To our Investors:
As we mark the milestone today of exceeding $50 million in investment under management, we are reflecting on how to best serve our investors now and in the future. This letter will focus on (1) the general challenges that our client base of high net worth, accredited investors (HNWIs) face when looking to invest in top-quality, private companies, especially internationally, and (2) how, at Legacy Group, we are aiming to be a solution for you in that regard, in particular as a source of large-opportunity businesses in Latin America (LATAM).
Problem 1 . . . Our investor base knows that investing directly in attractive private companies – especially in early stage funding rounds – has the potential to significantly outperform public market returns if they select their investments diligently. That said, there is no, in our opinion, reliable source for most investors with net worths under $100 million to source direct, private company equity investments.
Problem 2 . . . Emerging market private deals, where returns have even more potential, are even rarer. Within the private market or “alternatives” section of their portfolio, many, if not most, HNWIs are heavily concentrated in U.S.-based companies with only U.S.-based operations and revenue channels. They have little, or potentially zero, international exposure in their investment portfolio in the private market space because they don’t have access to these deals. Many HNWIs are aware that investing into developing markets can earn higher rates of return as compared to investing in developed markets like the U.S. The issue, of course, as we laid out in problem #1, is that access to direct private market equity deals is very difficult, generally, for HNWIs who don’t fall into the camp of the ultra-wealthy. To get access to standout international deals, especially deals in developing markets that can provide further return arbitrage, we’ve learned that, for many of our investors, it can be nearly impossible.
What Private Company Investments Are Available in the Market?
We do not see a tremendous amount of ways in which HNWIs can source quality private company investment options under the currently limited offerings available in the market. These days, private company deal sources consist only, essentially, of the following:
Be established, connected and likely an “ultra-high-net-worth” individual: The majority of equity private placements into early stage companies are made by “ultra-high-net-worth” investors who are in-the-know and willing to place bets on almost any deal that they deem is reasonable and that is presented to them from a large web of sourcing agents that they have personally established over many years. These investors will rely on tips from sources such as venture capitalists (VCs), informal brokers and private bankers, to name a few, about funding rounds that are going on in which they can oftentimes piggyback on the same, or very similar, deal terms to formal VCs or funding groups. These investors are valuable to VCs because: (1) they will invest in almost any deal that has been personally vetted by their trusted sourcing agents, (2) they are not risk-averse or needy from an investor relations perspective and (3) they are always liquid as most investors in this range are worth $100 million-plus and they can fund fast (likely within a small number of days). Deal flow to the ultra-wealthy leaves many HNWIs out of these opportunities.
Online platforms: One readily available deal source for early stage private companies available to HNWIs is crowdfunding platforms such as Wefunder, Republic and Start Engine. That said, these platforms largely focus on very-early stage “tech” investments to an audience of largely non-accredited investors. They often market very small placement amounts of as little as $100 that can be funded with a credit card, and these platforms charge very large fees in proportion to capital raised. We have seen that sophisticated HNWIs are not as likely to get involved in many of these transactions because of the small placement sizes and the lack of diligence and sophistication around these deals. The size of potential investments here and the work required to deploy small amounts of capital are just not worth it in most cases for HNWIs looking to more typically make $100k – $250k investments in deals.
Creation of investment groups: We have seen many HNWIs start creating their own, or joining other’s, investment groups and clubs. The club model typically relies on the personal connections of, in some cases, one “owner” of the group, or a small partnership of owners, in order to bring deal flow through to group members. Investment groups are typically built around consistent themes such as passive income, one asset class (e.g., real estate) or total return in order to attract new members and create a cohesive business model for the group. Oftentimes, access to private deal flow is mixed with the intangible value of connecting with other members (i.e., other high net worth investors) as an additional value proposition for group membership. Typically, we see the most active groups having a paid membership structure where members pay annual fees in order to access the investment group’s deal flow (usually in the range of $20k – $50k annual fees + any in-person event spends). These groups are capitalistic in nature, and oftentimes the group itself is positioning itself for a sale to a private equity firm like Tiger 21 did in 2019 after it was able to build a large recurring membership base. Deal flow here often comes only from the personal connections of one, or a very small group, of individuals for smaller, more informal deals. For more established investment groups that we have seen, like Tiger 21 or Gobundance, deal flow also comes from members themselves, but members may have to do significant networking in order to gain access to all the deal flow that may be available upon joining an investment group (i.e., deal flow is not effortless and requires active participation). We have seen these investment groups being the best source of diversified direct deal flow for HNWIs currently on the market. The downside is that deal flow is largely limited to the personal connections of one, or a small group, of individuals, so we see a heavy focus on whatever industry the owner of the group or the majority of the member base is from. The price of the membership is often not exorbitant, but for a member who is only interested in deal flow, for instance, and not personal networking, a $20-$50k annual budget, can be a heavy price tag unless they want to place a good amount of capital through that channel. Remember that if a $50k a year price tag is paid for deal flow, an investor would need to invest at least $1.0 million per year through that channel just to recoup their membership costs if they are receiving 5% annual returns from deals that they invest in.
