Celebrate with CVG & EntreArchitect in Las Vegas: 6/6/19

vegas invite.jpg

Join us in Las Vegas (USA) for the 4th Annual Meetup with EntreArchitect and Charrette Venture Group during the 2019 AIA Conference on Architecture. We'll be celebrating our community of small firm architects AND honoring the winner of CVG's 2019 Architecture Business Plan Competition, EVIA Studio.

After all your conference obligations are fulfilled, come enjoy appetizers & cocktails on the strip with friends and fellow small firm entrepreneur architects. Conference attendance is not required. If you are a proud member of The EntreArchitect Community or a friend of Charrette Venture Group (and you are if you're reading this!), you are welcome to join us.

June 6th, 2019 - 7:00 - 9:00 pm at El Dorado Cantina

Save the date and time. Cash bar and light hors d'oeuvres provided.

Don't miss out! Register to attend below.

Attend Our Free Webinar: 5/17/19

cash flow graphic no button.jpg

LIVE at 1 ET / 12 CT / 11 MT / 10 PT

Does cash flow keep you up at night? Most small firm architects struggle with managing collections, invoicing, and expenses (like payroll!) at some point in their firm's life cycle. We'll discuss best practices for stabilizing cash flow, including the perspective of one small architecture firm who got their cash flow under control after implementing these tactics.

Join the founder of Charrette Venture Group, Matt Ostanik, AIA and Charrette Venture Group's CEO, Todd L. Reding to discuss best practices from their experience advising dozens of small architecture firms. Lindsey Love and Lindsay Schack, the principals of Love | Schack Architecture, will share their first-hand experience managing cash flow -- and how a few small changes had a big impact on their peace of mind.

EVIA Wins CVG’s 2019 Architecture Business Plan Competition

evia logo collage.jpg

The competition jury (M. Arthur Gensler Jr., FAIA, FIIDA, RIBA, Founder, Gensler; Matt Ostanik, AIA, Founder and Chairman of the Board, Charrette Venture Group; and Mark R. LePage, AIA, Founder, EntreArchitect) and the CVG team are pleased to announce that Leah Alissa Bayer and her firm, EVIA, have won CVG’s Fifth Annual Architecture Business Plan Competition. EVIA stands for “Evolving Integrated Architecture.”

Jurors and CVG facilitators interviewed three finalists by video on April 23rd, 2019. (Top: CVG’s Todd L. Reding and Emily Hall, facilitators, Middle: Juror Mark R. LePage and Leah Alissa Bayer, EVIA); Bottom: Jurors Art Gensler and Matt Ostanik)

Jurors and CVG facilitators interviewed three finalists by video on April 23rd, 2019. (Top: CVG’s Todd L. Reding and Emily Hall, facilitators, Middle: Juror Mark R. LePage and Leah Alissa Bayer, EVIA); Bottom: Jurors Art Gensler and Matt Ostanik)

Leah describes her Palo Alto-based architecture firm as “an ambitious new architect-led research, design, and development firm specializing in creating contextually sensitive, story-rich, and future-minded single and multi-family residences. We design and manage beautiful, high-performing, resilient housing for the modern lifestyle along the Pacific West Coast with local offices in the Bay Area, California and Bellingham, Washington and a professional team spread across the US.”

EVIA’s conceptual plan for the main residence of an off-grid, extreme environment, resilient residential development in Hawaii.

EVIA’s conceptual plan for the main residence of an off-grid, extreme environment, resilient residential development in Hawaii.

Operating as both designer and developer, EVIA’s innovative business model aims to tackle "increasing housing shortages, eminent climate change, and the financial distress of young generations" by creating "more high-quality, resilient homes that support modern lifestyles.” Through a strategically-phased launch of multiple business facets, EVIA’s vision includes:

EVIA, Inc.: A social purpose corporation managing the administrative functions of all business facets.

EVIA X: The (partially crowdfunded) real estate development facet of EVIA focused on creating affordable and healthy multi-family communities.

EVIA Studio: A multi-disciplinary, virtual architecture and engineering team designing designing a variety of high performance housing solutions.

