ELIAN D. ALVAREZ

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What do Social Investors Want?

Dec
02

Funding is a lifeblood of any startup. It is a crucial element for the survival of any business.

For social entrepreneurs, it is important to take steps in the right direction if they wish to secure funds. This is the reason why they have to learn what social investors really want and what their expectations are. Having a thorough understanding of your businesses increases the likelihood of attracting the right investor. Therefore, the vision of your business must be clear and well-focused.

Below are four main guiding principles every social entrepreneur must bear in mind in order to secure reasonable funds to keep their businesses running.

 

Financial and Social Objectives Must Be Well-Integrated

Social entrepreneurs have to be convincing in order to succeed in winning the trust of an investor. They not only should have a persuasive social mission, but also present a strong business case. If both these elements are properly aligned, they create a strong case that can make an appealing financial outcome to widen your impact. A great example of that can be Taxi-Electric that runs the cars on electricity and charge a fair price for providing taxi services. In addition to that, they also provide job opportunities to people who experience long term unemployment or are students. Both of these core elements have enabled them to sell as many taxi rides as possible.

Another well-known example is Tony’s Chocolonely that produce and sell chocolates. Moreover, it opposes child labor and slavery at the same time by partnering up with trade firms in Ghana and Ivory Coast to purchase cocoa beans at a fair price directly from farmers. These organizations are making an effort to spread a positive message while growing their revenues and returns.

Investors usually look for such businesses that offer a combination of both. It is quite likely that angel investors would invest in visionary ideas and would try to improve the business side of these social startups, whereas, investment funds tend to focus on the business side in order to assist them in aligning their social goals. Investors normally expect social entrepreneurs to have a deep understanding of their financial as well as social goals along with having an integrated approach and clear vision. It is important to optimize your plan through discussion with your investor.

 

A Well-Balanced and Strong Management Team

It is important to have a well-balanced team of professionals.

Investors always stress the importance of having a solid team that has its goals aligned with the goals of a business. Having a group of professionals who are motivated to invest their time and expertise in a social enterprise is considered quite healthy for a business as it is an indicator of good future prospects. Financial institutions and venture capital firms specifically look for companies with strong teams while taking investment decisions. Therefore, it is recommended to add a diverse group of people in your team at an early stage, because having more than one person behind an idea shows its strength and persuasiveness.

 

Measure Your Impact

It is not easy for social firms to measure their impact or quantify its outcome and they blame the lack of resources for not being able to do so. Investors, however, consider the impact measurement a strong requirement before they invest in a business. Although, they understand that it is difficult to measure the social impact, yet, they emphasize that it can prove to be very helpful for social entrepreneurs to maintain focus on their operations and identify clearly what their goals are.

The question remains how to get it done. The key is to start small, for example, measure the number of people employed by a social enterprise and the positive feedback it receives. There is no doubt that every method comes with its limitations, but one cannot deny that you can, at least, measure your progress with it. Taking the question “why” is it you want to measure the impact can play a vital role in integrating your financial and social goals.

 

Avoid Deviation from Your Core Mission

It is very important to stick to your key mission. The deviation can cost a business a lot in terms of losing their financial wealth and losing their core values. It usually occurs after two to three years into the business, especially when new employees, leaders or investors start showing interest.

For venture capitalists, the shift from a mission is one of the major issues that arises in social enterprises. It happens when they start deviating from their balanced view of pursuing financial and social goals together, and instead, move toward financial returns at the cost of their social mission. If such deviation occurs, it detracts the social entrepreneurs from the original mission they discussed with investors.

It is to be noted that moving away from the original mission is not a bad thing as long as the expectations of the enterprise and investors are aligned. Keeping the investors on the same page, and having their agreement is crucial for the success of any social enterprise.

Value Investment Strategy in Venture Capital

Sep
08

Why succeed in every investment (or the majority of them) is more important than depending on the statistical model of “Spray and Pray”.

Starting a business is not easy. One has to invest a lot of effort, time, and brain in order to introduce an idea that can stand out and is of value to others. Every individual is naturally inclined toward investing in a startup with better prospects than a start-up that would not generate any value and likely to fail in the future. Every investor would want to see his investment a complete success, whether it be an investment in a single stock or a bucket full of stocks. Same is the case with Venture Capitalists; they wish every investment to be successful, and for the same reason, prefer to use value investment strategy over the statistical model of spray and pray.

