When shopping for the next big thing to invest in, Mr Ravi Thakran approaches it the way some women search for a husband. The managing partner of L Capital Asia - a private equity arm of luxury group Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) - has a checklist that is just as comprehensive.
'When you want to get married, you don't want someone who is just humorous and a great-looking guy. You also want someone who has vision and a purpose in life, and who wants to grow and be a great breadwinner,' says the 49-year-old, who is based in Singapore.
'With companies, you want entrepreneurs with the same characteristics. They must have vision and a good idea that has already gained traction. Then we come in to take them to another level.'
This could come in the form of brand consultations, a staffing overhaul and better store locations.
Typically, L Capital Asia acquires a minority stake of 20 to 49 per cent in companies within the 'aspirational segment' in emerging Asian markets such as China and India.
Mr Thakran defines this as 'the layers below luxury', which he says 'will grow in a big way'.
'For every one person who moves into the upper class, three enter the upper-middle class and 12 rise to the middle class,' he explains.
L Capital Asia usually invests in lifestyle, fashion, watch and jewellery, and food and beverage (F&B) businesses - 'anything that helps people to show that they have arrived in life' - that have about US$100 million (S$127 million) in annual sales and an annual profit of US$10 million.
It will also consider smaller companies, as long as there is a clear strategy for growth, says Mr Thakran, who is also group president of LVMH South Asia, South-east Asia and the Middle East.
There are currently nine groups of companies in three countries - China, India and Singapore - in L Capital Asia's portfolio, with a total investment value of more than US$500 million. Among them are home-grown companies Sincere Watch & Jewelry and shoe retailer Charles & Keith.
The latest additions to the portfolio include Fab India, a retailer of fashion, home and personal care products made with traditional Indian techniques; and fashion retailer Trendy International Group of China, which is known for its high-street brands such as Ochirly and menswear brand Trendiano.
Trendy International Group is also L Capital Asia's biggest investment to date - the fund forked out US$190 million for a 16 per cent stake in the company last December.
Forget about 'sitting in boardrooms and looking at financial figures' to identify opportunities. 'You need to get out on the street and observe consumers' buying habits,' says Mr Thakran.
Just like how he spotted the potential in Charles & Keith when he saw how 'its stores were always crowded'. He went back and sought the opinion of the women in his office.
'I asked: 'Do you know this brand, Charles & Keith?' And they said: 'Oh sure, every time we go there to buy a pair of shoes, we end up buying three because it gives value for money',' he recalls. 'And that was what led us to the brand.'
He declines to give specific details, but reveals L Capital Asia is looking to invest in six to seven Singapore-based companies in the next two to three years.
These include companies in F&B, beauty, wellness and hospitality.
At least two of these companies will be announced in the next three months.
While most Singapore brands have strong managers and infrastructures in terms of logistics and supply chain, Mr Thakran notes that some 'lack creativity and ambition to become global brands and the ability to adapt to international markets'.
'Sometimes, when you come from a small country with a single city, taking on a country with hundreds of cities can be daunting,' he says.
'And that's where we come in with our expertise and experience.'