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high-net-worth investing

Katherine Hague, co-founder of e-commerce platform ShopLocket, poses for a picture in Toronto in March.The Globe and Mail

Since she was 11 years old, Mississauga native Katherine Hague knew that she wanted to be an entrepreneur. Her inspiration came from devouring biographies about famous entrepreneurs, such as Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey.

She was exposed to real-life entrepreneurship through a marketing job at Ecobee in Toronto and became one of Shopify's partners before co-founding her own e-commerce platform, Toronto-based ShopLocket, in November, 2011. In early 2014, she sold the business to PCH International, a global product-development and supply-chain company. Ms. Hague had become a self-made millionaire at the age of 23. Today, the 25-year-old is an angel investor and founder of Female Funders, a network for female investors. The Globe recently spoke with Ms. Hague about what she's doing with the proceeds of her successful startup and why she's more conservative than some may expect:

What was your first job?

My first paycheque was from a paper route. I did that for six years growing up. Throughout high school and into university, I always had a summer job. I worked as a bank teller and later as an independent marketing and digital-media consultant. There were many business ideas along the way that never got off the ground, until ShopLocket.

What was your first investment?

It was in my own company. I was a saver. I would save every dollar that came in so I could eventually move downtown [into Toronto] and put it into the business that I wanted to start. Up until ShopLocket, I don't think I made any significant investments. When I was running ShopLocket, I made a tiny angel investment in a friend's company, Per Vices Corp., to see what the process of being on that side of the table was. I still own shares in that company today, along with three other startups; Locks & Mane, Bridgit and CareGuide.

What's in your portfolio today?

When I sold ShopLocket, I really didn't know what to do with the money. At first, I stuck it into a bank account and starting asking family and friends for advice about what to do with it. I ended up working with advisers at Scotia Wealth Management. They manage my primary portfolio, which includes an RRSP, TFSA and non-registered accounts. I also set money aside for angel investments.

What's your investment mix?

At present, about 3 per cent is in angel investments, but my goal is to get this to 10 per cent of my overall portfolio in the next two to three years. The rest of my portfolio is in RRSP, TFSA and non-registered accounts. I have a balanced mandate on these accounts, which is about 5-per-cent cash, 30-per-cent fixed income and 65-per-cent equity. About 32 per cent of my equity exposure is in U.S. stocks.

What's your investment philosophy right now?

It's relatively conservative with more of an income mandate. It's weird, as an entrepreneur you'd think I'd be much more willing to take risks. I actually want my portfolio strategy to be fairly conservative – more about income and cash preservation. I see my angel investments as the high-risk portion of my portfolio.

Given your young age, do your advisers recommend you be more aggressive with your investments?

Yes, there has definitely been that conversation. It's always something that I'm considering.

Do you own real estate investments?

I have no real estate holdings, but I'm actively looking to buy an income property in Hamilton. Three of my friends bought income properties in Hamilton in the last year, which is how I got exposed to the opportunity to invest in the growing market there.

What has been your best investment move to date?

Investing in my own company, if you look at it by the numbers.

What has been your biggest investment mistake to date?

I sold ShopLocket in U.S. dollars. I made money in tranches over time and converted about 50 per cent of it into Canadian dollars over the past couple of years, which I've come to regret.

What advice do you have for other investors?

Going out and starting your own business is one of the best ways to build wealth. A lot of people get stuck in this cycle of being an employee and trying to save. I think that if a lot of people starting out would step back and look from an ownership perspective and start valuing ownership and equity, they would be able to build portfolios much quicker and have something to manage and make decisions around. There is so much power in that for young people starting out.

This interview has been edited and condensed. For this series, a high-net-worth investor has investable assets of more than $750,000.