Although, spray and pray has got a lot of media attention in the past few years, and the face behind it is none other than Dave McClure, the founder of 500 startups, yet, you cannot deny the fact that it is important to reasonably manage your risk.

Nurturing the Idea is as Important as Making Money Out of it

Nurturing the idea is as important as making money out of it and this is exactly what value investors believe in, because you won’t be able to make money out of it if it doesn’t grow well. Manu Kumar, the founder of K9 Ventures, said that most companies do not turn out to be a failure because of their investors, but despite their investors. This is why he doesn’t want the startups, he has invested in, to fail, and wants a reasonable success rate in his investments. He keeps an average of four or five companies in his portfolio and he wants each one of them to be a success. This is why he is very selective and prefer to go for the one with good prospects. He keeps his investment between $100k and $200k and screen companies down while expecting a much higher rate of success. He looks for appropriately priced deals and doesn’t touch anything that is five or higher.

Value Investing Strategy – Bridging the Gap between Investors’ Mindset and Founders’ Perception

Another famous name among the Venture Capitalists, Thomas Korte, said that they do everything in a scaled way, because the majority of the founders tend to take the funds they are offered in the seed stage. There are very few in the market who believe that their investors would take them through Series B and Series C, and their apprehensions are true to a certain extent. At one point, McClure said, “it is not that their portfolio has a high death rate, it’s just that there is a higher death rate out there.” Instead of aligning himself with the founder and an acquirer, he prefers to align with an investor and acquirer. So, if a company has a scalable impact, he makes a deal as soon as possible. It is not easy to bridge the gap between investors’ mindset and this commonly held belief of startups. However, Value investing strategy can contribute towards changing this mindset and bringing harmonization to achieve common goals.

Benefits of Value Investing

Potential to Make High Profits – As opposed to spray and pray strategy, value investing has a potential to make high profits, because value investors tend to invest in companies that are being offered at a discount price and sell them well above their intrinsic value by bringing their true value to light through solid research on a value stock, its peers, and the sector.

Avoid Exposure to High Risk – Investing in a few companies with good future prospects will not only enable the investor to focus on materializing the potential value, but also keep the overall cost to a minimum. The investor will not be dependent to succeed on that only company that make the revenue beside all the others have already failed.

 

Yes, there might be a lot of effort and hard work involved the value investment strategy to be implemented while choosing the startups for investments, but it is important to note that short term price fluctuations are not always a true depiction of the true value of an asset.

As Benjamin Graham, the founder of value investing and mentor of Warren Buffet, once said, “In the short run, the market is a voting machine, but in the long run, it is a weighing machine.”

Value Investment

Aug
25

Value investment strategy is one of the strategies used in the stock market, where investors look for the companies that have the ability to generate returns at a reasonable level during a sustained holding period. In other words, a value investor tries to find a company that is undervalued by the market, but it has a potential to show an increase in its share value once the market rectifies the error of valuing that firm. So, it allows an investor to buy a well performing share at a cheaper price.

How to Screen for a Value Stock?

Value investors are not concerned with the factors that usually cause price fluctuation in the market. For them, the factors that would impact a stock price are oil prices, inflation reports, wars, and hikes in the Federal rates. This is the reason why they look for stocks with strong dividends, earnings, cash flow, and book value, because value investing is not just about purchasing an undervalued stock, it is about purchasing a good stock that is undervalued. However, just having the strong fundamentals doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a value stock investment opportunity, because a company with strong and consistent earnings growth, attractive cash-flows, decent dividends, and a minimal amount of debt might represent a growth investment, and so, value investors won’t be interested in it.

An investor must keep three questions in mind when he seeks a high value stock:

  • How is the cash-flow position of a company?
  • If the company is generating profit from its key operations?
  • What are the future prospects in terms of growth potential?

Quantitative Aspects

How to assess a good value stock? (Just some RATIOS)

  • High Dividend Yield – The stock with an ability to generate high dividend yield, is considered a good value stock. However, a comparison should be made in the same industry.
  • Low P/E Ratio – It is a comparison between a share price and the earnings generated by each share. Paying less for more profit will be a good indication of a good value stock.
  • Low Price to Book Ratio – The lower this ratio is, the better it would be, as it shows how much will be left after the liquidation.
  • PEG Ratio – Value investing doesn’t simply means investing in low Price to earning stocks. Another largely accepted metric for finding out the intrinsic value of a company is PEG ratio, which is calculated by dividing the P/E ratio of a stock with its projected earnings growth rate over the years. It measures how cheap a stock can be while keeping in mind the growth of its earnings. Therefore, a PEG ratio of less than 1 means a company is undervalued.
  • Net-Net Method – According to this method, if a company trades at 67 percent of its current assets, an investor doesn’t have to adopt any other measure of worth, because it depicts that a buyer is getting all the non-current and intangible assets free of cost. But, there are only a few companies that are trading this low.

