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What should everyone know about investing?

I’ve done everything wrong.I’ve made millions and I’ve gone broke. And then I did it again. And then again.People say, “I learned the hard way”. I had to do more than learn the hard way. I wanted to be a good investor and it was really difficult for me.I thought because I was good at making it that I would be great at keeping it and growing it. I was wrong.I had no experience as an investor. I had never taken a job on Wall Street or with a fund or anything like that. But I wanted to be good.It’s been very hard and I’ve been very scared. I sort of regret being interested in investing.I’ve been investing professionally now for 20 years. I was a daytrader, a venture capitalist, a hedge fund manager, I invested in other hedge funds, I’ve invested in private companies, I’ve been a trader for a bank, and on and on.Since 2007 I’ve had a return of about 70% per year on money I’ve invested. I started off very small and now it’s turned into a good amount.Its amazing to me how little people study investing, even though it’s so incredibly difficult. I talk to “professional” investors all the time who don’t do what I consider to be the basics.A) KNOW YOUR HISTORYstudy the history of investing. The history of money. Where did it come from. When were the first exchanges. Study all the bubbles.Study modern investing. Why did the Great Depression occur. What was volatility like in the 1930s. In the 1960s. What caused the recessions in the 1970s. What caused the market to rise and then crash in the 80s.What were the actual bubbles in 2000 and 2006–7 that then led to massive crashes. Note: the answers are NOT “the internet” and “housing”.What are common features in every recession? In every bear market?And so on. Studying the history of investing is studying the history of world psychology. There are a thousand things to learn.B) READ BIOGRAPHIESStart with Warren Buffett. Then Bernard Baruch. Then read Greg Zuckerman’s new book on Jim Simons. Read Ray Dalio’s “Principles”. Read about Jesse Livermore. Carl Icahn. Jim Cramer. Victor Niederhoffer. Michael Milken. Charlie Munger. George Soros. Read all the Market Wizards books. Read about John Templeton, Peter Lynch, every investor you can find a biography of.I give a little bibliography on point “Z”.After you read each book, write down ten things you’ve learned from each investor.The other day I was watching a video called “the 5 best investors of all time”. I was surprised how little the four professional investors debating this question knew about the history and the biographies of the people they were debating about.C) STUDY EVERY TYPE OF INVESTINGBecause I didn’t go to business school, and I never worked at a bank or a hedge fund, I was never force fed one particular style of investing.Through studying and trial and error I had to learn each style and then figure out which ones worked for me the best.Each style is the best style given certain conditions and at different times.To truly understand investing you have to know all of the styles:value investinggrowth investingmerger arbitrageconvertible arbitrageoptions investing (understanding the “greeks”)private equity investingventure capital investinginvesting in bondsactivist investingclosed-end fund investinginvesting in special situations (spinoffs, secondaries, insiders buying, stocks moving onto indices, etc)trade finance, investing in liens, venture debt investing, buying credit card debt, arbitrage (e.g. when Canada goes one way and the US goes another, under what conditions will they “snap” together.PIPE investingmicrocap investing and how it differs from buying larger companieshedgingD) READ ABOUT ENTREPRENEURSUnderstand basic accounting and how companies often fool investors. Read about how to value a company. It’s more art than science but important to know.Why do some companies trade at huge multiples over earnings and others don’t and never will?To understand a stock, you have to understand how the underlying company is run and if it will be run well. You have to understand the CEO and he/she is good or bad.E) UNDERSTAND WHAT TRENDS ARE HAPPENING IN SOCIETY: automation, genomics, marijuana, AI, big data, plant-based foods, energy, etc.What does society need, what will it need five years from now, who is working on it.There is a quick way to do this:F) THE MOORE’S LAW TECHNIQUEIn 1966, Gordon Moore, one of the founders of Intel, predicted that computing power will double every 24 months.Computing power was very tiny then. But its been doubling every 24 months since he made that prediction.Investing in an industry that is doubling every X months will lead to huge wealth. The computer / internet industry went from being in the hundreds of millions in value to the multiple trillions.Some industries doubling or more every year or so: computers (still), genomics, solar power, data, AI, automation, etc.Find as many “Moore’s Law” industries as possible, avoid the scams, and invest in the rest.G) STATISTICSIf you can, find an easy to use statistics package for testing out ideas.For instance, what usually happens if the market goes down five days in a row? Or if Microsoft goes down five days in a row? What usually happens on a Monday if Friday was down?What happens when Canada goes up and the US goes