Zach Ware

An interesting left turn

Most of the amazing outcomes in my personal and professional life have come when I favor an interesting path over a sensible one and most of my regrets can be traced to times I did the opposite. Not surprisingly, the interesting things turn out to be more sensible in retrospect. This principle recently steered me towards a hard left turn and I wanted to share an update about it.

As some of you might know, last fall my VTF Capital partners and I decided not to pursue raising a new fund. Each of us has grown interested in other areas so the timing felt right to split off on our own new adventures.

Over the past two years, my interests shifted heavily towards the food system. I spent most of the last year in Montana and Los Angeles and by early 2018 was focused on a few key things, including spending more time with a group of partners at Acre Venture Partners, a venture firm focused on the future of the food system and agriculture led by people I’ve come to respect as rational, thoughtful people.

Recently Acre introduced me to one of its portfolio companies, Pilotworks, the nation’s largest provider of scalable production and distribution infrastructure to small, medium and large food, beverage and CPG companies. The easiest way to explain it is to imagine AWS but for food companies in the physical world.

Pilotworks is one of the few companies that my random collection of professional experiences spanning tech product, food production, distribution, and real estate directly aligns with. Acre’s thought was that I might be able to advise the company occasionally. After spending a week with Nick, its co-founder and CEO, and his team of nearly 60 people across six states, Nick asked me join as its COO. A few days later I was on a plane back to NY. I joined the team on Feb 1.

The decision was a hard left turn. Until meeting Pilotworks and Acre, I planned to leave the venture industry and focus on building several long-term businesses and deepening my work in real estate. My ideal approach to life is to be, in both my personal and professional life, a portfolio of interesting things.

So although it conflicted with nearly every one of my plans, I could not pass up an opportunity to work on a set of problems as compelling as those the combination of this role and this company present. If I had chosen the sensible path I would have later regretted it.

I’m writing this from NY where I’m now mostly based. As the year progresses I’ll be splitting time between NY and a home on a small ranch outside of Austin, TX. I’ll continue to travel frequently supporting Pilotworks’ growing national footprint.

If you find yourself in NY or Austin, please look me up. If you know of anyone or anything interesting in NY (e.g. tacos), please pass thoughts my way. And if you want to talk food, call me anytime.

First published on February 23, 2018