- IECP targets investments in minority owned companies to return investments & create positive social impact
- IECP partnered with MBDA & NAIC to drive and facilitate more capital to minority business owners
- Robert was the lead investor & fund manager for building a portfolio of over 80 digital media companies
INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: Robert Smith, Founder/Managing Partner of IECP Ventures with Matt Bird
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 00:00
Welcome back to the Traders Network Show broadcasting a worldwide from Greenwich, Connecticut. My name is Matt Bird. We’re here at the 2019 Greenwich Economic Forum. And my next guest is the founder and managing partner of IECP Ventures. Robert Smith. Robert, welcome to the show. Thank you for coming down. You know, we just watched a prolific one-on-one interview that you did one on one with Byron Allen. You had the whole audience captured, it was moving. Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like from your vantage point?
Robert Smith – Founder/Managing Partner, IECP Ventures: 00:32
Well, to be honest, it was a somewhat surreal and the reason I say that is I met Byron originally about five years ago. He and I were introduced by a mutual friend of ours, Bill Bellamy, actor, comedian. And when I met him on set there, we ended up talking for literally about four hours and over the years we’ve had conversations around how we can potentially work together investments that he was doing, what we were doing with our company. So today was really surreal that we finally were able to come together, you know, on a great panel and platform such as, you know, the Greenwich Economic Forum.
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 00:56
Amazing. And you know what, it’s captured forever. Cause I know that there are four networks covering it. So you certainly have a lot of takeaway out of this. So public private partnerships obviously is what’s driving this event. We have the Greenwich Economic Forum which is part of the state economic development fund and the commissioner. And earlier we had the governor in here and the mayor. Why are public private partnerships so important for economic development?
Robert Smith – Founder/Managing Partner, IECP Ventures: 01:43
Well, I think it’s the combination of intellectual capital, social capital and financial capital all centered around the same initiatives and efforts. And through collaboration and diversity is how you get to controlled outcomes where you can have positive impact. And I think there’s more platforms that are needed similar to GEF. We’re really excited about a lot of the public private partnerships that we’re putting together. One in particular my partners have done is with the NBDA minority business development agency and the NICA National association of investment companies. They’ve come together to help drive and facilitate more capital to minority businesses. And so we’re looking to integrate those type of strategies into these type of forums like, you know, GEF and several others.
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 02:14
You know, and speaking of the integration and outcome, which was a great word, you dabbled in a lot of influencer-based activations. And your organization now deals with bringing high level influencers, much like Byron Allen into events like this to, to amplify the visibility. She will. Why is it so important today when it comes to advocacy? Why is it important to have those influencers present at events like this?
Robert Smith – Founder/Managing Partner, IECP Ventures: 02:39
Well, so historically a lot of people that are influential as it relates to sports and entertainment, they haven’t really intersected and coming together with global leaders in the world of high structure finance. So most times it’s the folks on the private equity and venture investment banking side that are investing capital in entertainment but not taking like the Intel and insights from influential people like a Byron Allen.
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 03:07
You know what’s amazing also is that, but a lot of that capital comes from those athletes. But yeah, they’re and their deployment in their initiatives that they could very easily also be amplifying themselves.
Robert Smith – Founder/Managing Partner, IECP Ventures: 03:19
Exactly. So a good example that I could give as a model that worked really well was like what Magic Johnson did with his collaboration with Ron Burkle. You know, the amount of impact that they had in urban communities. And what we want to do is duplicate that model. You know, bring folks like the Ray Dalio, the Paul Tudor Jones’s of the world. Mixing mass them with the econimists of the world or the LeBron James of the world. Share best practices all around impact based initiatives. You know?
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 03:30
So where do you see this going in the next five years? Greenwich forum, impact influencer integration, stuff like this.
Robert Smith – Founder/Managing Partner, IECP Ventures: 03:45
Well, I think the greenest form is going to continue to just build from what they have right now. This is a strong platform. Yeah. well, I want to see selfishly crystal ball, if you will. Is the eradication of poverty specifically as it relates to people of color in this country for African Americans, the wealth gap if trends continue to be the same that they are right now, it won’t close for another 84 years. It’s a very long time. Right? And so we need to come up with real true strategies that help mobilize capital around that as well as Latinos and so forth. Oh no. Excuse me. Latinos is 84 years. African-Americans is over 220. Yes, that’s right. So there was a study that was done by the center for global policy where they spoke all about that. And what we’re currently missing out on is over 1 million minority owned businesses, which would create 9 million jobs, which would result in $300 billion of national income. What that means is it’s a trillion dollar opportunity.
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 04:15
You know, if you can find a way to marry those influencers with government based initiatives and economic development departments along with corporations who have less resources, absolutely. I think you’re going to be able to build yourself the platform that I think it’s very doable and you certainly, if the goal is to accelerate it, you’re on the right path. That’s all you can really ask for it. Exactly. That’s it. So we got, we haven’t met a minute before. We have to cut to another commercial break. Any key takeaways for the audience watching about what’s going on here? I mean, there’s what, is it $7 trillion or $18 trillion? $18 trillion under management in this building right now. Give us some key takeaways from some of the sessions
Robert Smith – Founder/Managing Partner, IECP Ventures: 05:11
Some key takeaways are, I would say first and foremost, entrench yourself in anything related to understanding how high structure finance works. Be familiar with organizations like PRI principles for responsible investment. And just continue to, you know, be aware of what’s going on, you know, in the world of finance and try to get to forum next year.
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 05:58
I love it. Robert Smith. Yes. You’re the best my friend. Thank you so much. Managing director, managing partner and founder of IECP Ventures. We’re going to be right back after this messages special. Thanks out to our affiliate partners, ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS. We’ll be right back. Robert, you’re awesome.