Tags: business skillssmall firm
Episode 096

Business Skills for Architects with Todd Reding – Part 2

Enoch SearsMar 3, 2015

Today is Part 2 of my interview with Todd Reding, Chief Operations Officer and Vice President of Investments for Charrette Venture Group. In this episode, Todd shares his lessons learned from interviewing over 50 architects about their greatest business challenges.

In today's episode you'll discover:

  • Why cashflow is essential to your practice's success
  • What utilization rate is and why you should care as a small firm architect
  • The importance of attracting and keeping the best talent

Todd Reding's mission is to interview architecture firms to gain an understanding of potential needs that may be fulfilled, and to seek out possible investment possibilities.

Charrette Venture Group also sponsors the yearly Architecture Business Plan Competition.

This interview is on iTunes. Subscribe above, and be a hero! If you know another architect who would benefit from watching this video, share away using the social share buttons.

Show Notes:

  • Learn more about the Charrette Venture Group and their Business Plan Competition via their website

Todd's Recommended Business Resources

Interview Transcript and Members Only Resources:

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Enoch: Helping architects conquer the world. What does that mean? Not quite sure, but it has something to do with, you know, doing your best every single day.

Welcome back, Architect Nation. I am Enoch Sears. This is the show where we sit down with successful architects, designers, business thought leaders, like we have on the show today, to discuss tips, strategies, and secrets for running a profitable and impactful architecture practice.

Today, we’re joined, once again, by Todd Reding, the Chief Operations Officer and Vice President for investments of Charrette Venture Group.

Support for today’s show is provided by BQE Software, the makers of ArchiOffice. ArchiOffice is the office and product management software built specifically for architects.

You can also get two free seats of this software for free if you’re a startup firm. You can do that over at http://www.ArchiOffice.com – you can sign up for a demo. Go check it out if that sounds interesting.

Now, also, I want to thank those of you who signed up for more information on the 150|015 Project – kind of a tongue twister there even for me.

My goal here this year at Business of Architecture is to up the ante in terms of the way that this particular effort in my life is affecting architects around the world. So, I want to influence 150 architects in 2015. I have something in the works. To find out more about it go visit http://www.BusinessOfArchitecture.com/150.

So, with that, I’d like to welcome back Todd Reding, the Chief Operations Officer of Charrette Venture Group back to the show. Welcome back, Todd.

Todd: Thanks, Enoch. Thanks.

Enoch: It’s good to have you back on here. Now, the last time we talked a little bit about Charrette Venture Group. Would you just give us an overview of what Charrette Venture Group is once again for those that didn’t catch the last episode?

Todd: Yeah, sure. We have started a new investment company that’s looking to invest in small to mid-sized architecture firms and help them achieve growth, and benefit from that growth, profit from that growth, so to speak.

Enoch: That’s just a radical concept. I mean, when I hear it, it just sounds exciting, you know? It just sounds totally interesting. It was the brainchild of Matt Ostanik, correct?

Todd: Correct.

Enoch: Can you tell me a little bit more about how this came about?

Todd: Sure. Well, Matt is an architect by trade. He practiced architecture right out of school, went to Iowa State University. He saw a need in the marketplace for the exchanging of submittals, and documents, and so forth.

He actually started Submittal Exchange, which over about ten years he grew from completely a dream to what now has more than a hundred employees. He sold that company to a larger company that he stayed on to work for a couple of years then went through an IPO.

Then, at the end of 2013 to the beginning of 2014, Matt left that to start a couple of new ventures that he’s been excited about. He always has had this passion for architecture. He continues to be a licensed architect today. So, he founded Charrette Venture Group to try to really impact the field of architecture, and bring many of the lessons he learned through building and running a software company in to architectural practices.

Enoch: How do both of you see the Charrette Venture Group as impacting the practice of architecture?

Todd: Well, we’re just getting started, but we feel like, right now, we’re impacting it by learning and listening as much as we possibly can. We’ve been talking with as many architects as who will talk with us in that small to mid-sized space and asking about their lives, how they started their firm, what they challenges have been, what tools they’re using today, what their vision for the future is.