EVIA Labs: A research team studying and testing new approaches to design, construction, materials, and lifestyle habits.

EVIA Nexus: An online social platform for people to review, compare, and discuss their home's performance data with their local community.

EVIA’s conceptual elevation for a mid-rise multifamily development in Mountain View, CA

EVIA’s conceptual elevation for a mid-rise multifamily development in Mountain View, CA

The jury was impressed with EVIA’s ambitious long-term vision for her company, combined with her highly organized plan for introducing new business facets and scaling existing facets. They noted Leah’s excellent presentation and her balanced, overall grasp of the multiple pieces required for EVIA to succeed. “She really did her homework,” juror Art Gensler stated.

Bayer notes, “As a new founder, the competition was such a valuable experience and one that I whole-heartedly recommend to any entrepreneurial firm out there starting to get off the ground. Just by participating in the process, I was finally able to focus and clarify the thoughts and dreams I’ve had about my business that had been swirling around in my mind for years. With valuable feedback from the jury of awesomely successful leaders, EVIA now has a solid, detailed plan to inspire us as we grow and guide us as we move forward. We are so much more organized and empowered because of this process.”

Congratulations, Leah! We’re looking forward to tracking your success over the years!

For more information about EVIA, visit https://www.eviastudio.com/ or email Leah at leah@eviastudio.com. To be put on the mailing list for next year’s CVG Architecture Business Plan Announcements, email emily@charrettevg.com.

Investment Partner Spotlight: Meet ThoughtCraft Architects

Credit: Trey Thomas Photography

Credit: Trey Thomas Photography

ThoughtCraft Architects is located in Boston, MA and Chapel Hill, NC.

ThoughtCraft Principals Chris Johns and Jason Hart began their Investment Partnership with Charrette Venture Group in mid-2016. At this point in their long history as friends and design collaborators, Chris and Jason were at a critical juncture deciding if and how to commit to the continuation of their young firm (then named CUBE design + research) with the exit of an existing partner --  and the news that Jason was moving several states away. It was a moment when they could have amicably parted ways and celebrated the handful of successful projects they had completed while working nights at one of their small Boston apartments.

Instead, the friends made the decision that CUBE would exist in two locations, and that they would focus on building a sustainable business with a solid shared infrastructure. It was a defining decision that shaped the future of this (soon-to-be) growing firm.

Erin Poppe, Emily Hall, Chris Johns, and Jason Hart “virtually” sat down to discuss how ThoughtCraft has changed over the years, their nagging pain points, what they have learned from each other and their relationship with CVG.

Credit: Shawn Tomkinson Photography

Credit: Shawn Tomkinson Photography

EP: Tell us about how the firm started…

JH: Chris and I have known each other for about 23 years. We all started at junior college in Florida, at 18-19 years old, then we ended up in graduate school together at MIT in Boston. As we neared our end at MIT in 2003, there was an opportunity to design my father’s house in SC. We knew enough to be dangerous in the evenings as we worked on it between our jobs and theses.

Chris then got a job in California after graduation, and we did a couple little competitions together remotely collaborating. So the foundation was starting, but we didn’t really know it yet because we were just working on projects as friends because we liked to work together.

We had some professors contact us about work, which spawned more work. We never said we’re going to do this for a long time. We were just constantly working together, we were used to critiquing each other, we were roommates, we were friends, and it started from that.

EP: When did it “get real?”

CJ: In 2008, we put out some speculative ideas into the public realm around a major controversial project in Boston, which was going to require the demolition of a Paul Rudolph building. We were big PR fans, having grown up in Florida and being familiar with the Sarasota School of Architecture. Jason would walk by there all the time, on the way to his then-job. We started talking and thinking about how bizarre it was that they were tearing down this building. All the preservationists want to put it in a glass jar, while the developer wanted to tear it down. No one was talking about solutions between those two extremes.

So we put out some ideas that got us at the table with the developer. I came back from my job in California, and it looked like we were going to have a major project that would kickstart our firm. Then the economy fell apart. But that got us thinking a little more seriously about the business and the potential.

