Luis Trevino is the 36-year-old senior managing director of Beamonte Investments, which focuses primarily on venture capital in education, pharmaceuticals, media and hospitality, as well as real estate. The single-family office, based in New York, was formed when his family sold the for-profit Universidad Latinoamericana — based in Mexico City and founded by Trevino's grandfather—to the Carlyle Group in 2005. Trevino began working full time for his family’s office in 2009.
What's the latest purposeful investment you made, and why did you do it?
We just do everything for profit. Sorry.
What's the biggest advantage you have in making investment decisions for the long term?
I think we are really patient capital. We can wait through these torrents in the market better than other players. Also, it's not the first time that we’ve been in these kinds of cycles.
We didn’t invest a lot in the last up cycle; we laid off investing the last couple of years because we did believe the valuations were crazy. Instead, we invested in our own companies. We didn’t do any M&A, and we didn’t invest in almost any new companies. We invested in real estate, we invested in the market. There was one investment, some really good technology during COVID, and then we got out of that. We were even heavily in cash for a few months.
And so now we are returning to the market. The pricing of the assets is much more competitive, and it's something where we can make a return.
What lessons can you share with other family offices—about investing strategies, succession issues and philanthropy?
Something that we already knew but we learned in this cycle again: You have to stick to the basics. If you know the asset and the value of the asset, you have to stick with that and not go with the trend.
It's pretty easy to get caught up in the fever and overpay, but we knew the real value of things. We are real disciplined and know the real value of things.
One area where we try to invest is in education, because our background is in education. But in recent years, all these multiples — instead of seeing seven to eight times EBITDA, they would be bid up to 15 to 16 times EBITDA. That was crazy. We were outbid many times, and we lost those investments. Many of them now are having issues.
You just have to stick to your valuations.
Something that we have been moving toward is hospitality—restaurants, mainly. We believe it's coming back to normal, and now we are going to see an appreciation on the restaurants. Even though some are still struggling due to COVID or because they haven't been able to pass through inflation to consumers, two or three years from now, they’ll have gotten through that.
What wealth strategies and planning tools will help your family office meet its multigenerational goals?
Mainly private equity, keep investing in the companies that we already have and building them into platforms. Acquiring similar businesses that we believe will be around a really long time, will provide cash flow into the future for 70 or 80 to 100 years.
And obviously real estate, we really like; that helps us to preserve the wealth. If you know your market and stick with what you know, I think it's a really good hedge against inflation.
What do you know now that you wish you had known 10 years ago?
There are a lot of lessons I've learned in the last 10 years.
Stick with what you know and be disciplined in terms of multiples.
Focus on the pricing and the real value of things. I started working in the last cycle with the financial crisis, and we stuck with real estate, and we did really well. For me personally, the lesson is how to forecast and price the real price of things, not the market value. In the last few years, it's happened that the market value is higher than the real value, and that is coming to an end.
What do you wish you'd known or understood earlier in terms of your own family office or family dynamics?
On family dynamics, in our case, it's different from other family offices because I’m an only child. That changed a lot of the conversations that family offices have, around trusts, controls and the like. Something that we have learned is how important it was to be really focused to have a professional management team, to attract the best talent to help us to keep growing, to preserve and grow the wealth.
Who or what helped you most in creating or managing the family office?
My mom; she was the matriarch of the family. She let me first to join and then to manage the family office. They didn't keep me out, and they let me do things that I wanted to do. Since the beginning, we used consultants that helped us to bring a professional management team to help manage things.
Looking back, is there anything you'd have done differently?
Yeah. The story of be focused, looking forward — because also at some points we lacked focus, investing in sectors or industries relating to companies, and we had bad investments and write-offs. It will help us to focus on certain industries where we have ability, rather than just looking at just investments in general.
Interview by Steven I. Weiss, a multiple-award-winning investigative journalist. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and many other publications. He is also a data scientist and entrepreneur; his latest company is Candidates.ai.