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Investing in Private Equity in a Self-Directed IRA – Interview with Nuview Trust Company’s Bryan Poss.

August 16, 2021

Hey guys, Nate here with Nuview Trust Company. Today we did a little something different.

I sat down with our Director of Marketing, Bryan Poss, to talk about what he likes to invest in. Not only is he an employee of Nuview Trust Company, but he’s also a self-directed IRA investor. He has been using a self-directed IRA to invest in startup companies and private equity companies, because that’s what he understands best.

So, I sat down with Bryan to talk a little bit about why he invests in private equities, and how he does due diligence. Hope you guys enjoy this!

Nate:  

Bryan, we’ve just heard news that Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal has got a $5 billion Roth IRA by investing his Roth IRA in PayPal way back in the day. It was basically a private equity investment in a startup company.

You’ve been investing in startup companies for a long time. What got you to invest in private equities, private entities or startup companies, and what do you like so much about it?

Bryan:

How I initially got started in investing in private equities was that prior to coming to Nuview, I worked in the software space for about 18 years. I was particularly involved with software as a service (SaaS) companies.

I started a company, then sold it to a group of private equity investors.

I’ve also been involved in different startups that have gotten their first round of series A funding or VC funding into the company. So, I’m very familiar with the process. I understand it.  And I have a great deal of knowledge of how venture capital works and technology companies.

One of the things I like about private equity investing is when you look at the current stock market, you see IPO’s that have just recently come through the NASDAQ or the Dow Jones. The valuations of these companies are ridiculous. They’re way over market value. But, the market’s willing to pay that.

With private equities you don’t necessarily have that issue. So, you can get into these companies at a really good time, where the early startup and you can invest $100 or $200 that could turn into a $30,000 investment later on when that company goes IPO.

So, I just don’t like investing in companies in the stock market because the valuation is too high. It just doesn’t make sense.

If there are people out there willing to pay that, good for them. But, that’s one of the reasons I like self-direction because you can determine the price that you want to pay. You’re not necessarily forced to accept what the market’s willing to pay.

Nate:  

So, you’re using self-direction for truly what it’s meant to be – investing in something that you’re knowledgeable about.

But every investment is risky. What are the risk factors one should consider before entering into investing in private equity?

Bryan:

You don’t know if every company is going to turn into an IPO, or if they’re going to be sold at some point. You never know how that investment’s going to turn out. You could lose all of your money. If you invest $50,000 into a startup, you could lose all of that. But there are things that you can do that help with due diligence. This way, you’ve done everything possible to make sure that it’s a good investment, and it’s something that you’re confident about investing in. But, there’s risk in everything.

Like I said, not every private equity investment turns out like I hope.  I’ve invested in a couple of winners. For example, Airbnb and Uber.  And then there have been some real duds that I know aren’t going anywhere.

But again, if you do the due diligence, more than likely that investment could turn out well for you.

Nate:  

Due diligence. It’s key for any investment. Without giving investment advice, what are some of the things you do for the due diligence on the companies that you invest in?

Bryan:

From a due diligence standpoint, I invest in what I know. I understand technology companies. I’ve been in tech most of my professional career. So, I understand technology very well, particularly software companies.

And you’ve probably heard from Warren buffet – one of the best investors of our lifetime – say that he won’t invest in technology companies because he doesn’t understand them. He invests things that he understands.

So, particularly with technology, when I invest, I need to get a good feel for what they’re offering, what the company does, etc.

And there are a lot of things that companies will put out. They’ll have investor relationships.

They’ll do webinars with their executive team, and potential investors ask certain questions. They’ll share a lot of their financial information with their potential investors.

Some things that I look at are their manufacturing costs.  I consider, what their current sales are like. If their manufacturing costs are way more than their sales, that might be something I want to stay away from, just because the business model is not in alignment.

I review things they’ll put out like presentations, PDFs, etc. that give me a feel for their marketing. They’ll put a lot of their marketing pieces out there, and you can see how well their marketing engine is doing.

You can get a glimpse of some of the companies that are already clients. You can look at their sales pipeline and some of the actual opportunities that they might have in their Salesforce account of potential companies that they might end up closing.

If there are some big companies in there, like Walmart or a fortune 500 company, that’s saying “Hey, they have a pretty good pipeline of business that they potentially could close.” That kind of gives you a little bit of the outlook on the potential growth of the company.

So, there are all kinds of things you can do in your due diligence to reassure yourself that “Hey, I feel good about this investment.” “This company has got potential.”

And again, the end of the day, it may still not work out. Like I said, not every investment is going to work out. But, if you do the due diligence, most likely that investment is going to turn out for the better than the worse.

Nate:  

Now I know with private equity, there are different rounds where an investor can participate.

Please explain to the audience, what are the different rounds that you see in private equity investments? And when is the best time to invest in a private equity investment?

Bryan:

There are a couple of different investment phases startups and new companies they go through at the beginning.