There was a period of several months where everything was in flux. Jason quit his job and focused on licensure. I moved back to Boston. But we were getting recognition from our ideas about that Paul Rudolf building and innovative historic preservation. A few key projects came to us during this time, because of our unique point of view.

As a project won in 2009, ThoughtCraft’s renovation of the historic Hayden Building in Boston was a significant milestone in the firm’s history. It enabled the young design firm to showcase their innovative approach to historic preservation. (Photo: John Horner )

As a project won in 2009, ThoughtCraft’s renovation of the historic Hayden Building in Boston was a significant milestone in the firm’s history. It enabled the young design firm to showcase their innovative approach to historic preservation. (Photo: John Horner )

EH: Fast forward to having a beer with CVG President Todd Reding in Boston, and deciding to pull the trigger with this partnership…what were you struggling with at that time? How did you envision CVG helping?

CJ: Trying to pay ourselves was something we wrestled with for years. In the beginning it was just us and we had day jobs, so it didn’t matter so much. Whatever money we made on commissions was spent on continuing to work together and maintain whatever infrastructure we had.

So the growing pains largely came from our financial instability, and the fact that we were building something from scratch. We didn’t have a backlog of clients that we were taking from another firm; we didn’t have any real training in business, networking, marketing or anything like that to outline how we were going to do this. So we all had our heads down on the Hayden Building project, focused on doing an amazing job, and we weren’t paying a lot of attention to what came next.

Of course, we all had our own systems and ways of doing things that we built firm practices from. But we weren’t diligent about creating strong systems – so it took a while to get to a point where we could bring on staff and delegate. We needed help with putting the right systems in place.

JH: We had been in business long enough to realize that even if we didn’t have a set office, we knew how we wanted to manage the firm in terms of services and projects we provided. But the challenge was learning how to facilitate all the financial aspects while still doing the work. It’s a very common story, where we struggled both separately and together.

cube rebrand.jpg
Above: CVG worked closely with ThoughtCraft to create    their new brand identity    that transformed the firm from “CUBE design + research” to “ThoughtCraft Architects” in 2018.

Above: CVG worked closely with ThoughtCraft to create their new brand identity that transformed the firm from “CUBE design + research” to “ThoughtCraft Architects” in 2018.

EH: And how do you feel that the ThoughtCraft/CVG partnership has evolved?

JH: We didn’t have any explicit expectations in our relationship with CVG. We wanted to create a successful and sustainable practice, and I think we’re on the way to that. I feel like we understand a lot more about how and what we’re investing ourselves in. While our earnings are not where we want them to be yet, our infrastructure to get there is much more robust.

[Editor’s note: By the end of 2018, ThoughtCraft had doubled their net operating revenue since starting with CVG in 2016. While they are still working to earn more revenue, the systems they have implemented are making an impact.]

CVG is a huge resource that helps to organize and prop us up. Each person in the consultancy has a lot of experience to offer, and we can reap those benefits without having to go through the learning pains on our own. Our partnership differentiates us, because while everyone has the same issues, we’re actually building the infrastructure of a large firm in a small practice so that we can be truly sustainable in our business practices while excelling as a design company.

We tell people that we want to grow, and want to be prepared for that growth. It’s deliberate and intentional. Too many firms are reactionary. If you don’t have the infrastructure, you don’t have the systems, knowledge or ability to know where you’re going before you get there. Our relationship with CVG is about growth and preparation for that.

Credit: Shawn Tomkinson Photography

Credit: Shawn Tomkinson Photography

EH: Do you feel you’ve differentiated ThoughtCraft as a business among your peers and competition?

CJ: There’s a different culture, a different way of working, in a small firm – regardless of how prepared you are or how well the business is run. Most employees don’t understand the inner workings of a firm, unless they receive that exposure from the higher-ups in a larger setting. We give that transparency and in turn, receive trust. It allows everyone to have a greater understanding of their role’s impact on the growth and success of the firm. That differentiates us.

