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February 6, 2024 30 mins

Ep. 151 This episode features a fireside chat with Dennis Cail of Zirtue, and Abim Kolawole of Northwestern Mutual.

Dennis Cail is the founder and CEO of Zirtue, a fintech company pioneering in the $200 billion relationship-based lending market segment by automating the loan process between family and friends with payments going directly to designated creditors.

Northwestern Mutual’s For two decades, Abim Kolawole has held numerous leadership positions at Northwestern Mutual. Now, he serves as chief audit executive and further backs the financial services company’s mission to relieve its clients from financial anxiety by creating a personalized financial plan.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Let's get this started. I'm super glad to be here
with you today because then this first conversation that we're
going to have is about corporate responsibility and closing the
wealth gap. Who realizes that actually corporations do have a
responsibility in making this my man? One person knows that
corporations have a responsibility. Here the blueprint presented by Northwestern
Mutual Misfireside Discussion will delve into the critical role of

(00:23):
corporate responsibility and addressing the wealth gap through real time
examples of how Northwestern Mutual is doing it. Especially they
have this SARE task Force, which is a sustained action
for Racial Equity task Force, or they're putting people whose
jobs it is to make sure this thing happen happens
in collaborations with global partners. These speakers will explore successful strategies,

(00:45):
actionable frameworks, and best practices that companies can adopt to
actively participate in closing the wealth gap, ultimately promoting economic equity,
financial literacy, and inclusive financial well being for all. So
we're going to have this conversation with Abim Kola, who
is vice president, chief audit executive and a member of

(01:07):
the company's Enterprise Leadership Group and was appointed executive sponsor
for the CEO led Sustained Action for Racial Equity initiative
aimed at helping to close the racial wealth gap. And
the moderator here today is Dennis Kale, co founder and
CEO of Zert You and So Zert You So. And
he's also a Navy veteran. Any veterans in the building

(01:30):
right now, any families of veterans, I like that, thank
them and thank you guys for your service. He's an
SMU Graduate Bank board member and award winning entrepreneur, including
afro Tech Future fifty honoree this year Forbes Next one thousand,
d CEO five hundred n Ey Entrepreneur of the Year winner.

(01:52):
Welcome to the stage, moderator Dennis Kale and our panelist
Abim Cola.

Speaker 2 (02:09):
All right, Rondover pause here is.

Speaker 3 (02:15):
But I knew of Ben would hold it down for us.
So thank you, sir.

Speaker 4 (02:19):
That's what we do as military veterans, right, Thanks for
your service.

Speaker 3 (02:22):
Thank you, Happy to serve and happy to be here.
So let's get it kicked off ready, start with you. You
know Northwestern Mutual Financial Services Company founded in eighteen fifty seven,
been around one hundred and sixty six years. You guys

(02:45):
are big backers and supporters of black businesses, of black companies, founders,
underrepresented founders. Can you talk a little bit about how
that support fits into your overall mission from an organizational standpoint? Yeah?

Speaker 4 (03:04):
Absolutely, But before I get started, I just want to
take a moment to say thank you so much for
having us.

Speaker 2 (03:10):
It's always a pleasure.

Speaker 4 (03:11):
I was here in March of last year and the
energy in the room was palpable. It's just incredible to
see a sea of African Americans here and to be
able to have this conversation with you is phenomenal. So thanks,
thanks for having us to the point you made. Northwestern
Mutual is a financial services company based out of Milwauka, Wisconsin.

(03:33):
I moved here from New York City to go join
that company for a variety of reasons. One of the
principal reasons was exactly the commitment what we're going to
be talking about today. I saw a company that was
so committed. The vision of the company is to eliminate
financial anxiety from Americans in particularly. We know that undersilved communities,
there's this gap within other SILF communities and I could

(03:55):
see at that time twenty years ago when I was
packing up from New York City, I'm moving to Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin,
that I was going to connect with a company that
had a deep vision and mission around financial security fall.

Speaker 2 (04:07):
Now fast forward.

Speaker 4 (04:09):
Through the ten twenty years that I've been at the company,
the company's been involved in a variety of things in
the community, trying to improve the lives of the community
because it matters to us in terms of how we
developed the communities. Fast forward to unfortunate mode of George Floyd.
We decided to really really double down in a very
sustained way to really begin to uplift communities, particularly the

(04:33):
Black and African American community.

Speaker 2 (04:36):
And I'm sure we're going.