From those conversations, they’re helping us gain a little base of knowledge that we intend to use. Eventually, when we’re ready, and we could find a firm that would like to do business with us and we’d like to do business with them, we can bring to the table a whole set of best practices, resources, even capital, and help them transition out of that small space in to that mid-sized space.

Enoch: So, Todd, you said in this research phase – Last episode we talked a little bit about the firm culture being a challenge in some architecture firms, and some of the disadvantages or advantages of not having that really well figured out. What other challenges have you seen?

Another thing that we talked about was outsourcing the bookkeeping, was something you mentioned, outsourcing some of those tasks that firms find that’s challenging. I know you have your notes there in front of you from these interviews that you’ve taken. Is there anything else there you’d like to bring up and share with us about challenges?

Todd: Yeah. I can tell you a couple of things that I’ve heard that are in my notes here that I, kind of, found interesting. I asked one gentleman if running a business is what he expected and he, kind of laughed. He looked up and he said, “You know, I didn’t know I was going to be a slave to cash flow.”

Enoch: Ouch.

Todd: People need to understand that they have to engage the business challenges of running a firm.

Enoch: What did he mean by that? Could you take us in the head for those who aren’t business owners who are listening, what did he mean by that?

Todd: Well, I mean, you’ve got to have enough cash to pay the bills, right? The flow of cash in and out of your organization can run at different speeds.

Particularly in the growth phase, firms struggle with this because you’re really spending more money to make money. Unfortunately, particularly in the world of architecture, you don’t get paid the minute you provide the service. There’s a gap there. In manufacturing you call it a “cash gap” of when you have to pay your employees and your vendors to the time that you get paid from your customer – how much cash is in that system.

You really have to manage the flow of cash through that system so that you have cash to pay your bills, and pay your employees, and grow your business. There’s always going to be cash wrapped up in receivables from your customers.

We saw in 2008/2009, the days it took those average customers to pay their bills just skyrocketed, right? We all saw projects go on hold, we saw them close, we had tons of projects we didn’t get paid for, and the cash dried up very, very fast. So, I think that’s what he meant, particularly after those years, nobody’s going to take their eye off their cash flow again. He didn’t understand such an important issue in the beginning.

Enoch: Did he mention any strategies that he’s been able to implement to cope with that or did you guys discuss anything like that?

Todd: He did say one thing: Just that every single hiring is critical. “You can’t have weak people on your staff” – that was his quote. I think what he means by that is, if you think of it from a cash flow perspective, is every bad hire cost me tons because I spend all the money in the front end when they’re not producing, and I’m spending time and money on that hire.

Even operational people who are not revenue-producing, but you’re relying on them to bring value to the firm, if you make a bad decision during the hiring process, then that’s going to start all over. That’s just a really expensive exercise.

That was one example he gave me. I’m sure he could have talked all day about this. He’s been through some battles. He was, kind of, a seasoned veteran. Anybody that owned a firm through 2007-2010, they’ve got battle wounds to talk about these issues.

Enoch: Absolutely. What else do you have on your list there?

Todd: One business development strategy that I found was interesting was a firm that’s just very deeply involved in their community. Among six employees, they’re involved in twenty-six community organizations. So, their whole business development strategy is to serve on boards and serve committees, and a whole variety of different organizations throughout their community. That’s the way they built their network and that’s the way they ultimately drive business to their firm.

I’ve certainly heard firms talk about the importance of being involved in the community. I’ve heard partners talk about the different circles that they’re involved in as a way to bring business, but I’ve never heard it, really, that intentional. I mean, that is their sole focus for business development. I thought that was very interesting.

Enoch: It is.

Todd: I asked the question about culture quite a bit. I’ve heard everything from, “The whole office sings happy birthday to anybody who’s celebrating birthday,” to different kinds of outings and company events – things to try to keep people very positive and happy. There are all kinds of different strategies to build culture.