I’m very proud of the work we’ve done together. It’s a rare thing to have, and the work drives us. Sure, the financials have been a drag and we need to improve; but that’s why we’re with CVG. We’re trying to make a real business out of what was our hobby and enjoyment, which I am far happier doing instead of working for other people at other firms.

There’s a great deal of trust between Jason and me. We can always rely on each other to be an honest sounding board. That’s critical, and personally I can’t imagine being a sole proprietor after I’ve had an equal partner as committed and trustworthy as Jason. Having him here helps me keep it together.

JH: What he said.

EP: What have you learned from this experience?

CJ: I’ve learned that I value the collective effort a lot more than doing it alone. The design of the business is as important as the design your business performs in architecture. That had never crossed my mind before working with CVG, but I’ve become more passionate about designing the business as much as I am designing buildings.

JH: I’ve always been self-critical, but this has taught me that I can be more tenacious than I ever thought I could be.

CVG's CliftonStrengths Team-Building Evaluation

CVG applies strengths methodology to architecture and design firm management.

The Gallup CliftonStrengths (StrengthsFinder) assessment was developed by scientists and psychologists to identify your top five strengths from a list of 34 potential talent themes.

CVG has assembled the largest database of strengths results from architecture and design firms in the country. 

CVG has built a special expertise applying CliftonStrengths to architecture and design firms. We provide a comprehensive strengths analysis that includes:

  1. All of your employees taking the CliftonStrengths questionnaire

  2. One-on-one reviews of their results with each of your people

  3. A group workshop to discuss how your team’s strengths impact your firm’s work and culture

  4. Comparison of your team’s results with our database of strengths results from other architecture and design firms

  5. Discussion about how CliftonStrengths can be used to improve your project teams, business development, hiring, and more

Our Process

We begin by granting your staff members access to the CliftonStrengths assessment, which they then complete online. CVG’s Strengths Expert will then schedule a one-on-one review with each person to share and discuss their results. Following that, our Strengths Expert will debrief your firm’s leadership on collective strengths trends, then she will meet with everyone for a team workshop to do the same. You will also receive a written report and summary that can be used for future coaching.

The initial strengths questionnaire is taken online. The one-on-one reviews are completed via web meeting. The leadership debrief and team workshop can be completed via web meeting or via live meetings at your office.

Benefits to Design Firms

Investing in the CliftonStrengths assessment and workshop can lead to gains in employee engagement, productivity, and well-being while preventing burnout or worse. CVG finds that architecture and design firms often engage in our services because they want to be more aware of themselves and use the information to improve their collaboration internally, with their partners and with their clients.

CVG has assembled the largest database of strengths results from architecture and design firms in the country.

CVG has assembled the largest database of strengths results from architecture and design firms in the country.

“Participating in [Clifton Strengths] was a rewarding process for our company. The survey confirmed the traits that we value in our staff, while illuminating subtler attributes that we can leverage though employee growth within the studio. I sincerely appreciate the increased sense of awareness we now have for each other.”

Ryan Elder, Principal

How Does Your Firm Compare? Find Out with a $500 Discount in March.

CVG Offers Stand-Alone Business Assessments for Small to Mid-Sized Architecture Firms

Firm owners regularly engage CVG’s leadership team to explore how their business practices compare to industry standards. Our deep-dive into the financial, operational, and marketing/business development health of your practice reveals how you excel and identifies actionable areas for improvement. At the end of the Business Assessment process you’ll have a clear benchmark of your firm’s performance and specific actions that can improve future profitability.

The best part? CVG works exclusively with small and mid-sized design firms, so we bring a very specific perspective to the table. We respect what makes you unique -- and we’ll work with you to leverage those qualities to achieve more profitability and a healthier work/life balance.

If you’ve worked with larger corporate consulting firms, you know that one size does not fit all when it comes to advising small architectural practices.

We have a defined process and deliverables for CVG’s Business Assessment. Here’s what you can expect:

  • CVG submits a request for past financial statements, payroll details, proposals, partnership agreements, etc.