Speaker 4 (04:36):
To be going a lot deeper into the sustained action
for racial equity. But our CEO basically took it upon
himself post the George Floyd Murdim to actually conduct one
on one interviews. How many people do that one on
one interviews with Black and African Americans to deeply understand
the experiences not only within the community but our advisors.

(04:57):
And he came away really committed even more committed building
on all the things that he had been doing, that
we had been doing for years to really make sure
that we have a program which I'm very proud of
to be the executive sponsor today that is leading the charge.
And again I'm sure we'll get into the details, but
high level, we created the Sustained Action for Racial Equity,

(05:17):
a task force cheered by the CEO, and I say
cheered by the CEO because in this day and age,
there's nothing more important in my opinion, that leadership courage.
I was reading a little about Joon Sanders day and
they talked about the audacity to be brave, and I
am just so proud to work for a CEO who
is so brave to be in a position like this
myself to recognize that people are waiting for us to

(05:41):
take a step back an instead we're leaning forward. So
I'm sure we're getting too a lot of the programmatic
aspects of the things that I'm very proud of how
we're leading and supporting black businesses, But just want to
say that this commitment we've had is built on generations.
But we're even more committed to make sure that we
are reaching and touching lives, particularly in the underrepresented communities.

Speaker 3 (06:06):
Thank you for that, and thank you for your courage too.

Speaker 2 (06:08):
Absolutely, and now I'm going to flip it back to you.

Speaker 4 (06:10):
Right, we're here talking about one of the things that
inspired us as part of some of the initiatives was
this notion of access to capital.

Speaker 2 (06:19):
We wanted to make.

Speaker 4 (06:20):
Sure that as part of building on how we've been
supporting black businesses and underrepresented communities for decades, we knew
that obviously the gap in terms of access to capital
is real.

Speaker 2 (06:31):
This has been studied, and we talked about three things.
I like to say.

Speaker 4 (06:35):
It's getting in the game, so access to capital, to
get in the game, to start a business, thriving in
the game in terms of fall and financing, and then
you know, obviously creating the opportunity to scale businesses such
that they could be supplies to companies. So what's your experience, Dennis,
in terms of getting in the game, staying in the game,

(06:57):
and thriving in the game.

Speaker 2 (06:58):
You have a business that is doing pretty well, You're
thriving right now.

Speaker 4 (07:02):
Why do you talk a little bit about your business model,
what you do and then speak to some of those categories.

Speaker 3 (07:08):
Sure, thanks, abim So, just by way of quick background,
Dennis kel founder CEO at Zertu. We have a mission
to drive financial equity and inclusion, one relationship at a time,
and we do that by simplifying loans between friends and
family and baking in and bill pay transparency. So if
I borrow three hundred dollars from a BIM to pay

(07:30):
my pass do AT and T bill. Once a BIM
approves that loan, instead of the money coming to me,
Zrchu sends that money straight to AT and T minus
our success fee. So that's how we make money. And
came up with this idea probably ten plus years ago
because my sister and other family members would borrow money
from me and I had limited success in getting that

(07:52):
money back, and so my thought process was, how do
I take the awkwardness out of this but also help
make them more accountable. But the big issue I had
was not really knowing that the money was being used
for the intended purpose. And so I give you that
context because my background started and my career started in

(08:13):
the Navy as a systems engineer sett an up shift
to shore ship to ship communications. But prior to that,
I grew up in very humble beginnings. I grew up
in low income public Housing and Monroe, Louisiana. We didn't
have banks or credit unions or financial services companies in
my neighborhood, but we had several liquor stores and pawn

(08:33):
shops that would cast your check for thirty percent of
whatever your check was. So even at seven years old,
I knew that was bad math. And so you fast
forward walked outside the naval base after boot camp. There
was a lot of payday lenders, etc. And so I
say that to say me founding Zertu and starting this

(08:55):
company is really mission driven, but it also goes go
back to making sure that I was being intentional about
finding investors like Northwestern Mutual that are aligned with our mission,
because that is extremely critical and it's not ever about
just taking money from anyone. One of the first questions

(09:16):
I ask any investor is what do you bring beyond
the capital? I think that's important, and I think you
have to have people around the cap table, around the
table that are in it with you for the mission
and understand that you can do good. You can do
well by doing good. And so that's what ZRCHU sets
out to do. And I think it really starts with

(09:37):
those early checks from investors and partners like Northwestern Mutual
that are willing to take a risk on you and
then understand that you're going to do everything you can
not to make a liar out of them and make
sure you have a strong ROI. And so for us,
it's really about aligning yourself with the right partners early,

(09:58):
because I do think that has a lot to do
with your success. And by the way, they've made several
introductions from a corporate standpoint, so we can drive our
revenue as well, and so there's so much more that
they bring to the table. And that's what I encourage
any founder of Color to seek out, is those investors
that are aligned with you, that understand you, that understand

(10:19):
the bridge that you're trying to build, because that's going
to drive your success. And so I take very little
credit for the success we've had to date and give
most of that to the support system that we have
around us.