Clearly, what’s crazy is that the narrative that I would hear from a lot of firms was very consistent about collaboration, and relationship, and process, and good design. I’ve heard the words “good design” repeated over, and over, and over. But, even though the narratives seem to be very consistent, the cultures of these firms are very different. I mean, every one seem to have had its own type of personality all driven, of course, by the owners. It’s just been interesting how the mission statement on the wall might say one thing, but the culture might not oppose the mission statement, it just has its own unique flavor.

Enoch: What’s your take away from that?

Todd: Well, as we talked about in the last episode, it’s just the advice that you be intentional about that. Your culture is going to get defined whether you define it or somebody else does, you’re going to have a culture inside your firm. So, I would encourage firm owners to be intentional about that, to spend a lot of time thinking about it, and to engage their employees in defining it, and working towards making sure that you’re living it.

I would also add, I think Matt and I both believe that you’ve got to reexamine that pretty regularly. You’ve got to have people who are willing to come forward and say, “This isn’t consistent with who we are,” “We need to be doing something differently here,” and have those kinds of discussions. Otherwise, if you’re not revisiting that pretty regularly, the culture will shift and will be something different.

Enoch: Interesting. Any other takeaways on your list that jump out at you?

Todd: Well, I think we’re at a little more than fifty interviews so far. What’s interesting is some of the different ownership models that are out there. Some believe wholeheartedly that they want to be 50-50 partners or 33-33-33, and then others say that they’re happy sharing equity with others in the firm but they’re not giving up more than 51% because they want to be the decision maker.

I can’t really draw a conclusion of whether there is a recommended model there. I do say, from my own personal experience, a 50-50 partnership always, kind of, worries me because even though… I mean, things always start out positive and we’re going to work it out, but you’re always at the risk that you’re not going to agree and that disagreement is going to have a real impact on the firm. So, it is interesting, we got lot of different approaches to building equity.

The other thing I would say that is pretty common, clearly a lot of firms out there are thinking about succession planning, and transitioning ownership, and retirement. It is, without any question, it is a big topic out there that a lot of firms are struggling with.

Enoch: In terms of handling that? Anything interesting that you’re uncovering of firms either handling that or, perhaps, not being as prepared as they’d like?

Todd: Yeah. I haven’t gotten in to the depth of looking at these transition agreements or equity agreements that partners are having with their employees. I’m still developing trust and building these relationship, and haven’t felt comfortable asking to, kind of, review that yet.

But, many firms are using outside counsel to really help them with this issue. Some of them are using a CPA firm, some of them a law firm, and some of them just a standard consulting firm. There are a lot of fine firms out there, in all three categories, that can help small to mid-sized firms with that issue, but it takes a whole range of models.

I mean, one firm, the firm is basically willed to two other partners and that was it. That was the transition plan. The other one is allowing new partners to gradually buy in and buy out the old partners. There are just a lot of different models out there.

Sorry, I don’t have the advice on what works best just yet. I’m sure there are some out there that may not work as well as you think they do, but maybe we’ll do a follow up podcast after a year of this and I’ll have a little more insight in to the best plan for transition.

Enoch: That would be great, Todd. So, we’ve touched on some of the challenges that you’re finding as you’re getting immersed in the industry. Shall we switch over now to some of the best practices that you’re seeing?

Todd: Yeah, sure.

Enoch: Okay.

Todd: I think, again, I’m really focusing in on that space of the four to five-employee firm that really wants to be a ten to fifteen-employee firm. If you think about that from a revenue perspective, you’re really thinking about somewhere in the $500,000 a year in annual revenue to growing up to the $2 million to $3 million a year in annual revenue.

The literature that we read and the research that we look over have a lot of key performance indicators that you can look at. So, we’re trying to understand those and apply those to that smaller firm. Do they really apply? Is a 60%-70% utilization rate really true for a 4 to 5-person firm? Because the ones I asked they say, “60-70? We’re all at a 120% right now. Call us later.” So, whether you can start to apply some of those KPIs at the smaller level or not is an interesting question and we’re still trying to examine that.

I think, certainly, best practices, to go back to the hiring situation, hiring good talent, bringing good talent in to your firm, making them feel engaged and part of the culture is critical to growth.

