Daniel Keller

Founder of LUMA Capital

Daniel Keller of Naples, Florida started his career in accounting in Switzerland where he was a partner with a US firm focused on international tax for investors and wealthy families. He was on the board of 6 Swiss companies in different industries including healthcare, consumer products and commodities. He switched gears and took a sabbatical at the University of Chicago where he received his MBA. He is an investor on his own and for other families in private equity direct projects, real estate projects and private equity funds and co-investments.

He has invested in many different industries and asset classes which enables him to understand what entrepreneurs are going through as they grew and develop their business.

Where did the idea for LUMA Capital come from?

From investing with clients in private equity. A client created the name because of our first investment together.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I’m an early riser (6 latest) because our dog starts scratching the floor. Just after letting her out, I grab an expresso. By the time she comes in, I have my coffee ready and read any important overnight news. Maybe 2 days a week I will spend 30 minutes on the treadmill or stationary bike but most days I head into the office around 7 or 7:30. I spend maybe 15-30 minutes answering emails from the prior night and then review the financial markets. I always have 1-2 client related projects or meetings that I work on. I try to hit them one at a time without interruption. I generally have yogurt/salad at office for lunch unless I have a business lunch. I leave my phone off until around 2 (unless it’s my wife or one of the kids) and I don’t look at emails then either. I don’t like the constant interruption from emails or calls. I check into the broad financial markets maybe 2 times a day but very generally. From 2-4, I respond to emails or calls. Between 4-6 I am following up on the day. I break my day up at the office with around two 15–20 minute stretching or body weight exercises (squats, push-ups, etc). I can’t sit for too long – too restless and posture. I head home at 6-7 and generally work out again – cardio, yoga, lifting weights. My body and mind need the 2x/day workout. Then it’s dinner with a glass or two of wine with my wife.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Reading a lot including things out of what I would call out my “space”. Interaction with clients and other professionals in the similar space of private equity, and broader economic markets. Talking and listening to people in different industries to learn.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Research and trends in behavioral research in the area between brain function, learning, cognition, and AI. It’s an area with vast potential that will continue long past my life. I am just trying to understand it, increase and know areas where I should focus.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Exercising. It resets my thinking and helps me prioritize things in my personal and business life.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Take more risk. Don’t worry about the possibility of financial failure. You can recover. Act fast and create teams to develop the ideas. Incentivize them. Take more risk.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Long-term benefits of brutal honesty to yourself about who you, colleagues and clients are. There are aspects of this that at a minimum can have short term negative effects but at least I can sleep at night knowing I said what I believe and communicated to others that they should do the same. It’s just honest communication.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Talk to others/experts and see what they are thinking about your area of specialty. Self-reflection on this.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Align Interests: Making sure that there in alignment of interests between you and clients you advise and/or with co-investors on deals/projects. This has created a natural flow of deals and clients.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Investing in a business that failed much sooner than it should have. Not understanding how fast it could fail and why. Lack of due diligence as it related to potential outcomes. I accepted the loss, realized what happened and since this investment, I have put more focus on downside risk, especially as it relates to venture projects.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Research AI as it relates to your business. Critically think how it could affect you in 3-10 years. Invest accordingly in companies or products which will help your business in this new environment.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

A Black Hat, a summer hat and exercise shirt for my daughter from Lululemon. Why? Because she loved them, looked great in them and she got them from the clearance rack!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Excel. I use it in almost all aspects of my business, from financial modeling, project management, and even decision trees.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Cannery Row by Steinbeck. Not necessary a business book but when you read it, it just takes you away and gives you a break. I think it’s impossible to read and not smile and give your mind a break. A mind that doesn’t have to think sometimes thinks the best.

What is your favorite quote?

It’s probably “There but by the Grace of God go I”. Although it is a religious quote, I don’t think of it in this way. I think it represents humility. That you should be compassionate towards others who haven’t been given or have the opportunities you have had. It’s about understanding the difficulties that others face and the need to give back. Compassion and empathy.

Close second would be Booker T. Washington’s: “If you want to lift yourself up, life up someone else first”.

Key Learnings:

  • Reach outside your “space” to talk to professionals in different industries. Study something that you don’t know well.
  • Take more risk. Understand up and downside of it from an investors perspective but take more risk.
  • Make time for your Mind and Body to focus on yourself. You need to be physically fit. You need some time to just get away.
  • Give back to others and encourage others in your company to do the same.