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Real Estate

Finding the smart money

Recently I had the privilege of working alongside André Voskuil, a local guru in the world of Alternative Financing. André has quite the reputation in the world of direct investments as he consults to wealthy individuals and Family Offices. The project was to find a way to allow entrepreneurs access to individuals who look for direct investments in new opportunities. We were very pleased with the result so I wanted to share this weeks media release with you:

Finding the Smart Money
Kelowna, Canada, September 23 2014
Your Grandfather may have told you the first $1 was the hardest to make and the rest would be easier. He may have been accurate in his day, but entrepreneurs are finding it harder to access capital for their new ventures and the increased competition means their business plan can sometimes get pushed to the bottom of the pile or even straight into the waste pile pretty quickly.
Alternative Investment Strategist, André Voskuil knows this all too well. Known as the Dutch Oracle because of his accurate predictions in relation to finance and investments André see hundreds of “filtered” investment opportunities year after year and very few impress him!
“It is not always about a cool idea which is on the cutting edge, it is about the thought process” says André, adding “too many times I see a great idea with no thought to corporate governance, or a valuation which is a figure plucked out of thin air. If those parameters happen to be in place, there is a good chance the key players and finance strategies are lacking”. At the end of the day, André knows if these parameters are inadequate, funding is going to be a challenge to say the least.
For this reason, André and partner Mark Jennings-Bates have launched the Dutch Oracle Deal Vault to assist entrepreneurs in finding capital for their plans. “We are excited to offer this to clients who we have not been able to assist in the past. Our core expertise is in serving André’s Inner Circle clients who want us to isolate the best opportunities. Adding the Dutch Oracle Deal Vault in to our quiver simply expands on a service we are offering to others” says Jennings-Bates.
The Dutch Oracle Deal Vault gives entrepreneurs unique access to high net worth global investors and Family Offices who use the platform to identify potential investments. The subscriber is able to pitch their opportunity to various individuals and offices in the Vault and participate in a unique Dutch Oracle Web Forum to gain more experience and exposure for their business.
The service is enhanced through the provision of some incredible Intellectual Property from André’s office. In order to assist entrepreneurs, at sign up, they will also be given some tips and “inside help” on how to pitch their offering, including Dutch Oracle’s unique due diligence matrix - the same document André himself uses to analyse business opportunities.
To find out more, go to




André Voskuil is a leading Alternative Investment strategist who specialises in counseling his Inner Circle clients in regards to their specific investments in this exciting class of opportunities. You can find out more about André at
Contact André at [email protected] or 1.760.600.8850


Disruptive innovation

Last night I was privileged to be able to speak at the Greater Westside Board of Trade business awards dinner.
I talked about Innovation and Collaboration which are two very interesting words that require one other important word - cooperation.
In so many facets of our lives we deal with Cooperation Agreements, yet in actual fact they are in pure form a Non-Cooperation Agreement. They have a habit of being formal documents which define what we won’t do together instead of what we will do together. 
The problem I believe stems from the fact that we see ourselves as partners in an agreement, fighting to stake out our turf rather than team players on the same team fighting for the ultimate objective.
At the end of the day, if you research Innovation you will find that the rule of 3 M’s applies:
You will either MAKE the future, MEET the future or MISS the future. 
I found the contrast between Innovation and Traditional models very interesting.  Take a look at the columns below and make a determination of where you sit in your organization. Are you fighting to “sustain” or to “innovate”?
Present to Future planning frameworks to the present! Start with the end in mind and working back
Rule maker framework Rule breaker framework
Accepts present boundaries Sees no boundaries
Focus on incremental innovation Adopts disruptive innovation
Discipline Inspiration
Technology driven Consumer driven

In the end, the quest to reach profitability, stability and execute a business plan reduces divergent thinking which allows entrepreneurs to explore the peripheries of their model and tune in to innovation with disruptive thinking.

Brangelina and Celebrity vs Philanthropy

This week my wife wrote a blog for our charities website, I thought you may enjoy reading it here:


I was planning to write about the incredible philanthropic Miss Angelina when, funnily enough, she suddenly hit the headlines for a different reason. I was going to explore the strange phenomena that she gets very little press about her activities as a special envoy for the UNHCR, but makes global front cover news when she flashes her knee on the Oscar red carpet. I was inclined to ask which is really more interesting and why? However while watching gossip TV coverage of the her secret wedding a few more points were revealed and it is those that I will now consider. 