Enoch: Todd, just one thing before we go on. I realized we, kind of, glossed over the utilization rate. Many people might not exactly know what that is. Could you describe what that means and why a smaller firm might have a higher utilization rate than a larger firm?

Todd: Right. I would certainly encourage anybody that hasn’t read Rena Klein’s book, I highly recommend it. It has great definitions of all of these key performance indicators and Rena’s a great expert in this area.

Utilization rate is just how much of the billable hour of the employee are you able to bill for. If they’re working forty hours a week, are you actually billing for 60-70% out of that forty hours every week? There are always going to be hours that they do something that’s not billable.

In a smaller firm, in many instances it’s a husband-wife firm or it’s an equal partner firm… Right now, many of the ones I talked to are very busy, very active, and they feel like they’re billing for every hour they’re working which may or may not be true. In some cases they don’t track it is quite as carefully [Inaudible 00:17:02] you can start running calculations, but they feel like they’re well over 60%-70% because they’re working a lot of hours in the week.

Enoch: Alright, thank you. Then, you talked about the firm culture, any other best practices that come to mind?

Todd: Well, I’ll tell you one. I don’t know if this is a best practice, but certainly some of the topics that we’ve covered in these interviews are really about market focus and whether your firm is a firm that’s going to be specialized in one specific area or you want to develop a broad portfolio.

Most of the firms that I talked to that are larger, you know, twenty architects, maybe, and more, they really talk about the strength of a very diverse portfolio. When one market contracts, they have some good work in another market, so they’re able to really flex that muscle and invest in that going forward. So, I don’t have a real good answer for that four to five-person firm, but I would be careful about too narrow of a focus.

Having said that, I also had one firm tell me that, “Every project you take on becomes a part of your DNA.” That was their statement to me. They were very specific about if they did some work that they felt like was not consistent with who they are because they wanted to pay the bills, so to speak, they do not add that project to their website, they do not add it to their portfolio. They try to really put forward the work that they feel is who they are. If they take on something else, they get it done, certainly, but they don’t promote that type of work because they want to have a portfolio that is more specific.

So, that’s certainly a topic that we’ve been interested in and learning about how specific you’d get in your market place.

Enoch: Interesting. Any others that come to mind?

Todd: There are certainly more lessons I can find in how you bring on new talent and when you bring on new talent. That’s certainly been a topic that a lot of firms have struggled with. It’s the chicken and the egg. They all say, “We’re busy right now,” “I’m not sure I could keep another full time architect busy, so I’m going to contract until I get to a point that I think I can.”

If you’re fortunate enough to have a really good contract relationship that can, kind of, sit and wait until you’re ready to bring them on salary, then great. More than not, that doesn’t necessarily work because the person wants a salary job or they have other relationships that they want to continue to contract for. That’s certainly an issue of how and when you bring on new talent to help support the growth of the business.

Then, to go back to what we said in the beginning of this conversation, how do you really manage cash flow through that process? Those are very important, interesting things to think about.

Enoch: So, do you have answers to any of these questions yet or are you still researching and withholding final judgment?

Todd: Yeah. I think, the first answer to that is… I’m always real careful to apply one model to every firm. Every firm is different. Their experience level is different, their capital position is different, so, I would say, I don’t have a single answer right now.

I think we’re at a point where we should be able to sit down with owners of these types of firms, listen to their story more, understand, kind of, where they are, and be able to advice them in a way that can have an impact on their business. It’s certainly advice that would be customized to that firm based on what we’re learning, but not one answer for all firms. I wish it were that easy. We would prefer that, you know, but it’s just not the real world.

Enoch: Todd, I’m sure there are some listeners listening to this that think, “You know what? I would love to chat with Todd. I probably have some things that I could share about my own, personal experience.” Where would they go to get a hold of you to initiate that conversation?

Todd: I would love to talk with any of these small to mid-sized firms that would be willing to spend half an hour, forty-five minutes with me on the phone just telling me your story. So, please go to our website which is http://www.charrettevg.com.