“Settle” for what investment products exist from institutional channels: The “institutional” wealth management and asset management markets are focused primarily on selling the “product” of funds, which rely heavily on the principle of diversified capital placements – investing in dozens or potentially hundreds of companies within one fund – which highly dilutes the potential for exceptional returns. Additionally, the vast majority of funds that most HNWIs have access to are public company funds, which obviously do not meet the target solution of (a) private company investments or (b) direct company investments that we discussed earlier. Moreover, with these funds, the investor has no control over what direct investment the portfolio manager makes or not, which could include investments that the investor would never make directly. If investors like only seven out of ten investment placements of a fund, for example, they cannot tell the investment manager that they only want their capital commitment to cover just those seven placements; that is not allowed. Therefore, the ability to invest directly into the companies they personally believe to have the highest probability of success is not available to them.
The channels above offer even less optionality to HNWIs when it comes to international deals. At Legacy Group, we are filling this void for investors who want exposure to big opportunities in LATAM.
We have become a leading investment firm in Latin America with a strict focus on building and finding high-quality LATAM businesses for high net worth investors. We chose our client base because you are the ones who have trusted their capital with us since we began the firm and you are who we want to see win. With over $50 million in HNWI capital already under management for businesses in Colombia, we plan to continue to leverage our roots in Colombia and to expand to other LATAM countries where we can build a similar competitive advantage through on-the-ground experience.
Our Solution for HNWIs
As we have grown, we have continued to narrow and shape the offerings that we think are valuable to our investor base. Our value proposition consists of:
Exclusive and unique deal flow: We have deal flow that is unique, and we will go geographically to where other firms will not. Simply stated, no one else has our deals and we have very little competition in the market specializing in what we do.
On-the-ground knowledge and experience: We take pride in being on-the-ground in the countries where you are investing. With over a decade of experience in LATAM working with our portfolio companies on a daily basis and understanding the market, we can share investments with you that have a viable path to great outcomes.
Investment return arbitrage: Our deals have the opportunity to earn significantly higher returns than other opportunities that our HNWIs typically have access to given the limitations on access described above and how we manage risk, as described below. This risk-return make-up is very attractive.
Direct investing as an option: Our deals allow investors to invest directly into the portfolio company of their choice rather than always running operations through a fund model. Our offerings never require an investor to put any capital into any business that they are not comfortable with. Investors in our businesses understand exactly which company their capital commitment is going to and what the funding is for, and they have no further commitment after their capital investment is made. This is a major differentiator.
Why We Believe in LATAM
Personal experience and data lead us to believe that LATAM could be our generation’s massive investment opportunity. LATAM now has a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita equal to that of China and about half its population but has only received, on average during recent years, about 5% of the investment dollars in earlier stage companies that China has taken in over that same period – $82 billion for China versus only $4.0 billion for LATAM. That does not make sense. There is a capital gap here that, together, we can work to fill and benefit from. If the populations of China and LATAM are equally as productive, why are they not receiving proportionate capital allocations? As another example, LATAM GDP per capita substantially exceeds the GDP per capita in both India and Southeast Asia yet the money going into those markets are multiples on the investment coming into LATAM over the past few years. There is an ongoing misalignment between where capital is flowing and the countries from which goods and services are coming if the goal is to create the highest likely return on a per Dollar basis. Together, we can capture a lot of the market upside that LATAM offers.
How Do We Get Our Hands on Big Opportunities in LATAM?
