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high net-worth investing

Somen Mondal is the co-founder and CEO of Ideal.com.Adam Coish

Somen Mondal knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur when, while doing his MBA at Queen's University a decade ago, he saw a man pull up in the staff parking lot in a blue Ferrari. A self-described "car guy," Mr. Mondal made it his mission to meet this man and find out what he did to afford it. The owner was an entrepreneur-in-residence, Paul Hyde, who later become one of the first investors in Mr. Mondal's company, Field ID. The company, which makes workplace-safety inspection software, was bought by Master Lock LLC in 2012, turning Mr. Mondal into a multimillionaire. Today, Mr. Mondal, 36, is co-founder and CEO of Ideal.com, which uses data to match salespeople with employers. The Globe spoke to Mr. Mondal recently about how he invests his money, and the collection of cars he can now afford.

What was your first investment?

It was investing in my first company. I used my student line of credit when I was doing my MBA to pay for my first employee. That was my first real, calculated risk. I had also invested a bit in RRSPs, using ETFs.

What's in your portfolio today?

For me, the way I look at investing, there's capital preservation and riskier investing that can really make a difference. About 75 per cent of my wealth is in capital preservation.

I'm happy with returns of about 5 to 7 per cent. I invest in pooled funds (which are aggregated investments from individual investors, similar to mutual funds). About 15 per cent is in private equity investments and the rest is in my own company, Ideal.com.

To me, the investment in my own company is the best way to magnify my wealth. It's the only thing that I can control.

Do you use an adviser?

When I sold my company, I realized I needed to preserve the capital, but that it wasn't my full-time job to do that. I used three wealth managers at first. I told them straight up, 'I'm going to cut people until I'm left with one that I'm comfortable with.' I did that over a three-year period until I found one that I liked. I also invest a bit on my own, in two things: dividend-producing REITs, as well as some technology stocks. I'm a sucker for technology stocks. For example, I recently put money into LinkedIn when it dipped.

What has been your best investing move to date?

It has to be investing in my own company.

What about the worst move?

Taking a stock tip from a friend of mine at a bar – a classic mistake. It was a health-care stock on the TSX, about 18 months ago. I'd rather not name it. The mistakes I made: I know nothing about health care. I didn't know much about my friend's track record picking stocks. And I kept holding on to the stock, thinking it would go up. I got emotional about it. I lost about 50 per cent over a couple of months before I smartened up and sold it. We're still friends. I blame myself.

What about cars?

Cars aren't an investment for me. It's more of a play thing. The one bad way I've spent money is buying cars, there's no doubt about it. I've tried to at least always buy them a little bit used. If you have a hobby that you know is going to lose money, like cars, at least try to minimize the amount you're going to lose. At one point I had three cars (Ferrari, Mercedes and Lamborghini). As of this exact moment, I have the G63 AMG, Porsche 911 GT3 RS and a Ferrari 488 Spider on order.

What's your advice for others?

Stick to what you're passionate about. For me, it's startups and technology. If you're not an expert, outsource it.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

For this series, a high-net-worth investor has investable assets of more than $750,000.