Investments with Anibal Wadih, founder of GEF Capital


Learning About Investments and Relationships with Anibal Wadih

Today at N5 CIZ meet Anibal Wadih, founder of GEF Capital. Discover his life from his humble beginnings as the son of Syrian expatriates to his experience making high-impact decisions for a major investment firm in Brazil.

What is the most important thing you are looking for in the entrepreneurs in which you are going to invest? What is the motto you use to make all the decisions in your company? How do you want to change the world for the better?

Here are the key points and most valuable lessons from the interview. Even so, we recommend you watch the full video so as not to miss a talk full of overcoming experiences and tips for entrepreneurs.

Lessons from “The Owl”: How to Start as an Entrepreneur from Scratch

At the beginning of the interview, Anibal tells about his beginnings as the son of Syrian immigrants. From a young age he saw himself in positions where he had to “spread his wings”, leaving his mother to go to study Engineering in Caracas. It would be the first that several times that he would be alone in unknown places.

While studying there they came to know him as The Owl, “not so much because of the knowledge,” as Anibal clarifies, but because he hardly slept. In fact, he tells how as a young man he was a boy who did everything, all the time There was always something occupying his mind.

It was that spirit of improvement and that desire to know more that later led him to study in New York. By then he had worked with several multinationals as an engineer, but it was in the big city that he would also end up incorporating studies in finance into his repertoire.

As a lonely expat, he had to fend for himself every time he moved. In this sense, we can see how maintaining a positive attitude in the face of the unknown was essential to adapt.

Do it or do not

Throughout his week, Anibal Wadih has all the obligations that you would expect from a CEO. He manages the company, has talks with investors, and goes through several meetings with the different councils.

Your company manages it under the maxim of: Do or do not. There’s no try. It is a phrase taken from Star Wars that has become a way of doing business, and that is printed on the wall of his offices. It means that for him there is no “trying”, leaving things by halves. Once something is proposed, he finishes it decisively.

It takes determination to run a business. There is no “trying”, only doing.

Despite the work of managing a company, Anibal still finds time to have an active life outside of the professional. He does sports, jogs, hangs out with friends – what he calls social meditation – and even finds time to write his own books!

In fact, we leave you here his latest book Reflections of a Quarantined Owl, a collection of fascinating short stories that will surely interest you.

What to Look For Before Investing?

Before deciding to invest in a person, Anibal says that he spends between 6 months and a year getting to know them. It is a long process that allows you to understand what the individual is like and if they are a good candidate to invest in.

Already in the past you have had failed associations. Since then he only looks for people who have been through the problems he has to solve. That he has lived them. Only then does he feel that this person will be able to carry out his goal.

In addition to that, he pays attention to the attitude of the person when it comes to giving credit. If the person instead of understanding the achievements as a team effort only gives credit to himself that already makes him move away a little. Being a leader implies having balance, not getting carried away or believing them all.

A Big Mistake: Giving Up Early

At one point in the interview, Julian Colombo asks Anibal what was the biggest mistake of his youth: one that has marked him in his career.

Anibal tells how in his youth he had formed a company with some partners called VIP-VIP. It was a motorized delivery service that had agreements with different restaurants to obtain a commission. We could see it as a precursor to many of today’s delivery APPs.

However, he soon discovered that running a motor vehicle business would not be easy. Problems began to surface: from technical difficulties with the vehicles to criminal problems. In the end, trying to keep everything afloat turned into an organizational nightmare

Anibal ended up leaving the company aside, however he considers that this was a maturity error. For him, back then, he gave up too early.

CEO Gets Paid to Bring New Ideas

When Julian Colombo asks Anibal about how he feels in his day-to-day life at his company, he tells him that he loves his job. You are in a position where the decisions you make weigh heavily.

What’s more exciting than that?

For him it is like a football game. Sometimes the ball is passed to him the other way, sometimes he passes the ball and no one receives it, sometimes he falls and has to stop to continue playing.It is about teamwork in which everyone makes decisions in the same direction.

What Anibal enjoys the most, however, is learning: both from books and experiences and from his leading partners – with whom he has regular meetings. In addition to this, he likes to interact with influential people in the sector, participate in think-tanks, and interview interesting people. Of these cases he comments how sometimes “it is not the student who learns, but the teacher.” There are always new opportunities to learn, and he doesn’t miss a single one.

For Anibal, the CEO must be in constant learning It is his job. Julian agrees with him and adds that “the CEO is paid to bring in new ideas.” This is a position where innovation is a priority. You never learn enough.

Rediscover the Normal: The Experience of Being an Expatriate

For Anibal, living in 3 different countries was an enriching experience. I can experience common things under a new lens. He found himself rediscovering normal things like going to buy bread or paying for the phone.

To this Julian comments that he sees what he calls “the loops of the expatriates”. It means that every time you have to start from scratch in a new country, you have to face new challenges that are tied to each other.

Cases in which, for example, wanting to do something as simple as hiring a telephone line implies first having to open a bank account, which in turn entails more conditions.

It is a loop that is renewed with each new country that is visited.

Tips for Entrepreneurs and Future CEOs

Now reaching the end of the interview, Julian asks Anibal about his recommendations for young people who want to become CEOs in the future.

So, Anibal comments that for him entrepreneurs have to be optimistic by nature They have to be brave: send themselves to do things. In his case, he came from a family that prompted him to spread his wings, to go out in search of life. Julian agrees with this and shares a phrase that stuck with him a lot: ignorance is the mother of daring.

You have to go out and learn, but without believing it too much. As Anibal comments, life is not easy, and it is part of life not to be easy. Nothing comes without work. As in soccer, you are going to get kicked, you are going to have conflicts even with your own team, but you are going to keep learning. It is a position that implies great challenges, and it is necessary to be ready to face them.

In Anibal’s case, he’s still in the game. One of your biggest goals today is to help solve the world’s climate problems. He wants to be remembered as a human who helped, regardless of the money.


Anibal is a person who has come a long way from the beginning and all thanks to his hard work. This is a recap of the major lessons from the interview:

  • It doesn’t matter where you come from or where you stay, but the effort you put into achieving your goals.
  • Don’t just “try.” Do it or don’t do it.
  • The idea behind a company is as important as the talent that runs it.
  • If you believe in your product, it is worth promoting. Don’t make the mistake of giving up too soon.
  • Never stop learning. Neither as an employee, nor as a CEO.
  • Sometimes rediscovering the normal can be an enriching experience.
  • Entrepreneurs have to be optimistic by nature, but be careful not to cross the line into excessive pride.

Publisher: Marcelo Frette

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