My experience with shiny objects is long and littered with losses so I am averse to them. What I consider a shiny object is probably a key investment vehicle for someone else and that’s okay. Considering my experience with shiny objects, they do not work for me and I now stay away from them. I share below my top three shiny objects I have dabbled in:
Crypto – I invested a lot, I lost a lot and I managed to exit with some. I have intentionally decided not to dwell on how much I lost but be happy about what I exited with. Crypto is a shiny object for me as I don’t understand it and I have tried reading up but still don’t get it. Either I’m too old to get it or there’s a disconnect between it’s functionality and placing value on it. Biggest gap for me is that it’s not backed by anything tangible so yes I struggle to accept it as a reliable investment vehicle.
Start ups – At some point I felt bad that I missed out of the start up game. To close the gap, I went hard investing into start ups using established platforms and new ones. I knew this was a high risk shiny object but chose to be blinded by the allure of startup investment. I did bare minimum checks and invested based on if I felt good about the need the start up was solving. Well, reality hit me hard when the startups I considered highly viable started shutting down. At this point I realised my due diligence was crap but I was already locked in with no opportunity to exit at will. I invested €35K in different startups which got up to €63K at peak valuation. Around 30% of the companies are no longer operational while a high percentage of the remaining ones are struggling to raise funding to continue. I have personally written off my investment and will be happy if I get any payout in future.
Angel Investment – This one is just yikes. I mentored a friend on setting up their business and gave many inputs which were mostly executed and set the business up for success. The second phase of the business involved a product launch which I have used and is quite good. They struggled with personally raising the capital for the product launch and I thought I’m already invested in some startups so why not try out angel investing. I did everything wrong with this investment as I relied on our personal relationship and the implied trust. We had a verbal agreement on equity split and I transferred the funds. Apart from the investment, I also used my network to get professional consulting in place for product design, communication and launch. Post product launch, things rapidly changed as it was difficult to get status updates. I made numerous requests and got no response so I finally decided to make an estimated financial update based on what I know. The first flag was being told sales was a certain number and I calculated revenue generated based on this only for them to turn around and change the sales numbers to 20% of the initial number provided. The more I asked for details, the higher info changed and I quickly realised I got myself into a mess. I have requested to exit but I truly don’t see a way out at this point. I am 100% to blame for this mess and I accept it. Amount at risk is €20K.
My mess ups do not mean it’s not okay to invest in these vehicles. It just shows you need to understand the choices you’re making and don’t make investments at face value. These are years of work that I have dumped down drains due to poor financial management. This is why financial responsibility is important to me and I will stay away permanently from anything I do not understand. All my investment now goes into ETFs and I am fine with that.