  • Once all materials are received, we input key data points into our Profit Planning Spreadsheet and apply our proprietary formulas.

  • We review your website, messaging, brand strength, social media, communications, business development activities etc.

  • You receive a comparative report demonstrating key financial performance indicators, short-term profit planning, and recommendations for improvement. You also receive an assessment of your marketing and business development program with an analysis of your strengths and weaknesses and actionable recommendations.

  • Throughout this process you will meet with members of CVG’s team of experts. We will ask several questions along the way and walk you through the findings presented in our Final Assessment Report.

The total time for the assessment ranges from four to six weeks, once the materials requested are received.  

The Business Assessment is provided for $3,500.00. In March 2019 CVG is offering the Assessment for $3,000.

Want to learn more? Schedule a quick call to get started!

“The information that CVG provided for our firm through the business assessment process was extremely helpful, to say the least. The assessment contained a long list of encouragements of what we were doing well and helpful recommendations on how to get better. We actually knew a lot of things that we were not doing well, but we were unclear and overwhelmed on how to improve in those deficiencies.

During the process we were given practical and achievable steps that were the perfect segue to further growth for our firm. I would highly recommend CVG’s business assessment to any firm that wants to be the best version of themselves that they can be.”

Sims Key, Principal

Meet Xylia Buros, CVG's New Director of Marketing

CVG is delighted to welcome Xylia Buros to our growing marketing team! Xylia is a marketing and communications strategist with more than 10 years of experience in the architecture and design industry. For the past two years, she has run her own consulting business that helps innovative firms increase their revenue and visibility through effective communications strategy and media relations. Previously, she served as Marketing Manager at two prominent architecture firms in Portland, Oregon, and as Programs Director at the Portland chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Xylia graduated magna cum laude with a BA in English Literature from New York University (NYU) and has written about art, design, and business for numerous publications. 

At CVG, Xylia works directly with our Investment Partners to ensure that all marketing and business development efforts are aligned with their strategic goals. Recently, Xylia and Emily discussed Xylia's passion for architecture and marketing within the design industry...

1.     What inspired your career focus on architecture and design marketing?

 I’ve always been drawn to the written word and communications, and throughout my career, I’ve worked as a publicist, magazine writer and editor, and content specialist. After 4 years of working in the arts and music world in Chicago and NYC, I became interested in design, architecture, and sustainability and decided to change track. I ended up taking a workshop and living at Arcosanti, Paolo Soleri’s famed urban design experiment in Arizona, for about four months, which strengthened my interest in architecture and its ability to effect positive change.

After Arcosanti, I moved to Portland, Oregon, where I was fortunate to be introduced to Randy Gragg, a well-known architecture critic who was running a design magazine at the time. I was brought on to produce the magazine’s first design awards program, which resulted in me getting immersed in the Portland design world. It was a hugely successful project: we gave out 20 awards at the gala we threw at the Portland Art Museum and raised $20,000 for a new scholarship fund benefiting architecture, interior design, and construction students.

Through that design awards project, I had been connected to AIA Portland and they recruited me as Programs Director at the Center for Architecture, where I managed the continuing education program for architects and helped organize the Architecture + Design Festival and Oregon Design Conference. I was responsible for marketing and publicizing our events and programs, so that was when I really married my PR/marketing skillset with my love for architecture. I then served as Marketing Manager at two great firms in Portland, leading teams, overhauling content, managing website redesigns, submitting targeted proposals and awards submissions, and growing the visibility of the firms through PR and media relations.

 2.     What is it that attracts you to small design firms?

I’ve worked at a 300+ person firm and 35-person firm, and while I gained valuable experience at the large firm, I preferred the collaborative and almost family-like ethos of the smaller firm. For me personally, when working with firms to grow their business, it is more rewarding to help scale up a smaller company and really make a huge impact. I also like to get to know all of the design professionals in a firm so I can more strategically help position them in the marketplace and publicize their talents. Also, most small firms have overcome many hardships to pursue their vision, which I really admire.