Speaker 2 (10:33):
It's been a pleasure.

Speaker 3 (10:34):
Thank you back to you so post George Floyd. Okay,
a lot of companies, corporations made a lot of commitments,
a lot of promises. Most of those have been broken
at this stage, and I'm sure everyone in this room
can tell you some of those promises have been broken.

(10:57):
Can we talk or can you tell us a little
bit about Northwestern Mutual and your commitments then and now
and sort of where you guys are and really what
advice would you give to other corporations.

Speaker 4 (11:12):
Yeah, I really like the topic of this conversation in
terms of corporate social responsibility to close the wealth gap
because we are all uniquely positioned to be able to
do our you know, a path a part in helping
to close the racial wealth gap. You know, I'm just
going to share a little bit about the why, the what,
and the how. So you know, I talked a little

(11:33):
bit about the why that this is uniquely aligned to
our vision. But we recently had another conversation with our
CEO and where we landed is this is simply a
growth strategy. It is good for business. It's more than
just being altruistic. Investing in your communities, doing what you
can to really enable black business is good for business.

(11:56):
We want to grow, we want to be relevant, we
want to be competitive. Marketplaces have a change in and
if you stick with your old business model, you will
never grow, you will not be relevant, and you will.

Speaker 2 (12:06):
Not be competitive.

Speaker 4 (12:08):
So, Barnan, this is grounded in the business imperative. So
that was sort of the initial kind of the why.
And it's always very important, not that this is not
important for social good, but from a corporate standpoint, to
be really grounded in the why. And we are so
ground in the why unanimously around the company.

Speaker 2 (12:25):
Now, what did we decide to do?

Speaker 5 (12:26):
So?

Speaker 4 (12:26):
Again post George Floyd, the CEO pulled a number of
us together and said, I want you to think innovatively.
I heard the word innovation used here, and my colleagues
and I went to the drawing board and we started
thinking about all kinds of ideas and what was behind
our minds was the sustained action.

Speaker 2 (12:44):
And that was very, very deliberate.

Speaker 4 (12:47):
The CEO wanted to make sure this was not just
the fleeting thing because I've read all the articles about
where all the commitments that companies made to grow black
businesses and really foster the development of underrepresented the businesses,
and so we said, it's action. But we went through
the drawing board and we said what are we going
to do? And there were a number of levers that
we created, but we said, let's make this very strategic.

(13:10):
So we created a strategy and we make sure we
allocate funds on par with every other corporate strategic initiative.
And I was asked to be the executive sponsor, So
I was given a portfolio, I was given the money
allocated to be able to do that, and that gave
everybody the confidence that this is not just some bite
side but again that spoke to kind of the sustained
aspect of it. So getting into the exactly what we did,

(13:33):
we recommended that we created we created a hundred million
dollar impact investing fund.

Speaker 2 (13:38):
Now, these things are.

Speaker 4 (13:39):
Not easy, but we had to create the case for that,
and ultimately that past muster and the focus for one
hundred million dollar impact Investing fund was around affordable housing,
healthy sustaining with.

Speaker 2 (13:50):
Neighborhoods, and access to capital.

Speaker 4 (13:52):
So step number one, Step number two is we have
a corporate venture capital fund about one hundred and fifty
million dollars, and that fund is broadly deployed across all races,
Ethnicsi's gender. But we wanted to make sure we had
a little set aside again for black businesses, and that
was green lips.

Speaker 2 (14:11):
Okay, let's do that.