Qualitative Aspects

Value stocks can be found in any industry, including finance, energy, and even TECHNOLOGY. Yet, they are mostly commonly located in industries that have recently been hit by a difficult time, for example, the cyclical nature of auto industry give rise to a period of undervaluation of companies like General Motors and Ford.

Warren Buffett, one of the most astute investors of all time, learned the art of trading from Benjamin Graham, who was the father of value investing. Buffett has always emphasized that buying a good company at a fair price is far better than buying a fair company at a good price, which is true. Value investing is not about purchasing stocks at a bargain price and hoping for the best, nor is it about making quick money on a market trend. The main idea behind it is to invest in companies with strong business models.

It is important to have a long term strategy with value investing. The investors shouldn’t get faltered by short term market features, such as volatility or daily price fluctuations, because a good firm will not lose its worth even on a bad day. Although, value investment strategy is dependent on a stern screening process, yet, it has a potential to generate reasonable returns in the long run.

Basic Investment Strategies

Aug
19

Deciding on a suitable strategy to fuel your investment plan is based on various factors, including the risk appetite, the time span of an investment, and financial goals. Some investors stick to one particular strategy, while others use several strategies over a period of time. Although, investors usually have their own style that forms the basis of their decisions, yet, there are some basic investment strategies that can be employed to achieve your financial objectives.

Define Your Goals – Defining a goal is the first thing every investor should do. You cannot go about investing in the market haphazardly without having any plan in mind, or else you would end up losing all your money. Always devise a sound trading plan and define your financial goals. It allows you to identify which financial instrument is most suitable for you and enables you to take timely decisions.

Diversify – Investing is a broad term that can be intimidating for newbies as it involves a wide variety of investment vehicles and hundreds of strategies. However, it can be managed if you devise a flexible and effective plan. Today, investors have more investment options than were available to an average investor ten years ago. Having a few stocks in your portfolio might cost you more in the beginning, but it will be beneficial in the long run, because one of your investments might only generate 5 percent profit, while the other one gives you a 100 percent return five years later.

Monitor Your Investments – Investing in the same stock forever is never a wise option. Even the blue chip companies can turn out to be a failure, because the old perception of buying and holding the stock forever doesn’t work in today’s world with such an effervescent economy. Therefore, monitor your investments and take timely decisions to avoid losses.

Start Investing Early – The sooner you start, the better. This is certainly true when it comes to investing in the financial market. If you keep your money invested for a longer period of time, it will have more potential to grow. Patience is the key! If only you learn to practice patience and adhere to a long term investing strategy, you would definitely experience financial success and secure reasonable returns.

Turn Discretionary Income into Your Investment – It is important for you to not confuse your needs with wants. The president of the U.S. Retirement Strategy for Transamerica Retirement Solutions, Stig Nybo, once said that phone bills, cable TV packages, and other automatic services eventually become necessities, which doesn’t let the would-be investor jump out of it. He further said that you should question the things that have become the norm, but they might not be necessities.

Adhere to a Cash-flow Plan – It is an essential element that should become a part of your investment plan. Reinvest your money every month during your employment years and stick to a strict cash-flow plan, while making reevaluations as life progresses. This will definitely help you go a long way and enable you to achieve your financial goals.

Separate Emotions from Financial Decisions – Emotions play a major role in your investment decisions. But, it is very important to separate emotions from your short as well as long term financial objectives. Emotional involvement tampers with your judgment and performance. Just because everyone is talking about hot stocks, doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to be a good investment. Always analyze the trends and pay close attention to market news and events, as it allows you to take rational decisions in the long run.

Assess Your Tolerance for Risk – Whenever you invest in the market, ask yourself one simple question, “How much can I take and sleep at night if the value of my investment drops by 10 percent or 50 percent?” If a huge decline is going to hit you hard, you should consider investing the major portion of your funds in safe investments, such as, bonds or utilities.

However, bear in mind that it takes some time to be able to understand the gist of these strategies. Being a newbie, you might initially experience a high risk of loss if you follow one of these strategies. Therefore, observe patience and perseverance, because you will eventually get there.