 3.     Tell us about your "location independence" and world travels... 

I started my own communications/marketing consulting business 2.5 years ago so I could travel the world while working full-time on a flexible schedule. I’m a lifelong traveler, with both of my parents having worked in the airline industry. After 14 years of working 9-to-5 with 2-3 weeks of vacation per year, I figured I would never see everything I wanted to see in the world if I didn’t make some bold changes. I gave up my apartment, put things in storage, sold my car, bought a new laptop, and took off in the fall of 2016. I’ve worked from 5 continents since and have been to more than 45 countries in my lifetime, from Finland and Brazil to Japan and Morocco. 

My favorite places to live and work remotely have been Lisbon, Portugal; Bali, Indonesia; Chiang Mai, Thailand; and Medellin, Colombia – all known for affordability, fast wifi, and a robust coworking scene with many location-independent workers supporting each other. I was thrilled that CVG’s team works remotely; I’ve learned many best practices on how to work effectively and productively with remote clients and am excited to keep implementing them.

 4.     How has your travel influenced your perspective on marketing?

My recent world travels have reminded me how crucial it is to be able to effectively communicate. As a writer with an English lit degree, I’ve always appreciated this, but facing communication issues over and over again in my daily life while living in foreign countries has brought a new light to the issue. How can I communicate my needs with 100% clarity to people who are greatly different from me, who speak another language, who have contrasting opinions and values? This translates into marketing and communications because you should never take for granted that your website or marketing materials are truly conveying what you think they do. You always need to get another set of eyes and enlist strategic partners to test your messaging and make sure that it’s accurate and compelling.

 5.     Do you have a list of favorite architectural firms whose marketing/branding you love? 

I do! Here is a quick shortlist of my favorite architecture firm websites (although this gets updated frequently):

COOKFOX: http://cookfox.com/

Studio Gang: http://studiogang.com/

Lever Architecture: https://leverarchitecture.com/
Your Architect London: https://yourarchitect.london/

Klein Dytham: http://www.klein-dytham.com/ (Special shout-out to my friends at Klein Dytham who founded the PechaKucha presentation series 15 years ago. I co-organized the Portland, Oregon, series for 4 years and got to visit Tokyo twice to meet the PKN founders and other city organizers from around the world. Life-changing!)

 6.     What are you looking forward to doing most at CVG?

Many things! I’m very excited to be part of a dynamic team again. I love collaborating and skill-sharing with colleagues to find solutions for our clients. I’m really impressed by the quality and range of our investment partners, so I’m greatly looking forward to getting to know them all better and help them get more recognition for the work they do, and to help them achieve their firm’s business goals for the coming years.


What Fun We Had!

CVG & EntreArchitect Celebrate with Small Firm Architects in NYC
JAMB Collective Awarded The 2018 Architecture Business Plan Competition Prize

The breeze was warm and the sun set over the Hudson as architects from around the country joined us at Pier 66 on a beautiful June evening. Over 100 people attended the CVG / EntreArchitect cocktail reception held during the 2018 AIA Conference on Architecture. For many of us it was a rare opportunity to meet in person after developing online friendships and national mentorship networks. And several CVG Investment Partners raised a glass with us! We were thrilled to welcome team members from BuildingWork (Seattle, WA), UK Architects (Hanover, NH), Springhouse Architects (Dayton, OH), and Propel Studio (Portland, OR).

We hope you'll join us next year in Las Vegas! We're searching for a venue as nice as this one at the 2019 AIA Conference on Architecture. Join our mailing list to stay updated:

Announcing CVG’s 2018 Architecture Business Plan Competition Winner: JAMB Collective!

Founding JAMBers. Left to Right: Desmond Johnson, AIA NCARB NOMA; Christian N. Jordan, AIA; Katie Miller Johnson, AIA, LEED AP; Abigail R. Brown, AIA, LEED AP BD+C; Michael Anglin, AIA, LEED AP; Jared Edgar McKnight, Assoc AIA

Founding JAMBers. Left to Right: Desmond Johnson, AIA NCARB NOMA; Christian N. Jordan, AIA; Katie Miller Johnson, AIA, LEED AP; Abigail R. Brown, AIA, LEED AP BD+C; Michael Anglin, AIA, LEED AP; Jared Edgar McKnight, Assoc AIA


The JAMB Collective business plan creates opportunity for small firms to “stay small, act big, and do good.”