down? What happens the week after insider make a big buy on a stock?There are thousands of questions you can ask the data. It helps to get a feel for the market.H) IGNORE “TECHNICAL ANALYSIS”People say things like, “there’s a resistance at 12 dollars a share so if the stock hits there it should bounce. But if it doesn’t bounce it could go the next level of resistance at $6”.In other words, “the stock could go up or down”.I’ve tested out every technical analysis theory. None of them work.I) DON’T READ THE NEWSBy the time an article is in the Wall Street Journal or on CNBC, you’re the last investor to have learned the news.J) KNOW THE BASIC RATIOSP/E ratios, book value, P/S, % of stock that is in the float, income / debt, cash in the bank, etc.J) ALWAYS ASK, “WHAT IS MY EDGE?”You have no edge. If you think the iphone is great and you say, “I’m investing in Apple” what makes you think you have an edge over the 100s of hedge funds who have studied every phone on the market, have figured out every detail of the next five phones to be released, etc.You might get lucky. Or you might not.It’s very hard for the average investor to find an edge. Warren Buffett gets an edge by doing deals directly with the company.Big hedge funds find an edge by doing some form of insider trading.Billions of dollars are spent every day subtly manipulating the market without regulators being aware of it. You don’t have an edge over those people.How do you get an edge?K) RESEARCH STOCKS THAT HAVE COLLAPSEDIf a company misses earnings by two cents, often retail investors get scared and the stock collapses.Ask, “did it collapse irrationally?” This is one of the few times you might be able to get an edge.Note: most stocks collapse for rational reasons.L) FOCUS ON MICRO CAP OR SMALL STOCKS.Stocks that are worth less than a billion dollars.These stocks are ignored by the news, they are ignore by banks, and they are often too small for the big hedge funds to research them.They are also not in the big indices that have all the major funds following them.Note that Warren Buffett made his first million only by investing in microcap stocks (look up: “cigar butt stocks”).The problem with microcap stocks is that many of them are either scams or are in industries with no real interest by investors.So use the Moore’s Law technique above to find growing industries and the stocks in them. And do the research to make sure the stock is not a scam.Even ONE RED FLAG (the CEO used to work for another company that went to zero) is enough to say, “I’m not going to invest”. NO RED FLAGS ALLOWED.You can have an edge on small stocks but it’s still hard.M) CLOSED END FUNDSThese are like mutual funds but they trade like stocks. Find the closed end funds that trade below the added up value of all of their assets.For instance, a closed end fund might have $100 worth of stocks but is trading for $90. Meaning: you can buy up the entire company for $90 and liquidate it for $100 and make money.Why do they do this? Study closed end funds.There’s often a good reason they are trading low but they are pretty safe and usually pay good dividends.N) IMPORTANT RULE THAT NOBODY KNOWS: The less you invest in a company, the more you will make.This doesn’t sound right and it doesn’t work for everyone.But I know for me I have a problem: If I invest a big % of my net worth in one company then I will obsess on it.I won’t be able to sleep.And as soon as it has a reasonable profit (or loss) I will get rid of it.If I invest a small amount and it starts to go up, I am more willing to sit on it for the entire ride and I will make more money.This has happened to me again and again. The less I invest, the more I make.I tend to invest only 1–2% of my net worth in any one investment.O) PRIVATE COMPANIES ARE USUALLY BETTER THAN PUBLIC COMPANIESCompanies only go public when great investors no longer want to put money in. In fact, the venture capitalists want to get out so they force the company to go public.The “public” is considered the weakest investors.This is why the iniital investors in Uber made millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars but the people who bought when it went public are now losing money.This is why the investors in WeWork were desperate to have it go public but this time people were ready.How do you find good private companies? Fortunately, more private companies than ever are being listed on crowdfunding sites like AngelList and Republic.P) SOME SMALL PUBLIC COMPANIES ARE AS GOOD AS PRIVATE COMPANIES.Q) PIGGYBACK THE GREAT INVESTORSPick your 20 favorite investors.Use a website like J3SG - Home to see what stocks your favorite investors are currently buying.If you can buy the same stocks around the same price or lower than it’s an ok investment.For instance, if Warren Buffett suddenly buys a stock like IBM, then it’s probably a good buy at the same price. Buffett tends to hold for long periods of time so your edge over Buffett is that you can be more nimble.R) CHECKLISTThe CEO has built and sold a company before.Other good investors are invested in the companyThe company does not need to raise money for a long time.This checklist is good for both public and private companies. For a private company it helps to add one more item: do they have any customers?S) ALWAYS ASK, “WHY ME?”If you feel you’ve found a good investing