Dragons’ Den star and beer baroness Manjit Minhas, talks investing both inside and outside of the den.

Mediaplanet: Do you have a financial advisor or do you manage your own investment portfolio?

Manjit Minhas: I use an independent financial advisor but I also invest on my own.  I like having that combination because the advisor often has access to exclusive investments and she’s on top of industry news and trends. I like the flexibility of buying and selling my own investments based on my gut and interests at any given moment. It also gives me the capability of being impulsive sometimes.

MP: How have you seen technology affect the way that we manage and invest our money?

MM: Technology has democratized investing in the last several decades and also exerted significant downward pressure on fees, which is great. Before, investors wouldn’t know how their investments were faring until they received their account statements in the mail. Technology has also armed both individual investors and investment advisors with the tools to perform cutting-edge research and analysis on investments and help manage portfolios.

MP: What industries do you usually look to invest in?

MM: I like to invest in consumer staples like food and beverage, as well as energy companies. With a petroleum engineering background and a home in Calgary, I’ve always kept close to this industry. I believe it’s important to invest in industries that you are familiar with and have knowledge about so you can understand your investments in depth.

MP: You’re invested in so many different companies from varying industries — there seems to be no set pattern. What is it that you look for when investing in someone and their business? 

MM: When investing as a venture capitalist I am first and foremost investing in the entrepreneur — I look for someone who is passionate, focused, and dedicated to their business and idea and someone who I would enjoy working with. Generally, I look for industries that can use my skills and experience to their advantage. I often invest in consumer goods because I love the challenge of building an innovative product from scratch and creating a company around it.  I started my business in the liquor industry at age 19 making private label spirits, and I love investing in young entrepreneurs who are still finding their path. My motto in life has always been be humble, be hungry, and be the hardest worker in the room.

MP: Any tips for investors from your years of experience?

MM: When investing, you’re taking risks but I believe in calculated risks. Do the research, do the math, and don’t put all your money in one basket — diversify!