According to Entertainment Tonight these are the Top 5 reasons Brangelina are the best celebrity couple - ever.

5) They give us plenty to gossip about.

4) They're generous.

Angelina is a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ambassador, while Brad's Make It Right organization has built nearly $6 million worth of safe homes, buildings and communities for people in need. Not to mention their Jolie-Pitt Foundation has raised more than $17 million.

3) They're the coolest!.

2) They keep family first.

1) They are hot.

Interesting. I am grateful that philanthropy made the list, but it is obviously more important to be cool...and hot! That’s confusing, at least they are not luke warm!

This phenomena is actually the reason behind the philosophy of Rally4Life. We have adventure advocates, who perform incredible feats that attract media attention. However the real motivation to climb the highest, ride the fastest or run the longest is to help those in need. People are jaded towards the woes of global poverty; they would rather be entertained, either by “hot” celebrities or by extreme athletes. I think most people believe the problems are insurmountable, giving won’t make any difference and they have enough problems of their own. However I am almost certain if you had the chance to ask Angelina she would tell you that there is hope, that you can make a difference and that through the act of giving your gain perspective on your own problems and feel a sense of purpose. 


Why the fascination with celebrity?

“Humans have a biological predisposition to celebrity interest," according to James Bailey, a research fellow at the Center for the Study of Learning at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C.

“There are two factors at work in our ‘biological’ reaction to celebrities,” he says. “The first is the ‘beauty’ factor.When exposed to an attractive face, he says, the so-called pleasure centers of the brain 'light up'.” In addition, he says, the repeated exposure to celebrities’ faces can also have an organic effect on the human brain. “Basically, if a person is exposed to a stimulus over and over again, that stimulus becomes familiar, and familiarity triggers those same pleasure centers.”

- Celebrity Culture. Sage Publications


Celebrity gossip is cheaper and easier to produce than hard news, and with the explosion online and our obvious predisposition to such stimuli 

“The percentage of pages in news magazines dedicated to celebrities and entertainment doubled from 1980 to 2003, while coverage of national affairs dropped from 35 percent of all pages to 25 percent.”

- Sources: Time, Newsweek and Hall’s Reports.


I think I am as guilty as any, I love those red carpet dresses, (and that Kenyan jewelry) but let’s keep things in perspective. As one famous super model says herself, even she doesn’t look like Cindy Crawford when she wakes up. And helping those in need will make you feel much better about yourself than comparing your new look to someone who has been airbrushed to perfection. People can be “hot” and “cool” all over the world and we should take an interest in them all. 

Managing your personality

Years ago while I was running one of my first businesses my wife was amazed at my resolve to simply agree with my clients demands for a replacement product because what they purchased did not meet their expectations.

I owned a printing company at the time and the story would go something like this: A client would walk in my store, place firmly on my counter (slam) the product and start complaining that we had not done our job well enough. In response I would pick up the package, analyze it and look at the client and state simply that I agreed. When I explained that I thought that we had not done our best work either and we should reprint the order as quickly as possible, they were dumbfounded.

What I had been able to do was put them off guard. They came in to my store expecting a fight, they simply believed I would defend my position and when I didn’t they had no response lined up.

Once I had been able to get them drop their guard, I could start to think through a plan rationally. In some instances, the error may not have been completely my office's fault and so I could discuss a potential solution without attempting to shout louder than them.

How many times have you been in a position where you have been challenged to “scrap” with a colleague, boss or client and responded?

I have seen so many leaders and potential leaders lose credibility because in public they lost control of their personality.

Anger, like fear is an unproductive feeling and one which we are totally in control of. If we let ourselves get angry we move into a domain of being unproductive, uncreative, combative and unprofessional.

The greatest leaders I have had the privilege of meeting have been calm, level headed and solution oriented.

Did that mean they are a “push over” in a meeting? Absolutely not. There is a difference between calm and weak. Acknowledging that when we let anger take over we are unproductive and uncreative is key. These calm leaders were also extremely in control and were "firm" in their decision making - you knew they were serious!

If you can learn to control your personality, far more decisions are going to move in your favoured direction than if you lose control!

Read more The Accidental Journey articles


About the author...

For the past twenty years Mark has been involved in real estate development and consulting and is currently a REALTOR with Realty Executives in Kelowna.

His column, brings a unique perspective on what may be important to us in the future as we come to grips with fast paced change in a world that few people barely recognize.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an Adventurer, Philanthropist and Keynote Speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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