Speaker 4 (14:13):
We wanted to make sure that the entrepreneurs that we
will be funding were strategically aligned to the company of fintech,
insured tech, Digital, heald AI, that kind of stuff, So
that was a second bucket. We then my colleague and
I then said, but we can't stop there. We have
to make sure we start creating an ecosystem. Why don't
we create an accelerator, And we studied the Northwest Mutual

(14:34):
Black Fund Accelerator as a complement of that, and we're
in the process of graduating the thirtieth cohort sorry thirty
members from the accelerator. It's a twelve week program. People
coming to the program get one hundred thousand dollars, they
get an executive mentor from Northwest Mutual and they graduate
from the program and gone to get other funding sources.

(14:57):
As part of the Impact Investing Fund, we've also been
partnering with local community development financial Institutions CDFIs in the
local area to make sure that they are able to
loan to make loans to local business because they have
the expertise on the ground game. And then we decided
that also we wanted to take a look at our
supplied diversity program to make sure we come brought in

(15:17):
that program.

Speaker 2 (15:18):
So these are efforts.

Speaker 4 (15:20):
And initiatives, key initiatives that I'm very very proud of
that we're driving as hard as possible. On top of that, obviously,
we're paying very close attention to the culture that we're creating.

Speaker 2 (15:29):
As part of the strategy.

Speaker 4 (15:31):
We had a cultural aspect of it, We had a
talent aspect of it, and then we had an aspect
of it that relates to being relevant in the marketplace.
How do we show up in the marketplace? What would
make people trust us, particularly again underrepresented communities. So I
share the strategic approach with you, and I know it's
a little painstaking to go through all the initiatives, but
they say, this was a very well thought out strategy

(15:51):
that's resourced with specific initiatives and people aligned with those initiatives.
And then we're beginning to measure proof points, and the
proof points that are material, how do we know we
actually make an impact. We want to make sure that
the businesses we're funding actually growing revenue. We want to
count the number of people they're hiring because obviously they're
creating jobs, and we want to for the accelerators the

(16:14):
founders come in, we want to track sort of full
on funding among many other ways of tracking actual, real impact.

Speaker 2 (16:21):
So we're very, very proud of the work we've been doing.

Speaker 4 (16:24):
But I just want to underscore exactly the question you asked,
which is we're not seeing as many proof points. And
I've read a number of articles about people leaving, you know,
the commitments they've made, But there's no better time for
us to double down the commands we're made. And I'm
just really proud of how we're going about this.

Speaker 3 (16:44):
Thank you for that. I'm going to double click on something.
Is there a call to actually you would have for
other companies just based on the ecosystem you just walked
through and talked us through. You're not just throwing money
at these companies or these founders. You're in saying, you know,
go make it happen and then wondering why they fail.

(17:04):
You're actually building a support system, an ecosystem around this.
Is there a call to action you would have for
other organizations?

Speaker 4 (17:11):
Yeah, no, I appreciate that. Yeah, the call to action
is across. So I would say about three dimensions. I mean,
the first is, frankly, from whatever your vantage point is,
the call to action is that courage, the audacity to
be bold, to continue to think outside of the box
because you know, it's hard, you know, and there are
times when you doubt it. There are times when people would,
you know, impede the progress drying makes. So that's number

(17:33):
one call to action. Let's be bold, let's be audacious.
Obviously we have to think constructed and make sure it's
grounded in the business. So that's number one. Number two
is it's beyond just activity. Even though I mentioned a
number of things that are very positive. I talked about
how we want to measure progress at the end of
the actual impact you're making, and let's make sure that

(17:54):
the programs we're doing actually tailored to deliver actual impact
and not just activity.

Speaker 2 (18:01):
You know.

Speaker 4 (18:02):
Lastly, you know, I would just basically say, closing the
wealth gap for many may seem like boiling the ocean.
It's a giant wealth gap, and there's so many doors
you can open, so many dimensions you can take, and
sometimes it may feel frankly overwhelming, like how do I
know if I'm scratching the surface, how do I know

(18:22):
if I make an impact? I'm just gonna go back
to my tried and true ways or traditional ways. The
third call to action here is for you know some
of us are from corporations, but within your vantage point,
within your power, construct find ways to determine the kind
of impact you can make, what door you can open.

(18:42):
Even if you're an entrepreneur, you probably have a network
that you can expose other entrepreneurs too. And I'm sure
you have thoughts around this, Dennis, but it's a universal
call to action for us or to believe that as
a as a community, we're much better off if we
uplift one another.

Speaker 2 (19:00):
That would be my call to action.

Speaker 3 (19:02):
Thank you for that, Thank you for your leadership too.