With fresh eyes, international capital, on-the-ground dedication and global experience, we can build and source opportunities other firms are unable to provide you.
We are not afraid to build them: Where a macro-problem exists that does not have competent problem-solvers working to fix it, we are willing to build the business that will. You have seen us do this with the Green Coffee Company (GCC). When we started GCC back in 2017, we came to see the opportunity to become the largest producer of coffee in Colombia and the most meaningful market participant in Colombian coffee, the country’s national product, and we have since done so.
Capital is often scarce in the locations where we operate: We are fortunate to have access to quantities of capital that are considered material in the industries and locations where we operate. With $50 million, we are well on the path to reshaping the coffee industry in Colombia, which should lead to outstanding returns for our investors. We may be the only legitimate capital source to some of the portfolio companies that we build and source for early and intermediate funding given the lack of historic equity capital and the difficulty of obtaining debt financing at a reasonable price, or at all, in our markets.
Sometimes human capital is scarcer: We have connections to talent both internationally and in our markets that can link our businesses to the developed world.
Long-term value & vision: We are willing to take long-term positions and continue to invest in successful companies over the portfolio company’s lifecycle. Our mandate is to maximize investor returns by realizing the full potential of the companies that we invest in.
The Businesses Worth Sharing With You
As we continue forward together, we think it is valuable to share with you what we look for in a potential investment opportunity:
The business is easy to understand for us: We must be able to understand a business completely and we must be able to convey that understanding to you. Industries such as niche technology plays, crypto arbitrage and biomedical startups, for instance, which require a very unique skill set and predetermined experience in order to fully understand risk/reward are outside of our range of competence, and we will avoid those sectors entirely. We will continue to focus where we have built an advantage – agriculture, real estate, consumer products, service-based businesses and financial services.
Our businesses must be dominant or on their way to dominance: All companies that we share with you must be able to become the #1 player is their sector or speciality. Companies do not have to be the dominant player at the moment we invest, but they must have the capability to be “THE” player in the market or we are not interested.
Management must be trustworthy & capable: We must believe in management’s capabilities, character and ability to execute on the strategic plan of the business. Trust is essential in our capital placements and we must take the time to properly diligence the management team, which is just as important, and likely more so, than the analysis of the company itself.
Our businesses must have an international focus within an under-penetrated geographic market: Our businesses must be international in nature and operate in a geography where we believe the market to have macroeconomic arbitrage potential, more specifically within LATAM. The markets we invest in are often small from a “global” perspective. Our companies, however, should aim to bridge between LATAM and the developed world for mass effectiveness of our strategy. Companies for instance that are solely interested in being the largest producer in a consumer product in Colombia are not attractive to us. Our businesses must have value outside of their “home” market.
Our investments must be able to thrive in an impact-focused world: Global views on capitalism are changing, as is regulation. A company’s position in the world is being reassessed and the company’s impact on key stakeholders is being taken into account more than ever before by investors, customers, suppliers and, of course, regulators. We will only invest in companies that aim to improve the ecosystem around them in addition to the pursuit of profit. In summary, we will only invest in businesses with which we are proud to spend our time and our efforts to support and grow. Impact is necessary, but never standalone. It must be carried out in a way that adds value to the given business for our investors.
What Opportunities You Can Expect From Us
Every investment that we share with you must fit the bill with respect to the following:
Highly-concentrated: We are only going to take large, concentrated bets on private companies in LATAM that we think have the highest probability of success for our investors. We are fully comfortable investing in only one, or potentially zero, new companies each year. We are anti-diversification. We follow the Berkshire Hathaway approach to big, concentrated bets on big opportunities in markets that we know well. The strategy continues to serve us well in Colombia, and we will apply the same strategy in other LATAM markets where we build an on-the-ground presence. We are only interested in opportunities that allow us, over time, to deploy substantial capital – no less than $10 – $20 million per placement – that have the potential to return several multiples of capital invested in a reasonable period of time.
We have significant control: We must be able to materially influence the business and management through our ownership percentage and the governance structure of the business. While our investors are passive in nature, they trust us not to be. The markets in which we operate are inherently more unpredictable than developed markets. We must have the ability to actively work with management to solve problems, establish solid long-term strategies and initiate business platforms that largely do not exist in the markets where we currently do business.
