CEO, CTV Capital
Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Alma mater: University of Northern Colorado, University of South Florida
When he came to Tampa in 2012 to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Vincent Jackson knew the time was right to start his own foundation; but what he also knew was that it would not be just another charity with a pro athlete’s name on it. Since its founding seven years ago, the Jackson in Action 83 Foundation has supported the families of the men and women serving in the U.S. military, focused particularly on the education and physical and emotional health of service members’ children. It’s a cause that hits close to home for Jackson, whose parents both served in the military when he was growing up. “It’s something I experienced, so I know what a young military dependent who just came from Georgia and has gone to three schools in the last five years is going through, the stresses of that, the challenges of that,” Jackson says. “That’s our niche — really creating support around that family structure to make the military lifestyle a positive one for the kids and everyone involved.” Jackson has also found success in the business world since retiring from the NFL in 2018. He started the real estate-focused private equity firm CTV Capital alongside CFO Tom Phanco and COO Clarence Butt (the partners’ first initials gave the company its name) in 2012 when he was playing for the San Diego Chargers. When Jackson signed with the Buccaneers, he convinced his partners to relocate the company to Tampa. While CTV Capital does new development, the company has also done a number of renovations in some of Tampa’s more neglected neighborhoods. These projects are what excite Jackson most about real estate. “I love taking a product, if it’s old and dilapidated, and refreshing it, bringing it back to life,” he says. “I really look at it as, yes, we’re a for-profit business, but you can impact neighborhoods. This is part of improving communities.”
Tell me a little bit about CTV Capital and how you made the transition from football to real estate and restaurants.
CTV Capital was officially created in 2012. I was still living in San Diego. I hadn’t moved to Tampa yet, but I did come to Tampa that [year]. I think we started in April of 2012, and I actually moved to Tampa right after that. I came here as a free agent. I was playing football [in my] previous career. But I had known my partners. CTV is Clarence, Tom and Vincent. Those are the three partners of CTV. That was our big marketing creativity there [laughs]. We started in San Diego and did some residential development out there on the West Coast in San Diego and Reno, Nevada. When I came out here, I got to Tampa, and I was like, look. I love what we’re doing out west, that’s where my partners are from, but you guys have got to come out here and check this town out. Tampa is growing. It’s a beautiful place. It’s the right speed of life. There’s a lot more opportunity here. It’s very competitive and dense and expensive in California, and I thought for the size of the company we were, we could do a lot more out here.
I convinced them to come spend about a week with me, drive around and verify some of the things that I was seeing. They agreed. They said, you’re right, I think there’s some activity here, an opportunity for us here. What we are is a private equity firm that focuses on real estate development. That includes residential, mixed-use products and commercial [developments]. We have a family of companies underneath. If you want to look at it as kind of a wagon wheel, CTV Capital would be the hub in the middle of the spokes. The ancillary spokes would be CTV Mortgage, CTV Property Management, CTV Real Estate that handles the sales and the movement of the properties, CTV Contractors — we do have our own general contractor license, so we can develop on our own license. We have a partnership with a title company, and we actually own part of an insurance company. What we try to do is create a one-stop-shop touching all the things that we could possibly manage the service, something that could be part of our product. Do we have to use all the pieces every time we do a project? No, we don’t. We really don’t, and we don’t force that on our clients, but we do have very competitive options in all those arenas. That is really nice because you can control the client experience that way, really offering them some things so they don’t have to run all over town [saying], “I need an insurance quote” and “I need to see if I qualify for my mortgage.” All of that stuff, we can kind of get you in the door and handle you from soup to nuts. It’s pretty neat.
Why was real estate the avenue you wanted to explore beyond football?
It is my focus. I am an entrepreneur, so I have some other ventures. I’ve done a couple restaurants throughout the country. I’ve done some Orangetheory Fitness studios in the past and moved on from that. That was great. I have an entrepreneurial spirit, but it is 90% of my focus, in this arena with CTV Capital and development. When I studied business, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I found a love for development. I love taking a product, if it’s old and dilapidated, and refreshing it, bringing it back to life. I love the philanthropic part of it. I really look at it as, yes, we’re a for-profit business, but you can impact neighborhoods. This is part of improving communities. [We’re] going into some areas that can be rough. Do we do high-end, million-dollar home? Yes, we do. But I like the niche of where we can touch our community partners there, going to neighborhoods, create some value, some basis, appreciation in neighborhoods, and just help people achieve the American Dream. For me, it touches a lot of those emotional keys as well, not just so much on the business side, the stark black and white of numbers. Those things I’m a nerd about, but at the end of the day, I do like the human connection of what the industry brings.