Speaker 4 (19:04):
Absolutely all right, I'm going to ask you also what
advice you have for people from your vantage point as
an entrepreneur. Granted it's been it's not easy to build
a business. I'm sure most people in this room recognize
the number of times you get told no, the amount
of time it takes to be able to get something
started and then scale it. But my question is on

(19:26):
a twofold you asked me about from a corporate standpoint,
and I would ask from a corporate standpoint, from a
VC standpoint, and from an entrepreneurial standpoint. I'm sure you've
experienced a little flavor between all those three, what advice
would you have from your unique vantage point given some
of the challenges and nuances of experience for each one
of those constituents.

Speaker 3 (19:48):
I think it's a great question, and I've talked to
all of those organizations and entities, and what I would
say is, I'll start with corporate. You touched on this Corporate.
I think if and when corporate comes to the table
and they're looking at investing in black founders or underrepresented founders,

(20:12):
if if they come to that with the spirit of
this is a charity versus this is an investment, I
think it's the wrong start. I think you know that
conversation doesn't go far and those commitments are going to
fall off fairly quickly. So that's what I'm encouraged by
what you guys are doing at Northwestern Mutual in terms

(20:33):
of understanding, you know, and vetting deals. Right. So when
I'm talking with corporate investors and you guys know this,
it's the same diligence process as it would be if
I'm talking to a VC. So for me, I approach
it as if you know, it's the same common conversation.
But when I hear organizations sort of give me clues
that you know they're viewing this as a nice sort

(20:56):
of thing to do because it's the right thing to
do in the moment, versus this being baked into their culture.
I shy away from those corporate investors because I know
they're not really committed to me, to investing in black
founders and really helping us be successful. So that's one thing.
And I never got that impression with north with Northwestern Mutual,

(21:17):
So I would I would say to corporations, organizations, bake
it into your culture. Okay, make sure that founders of
color and not underrepresented founders know that they have just
as much of a shot as getting an investment, assuming
they're button up, you know, and they can sort of
demonstrate demonstrate the ROI from there. Vcs are very very different.

(21:43):
They're different animal corporations. From a corporate venture standpoint, that's
not your core business. So you kind of have that
luxury of sort of not living and dying off of
these investments, but yet you approach it like it's a
true investment. And I think this is important for founders
in this room to understand how the vcs think. I have.

(22:04):
I had two term sheets earlier in the year. I'll
give you an example that I turned down from VCS
because I felt like there was a lot of overreach
in those term sheets and felt like they were just
sort of taking advantage of the market and you know
where we are collectively, and that's hard to do, as
any one of you in this room will know, that's

(22:26):
hard to do in this this market. You know, when
you're burning through capital, you have a certain number of
months in runway and all that. But I did it
because it was the right thing to do. But I
also knew I had other investors around the cap table
that I can go to and say, look, I'm not
feeling this deal. I don't like it. I don't think
it's good for the company long term. And we had

(22:48):
a couple investors, including Northwestern Mutual, that stepped up and
led and co led this recent round of funding our
Series A that we've done. So that's a that's you know,
this is a real time example of making sure you
have the right investors on your cap table early because
you're going to need them later, right, And so sort

(23:09):
of looking at it from a what would I recommend
to corporate venture as well as founders, And I think
from a founder standpoint, as well as vcs. If I'm
giving any founder in the room advice. When you're talking
with vcs, I typically like to give them permission. And
this may be counterintuitive, but I give them permission early

(23:31):
on to say no. Now. The reason I do that
is because I need them to I need to have
an objective conversation with them, and I need them to
be able to actually hear my pitch right, because a
lot of times these vcs feel like they're under pressure
because you're a black founder and oh, you know it,
maybe taking the wrong way if I say no to them. No,

(23:55):
first thing I say to them is, look, you know
I'm viewing this first call. It's just an introduction call.
You know. Whether it goes anywhere or not, that's okay.
You know this is you and I getting to know
each other. And I think more of us need to
look at these investor conversations like dating, right, And I
always compare talking to investors as if I'm dating because

(24:19):
and what you don't want to do is ask an
investor to marry you on the first date, right now.
True story. I actually wanted to ask my wife to
marry me on our first date, but I knew she
would have run away, right, you know, and that would
have been a bad thing for both of us. But

(24:41):
so I had to get to know her.

Speaker 2 (24:43):
You know.

