, I would say that the pace of innovation is exponentially faster than it was in the early 2000s. And if there's one lesson learned or retrospect that I would constantly remind myself was, it's easy to be skeptical in any given market when something new and innovative has been introduced, but in this new paradigm, you better be willing to quickly pivot and change even more than just five years ago, just because things are happening with or without you. And I think it's easy to be dismissive of new innovative things like understanding deeply what NFTs are beyond just the collectible. Like what are the applications? How is it going to change fundamentally the ways business integrate and interact with each other?
And one thing that hasn't changed over these two decades is the sheer necessity to be always reeducating yourself. It's one of the most enjoyable parts of the job, is that I learn something new every day. I learn something new every day, either by reading or talking to an entrepreneur. And you constantly have to be reeducating yourself, because I find myself now on discord learning about new dial protocols or talking to you about something where we saw collectively together.

 

Dhani Jones (29:04):

Well, I don't know how you keep everything together considering you got slack going on one side and you got discord going on the other side, and then all the myriad of different things that are happening. Just thinking about all the different-

 

Bert Navarrete (29:14):

I've got four screens open right now. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Yeah. I got five screens. Yeah.

 

Dhani Jones (29:19):

It's influx of information that just happens nonstop. So if you were to say, all right, these are the things that make a VC really good. You talked about EQ and listening and being able to learn, would those be the top three? And if there's one or two others, what would you say makes a really good VC?

 

Bert Navarrete (29:41):

Those three are table stakes. I think everyone has the ability to learn, the ability to network. I think EQ is just something some people either have it or they don't. I mean, there's certainly different personalities and I wouldn't want anyone to think that they could force themselves into having EQ, but maybe just try actively listening is a good next step.
I think one thing that's lost on a lot of people, at least those who are not investors, is how much of being a venture investor involves being a salesperson. You have to sell your firm, you have to sell your value proposition. You have to sell yourself as a contributor to an entrepreneur's story. It's lost on some people. They assume that since we're sitting in the position of writing checks that things just naturally fall in our laps, where you actually have to go out and hustle and feel resilience and sell. And so having an ability to connect with people, that's a key component to it.

The other thing I love to say all the time is that no is always the easiest answer. And it takes a ton of conviction to say yes, and sometimes you just have to take a risk. It's a comfortable thing to say no, because you don't lose money by saying, no. You never get fired by saying no in our business. But you have to, at some point, have some conviction and take a leap of faith.

 

Dhani Jones (30:59):

And I think that's the hardest thing for anybody in your position to do, because what you're managing and what you're trying to create is depended upon that yes, and that no. Two more questions, your Twitter bio. Look, Twitter's coming back everybody. People don't realize that, but if you're into NFTs, you're into metaverse, everybody's doing everything on Twitter. At some point nobody's even going to have any phone numbers because you're not going to be able to verify it's your phone number. You want to call somebody, you better socially engage with them first. So, your Twitter bio reads, relentlessly pursuing the God shot. For those that don't know you, what does that mean?

 

Bert Navarrete (31:37):

Okay. Well, so first of all, it took you 12 years to follow me back on Twitter. Okay. Let's just get that out of the way. Where we had an exchange on Dms about like the New York Rangers fight song. And then I had to text you like two weeks ago and say, "Hey man, you don't follow me on Twitter." So let's put that aside for a second. So the God shot, and you know this, because you've seen it. Personally, I am amateur photographer. And so it's a play on words on a couple things. I'm an amateur photographer and I'm also a, in your words, a coffee nerd/snob. And so the God shot talks about the perfect shot of espresso. However, I have now parlayed that into also including the crappy photography that I shoot on the side. So it's a sort of word play on both of my hobbies.

 

Dhani Jones (32:28):

I do appreciate the coffees that we do have with each other. I'm pretty sure you've never taken a picture of any of the coffee that we've consumed.

 

Bert Navarrete (32:37):

Actually I have a picture of you taking a picture of the coffee that we consume. So like very, very inception style. Like taking a picture of you taking a picture of the coffee.

 

Dhani Jones (32:48):

Well, we all know that the world runs on coffee and it's necessary. And so I hope everybody checks out your Twitter handle in order to be able to see the pursuit of the God shot. So we always like to end the Pathfinders presented by Ansarada by meals and deals. So I want to know, tell us a story of your favorite deal, and your celebratory meal. It could've been when you were younger or now, where you went to go eat, where you really enjoyed celebrating that deal.

 

Bert Navarrete (33:19):

Okay. So this wasn't necessarily a deal outcome, but it was a board meeting of a company that I would just so happened to find myself being on the board of when I was a younger investor in my career. And it was captains of industry. So my fellow board members included the former vice chairman of [inaudible 00:33:37], some very large managing directors. And I think at the time I was a newly minted associate and the banter around the table, once we decided that we would go ahead with the new round of investment funding and this company ended up being very successful and sold to a large market data provider.

The banter around the table was who's getting on the Midtown heliport to fly back to their next destination. And while I was eating my chocolate chip cookie, which was the only thing that I was able to get out of a lunchbox that day, I stood up without any sort of broad emotion and said, "Well, can I get on the subway and take the cab back downtown to the office." So, that was my one favorite memory of being an early investor surrounded by captains of industry.

 

Dhani Jones (34:28):

So it doesn't matter who, or where, or when, you can always share a chocolate chip cookie with those that you are working with. So Bert, I just want to say thank you so much for joining us today. Your insights, intelligence, your advice and counsel to so many people. I think that for those that are listening, remember about having that EQ. Remember about listening. Remember that you don't always have to say something in a meeting. Sometimes it's better just to sit there and to process, because there's a lot of people that are shouting, a lot of people that are talking, but there's not enough people like Bert that are listening. And that's why he's doing big things at ZX Venture. So thank you, Bert.

I want to say a very special thanks again to Bert Navarrete for being with us today. It's great to be able to learn a bit about his career and how ZX Ventures is empowering entrepreneurs to unlock exponential growth and build ventures that allow us to meet the needs of tomorrow. If you're enjoying the Pathfinders, please make sure to leave us a review so more people can find the show. Until next time, I'm Dhani Jones, and this has been the Pathfinders, presented by Ansarada.

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