What are some of the lessons you took from your football career and applied to business?
The easiest ones, and probably the most important ones, are teamwork and communication. If there’s anything I’m always focused on as CEO here, and it’s always a work in progress, we’re never at the top of the mountain, is really trying to make sure that everybody’s maximizing their time. One, that they understand their role, making that very clear, understanding what’s expected, giving them the tools to be successful. And that takes teamwork. That takes everybody else around them working in a supporting fashion, doing their part, carrying their part of the team, just like a football team. Somebody has to block for the quarterback or the quarterback can’t throw the receiver the ball. All these things kind of work together, and that’s how I view it here. We put the right people with the right acumen to do something really well and that they have a passion for, and then that just has to be coordinated. That’s our responsibility at the executive level, to make sure everything kind of works in that fashion. So teamwork there, and the communication part is just huge. Transparency, making sure that we’re just being efficient. I think sometimes mistakes get made, and we’ve made our own, just through lack of communication. If you can continue to have team meetings every week, bigger, larger organizational meetings every month, and allow people to speak — I love having our real estate agents come in here and speak to us because it gives them a voice, for one, and two, there’s things that they’re going to be in the field seeing that we might not be seeing as we’re here in the executive level. Communication at all levels, I want to make sure everyone has a voice, and that’s been very important for us.
How did the Jackson in Action 83 Foundation come about?
A lot of things popped up when I came to Tampa. I didn’t have a foundation prior to coming here. I’d always been involved in philanthropic efforts when I was previously in San Diego playing for the Chargers — Salvation Army, pediatric cancer, Boys and Girls Club. Whatever it was, I loved it. I loved the platform of where I was going as a professional and what doors that allowed me to open to impact lives. But when I got to Tampa, I knew the timing was right for me to start a foundation, which is a big endeavor. It’s a business. A lot of people say, oh, you’re another athlete that has a nonprofit. No, this isn’t just a charity where we just have a golf tournament. This is a business for us. Stay above board, there’s a lot of compliance, you have to be prepared to be audited and do all those right things as a 501c(3). When I learned about the impact that MacDill Air Force Base has here in Tampa, I said, this is awesome. What a great community. It makes such an impact on the entire Tampa region, and there’s so many great businesses that want to support the military and first responders and everybody else serving our community.
I started the foundation when I got to Tampa, the first year. There’s a lot of military-supporting foundations out there. What makes us unique and where we found a niche is, I’m a military brat, if you will. A military kid of two retired veterans. My parents both served in the Army. Our niche was, hey, God bless, we want to support, and we do, the men and women who are actively serving and the veterans who served. But sometimes there’s so much focus put on them that what’s getting left to the wayside is the family. What’s up with the family structure? We really try to focus in on that family piece of supporting the spouses and, really, the children. I was a military child, so it’s near and dear to my heart. I made that something that I can be authentic to when I’m going out there and making our impact and creating our programs. It’s something I experienced, so I know what a young military dependent who just came from Georgia and has gone to three schools in the last five years has gone through, what he’s going through, the stresses of that, the challenges of that. That’s our niche — really creating support around that family structure to make the military lifestyle a positive lifestyle for the kids, everyone involved.
How do you feel Tampa as a community does a good job of supporting military families?
It is amazing. I’m sure [this goes for] lots of cities around the country, but Tampa has embraced having MacDill and takes a lot of responsibility for having that impactful base in our backyard. It’s huge. MacDill was the key base basically running the last war we had. For over a decade, it was basically headquartered, a lot of it, [through] CENTCOM and SOCOM at MacDill Air Force Base. That’s a big responsibility, so there’s a lot of acknowledgement and respect has given I think the Tampa community to what MacDill means. And a lot of other bases as well. We have Coast Guard nearby, all of those that are in our region. Reserves. Those are all important pieces of it. A lot of veterans stay here. There are a lot of veteran-owned businesses here, which I’m learning more and more about as we continue to expand our reach in the community. Tampa absolutely, I think, does a wonderful job of embracing military families. Whether they stay here and retire here or they’re here for two to three years, I always hear when people move on, “Tampa was one of the best stops we ever had because the community really embraced us and it was a great time for my family.” I think we’re doing good.