My contact information is there, but my email address is very simple. It’s todd@charrettevg.com. Drop me an email any time and tell me if there would be a convenient time to talk, and I would love to spend some time getting to know as many architects as it would to want to talk to me.

Enoch: Excellent. If you’d just get one of my emails and you reply to it, I can forward that request on to Todd just in case you’re listening right now, and you don’t have something to write down, and you don’t want to go back and get the contact details. I’ll be happy to do that.

Todd, the business plan competition that your firm launched last year closed the applications on February 3rd, I believe.

Todd: That’s correct.

Enoch: Tell me about the process, how that’s going, let our listeners know what that’s about.

Todd: Yeah. We’re thrilled to be doing this again. It’s our second year. Last year was a great success, more registrants and applicants than we thought would be there.

But, we have closed registrations this year. We had more than a hundred, I think it’s about 106 people actually registered. So, now, they have until March 5th to complete an executive summary, and take a short video – it kind of summarizes their plan – and then, by March 5th they’ll submit that. From that group, we have four jurors who will go through that material and select our finalist.

I’m going to pull up this timeline and make sure I could get my dates correct. Give me just one second.
So, they have until March 3rd to submit their 3-page outline and video. We’ll notify the finalist between March 18th and March 20th. We’ll do a public announcement of the finalists on March 23rd. Last year we selected six finalists. The deadline for the finalists to submit their full business plan is April 27th.

Then, on May 13th in Atlanta, we provide a stipend to bring the finalist to Atlanta where the National AIA Convention will be held this May. They’ll present their business plan to our Jury, physical presentation, they’ll stand up and talk through the plan, and the jury can ask questions and so forth.

Then, on the 14th of May, we have a special reception where all of the finalists will be present, many of the people who have helped promote the competition, many of the family and friends who have been involved with the Charrette Venture Group will be at the reception. We will announce the winners, particularly the winner of the $10,000 grand prize at the reception.

Enoch: Well, we look forward here in the Business of Architecture to letting people know who the winners are, letting them know how the process went. We look forward to getting that information from you when you release that press release about how this is going, spreading the word about that.

Todd: Yeah, absolutely. I think you interviewed our finalist last year, I think, on your podcast, right?

Enoch: Yeah.

Todd: You had some good discussions.

Enoch: Yeah. I had Katherine Darnstadt on; awesome, passionate woman from Chicago. It was a great conversation. So, yeah, it was very good. She was the second place winner.

The first place was the guy from Austin.

Todd: Yes.

Enoch: We had him on. He was talking about some prefabricated dwelling units. That was very, very interesting. Then, we had Ryan Hansanuwat, who was a finalist, talk about his… Hopefully, we can get your finalists on the show again to tell the world about what they’re doing.

Todd: Yeah, I hope so. There are some fascinating people doing awesome things.

Enoch: From our side, Todd, I’m just going to speak for myself and other architects, it’s great to have someone like yourself coming in here with the passion, the experience that you have, bringing that in to our industry, because, heaven knows, we need it. We look forward to learning from your efforts, and that’s why I’m doing this show also.

Todd: Well, thanks. It’s an honor to be involved in this and I’m having a lot of fun.

Enoch: Now, you guys also have an Accelerator Program that you talked about. Could you tell me what that’s about?

Todd: Yes. So, we’re doing the first Accelerator Program. We’ll, kind of, wrap up this spring. We started it last fall. We invited twenty-one firms to be a part of it. They meet every other week for roughly an hour. We bring in guest speakers to talk through finance, marketing, leadership, and management. Actually, I mentioned Rena Klein. Rena is going to be doing some episodes on some of those KPIs and best practices that she’s written about in her book.

It’s just an opportunity for this group to come together, talk through the best practices across the board from a wide range of issues from finance, to marketing, to just growing their firms. They participated in our LinkedIn group. A closed LinkedIn group that they can all share their notes and ideas of how they’re growing their business.

That will conclude later this spring. We’re still working on our plans for a second Accelerator Group that will start probably September of this year. We’re really talking with this year’s participants to talk about how we can improve it, what can we do to really build the strength of that program. The whole purpose of that is to help these firms grow, but it’s also to give us that direct relationship with firms that we may have an interest in investing in and that may have an interest in getting to know us more.

