SPONSOR ZACHARY HARRIS of IKAVINA
The MoneyBaltimore committee asked Zachary a few questions. Check out his answers and bio below:
Question: What is the most important thing a new entrepreneur can do to be successful? Education is the key, which means to learn as many things as possible. As you network with others, the most important part of it is relating to other people, and the more that you either know or know of comes into play. Even knowing something as simple as knowing how to say hello and goodbye in someone’s native language can boost your standings. Else, only knowing just one field of information gets very tired… very fast. You need to be more well rounded.
Question: What is the best business advice anyone ever gave you? Sitting in a restaurant with a friend who was the Regional Director of Marketing for McDonald’s in 1994, he told me that I could get more money out of the room of white people who didn’t know me at all versus all the Black people I knew who not only had the money, but that also the amount investing in me wouldn’t hurt their bottom lines at all. It took me years to understand and hold this concept dear. While with white people, and some other races, their initial funding comes from friends and family, with African Americans, there is more doubt tied to whether someone who looks like you might actually be that smart and could be that successful versus you being a viable candidate to invest in. Too many folks will invest in smaller [and tired] business models rather than look at you as the next Larry Ellison or Mark Zuckerberg. You can’t look at your friends and expect them to help you to your goals, and at no point should you retard your progress just to hang with certain friends. Quintessentially, the people who hold you down might also be holding you back.
Zachary Marcus Cesare Harris is a native of Philadelphia, PA. He is the author of several books regarding men and relationships, and is also the man behind TheBlackWiner.com.
He attended the George Washington Carver High School for Engineering and Science as well as taking a detour to Penn State. Somewhat like an urban Ernest Hemingway, he has had a lot of diverse experiences ranging from the arts being a musician, an artist, and a photographer to the applied sciences and other technical areas.
“My mother always said that I was a jack of all trades and master of none, but in the past ten years, having a varied set of skills and being able to relate things learned in one to another have kept the money coming in.”
He plays a number of instruments of African, Brazilian and Caribbean extraction in a number of styles from the places where those instruments come from, to jazz, rhythm and blues and modern music. Oddly enough, he started out with the French Horn and played for two years in his elementary school’s orchestra. He is a multi-talented persona, having not only musical ability, but also in art and architectural renderings, photography and literature. He is a student of foreign languages and cultures, being able to easily find common ground with people of different races, religions and backgrounds.
In regards to wine:
I used to be a beer guy, and a serious beer guy at that. But at some point, I started to get more into wines. And that getting serious had me attending weekly tastings in which I would taste anywhere from five to ten different wines each time. Through this, I would meet a number of different producers as well as people who worked in the wine industry for importers and/or distributors. And this led to invitations to trade tastings and portfolio tastings. As I had a healthy knowledge for wine, and had so many other things that I have done and could share, I made friends with producers, importers, distributors, label owners, restaurant owners, bar and restaurant staff and the list goes on and on.
My first thought was how I could drink wine for free, which led me to building my own websites where I would review wines and write articles. And this opened the door for more invitations to bigger trade tastings in New York and D.C. If I liked a wine, I would email the producer, if not call someone to talk to them directly; I literally called Fred Franzia (Bronco Wine Company) up on a Saturday afternoon and talked with him for forty five minutes. One producer whose wine caught my eye was Quady, which makes several wonderful wines made from Orange Muscat and Black Muscat. After talking to their marketing manager back and forth several times, they decided to include Andrew Quady on the exchange, and he and I started to talk. Since he is in California, and he and his wife normally travel out the New York Chocolate Show annually and pour samples of their product, he invited me up to meet him. When I went, he asked me if I would like to pour, to which I accepted. What he thought would be me getting flustered in fifteen minutes turned out to me being happy for the better part of an hour, with those trying the wines being very entertained by me. He knew that I had the magic.
Flash forward to me and Chef Al Paris (Rococco, Circa, and the list goes on and on) attending the annual portfolio tasting for Southern Wine and Spirits, which had me meeting Mike Gonzalez of Vici Wine and Spirits. This morphed into me engaging Al to look at developing our own wine and food television show. We took over a restaurant [at no charge] and was able to pull off a great event featuring Mike’s wines where everyone in attendance was blown away. I learned that I am a great host. Mike’s distributor in Delaware (Sid Patel of Friday Monkey Wine Group) saw the pictures and then contacted me; he wanted me to do the same with his wines. Sometime later, this resulted in Sid and I becoming friends and me connecting him with another producer to have some of their wines under his label.
And this is the magic moment. I had a seat at the table in which I was privy to the numbers and the inner workings of buying wines from a producer, having them badged under your own label, and then selling them. I realized that I could probably do it better than both parties there, no, I knew it. This then took the form of me traveling to Italy for their annual VinItaly trade show and making connections with a slew of producers from just about every part of Italy. Further invites have had me connecting with producers from Spain, Portugal, France, Macedonia, Moldova, Slovenia, Crete, Greece, Lebanon and Croatia.
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