Know what you invest in. Try to get as much information as you can about your investment. What’s the startup strategy? Where do they see themselves in a couple of years? What about the industry and the location? Try to get as many details as possible in order to gauge whether the investment will be profitable and have potential.
Aspart of my series about The 5 Essentials of Smart Investing, I had the pleasure of interviewingStéphanie Tumba. Stéphanie is a multi-award-winning investor, author and founder of Sté Tumba Capital, an angel investment vehicle that is focused on real estate, seed and early-stage investments. Stéphanie Tumba looks for globally-minded startups that change the world we live in. She invests in areas with incredible impact, ranging from web-enabled products and services to real estate projects.
Thank you for doing this with us! Our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance industry?
Well, the path that led me here was not straight, but winding, and I sometimes felt like I had different lives.
I have always been focused and determined. So, at 16, I worked as a door-to-door representative selling arts and antiques from unknown artists to buy my first real estate investment in Paris (where I was born). I had no fixed salary, but the commissions were mega-high, which pushed me to go the extra mile to hit my targets. This was how I started my entrepreneurship journey and led me to buy my first property.
Then, I went to university to study International Business Management, where I learned the ins and outs of business, finance, and marketing. After I graduated, I was in charge of marketing development and business management of a variety of brands for L’Oréal Group and LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy).
In 2015, I found myself in a different industry, which was another turn in the road. My story as an entrepreneur started when I was sacked from a job that I hated in the entertainment industry, and became both homeless and jobless as a result. After that setback, I had the good fortune to work for an investment fund where my new boss taught me the ropes of angel investment and became both my mentor and friend.
In 2016, I made my first angel investment in the hospitality industry, which I sold the following year for twice its original valuation. Since then, my portfolio has grown to include a little bit less than 20 investments in addition to real estate acquisitions.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
Most of the exciting stories about my career involve resourcefulness skills. In fact, this is a quality I always search for in my employees and/or business partners. I believe that each problem has a solution.
So, not long ago, a photoshoot was organised for the cover of my book, 100 Dates and a Wedding. I was meant to be photographed holding a blue, white, and red umbrella, the colours of the French flag. Unfortunately, the umbrella my assistant had ordered disappeared the day before the shoot. This umbrella was of paramount importance and after ringing up and running around a few shops in London, we could not find a replacement.
Therefore, I decided to buy a white umbrella along with some colour sprays, so that I could paint the umbrella myself in blue, white, and red. Mission accomplished, I had my umbrella for my shoot.
This taught me that positive thinking, determination and refusing to fail are all critical if we are to achieve anything worth achieving. And resourcefulness breeds success!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Sté Tumba Capital has just created a mentoring programme called ‘Passion First, Business Second’, which offers young entrepreneurs a grant and a year of mentorship with the focus on finance. The aim is to help them kick-start their startup dreams.
Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. According to this report in fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers?
As far as I am concerned, the two causes of these unfortunate numbers are schooling and education.
Financial literacy is simply understanding how taxes, savings, bills, retirement, budgeting and investing work. Most parents and schools still teach children in an old-fashioned way today. We learn how to count apples, chips and fries but not how to buy, sell, or invest in companies.
If you had the power to make a change, what three things would you recommend to improve these numbers?
1/ The piggy bank method: parents could teach their children how to both spend and save with a clear goal in mind. My mum used to pay me the equivalent of $10 when I helped her with house chores. That money was put in a piggy and saved to buy a toy. Every time, I added a coin or bought a toy, we did the match together, deducting what was spent or added.
2/ If you have 600 chips and you eat 20, how many are left? Well, I believe that schools should give real-life examples. We should focus on planning and budgeting for a rent and even calculate the profitability of having debts or a credit card. Then, our society would create wise spenders with a better understanding of financial literacy.
3/ It is vital that we all invest time in our own financial education: buying the first home, managing your mortgage, or even planning for retirement. When you think about it, these are all fundamental skills that strengthen our autonomy as consumers.
Ok, thank you! Now to the main question of our interview: You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart investing, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each.
As investors, business angels, VC or family offices, none can be sure of the success in our investments. So, I cannot stress enough how important a well-diversified portfolio is.
A management strategy needs to be built from the beginning. It involves the blending of different investments which yield a higher return. Here are my five non-intuitive essentials for smart investing:
1/ Spread the wealth: Fintech, for example, is an investment trend today, but I would not recommend putting all of your money into one industry.
2/ Balance your portfolio by diversifying the risks: consider investing in bonds and real estate. Bonds will add some fixed-income solutions to your portfolio and real estate adds value and a fixed asset to your portfolio. In doing so, you will further hedge your portfolio against market volatility and uncertainty.
3/ Know what you invest in. Try to get as much information as you can about your investment. What’s the startup strategy? Where do they see themselves in a couple of years? What about the industry and the location? Try to get as many details as possible in order to gauge whether the investment will be profitable and have potential.
4/ Know when to get out, always have an exit strategy in mind for all your investments. This should mirror your startup strategy. If they are planning a merger in 10 years’ time, be sure you don’t sell too early or too late.
5/ Keep your eye on the ball. Be sure that the startup delivers the planned profits and follows its initial business development and marketing plans. It is essential to be aware of any cash flow, production or management issues as soon as possible so that you can take action as a consequence.
None of us is able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Well, I am blessed to have two people who inspired me to be the person I am today:
The first is my dad who owned a real estate agency in France. He inspired my sisters and me to build a property portfolio. Even though my dad inspired me, he didn’t help. I worked as a door-to-door art representative in order to start my real estate investment journey.
Secondly, and more importantly, I would not be where I am today if it was not for my friend and mentor Marie, a woman who allowed me to work in her family office despite not having worked in finance for years.
After being sacked from a job I disliked, she contacted me on LinkedIn. While I declined the job, she reassured me that I was exactly what she was looking for: a person with a marketing eye on luxury goods with the right level of financial literacy. She trusted that I could be trained in no time and gave me the confidence to firstly, invest in luxury goods and fashions brands for her and secondly, make my first financial investment one year later.
Can you please give us your favourite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Screw It, Let’s Do It by Richards Branson. Whatever your goal is, you will never succeed unless you let go of your fears and do it, even when most people say it can’t be done, or you don’t feel ready or good enough. If you try, you might fail, but if you don’t try, you’ll never succeed. If I had listened to my inner self and hadn’t accepted the job in the family fund, I would not have been here today. I am so grateful Marie found me on LinkedIn, and that I took the job.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to start a movement called the Pursuit of Happiness where people would learn to love themselves and others, find their true selves, share their feelings, learn the art of forgiveness, make peace with themselves, their past, and more importantly, the people who have hurt them, and then let it go. Give love, receive love and keep smiling to the world.
Thank you for the interview. We wish you continued success!