Enoch: You mentioned investing in firms. I know we talked a little bit about that previously, but help my mind get wrapped around that and my audience. Are we talking about some sort of security that private investors would invest in that was basically tied to the performance of the firm? What does that look like?

Todd: That’s a great question. As I said in our last episode, we’re still figuring out what that really looks like. I think every firm is going to have a different set of needs, but we hope to bring some resources in terms of services. We might be able to help a firm with business development, with marketing, and with strategic planning. Certainly, capital is one piece of the puzzle that we want to…

We’re not a consulting company and we want to do more than just, you know, than just put cash in to the business. We want to come in and really help the businesses interested in growth, really help move them forward.

I don’t know exactly what that picture looks like, but it would be a comprehensive picture that would involve a variety of different pieces that they need the most to kind of get them over to that next level. So, no, we’re not a licensed venture firm that’s raising a fund. Right now this is all self-funded and that’s kind of the way we’re planning it right now.

Enoch: What is it like to sit in on one of these Accelerator sessions?

Todd: Yeah. We use GoToMeeting. We have the video window up and we walk through some type of a presentation. Actually Matt Ostenik presented on business development best practices the last time, and tried to talk to the audience. They’re able to ask questions at any point. They can chat in the chat window, or they can unmute the mic and ask a question. Then, we record this session and put it in that LinkedIn group so that those who couldn’t participate can come back and listen to it, and they can all continue to talk about it within that platform.

We also did some one on one coaching in the fall. A member of our team whose expertise is really marketing talked with them about marketing practices: What is their marketing? What is their message? Just to help answer questions and help them shape some vision around that. We get a lot of positive feedback about that.

I have contacted each member of the Accelerator Group and done one of these interviews with them – just talking about the history of their firm and using that information in my study. So, it’s kind of a combination of that, every other week, get together as a group, listen about a topic, along with some real, personal, one on one coaching as well.

Enoch: The members of this group, are they giving you feedback on the things that are impressing them the most, or are helping them the most, or the big “aha!”s that they’re having?

Todd: A lot of it are things that we’ve already talked about. Many of them are very normal, small firms, some of them just getting started. They’re confronting all of those common challenges that we all know like: “How do I grow it?” “How do I run it?” “I want to design.”

It’s fun to watch them. They’re in that really, what I think, is that fun beginning stage, but it’s also one of those stages of a company’s lifecycle that you really have to make a lot of important decisions. You’re, kind of, doing everything. There’s no CFO, there’s no Director of Operations. It’s you. That’s both fun and nerve-racking, and I see that in those firms. But, they’re a group of amazing people, really, really incredible firms that I’m convinced are going to be around for a long time.

Enoch: Todd, you and Matt have been very intentional about this process of Charrette Venture Group and the way you’re approaching this process. Where do you see yourselves, hopefully, in five years down the line?

Todd: Good question. Well, we’d like to create a model that’s scalable. Once we get, what I would say, good at this, we know really what we’re doing, we’re able to take that base of knowledge, pretty quickly identify firms that we think fit with us, and pretty quickly develop the trust of the firm in us, and then we’re able to grow it.

We would like to bring on more people like myself and scale it. Our numbers show that there could be 60,000 firms under ten people in the United States, U.K., and Canada. The market is vast and we would like to begin to replicate that, so that you’ve got five/ten/fifteen people that are representatives of our firm working with a portfolio of architecture firms to help them make that move to the larger space and really develop a good, solid, healthy practice.

I should be clear. I mean, we see this as a very long-term plan. This is not a five-year play. So, what I’m describing for you might take twenty years to get to, but that’s our vision.

Enoch: Excellent. Just a final follow up question, Todd. Is there any pushback from architects that you’re finding? I guess it’s hard to phrase this question. What I’m getting at here is that a lot of designers, architects, like you mentioned, we came in to this because we wanted to do something impactful in the world. We didn’t necessarily do it just because we wanted to make a lot of money.