The JAMB Collective model is a decentralized membership network of small firm architects and resource providers. Members will have access to collaboration opportunities (think several small firms join forces to land a big project) and support services (administrative, marketing, legal, accounting). A portion of membership dues will go towards social impact ventures in the form of underwriting pro-bono work, project grants, sponsorships, etc.

Jurors applauded this plan for its big-picture thinking and potential to change the game for small firm architects. They commented:  

"JAMB Collective's innovative concept for a subscription-based practice network is an idea that has the potential to change the profession for small firm architects throughout the US and beyond."  -Mark LePage

"JAMB’s proposal democratizes access to networks and resources that have, historically, limited the reach of individuals and smaller practices. And, although the concept is embryonic, a model that allows small teams new modalities to practice on a global scale is really interesting. This is precisely the kind of ambition and innovation we should be rewarding and cultivating in our profession.” - Eric Reinholdt

"The JAMB Collective is spurring an exciting dialogue on the future of small firm practice models in the a/e/c industry." - Amanda Welu

CVG asked members of JAMB Collective to summarize their business plan through a brief Q and A:

1. Describe the basics of JAMB's business plan in a few sentences.

JAMB Collective leverages decentralization and technology through a membership business model for small to medium sized architecture firms in an effort to provide access to resources typically brought in-house by larger firms. The revenue generated by the membership model will allow JAMB to provide access to those resources to the JAMB member firms. JAMB will also be responsible for offering grants to member firms for social impact projects (offsetting fees for pro bono work, sponsoring a local community project, etc.).

2. What is the Mission Statement?

At its core, JAMB exists to develop successful collaborative networks while providing a substantial revenue for undertaking social impact initiatives. We connect, support, and open new doors, giving small firms a chance to stay small, act big, and do good. 

3. How will the membership model work? As a curious potential member, what would I receive in return for my membership dues?

Each JAMB member firm will have access to, for a monthly fee, services such as: legal consultation, accounting advice, marketing professionals, and business development advisors, to name a few. The membership also allows firms to view a national database of other member firms’ qualifications and portfolios in an effort to provide the opportunity for collaboration on projects that would otherwise be difficult for a small firm to pursue and even land.

4. What is your team's history together? How did you come up with this vision?

JAMB was created as the brainchild of six diverse strangers, all working in the architectural space, who were brought together by the AIA’s Practice Innovation Lab in October 2017. The Practice Innovation Lab was a think tank/summit that challenged 10 teams of 6 to explore and cultivate innovative business models for the future practice of architecture. Although the six of us applied as individuals to the Lab from all across the country, once we began working as a team, the collaborative energy and unfiltered creativity led to the design of a business model that ultimately earned the “People’s Choice Award” at the culmination of the Practice Innovation Lab. This collective momentum continued well beyond the Lab, as the six of us returned to our various regions of the country and began the process of realizing JAMB’s vision.

Christian [of Philadelphia] is the team lead and brings a wealth of knowledge and guidance to the team.  He, along with Mike [of Tucson], are principal and owner, respectively, of smaller firms and were, therefore, able to draw on that experience to help inform the challenges and opportunities that smaller firms face. On the opposite end of the table, Desmond [of Atlanta] and Jared [of Philadelphia], both work for larger firms and are able to provide a contrasting perspective.  Abi [of Washington, D.C.] brings her advocacy expertise and energy as the Community Director of the Young Architects Forum, and Katie [of Detroit] has an impressive track record of creating start-ups within her business and design backgrounds. It is through these varied experiences and diverse backgrounds that JAMB’s vision was born.

5. What problem does this business plan solve?

According to the AIA’s 2016 Firm Survey Report, 5% of US architecture firms have more than 50 employees.  Those firms account for 51.3% of all architectural billings. This membership model gives small firms the opportunity to compete with large firms through strategic sharing of staff, supplying local market expertise, and access to dedicated administrative (marketing, legal, accounting) personnel.

