Bloomberg Línea — With nearly a decade of venture capital experience, Barbara (Ba) Minuzzi is the founder and CEO of UMANA, a US-based multi-family office that aims to help celebrities and athletes invest in companies.
From Porto Alegre, in the South of Brazil, Minuzzi worked her way up to making enough connections in the US to build her asset management company, which now has $370 million of assets under management.
Today, she manages the family office of Adrian Grenier, known for his role in The Devil Wears Prada, and Noah Schnapp, who became known for playing Will Byers in Stranger Things, as well as other celebrities and athletes who have fortunes between $10 million and $300 million.
Minuzzi began her career at age 15 as a stylist in a multi-brand company in Brazil. She studied fashion but became more interested in the company’s cash management. That was when she got closer to the financial market and joined Corval, a brokerage firm, and started working with real estate funds.
After becoming a partner, she ended up leaving the brokerage to set up her own investment company, operating with external money for real estate developments, such as shopping malls.
“Since that time I started getting exposure to Family Offices,” Minuzzi said in an interview with Bloomberg Línea. “Most of my friends were still in college and my friends’ parents were very curious that I was an entrepreneur. Many of them already had the structure of a single Family Office and I started knocking on their doors and asking for money. They thought it was bold, they would give me some money here and there”, she recalled.
Operating with developments of the Minha Casa, Minha Vida my house my life) program, subsidized by the Brazilian government, and in a hot market with fast returns, at the time, Minuzzi forged her reputation.
By the age of 22 she had started working with institutional funds such as BTG Pactual.
She says that in 2014, when she noticed the real estate market slowing down, she decided to move to Miami. At 26, she made her first million, and fell in love with venture capital and impact investing.
“I started reading a lot of books and connecting with a lot of people on LinkedIn. People were op
ening doors. I went to San Francisco and everyone agreed to have meetings with me. In Brazil it took me three years to get any meeting,” she said.
That’s when she set up Babel Ventures and started investing.
In 2019, with a lot of exposure to capital in Silicon Valley, Minuzzi decided to launch a family office.
“I love it when the family member has an influence of 20, 40, or 100 million followers on social media. But you have people who don’t have an online presence and have an offline influence that is just as strong. Tech founder, actor, and football athletes have come [to the family office].”
Minuzzi creates investment theses for celebrities and helps them diversify their investments. “Celebrities use the companies that have been bankrolled by venture capital like Uber and Airbnb. They are connected to what is happening and their peers have started to invest more [in venture capital],” she says.
-- Updated article to correct the fortunes of athletes and celebrities