opportunity, always ask, “why?”Nobody wakes up and says, “I want to make James Altucher rich today.”If something is actually a good opportunity, then it should be long gone before you even know about it. Figure out why you have an edge over everyone else in the world. Be brutally honest with yourself or you will lose money.To be honest, the best investments I have ever done is because I simply followed good friends of mine who were good investors.That’s not to say you can’t make good investments if you don’t have those same friends. Maybe the edge is you do more research in one vaguely known sector. Or a company is so small it’s not followed. Or you have cash in the bank when the market collapses. Etc.T) DIVERSIFICATION IS NOT WHAT YOU THINKDiversification 1.0 was: “buy Exxon and Microsoft”. One is oil and the other is tech. Now, those two stocks are no longer diversified. Most large stocks tend to move up and down as a group.Diversification 2.0 was: “buy bonds and stocks”. Now this is not as true. Bonds and stocks also tend to move as a group.Diversification is to play multiple strategies that are independent of each other and independent of the economy.An example diversified portfolio:some private companiessome closed end funds (for the dividends) that focus on municipal bondsmicrocaps that are independent of the economy and each otherreal estate in foreign countries with great GDP growth where housing prices have not caught up.arbitrage situations (e.g. shorting Canada and buying the US if the US has gone down several days in a row and Canada has gone up several days in a row)peer to peer lendingstatistical arbitrageput selling on value stockssome growth investing (but keep investments small)investing in a basket of stocks owned by other great investors.special situationsNote that I did not put Apple or Google or any big stock on this list. The average investor has zero edge on those stocks. Always try to have an edge.U) DON’T DAYTRADEDaytrading is mostly for idiots.There are millions of algorithms working every day on the markets. How can you have an advantage over them?There are strategies that work. But it’s like a fulltime job to play those strategies and you have to know them and really study them.V) SIT ON YOUR HANDSSome people put “Stop-losses” on a position.This means if they buy a stock at $20, they may decide at $16 to sell it for a loss.Don’t do that.I’ve tested out every strategy using software I’ve written. In every case, the use of stop-losses make less money in the long run.The key to sitting on your hands is to invest only a small amount in every investment.The path to wealth is to have good investments that grow very big.My best current investment right now is a stock I bought at ten cents for a tiny amount and now the stock is over $6.00.If I invested too much I would’ve probably sold at 20 cents. Or I would’ve sold when it went from $10 all the way back to $3 before bouncing back to $6.I put a “story-stop” on my investments. I buy because I like the story. If the story changes, i get out. For instance, if I buy because Warren Buffett just invested, then I am in until he exits.If I buy because it’s a genomics stock and I think genomics is going way up, I sell if they fail every FDA trial they are in.W) THE AVERAGE HOLDING PERIOD IS A LONG TIMEBuffett says the average holding period is “forever”. He is lying when he says that because he’s afraid smaller investors will be more nimble than him.BUT…most companies I own I will own for 5–15 years. I am in some investments right now since 2009.People say investing is like gambling. This is sort of true. But the longer you hold something, the less it is like gambling and the more it is that you researched an industry and a company and are investing in the growth of both.It takes a long time for a small company in a small but fast growing industry to reach its full potential.Also, if a company is growing 20–50% per year or more, where else are you going to get that kind of return on your money? Keep the stock. Don’t take profits.Again, this is why I keep initial position sizes low and I never double down.X) KEEP MOSTLY CASH AROUNDI mentioned above that I’m up around 70% a year or more.This is only on money I’ve invested. I started off very small and kept most of my portfolio in cash.I still have most of my net worth in cash. This allows me to sleep at night, not sweat my investments each day, sit on my hands, and allows me to put cash to work when a good opportunity presents itself.Good opportunities happen only two or three times a year on average.So over the past 12 years, counting some exits that I’ve had along the way as well as some disasters, I’m in about 20 investments.This past year I got into three new investments and I had no exits this year at all.Y) RISK VS REWARDI invest in mostly two types of opportunities:SAFE - I’ll give two examples: a) a closed-end fund that mostly invests in municpal bonds and has a 6% tax free dividend that trades for a greater than average discount to its net asset value. I might expect to get 10–15% year on a stock like this and, at the very least, I get that nice dividend.Another safe example is if I invest in a private company at what I feel is a discount to where similar private companies are being acquired. And all the other parts of my checklist hold.Some of my safest investments