Fill in the blank. When I’m not in the office, you can find me…
You can find me with my family. I enjoy my family time. I’ve got four young kids, and it’s a joy. It’s my energy. They put gas in my tank. That’s first and foremost for me. My parents moved out here. I got them once they retired from Colorado. They moved out here about four years ago. My grandparents are out here as well. I’ve got an aunt and uncle who moved out here from San Francisco. So you can see I’ve put roots down here. I’ve been able to convince a few people to come out here with me. It’s not a hard sell at all. It never has been. You’ll usually find me doing something with the family. Obviously if you don’t find me at work, you’ll probably find me doing something philanthropic, working with the community and the foundation.
Who is your mentor, and why?
I have lots of mentors. I can’t name just one person. I’ve had so many people that I’ve been able to coattail, from early on when I was just starting as a professional in football that are still lifelong friends for me. The Keenan McCardells of the world. He was a veteran guy when I was a young player who taught me about, what do you do off the field? How do you build a brand? How do you invest in your community? How do you give back and create life after football? Lots of great players and coaches, Hall of Fame guys like James Lofton, Charlie Joiner. I have a really good friend who’s an attorney in San Diego, Anthony Loretti, who’s just become a really close business partner as well as a mentor for me.
A really good close friend out here is Andrew Wright from Franklin Street. A good colleague, and I look up to him and what he’s accomplished. He’s my age, but he’s still a mentor for me because I got into the business world at 30-something years old, and he started right away and learned his way up and built an amazing, national company. There’s so many people to name. I love the education. That’s really what I try to do. When I have time and I’m not with family and I’m not doing foundation, I’m usually trying to go get coffee or go get lunch with one of these guys or take them to dinner because I love picking their brains. I love being a sponge and learning from other people. Being involved with USF, finishing my degree here at USF, I’ve met so many people from the Muma College of Business. Just that whole alumni relationship, there’s a lot of support and kindness that’s come from that.
Do some of the younger guys who are playing football now come to you and get your advice on life after football?
I’ve had that. I have an open-door policy. The Buccaneers are doing that. I still have a great relationship with them. I go over there once or twice a year and speak to the guys in the offseason as they’re doing some training, and I’ve had guys come spend time and shadow me for a day, come and say, hey, I’m thinking about investing. Can you review this plan? Somebody sent me something from New York, I don’t know how to read it. I’m always going to ask you to get a legal opinion, but I’m happy to be a sounding board. I don’t know it all, and I’m still a fairly young guy, but at the end of the day I do want to be a resource. So yes, I do have young guys who call me or email me or just, when we can and they’re not busy playing during the season, we will get together and go have lunch and talk about business and life after football.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Be dynamic and be agile. Be willing to transition. Putting all your eggs in one basket, to expect a mission and a plan to go 100% perfectly is just, you can’t do it. Be malleable enough and be humble enough to change, to be flexible, and adapt. Be adaptable would be the biggest thing, really. You don’t control the market. You don’t control political things. They’re just out of our control. How you can adapt and be sustainable as a businessman, as a nonprofit, all of those things are very, very important. That’s probably the best piece of advice I’ve learned because I’ve had challenges and I’ve had successes, but the ones that really have sustained and had longevity with me were able to adapt and go through some ups and downs.
What do you love most about Tampa?
The people. That sold me on Tampa. It took about six months before I knew I wasn’t going to leave Tampa because the people I was meeting, the generosity that people were giving us. Neighbors coming up and they didn’t even know I was a football player, they just knew that I was a new neighbor. They came up with their kids and rang my doorbell and introduced themselves, told me where to go shopping or where I could get a good sandwich. Just that generosity, that true Southern hospitality that I always imagined living in a city like Tampa would be like. Nothing against San Diego or other great cities like Denver, all these other places. I really loved them and they’re great places, but the people of Tampa are really what sold me on where I wanted to put my roots down and raise my family.
What is the last book you read or your favorite book?
It was a Brené Brown book. She’s one of my great authors. I like her a lot. She’s just great.
Which app on your phone could you not live without, and why?
Gmail. I know that’s corny, but everything kind of revolves around that. Either my Gmail or Google Calendar. Having a calendar to remind me of where I need to be and when I need to be there, that’s important to me.