Speaker 3 (24:43):
The only thing I was working on with her was
the second date. And I say to you, that's the
only thing you should focus on with investors, the second date,
getting to know them, because it's important that you both
feel like you have permission to say no to each other.
And by the way, I've said no to a lot
of investors. But when you say no to investors, guess

(25:06):
what they do introduce you to other investors. So it's
important to understand. And I'm not even talking about how
the game works. I'm just talking about how psychology work
and how people are. You know, meet people where they
are because at the end of the day, investors, especially
venture capital investors, and what I've learned is two things

(25:29):
that's important to them. They don't want to be embarrassed
by making a bad investment, and they always want to
look smart by making great investments. Right, So understand that
psyche going in and just kind of humble yourself and say,
let's just have a conversation and get to know each
other and never go into an investor deal. Thinking I

(25:50):
need you guys to invest in the next two to
three weeks. Not going to happen. I started relationships with
Northwestern Mutual about a year before they actually made an investment,
and that's likely true for most of our investors now.
So give yourself time, give yourself enough runway to make
the right decisions. Don't marry the first investor you meet.

Speaker 4 (26:15):
Awesome, I'm sure we have Do we have time for questions?

Speaker 2 (26:20):
If we do?

Speaker 4 (26:21):
Were certainly open to that, But there was one thing
that will just double down one.

Speaker 2 (26:26):
Sorry, I can see we have time for two questions.
You understand it.

Speaker 1 (26:33):
Say where are you from?

Speaker 5 (26:34):
Y Nika, I'm haughty and I'm from Brooklyn. Okay. My
question is for you, Dennis, all right, how what's the
percentage that you're invested with venture capitalists versus like companies
like Nimus, like Northwestern?

Speaker 6 (26:51):
Like?

Speaker 5 (26:52):
What what's the breakdown?

Speaker 3 (26:54):
That's a great question. Didn't think about that until you
asked me that, right, But just visual our cap table.
It's about seventy thirty corporate, seventy percent thirty percent VC.
In fact, our entire Series A, with exception of one investor,
was corporate. We had one VC and I barely let

(27:17):
that VC in. I was actually hell bent on not
taking any money from venture capital as part of our
Series A, because I really want to show other founders
that there's a different path to get where you're going, right,
And so many times we put so much dependency on
venture capital, which, look, we need venture capital, but at

(27:39):
the end of the day, they're still only investing one
percent into black founders, right, So that's just a data
point we can't ignore. So we need to get creative
and start thinking outside of the box. And corporate partners
are just stepping up more and more, but you have
to deliver too at the end of the day. So
it's about seventy thirty.

Speaker 2 (27:59):
You say your name noon away.

Speaker 6 (28:00):
From Mariah and I'm from Brooklyn, but I live in
Jersey now, So my question is for both or either
of you. We talk a lot about mentorship, but then
also sponsorship and when you're looking at people looking to
become entrepreneurs. There's a lot of research obviously in resources online,
but I find it more helpful when you can find

(28:22):
a sponsor or someone to mentor you. Where would you
suggest people go for those kind of interactions build obviously
like networks like this, you can build, you can build relationships,
but like, are there programs or are there certain avenues
you suggest new or young entrepreneurs to spaces.

Speaker 2 (28:42):
To be in. I can take that first, and that
you can comment.

Speaker 4 (28:45):
I mean, for us, it's uniquely within Accelerator program and
we match executives to the founders, executives that have done
all kinds of jobs and have the unique skill sets,
whether it's a CTO, whether it's CIO, whether it's the
head of digital product, whatever the case may be, that
can really advise and counsel. We have cohorts of only five,

(29:07):
so we're able to deploy executives who bring that skill set.
So that's what we've been doing. But I'm sure you
can speak to kind of a broad up mentorship.

Speaker 3 (29:14):
I have very little to add to that because I
think that's the route, that's the path, right. And so
my only one ad is that early on when we
were raising our seat funding, I literally pitched every accelerator
program there is. I didn't turn down, as my uncle
used to say, I wasn't turning down nothing but my collar, right,

(29:35):
And so for me, I showed up. I made the pitch.
You know, in most cases we got in, but it
was really about getting access to those resources, as you're
alluding to, right, because that's what we want. We want
those resources, we want those introductions, We want the opportunity
to be in the room to at least make our
business case right. And some people are going to say no,

(29:58):
some are going to say yes, please get us in
the room.

Speaker 1 (30:01):
So y'all make some noise for dinners in the beam.

Speaker 2 (30:09):
Thank you, gentlemen telling me where have you been
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