were private companies where I was able to buy shares from other shareholders at a significant discount to where venture capitalists bought the stock.2. HIGH RISK, HIGH REWARD. I like to invest in companies that I think I will make at least 1000% on or more. This sounds ridiculous but this is why I only invest in a few opportunities per year.This is why I don’t buy share of Google. Maybe it goes up a little more than the market. Like 20–30% per year some years.But it also can go down a lot. This is not good risk/reward for me even if I love the company.Z) BIBLIOGRAPHY. KEEP READINGHere are a few books one can read that I think are fairly simple to read and will give a basic understanding of most of the above.Buffett, by Roger LowensteinMy Story, by Bernard BaruchThe Money Game, by Adam SmithYou can be a stock market genius, by Joel GreenblattThe Big Short, by Michael LewisThe Man Who Solved the Market, by Greg ZuckermanThe Rational Optimist by Matt RidleyHacking Darwin by Jamie MetzlFooled by Randomness by Nassim TalebTools of the Titans by Tim FerrissSapiens by Yuval HarariA Man for All Markets, by Ed ThorpFamous First Bubbles by Peter GarberConfessions of a Street Addict by Jim CramerEssays of Warren Buffett by Lawrence CunninghamThis is just a start but its not a bad start.Q&A: Happy to answer questions in the comments.

What were the biggest stock market scams?

This answer will Highlight the frauds and the manipulations going on with the Savings of everyone living below the Low-Upper-Class in the Economic Strata.There are a total of 6 types of major pool where a person belonging to this strata actually puts his or her earnings.Apart from the above four, many people do have Stock Investments as well as Mutual Funds.The fraud is going on because of the Government and Private Financial Services Organisations taking advantage of Aysmmetric Information that Common people suffers from.You may have already experienced this, in form of bone-chilling effect as felt during De-Monetisation in India, which was the deprivation of your own earned money by the Banks.This was followed by Loan defaults by many Individuals and Companies.The cumulative effect of Closing of Businesses due to Demonetisation and Loan Defaults of such large sum of Money, led to the collapse of big NBFCs like DHFL and IL&FS.NBFCs are the real bread-winner for the Banks, but their Business Model is very Fragile.To understand this, we have to dissect the Business models of some Banks where they offer 7% interest per annum on all of their Saving Accounts to attract more customers.To meet 7% target, Banks have to raise all of the deposited money in Savings at close to 10 to 12 % Loans while including the operational costs of the bank.For this they take help from the NBFCs, which are specialized in raising Loans at 20 % to 40 % interest rate and that to less credit worthy people.This mostly leads to Loan Defaults.Now, as NBFCs face doom, hence the Banks with higher exposure to those NBFCs also starts sinking.Then, Government instead of catching the loan defaulters, brings some laws like FRDI Bill 2017, which had a Bail-in provision to save Banks using the deposited money of its Savings Account holders.( Text in Hindi : Risk of destruction of savings of Account Holder of Banks by FRDI Bill 2017 )Laws like FRDI will block the customers from withdrawing money, when they need it the most.And only God knows if these Banks will survive even after Cannibalising on the savings of their own customer.Due to this, there will a fear among Account holders and they will start withdrawing their Money from their Bank.Hence, the overall Consumer confidence crashes and it is reflected in the Stock market.You see, the BankNifty is one of the biggest Index by the Size of Capital traded on daily basis.Thus, when the BankNifty crashes, because of the Banking Sector failures, Nifty 50 follows its lead.As the Stock Market bottoms out, so does the Savings of a common man. In addition to this, the Provident Funds and Mutual Funds will also get wiped out simultaneously.The Provident Fund money is one of the most brutally Manipulated Funds because common people do not actively manage these by keeping an eye on them and its AMCs.Because of being ignored, the Provident Funds Money is used to Pump-up the Market so that Money-snatchers, like Investment Banks, can book profits.Just like PF, Capital of Insurance Companies, which is essentially the accumulated Premium of Insurances and is the last Economic Security of the Common person, also faces brutal manipulation.Even after all of these, Some interventions are taken by Governemtns, which actually proves to be totally against the Rights of the Customers, like it happened in the case of Yes Bank.In fact, in the Yes Bank case, one of my friend had lost close to 2 lakhs of Rupees because of the forceful retrospective buy-back of the Yes Bank Shares by the Broker Apps like Angel Broking from his Trading Account.As Economy is further going down, a foolish impromptu announcement of Bank Mergers can reduce our invested money to just half within weeks.Or even worse, as seen in United States of America recently, the higher management of so many companies declaring Bankruptcy just after receiving bailout package from the Governemnt.The CXOs and Board Members of these Companies distributed the package among