Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Charrette Venture Group – Interview with Todd Reding, CEO

As a small firm architect and entrepreneur I wear a lot of hats in order to run my business. In fact I wear ALL of the hats – Principal, Accountant, Office Manager, Project Architect, Production Specialist, Renderer, Marketer, Janitor….the list goes on. As I have continued to build my business I reached a point where I recognized that I could not, and should not, do all of these things on my own AND still be able to build a more profitable and successful practice. This forced me to look for ways to more effectively market and promote my firm and the services we offer while still allowing me time to get the work done. It was during this research I found Charrette Venture Group (CVG) through the EntreArchitect Podcast created by Mark LePage with Fivecat Studio. And now I’ve started working with Todd Reding and the CVG team to take steps toward growing and expanding my business. During a recent conversation Todd asked if I thought it would be helpful to do a blog post about CVG and I thought an even better idea would be to put the post into an interview format. And so here it is:

Rogue: What is Charrette Venture Group (CVG)? How does the process work?

Todd Reding: The mission of CVG is to be the best in the world at helping small design firms grow into strong businesses. We do this by first offering an assessment of the firm’s finances, operations, staff, etc. This gives us the opportunity to get to know the firm, and gives them key benchmarks and recommendations regarding their business. Then, you can go one of three directions. First, you feel the recommendations are valuable and you decide a long-term partnership with CVG will help you grow your business. In this scenario, we offer our “investment model” where we provide unlimited services and programs guided by a business plan, and are paid a percentage of revenue. CVG shares in the risk of revenue growth or decline. Second, you feel you want a relationship with CVG, but you don’t want the long-term commitment. In this scenario, we agree to a monthly retainer that can be cancelled at any time. You receive the same, unlimited access to the entire CVG team, but their is no shared risk. The third option is no continuation of the relationship at all. The assessment requires no commitment to continued services.

Rogue: What was the initial catalyst that started CVG? Who was the first client that really got the ball rolling and why?

Todd Reding: The catalyst was driven by our founder’s experience with hundreds of small architecture firms while he built his first software company. He saw many firms struggling with business fundamentals. As an entrepreneur, he recognized the significance of this need, and the opportunity in the marketplace.

During our first few years, we met Mark LePage, owner of EntreArchitect. It was quickly clear our missions were parallel. Mark is building a business based on community and knowledge for small firm owners. EntreArchitect was CVG’s first investment partner. We have worked together to refine their offering, rebrand the business, build a new online portal and many other elements of the business.

Rogue: Now that CVG has been around for a couple of years and you’ve seen some successes with the firms you’ve dealt with, what do you think is the most important piece that CVG brings to the practice of architecture that architects either cannot, or are not, doing for themselves naturally?

Todd Reding: Architects struggle with business priorities. They often place more importance on issues that are not as relevant to the decision as they think. They might be excellent at design, but find it difficult to consistently dedicate time to marketing, business development and staff nurturing. When CVG finds a firm that is struggling with these issues, and they recognize this, we execute a plan for change and growth. Our impact is not only on the firm and its financial picture; but also on the lives of firm owners and employees. I feel confident every CVG investment partner would agree with that statement.

Rogue: What is one major step forward that CVG plans to make in the near future that you think will benefit the architects you work with the most?

We learn from every investment partner. Growing the firms in our portfolio makes us, and each firm, stronger. We’re seeing opportunities for group purchasing, networking and sharing of work and employees. The most significant step forward will be attracting new firms to the group.

Additionally, in 2018, CVG will relaunch our Architect Business Plan Competition. We want to continue to highlight the importance of running a good business, while being a talented design firm.

 

Todd L. Reding is the President and CEO of Charrette Ventur Group. He holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and teaches Entrepreneurial Strategies at the University of Iowa. For more information on Charrette Venture Group, visit www.CharretteVG.com or contact Todd at todd@charrettevg.com.