Week 15 — From Hunter To Hunted

As the second last week of the year winds down and the ideasinc.veni programme comes to an eventual close, we ended it with the last milestone of the programme.

Our second and final investment game.

If you’ll care to recall, we had a previous run of the NTUit.io investment game where DLT: Pratu claimed the top spot. Well if you guys are lazy and unwilling to read, that’s fine too, I’ll just give a quick run down on what the investment game is about.

There are 2 main groups of people, namely the investors and the investees. The goal of the investors is to invest in a company as early as possible in order to achieve the highest valuation in their portfolio of investments. So for example, in the last iteration of the investment game, our investment maven Lin Fang Yi, entrusted half of his investment portfolio into Pratu, spending almost $500k on a Pratu share priced at $11k per share.

Our job as investees/ business owners is to pitch our company to other investors so that they would buy our shares and raise the market valuation of the company. At the end of the previous investment game iteration, we got to an investment value of roughly $5 million and a price per share of $36k.

As you can see, our investment maven Lin Fang Yi made a whopping $25k per share that he bought. Yes, this was fake money, yes there was no real skin in the game.

But the goal here wasn’t to win but to have a taste of what real investors looked out for, what kind of objectives that wanted to have and lastly, get a feel for the type of mental checklists that investors possess.

As the second iteration approached, I was actually pretty excited to be pitching and to see where we had gone better because frankly our first run went pretty badly.

But alas, the message came in the week of that barred us from playing the game as investees. The window however, opened for us to be investors instead of investees. It was pretty interesting, I thought to myself a day before about what I needed to do. Fun as the game was, there were 3 strategies in place that would ensure a victory somehow.

  1. I needed to identify the most popular business that everyone wanted to invest in
  2. I needed to get in fast to secure an investment that was as low as possible
  3. I needed to know when to get out/ who would be the last investor of the game, since there was no secondary market trading.

With my mental mantra in place, I began scouting for a company to invest in. Looking back at past performances, I identified a couple of candidates, namely: HiPals and Scholaebot. In my mind I was focused on those 2 companies but I was obviously open-minded to other companies and what they could offer me as an investor.

When Boon Chow signaled the start of the last investment game of the year, it was quite literally a mad rush, we were shuttled into rooms immediately and investees started hustling their way into getting an investment. As an investor, I was pummeled with messages from all over, with different investees coming in trying to grab my attention. It was all quite overwhelming for me to be honest. I didn’t really know where to start and which pitch to listen to, but it started to get easy once I got into the groove of things, hopping from one room to another.

The one noticeable thing was that the pitches were really much improved after Fred’s lesson about giving good presentations, on top of that, the pitches were also more concise. They showed us what we needed to know as investors

Although the game was the same and the rules were the same, there was something different this time, the attitude from the investees felt very odd. There was less of a buzz around the game this time. I sensed that the newness of the game had worn off from the investees and as a result they took a slightly more laid back approach to pitching. To be fair, it is tiring to be pitching consistently for 3 hours.

Nevertheless, it was a fun time and it really gave me a different look to this whole ecosystem from the perspective of an investor. As much as investors are worried about their money and sometimes may seem to be overly-stingy at times, there is an urgency to want to spend their money on the right businesses as soon as possible. However that comes at a cost and at great risk, at any point of time the tides may shift and investments go south.

So as the game approached the end, Marcus showed me his portfolio and asked me to “stonks” his portfolio. With the little money I had left, I invested in 2 companies, parcelhitch and paratlas. Those 2 companies ended up as the top 5 performing companies and I helped Marcus jump from investing obscurity to becoming the Ray Dalio of the NTUit.io game, earning himself a whopping $60 deliveroo voucher 😊 (Thanks Marcus for the treat).

It truly reminds me of many “celebrity investors” advising all of us to put our money in bitcoin or whatever financial instrument out there. They are either selling their subpar knowledge to ordinary folks like us or trying to influence us into buying whatever’s on their portfolio to bid up the value of their investments so that they can sell it before the music stops and laugh their way to the bank.

As the year closes, we remember the craziness that covid-19 has brought about, but we are also thankful for the opportunities given to us. As much as we only want to receive the good, how can we appreciate it if we don’t have a healthy dose of bad as well?

This statement is not meant as a knock on those who have lost loved ones through this trying year, but as a reality check for everyone to get through it all and head on to the next year with vim and vigour.

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas break, stay healthy and stay safe.

See you all in the next year.