One would be the seed round, or the angel investment round.

And these will typically involve family, friends or somebody that they know that has money that they get early.

After that, you’ll see what’s called the Series A, Series B and Series C investment rounds. Each of those rounds usually asks for larger amounts of money.

So, initially that first Series A can be anywhere from $8 – $15 million of capital that’s being injected into that company. And the company is still sort of in its early stages.

I don’t want to say early startup, but it’s kind of mature where you might have a VC that sees the potential.  They may have some KPIs, but maybe they haven’t gone international yet. Maybe they’re thinking about expanding into international markets.

A Series B is just another level where they’re developing different product lines. They’re looking to expand. Maybe it’s Latin America. Maybe it’s in Europe. There’s just a lot of potential for more revenue or income.

Then there’s the Series C. This would be the last initial round, where it would be pretty significant and they’re potentially going to expand globally or go to another level.

They might’ve been only in Europe, but now they’re looking to expand into Asia. Maybe instead of having 4 different product lines, now they have 10. So, there are a lot of different things that they’ve set up that can actually drive more revenue into the company.

So, it just really comes down to what is the company worth? What is the current revenue that it’s driving? And, would potential investors see enough in that to drive those investment rounds.

The best time to get in is as early as possible. The earlier, the better, because your shares over time will get diluted. And this is not a bad thing because the valuation of the company goes up over time.

So, for example, Peter Thiel, he got in early, and his shares probably got diluted over time. But the revenue, and especially the current valuation of PayPal is so high that he’s a billionaire now.

The earlier you get in the better. For example, with Uber, I initially invested $200. By the time they went IPO, that turned into roughly about $25,000 to $28,000. But the reason for that is the valuation of the company goes up over time.

So, the earlier you get in the better. If you get in later, you’re going to pay a much higher price for those shares because the company has increased its valuation.

Nate:  

So, how do you find your deals? And what tools or systems do you use to locate these deals?

Bryan:

There are a lot of different tools out there that I use.

The great thing is technology has come such a long way for investing in private companies and startups. There are tools out there like:

  • MicroVentures, Inc. (https://microventures.com/)
  • Wefunder (https://wefunder.com/)
  • Ourcrowd (https://www.ourcrowd.com/)

These are websites where people can see companies that are potentially looking for investment.

Either it’s a Series A. or maybe it’s a seed round. But, individual investors can go onto these websites, and they can see what the offering is.

They can break it down by if it’s food beverage, if it’s technology, if it’s consumer products, if it’s manufacturing, if it’s energy, etc.

So, these sites (and others like them) will have all the information you need on there to make the, make those investment decisions. They’ll have things such as:

  • Their sales funnel
  • The companies that are already customers
  • Companies that are already in the actual sales funnel, that they potentially have the opportunity to do business with.
  • Etc.

So, every single tool, every single piece of information that you need to make that decision is going to be available on those types of sites, which is great.

Being a self-directed investor and having that power to make your own decisions, it doesn’t get any better than that.

It’s got literally everything you need to know to make your decision.

Nate:  

So, what would be your words of wisdom, or your advice to somebody that’s just starting out in this and wants to invest in a startup company?

Bryan:

Invest in a company or an industry that you’re somewhat familiar with.

If you’re good with technology, if you understand technology, go for technology.

If it’s energy like solar vehicles, electric vehicles, if it’s graphics cards, if it’s processors or semi-conductors, whatever it may be, if you understand that industry, if you’ve got experience in that, go for that.

If you’ve worked in the beverage industries for example, Pepsi or Coke, invest in that because you understand that. This way, you already have a leg up.

Also, it all comes down to due diligence. Make sure that you’re doing the research, especially using sites like I mentioned above. (MicroVentures, Wefunder, Ourcrowd, etc.) They have everything you need to make an investment decision.

If you’re seeing things like I mentioned, if their manufacturing costs are much higher than their sales, you might want to stay away from that company. It might not be a good investment.

Or, if their marketing expenses are completely out of whack with what the revenue is. If they’re spending more on marketing than what they’re making in sales, they’re probably managing the company poorly.

So, it all comes down to invest in what you’re comfortable with or what you might have knowledge with. And then due diligence.

One of the worst things that somebody can do is not making investment decisions at all because your money does no good just sitting in an IRA, just not doing anything.

You’re not going to make any money off that. So, you don’t want to sit on the sidelines.

Sure, there are times to sit on the sidelines, but most of the time you have to do something.

Make the decision, jump in, and just feel comfortable about it.

If you do that due diligence, you’re going to feel comfortable about making that investment decision. You shouldn’t have any sort of remorse or anything like that. If you’re feeling remorse over an investment decision that you made in a private equity, you probably didn’t do your due diligence.

Nate:  

If you thought this video was helpful and you’d like more information and education about how self-directed IRAs work, or what types of investments you can put within them, check out our website at www.nuviewtrust.com

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