We put our own capital at risk first: While we as Legacy partners will place our own capital into young businesses that can have a significant degree of risk at the outset, we will not take that same level of risk with investor capital. Our investor base will likely get Series A and onward access to deal flow. Seed capital will likely be limited to our personal funds in order to begin our diligence process and act as a “test case” for future capital raises into the same portfolio company for our investors. We invest our own money first to get a look under the hood until such time as we feel comfortable with a management team and a business to open the opportunity to our investor base. For future capital placements where we will accept outside investor capital, we will always: (a) have invested a large sum of Legacy partner capital, (b) completely understand the business and its risk profile and (c) trust management to operate in an ethical manner that coincides with shareholder interests. This can cause there to be a delay of one or several years after the time that Legacy invests in a business to subsequently open that portfolio company for investment to our investor pool. Many firms do just the opposite – they will only invest their own money after they have already risked their clients’.
In keeping with this investment rubric, we are extremely proud of the work of our outstanding businesses and their management teams – the Green Coffee Company, Colombia’s #1 largest coffee producer, and Polygonus, which we believe to be Colombia’s leading digital arts business & academy. Each business has the capacity to be a large winner for our investors.
This letter is representative of what we have learned to be necessary for success in LATAM after over a decade combined here on-the-ground, and what we have learned from you as investors over that same time period. Access to outstanding private market businesses will likely continue to be a problem that we cannot solve solely, but we believe that we can be part of the solution for those of you who see the upside of the LATAM market. As we work together, we wanted to share with you through this letter how we think about investing and opportunities and also thank those of you who we’ve already had the pleasure to work with.
We invite you to share this letter with your networks and through social media. Doing so will have a direct benefit – with more high net worth investors having eyes on LATAM we can continue to source outstanding businesses for you and grow those that are already in the Legacy Group portfolio.
If you did not receive this letter directly from us, we invite you to sign up for our newsletters to learn more about opportunities in our portfolio of world-class businesses here.
Economist by trade, spent 15 years working for HSBC in a multitude of capacities in its Private Wealth, Credit Risk Management and Investment Banking divisions. Furthermore, Jesus worked for the bank in multiple countries. Prior to leaving HSBC, Jesus was the Global Account Owner of the bank’s relationship with the world’s largest accounting and consulting firms.
Upon leaving Wall Street, Jesus joined a boutique Medical Group in Beverly Hills, as CEO, with the primary goal of leading the team through a process of corporate transformation from a small enterprise to a corporation able to navigate the terrain of bringing in Private Investors and expand into new markets: New York, Orange County, Chicago and San Diego.
In addition to extensive professional experience, Jesus holds degrees in Economics (BA – St Mary’s University, and MA – Fordham University) and Finance (MS – University of Rochester).
After multiple combat tours with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and Real Estate from the University of Florida, Dustin took a position in corporate finance with Lockheed Martin, followed shortly by obtaining his Series 7 and 66 certifications as a Financial Advisor at Edward Jones. Looking for an opportunity to implement his leadership earned in the Marine Corps and entrepreneurial desire, Dustin decided to leave the corporate environment and joined a family-owned private prisoner transportation start-up, while also investing in real estate. Over the next several years, Dustin became a partner in the company, moved into the role of Executive Director and helped grow the company through strategic relationships, winning large government contracts, and helping foster several mergers, ultimately getting the business to a successful sale. After obtaining his MBA in Real Estate from Florida State University in 2020, Dustin continued to invest in real estate, taking a specific interest in land acquisition and development to create equity and cash flow opportunities. Additionally, he was involved with several start-ups and became one of the largest investors in The Green Coffee Company, a Legacy Group portfolio company. After getting boots-on-the-ground with his Green Coffee Company investment in Colombia, Dustin saw an opportunity to become more than just a passive shareholder and joined Legacy Group as the VP of Business Development in June 2022.
Dustin has earned a reputation for his genuine leadership style, adaptive problem-solving skills, ability to forge authentic relationships, and being a fast-moving action-taker across multiple industries. His fluidity and adaptive results-oriented mindset makes Dustin an excellent addition to Legacy Group as our VP of Business Development.
Dustin lives in St. Petersburg, Florida with his wife Jenny and their German Shepherd, Kimber. Going on 18-years in the USMC, Dustin will retire after 20 years and continue to focus on adding value to Legacy Group Stakeholders.