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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Angel Investor Vera Kretschmar


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VERA Kretschmar – angel investor, real estate developer, beauty clinic owner and global luxury business mind – figures it’s time for a few things to change. “I think I’m at a stage in my career where there’s a bit of a shift going on,” says the German-born Chinese-Indonesian, whose business interests span beauty care, tech start-ups and property investments.

“I’m beginning to be more open about what I’m doing in terms of investing,” she says, “because typically I have always been very private. Whereas once I saw myself solely as an entrepreneur, now I am in a position to give something back.”

To this end, Vera looks past her 24/7 commitment to wide-ranging projects – which literally span the globe – and tells me about her most exciting upcoming venture, a foundation planned for underprivileged girls that is currently under development.

Called Anaya’s Angels, the non-profit organisation aims to support and sponsor 25-30 girls in Bali in a soon-to-be-built modern facility with a wellequipped library, computers, study hall, dance hall and gardens.

“It’s given me so much joy to be in a position where I can mentor young women,” says Vera, whose early years in investment banking led her on a path of deal-making, real estate and venture finance from Europe to the US, China and lately Southeast Asia.

“Being able to make some meaningful impact on the future education of these girls just makes me super happy,” she says.

Prioritizing sustainability and health, Anaya’s Angels plans to source its own eggs and fresh fruit and vegetables from their garden, as well as offering a modern home and study facility in natural surroundings. “Our ultimate goal is to support the local community and empower these girls,” says Vera, “equipping them with the fundamental and essential resources needed to pave the way for a prosperous future.”

Vera’s own upbringing was filled with privilege, she says, with horses and ballet and piano classes at a private school near Cologne, Germany, where her Indonesian architect mother had moved to study and met her German husband.

“I had a very peaceful European upbringing,” says Vera, “and I had family in Asia that I would visit in Singapore and Indonesia once a year when we would see them,” she says.

Growing up, she watched her mother adapt to life in Germany and become the family’s main breadwinner. “My mother was a huge influence on me,” she says, “and I grew up seeing her managing children and living in another country and always working on her real estate developments.”

It was a work ethic she was inspired to emulate, with a dream to work in investment banking and finance. “I always knew I wanted to go into finance,” says Vera. “I grew up watching Wall Street and movies like that, so at a relatively young age I knew I was going to leave Germany and move to the US. But then when I got to New York I realised that I wasn’t so good at it.

“I worked in corporate for a long time, which sometimes I liked, and sometimes I really couldn’t care less. So when I got fired from my last corporate job I realised that there was a reason I didn’t fit in so well because I knew that I really didn’t care about the businesses so much. Now that I run my own businesses, I enjoy what I do because I care so much more.”

Today Vera is the founder of companies across sectors, including Anaya Aesthetics and Anaya Property Investments in Bali, as well as a marketing agency called Anaya Creative Agency, which handles her public relations and social media.

She is also an investor in high-performance luxury ski wear brand Perfect Moment, and a Singapore-based health App called Prelude Health, which focusses on rapid hormone tests providing actionable insights into hormonal health in minutes at home.

Her main focus however is as Managing Director at a boutique investment banking advisory firm called Ivory Capital Asia, which is based in Singapore and does mergers and acquisitions across the board. Vera’s role is to bring in potential deals for the team to assess.

“Mostly I assist in introductions for deals, and we work on both the buy and the sell side. I’m less involved in the financial analysis, because we have a big team that does that, and everyone in the office has an investment banking background.

“So, in the beginning I was a little hesitant to get involved because I don’t have a traditional investment background. But then I realised it didn’t matter so much, because bringing in an introduction is so important. You can hire analysts to run the numbers and do the forecasts and work out the details. But if you don’t have the deal in the first place, there’s no deal.”

What does she look for in a potential business investment? “There are several ways to look at it,” she says. “You can just straight up look at the numbers, but for me I always look at the founder, and where the business can go. I typically tend to invest in things that I actually like, because for me its disingenuous to try and promote a business that I have zero knowledge of or interest in.

“So I found that, for me, my niche is just things that I personally like. I have been investing in women-run start-ups and businesses. I also like consumer goods, and retail brands, where I like the products. I can wear the product, I can talk about it, my friends can wear the products. That may not be the best investment strategy, because, you know, most of the time it’s the chemical plants that are very boring and unsexy that make the big money. But I just feel that this approach is what works for me.”

“Having said that, you are still looking at the hard numbers. Anyone looking for VC money, I think, should be completely transparent about their business, and be real and authentic about its attributes. What’s your go-to market strategy? How are you going to make money with the product, what are the next stages and who are your partners? I also need to see that the founder and the team are really in tune with their brand and know the business inside out – who are your competitors, what is the market landscape?”

Another area of interest for Vera is crypto, and she is an investor in IX Swap, positioned as a “Uniswap” for security tokens with the world’s first automated market maker for securities on the blockchain.

“IX Swap is basically solving the crypto liquidity problem,” says Vera. “It aims to bridge the gap between traditional finance by allowing tokenisation and trading of traditionally inaccessible private market assets. Essentially it eases the problem of turning your crypto assets into cash.”

Being an entrepreneur is what suits her, says Vera, and she’s learned the hard way that while a good degree from a prestigious school may look great on paper, the reality of running your own show requires a specific set of skills.

“I think there are a lot of aspects that contribute to success in business which are not learned at university,” says Vera, adding:

“I’ve learned more from other people than I ever did studying at school. I have been lucky enough to have certain mentors and friends in my life that I have always admired and who have helped me on my business journey.”

What’s next on her to-do list? “I’m involved in a restaurant-bar-lounge and some real estate projects here in Bali, and I have also just purchased a villa on Lake Como that I am going to spend some time remodelling. That’s always been a big dream of mine, so I’m very excited. And then I have a big project coming up in Dubai, so I will be spending more time in the Middle East. There are also a few tech startups that I have invested in. And of course there is the Anaya’s Angels foundation in Bali, which I know is going to be so fulfilling.”

What’s most important to her in life? “Since 2017 all I have done is work,” says Vera. “I don’t take weekends off – I’m always on the go because this is what I find most interesting. To me, building a meaningful business is the most important thing, probably to the neglect of other aspects of my life. To be in a position to be able to mentor young women and run a business that supports 50 families is very fulfilling for me. At the end of the day, this is what makes me tick.”

Nigel Simmonds
Nigel Simmondshttps://mrcontent.asia/%20
Nigel Simmonds is Director of Mister Content Asia specializing in print, online and graphic content. He is the author of Eating The Wind: A Requiem For Innocence, available on Amazon. https://mrcontent.asia/


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