themselves, while completely abandoning its Shareholders and Employees.In this quagmire, a common person is confused if he or she should invest in stock market or not.Then came the Magician who make Believers believe that he or she has predicted the upturning of market soon based on some prophecy.The Asset Managing Companies like Goldman Sacbs take advantage of this cult and show some light of hope to common people so that they pour in their money in the market in the form of Mutual Funds.And the Poor common person, who is busy in his or her life and suffering from so many cognitive biases and having asymmetric informations, falls for these fake opportunities.Now these AMCs take their own clients for ride even when these AMCs manager knowing that Stock Market is a Zero sum game since nothing is produced here.That is, only Snatchers are able to survive in the Stock Market, while Believers are left to cry.The biggest surprise to me was that even after hiring the brightest mind, these Big Investment firms are as better at predicting markets as flipping a coin.However, these Investments Firms have power of capital to manipulate the market.Hence, they follow their age-old pump-and-dump scheme where in order to grow their own money, they create a trap to snatch money from common person.This all starts with a mild up trend which is fueled by the Smart Money of Financial Advisors themselves.After Smart Money comes the Client’s money which further pumps up the market.Now, in the 3rd phase, these Investment Firms need to book profit by selling the pumped up stocks to the Provident Funds, Mutual Funds and Local Financial Advisors.That is why the agencies like S&P, Goldman Sach and CRISIL paint a bright picture to the Mutual Fund buyers while mentioning that “your investments are subject to market risk” in a hurry.We can feel this deception where these Brokerage Firms offer Mutual Funds at 0 % commission, as they get it from the Companies whose Mutual Funds they sell.And when Our Investments are butchered by the so called market risks, the whole Business News Media spells the Voodoo magic of Market Correction which was actually initiated and executed by the Snatchers of the Stock Market.By highlighting these, I wish to create awareness among common people, like myself, to be prudent with their money.A simple checklist before putting in our hard earned money anywhere, can save us from a lifetime misery.Our dreams and survival after retirement may depend upon these 6 kinds of money namely :SavingsFixed DepositsProvident FundsInsuranceStocks/Equity portfolioMutual FundsWhile the following are Snatchers, whose bread and butter comes only after Snatching our money :Investment BanksLocal Financial AdvisorsProvident Fund AMCsHence, the bottom line is, Do not become a Believer for no reason.Other Stock Related Answers :Anubhav Yadav's answer to Why do humans never beat AIs in financial markets?Anubhav Yadav's answer to Are stock prices correlated with public sentiment rather than company fundamentals?Anubhav Yadav's answer to Is there a real time stock market data feed API for NSE, BSE, & Mcx to implement in our custom software?

How would a hardware startup find the right manufacturer(s)?

First of all, the hardware startup needs to understand their current project stage. For example, if they are at the POC stage with substantial funding, then probably one of best options is to approach design houses. Really important to prepare a proper RFQ that clearly clarify your product status and requirements, may refer to our blog post about RFQ package.Some things to consider when searching for the best manufacturer for your project is to create a checklist that includes:1) Quotation: Cost is always a major consideration but not the only one. Please make allowances for both price consideration and the capability of the manufacturer to fully match the potential of your project.2) Company background: factory facilities, served customers, quality control system, management team.3) Communication: Really important to find a manufacturing partner who you can communicate with smoothly. Language barriers and other cultural differences can cause major problems further down the road.If you have a checklist, get a better idea by looking at:a. Project status: If the design is fixed, then you can can approach OEM/EMS to do the manufacturing.b. Product: Find the manufacturers that have been manufacturing similar products, because startups can utilize their experience to minimize issues further down the road.c. Engineering feedback: The design cannot be perfect the first time. If their engineers give you a lot of feedback regarding the design, you know that they have properly evaluated your project and take your project seriously to give you the feedback.6. Company structure: Often it is better to have a manufacturing partner that has a proper PM, rather than a dealing with someone in a PM/Sales roles.So that is it, know where you are and what you want. Start from that base and follow the tips above.Quick plug at the end, HWTrek - the collaborative platform for hardware innovation was started for cases like yours, people with great ideas who need manufacturing partners. We can help match-make you with the right partner for your project and hold your hand through the process.

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