Antonio Velardo is a real estate entrepreneur, business angel, and venture capitalist. Traveling the world seeking business opportunities and cultural growth, in this process founded several successful companies.
Velardo is currently Chairman of Real Capital Caribe and American Wise Investment and also the President of Real Capital Ventures. These investments groups at the same time have several companies from real estate and construction management to finance services. Compromised with ideas and guidance that always represent an added and differential value to the market.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
For several years I have managed my own portfolio of investments in several fields. On the real estate side, I have several teams managing my and my client’s properties and projects. However, on the financial markets and blockchain side, I usually didn’t work with an internal team of analysts; however, at a certain point, I decided to put a team of several analysts together from different backgrounds to help me out with the research and analysis of the companies I cover. I have a community of friends and followers with which I have been sharing and discussing ideas over on my blog, different telegram groups, and Twitter. Hence, we decided to make some of our research available to the public via the project that we called Moat Investing because we focus on finding companies with strong competitive advantages at reasonable prices.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
At the beginning of the week, I set up a research and analysis using different platforms for stock metrics in order to identify the stocks that I would analyze with the team and screen them through our tailored valuation frameworks. When I find stocks that meet the criteria, I go in-depth on the company with the team. Sometimes it can take weeks for you to get proper due diligence on the story we are researching. Of course, I dedicate part of my daily time to following the market to identify trends and opportunities to consider.
In our industry, the results and productivity sometimes cannot be measured by day as the fruits of the work are usually seen later on during the year. For instance, you can study a stock for many days and weeks to understand the necessary assumptions to take for the valuation, and if you don’t find the right price at the moment, then you pass on to the next one on the list. However, as you would now know the stock very well, eventually, you could stop by the stock again in the future and leverage the knowledge acquired on the company or sector for decision making. So when the opportunity arises, if the story hasn’t changed, you have an edge that allows you to overcome the market’s negativity because you did proper due diligence several weeks or months before. Now you can enter a position with a certain level of confidence. So the day’s productivity=y lies within a mentality towards the future by increasing one’s circle of competence in a certain industry or specific company. I usually tell my team that in inequity you probably won’t make money every day but you study and when you have the chance you leverage on the competence and knowledge you have developed over the years.
How do you bring ideas to life?
This is essential, and there is a line between creativity and productivity. Sometimes you need to be able to stop doing what you’re doing even when you think that will decrease the productivity of that day and focus on creativity. I usually book hours on my calendar to dedicate time in the day to just thinking. Most of the time, we are busy with our minds trying to achieve goals and getting things done that the time for creativity can be left to a second place or totally forgotten. Creativity is critical for any business, especially for our industry. So I set aside a few hours every day or two days to do a session with myself where I stop taking calls, answering emails, and just focus on thinking about how to improve the businesses, reflect on what is the best angle to approach certain decisions, and meditate on recent mistakes. I usually take a walk or just stay alone in my room or office.
Even though it sounds silly, you should book that time with yourself because if you don’t book it, then you simply keep doing other things. This time you spend thinking about how to act in the business rather than being in the business will pay off later on.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The most exciting trend out there now is the metaverse. I believe it is going to change the world we are going to live in the next ten years. And inside the metaverse, I am an evangelist of the Meta-Fi, or Metaverse Finance, which is the term for protocols, products, and services enabling the complex financial interplay between non-fungible and fungible tokens (and their derivatives).
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I don’t know if it helps me to be more productive or efficient, but I believe that the ability to question other people’s work gives me an edge in my ventures. When people deliver faulty work, I question it a lot. I think that many entrepreneurs don’t have the ability to do so and find themselves coping with mediocrity which I don’t allow in my team. I am not willing to put my name under mediocre work.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self that some people sound much smarter than they really are, so if you really did your due diligence and studied, you should not be afraid of taking a contrary position and waiting for your theory to come to reality. Try to concentrate less on the timing and more on the due diligence’s depth. If you feel secure, stick to your idea regardless of who you go against.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I think anybody at any age should keep studying very hard academically and by their own means/research. There is the misconception that rich people who also probably already have a degree and can hire talented people should not study more and concentrate on the business. I think that studying different things, including through formal academic education, gives you an edge. I can’t entirely agree with the belief that to be an expert, and you need overspecialization. Studying alternative subjects to your main career focus can really help you to become more complete and knowledgeable about your own field. Keep studying even if you are very successful, and don’t forget to expose yourself to other subjects and fields that differ from your principal discipline.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Clear and simple: to study.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The ability to deliver on my promises. I think it has been one of the differentiation elements that have helped me the most to grow my business.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One of my failures as an entrepreneur was to think that some of my previous partners, colleagues, and employees shared my ambition. Because I was willing to sacrifice my life to achieve the goals, I failed to realize that others in my team were not sharing my vision or were unwilling to compromise their time to achieve higher results as success was not really important for them for me.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
To be honest, I think that we all have a lot of ideas. However, I don’t believe in seeking ideas but in the willingness and ability to execute them well. There is one billionaire and one very poor guy for each idea you can think of. You could think about selling bottles of water, shoes, pencils, or any other product, and you will find somebody that is a billionaire in the sector and one that is a complete failure. The problem is not the idea but the ability and willingness to execute it well.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
There is a point in life where you get plenty of satisfaction by teaching and giving away to others. The best $100 that I spent three years ago when I helped a guy in a developing country open a crypto wallet. As an example and motivation, I gifted him about that amount on Ether, and because of that, he not just kept it but became interesting in the blockchain technology and has been able to change his life and thanks me for it. With about that little money and showing him a different world, I guided someone to change his life completely.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I tell you something, and it is a ridiculous and stupid alarm clock. When you are performing some tasks that you cannot dedicate too much time to, the best you can do is to set up an alarm to increase your efficiency by forcing you to be fully concentrated for that time because when it is over, you have to move on to the next one.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Two essential books would give you very different but complementary ones as if you read both you would be able to understand the two cosmovisions and make the most out of them. The first one is “Value Investing: From Graham to Buffett and Beyond” (By Bruce Greenwald, Judd Kahn, Tano Santos, Erin Bellissimo, and Mark Cooper), and the second one is “The Innovator’s Dilemma” (By Clayton Christensen). It is very interesting to study both and then compare them as A is telling you why you should not do B and B is telling you what A is missing that actually works. Two opposite but complementary perspectives.
What is your favorite quote?
Warren Buffett’s famous quote “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.”
- When investing, look for companies with substantial competitive advantages.
- Increase your circle of competence to then leverage on your hard-earned knowledge.
- Spare time for creativity. It will eventually pay off.
- Keep an eye on the Metaverse trend. It will change the world we live in.
- Don’t allow yourself to cope with mediocrity; always seek excellence.
- Keep learning, and don’t forget to expose yourself to other subjects and fields that differ from your primary discipline.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.