So, are there any difficulties merging, sort of, a venture mindset with that mindset? Any challenges that you see there or that you are already starting to see?

Todd: Yeah, that’s a great question. I have heard that a number of times. I don’t know if that means that you’re not the right firm for us or if that means that we just have to come to a clear understanding of what that growth looks like, you know, that you’re not seeking to take on any projects you want to get to $3 million in revenue. I get that. That’s not necessarily what we would advice anyway. So, I think that’s yet to be determined whether that is a disqualifier.

I think if you’re a firm, that you’re three or four architects strong and that’s all you want to do, and you don’t want to invest in business development, and you’re not really interested in marketing, you’re perfectly happy with the RFP process, and if your website, you haven’t touched it in three years and you think that that’s okay, then that’s probably not going to be a really good fit with our model.

Enoch: You meant thirteen years, right, Todd?

Todd: Right. We’ve got to find some critical characteristics that are consistent with a firm that can grow. I don’t think it means that you, as the owner of the firm, have to be consumed with growth and consumed with making money at all. As a matter of fact, I think, we can help you be a stronger firm and have more of an impact in the world if you’re running a good, efficient, healthy business. So, I think that we can find common grounds with people that want to change the world because that’s kind of why we’re in this anyway.

Enoch: Excellent. Have you guys made any plan to address the idea of people being hesitant to be involved because of the negative stereotype about the Wall Street firms putting so much pressure on the firms they invest in: “Man, I’m just doing this for Wall Street.”

Todd: Yeah. Matt and I have both dealt with investors in the past, so we, kind of, know what that world can be like. I would say, we’re definitely in this to, as you are, to impact the lives of architecture firms. That is our guiding principle. I think if you spend fifteen minutes with Matt and I, you’d understand pretty quickly that we’re not Wall Street venture capitalists. We live in Iowa. We’re pretty normal guys that are just looking to do a good job.

Enoch: Excellent. Well, Todd, thank you for coming on the show. I’ll leave a minute here at the end. If you have any call to action or anything you’d like to invite our listeners to do to find out more about Charrette Venture Group and your efforts, I’ll let you wrap it up.

Todd: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for having me. That’s the first thing, Enoch. We really appreciated your podcast. It’s such common, parallel goals. We applaud everything you’re doing and we want to do everything we can to help you succeed as well.

Anybody that’s interested in what we’re doing, I’ll give you the website http://www.charrettvg.com. Please reach out to us. We would love to hear from you. Keep an eye on our Architecture Business Plan Competition. I think some really exciting things are going to come out of that.

We will be running that competition. We have every intention of making this an annual competition. There is a $10,000 grand prize. There is no fee to enter, so I encourage everybody to keep an eye on that next year. If you have a firm you’re thinking of starting or you’ve started it and it’s less than five or ten years old, check out the competition next year.

Again, please reach out to me. If I can be of any help or if you’re willing to talk with me about your firm, I’d love to hear from you.

Enoch: Excellent. That website is http://www.architecturebusinessplancompetition.com, I believe.

Todd: Correct. It ties in to the same website. It ties in to the competition page of our main site, but, yes, if you want to go to the competition page, you can go to http://www.architecturebusinessplancompetition.com.

Enoch: Is there a place there where people can sign up there for notifications about the future competitions?

Todd: Actually, probably the best way to do that is to send me an email. We don’t have a newsletter signup on that or an email signup, but if you send me an email and would like to stay in touch, I certainly can take care of that.

We do have a news portion of that and we are considering a blog, although we’re hesitant to do that until we’re fully committed to making that a regular part of our structure. But, just reach out to me and I’ll make sure we’ll keep you posted on what’s going on.

Enoch: Excellent. Well, thank you, Todd, for being on the show.

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Enoch Bartlett Sears is the founder of the Architect Business Institute, Business of Architecture and co-founder of the Architect Marketing Institute. He helps architects become category leaders in their market. Enoch hosts the #1 rated interview podcast for architects, the Business of Architecture Show where prominent guests like M. Arthur Gensler, Jr. and Thom Mayne share tips and strategies for success in architecture.


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