We realize that there are advantages to remaining a small to medium size architectural firm (client contact, project involvement, personalized culture…) but there’s also tremendous expertise and service provided by those smaller firms from which larger projects may never benefit simply because the qualifications of those firms are often times limiting in the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process.

6. What is your biggest challenge? How are you dealing with it?

Perhaps not getting ahead of ourselves. We are all very excited by the prospects of JAMB, and eager to continue the momentum we have started, but we also take this very seriously and want to be sure that we begin to implement JAMB in a way that is both organized and sustainable. The scalability, the offerings and the impact of JAMB are sublime. To that end, we want to get firms signed up for early adoption and start putting the ideas to work.

7. How can interested parties learn more?

Visit our website www.JAMBcollective.net and send us a note – we’d love to have your firm be part of the #JAMBsessions!

CVG would like to thank all contributors to this year’s Architecture Business Plan Competition, specifically our jurors; Mark LePage (EntreArchitect), Eric Reinholdt (30x40 Design Workshop), Mac Walcott (Walcott Adams Verneuille Architects), and Amanda Welu (DELV) and competition semi-finalists; Balanced Architecture, Rogue Architecture, The Kezlo Group, and Three Dot Design.

Join us in celebrating this year’s winner and meet other small firm architects at the CVG/EntreArchitect Waterfront Reception at the 2018 AIA Conference on Architecture in New York City on June 21st. Attendees do not need to be registered for the conference to attend our reception. We hope to see you there!


NYC Waterfront Reception for Small Firm Architects


Charrette Venture Group + EntreArchitect Waterfront Reception New York 2018

Join us in New York City (USA) for the 3rd Annual EntreArchitect Meetup with Charrette Venture Group during the 2018 AIA Conference on Architecture.

After all your conference obligations are fulfilled, come enjoy waterfront cocktails on Pier 66 with friends and fellow small firm entrepreneur architects. Conference attendance is not required. If you are a proud member of The EntreArchitect Community or a friend of Charrette Venture Group (and you are if you are reading this!), you are welcome to join us.

Save the date and time. Cash bar and light hors d'oeuvres provided.

Don't miss out.  

CVG Announces 2018 Architecture Business Plan Competition Finalists

Charrette Venture Group and the 2018 Architecture Business Plan Jury have selected five finalists for the 2018 Architecture Business Plan Competition. "Our jury noted that most submitting firms were positioned for financial and operational success; however, the business plan finalists best articulated the 'what, why, and how' of their path to growth" notes CVG C.E.O. Todd Reding. "Successful plans exhibited innovative missions and execution strategies, clarity of purpose, and specific goals to be achieved."

The jury includes Mark LePage (EntreArchitect), Eric Reinholdt (30x40 Design Workshop), Mac Walcott (Walcott Adams Verneuille Architects), and Amanda Welu (DELV). Juror profiles can be viewed here

Finalists will present their business plans to the jury on May 18. The winner will be announced the week of May 21st and will receive cash and prizes valued at approximately $5,000 including travel and lodging for at least one member of the winning entry, or team, to be in New York City during the 2018 AIA National Convention.

2018 Architecture Business Plan Competition Finalists:

Kate Hamblet
Balanced Architecture
Henniker, New Hampshire

Jeremiah Russell
Rogue Architecture
Little Rock, Arkansas

Jason Winters
The Kezlo Group
Crownsville, Maryland

Rachel Worley
Three Dot Design
Louisville, Kentucky

Christian Jordan
JAMB Collective
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Twitter: @JAMBCollective


CVG would like to acknowledge that the best planning efforts are the result of a full team's input. We've credited the individuals who submitted their firm's entry above, but encourage you to visit their websites to learn more about all team members.

CVG Welcomes Three New Investment Partners

BuildingWork  in Seattle, WA

BuildingWork in Seattle, WA

Three architecture firms have joined the growing portfolio of one of the only investment groups focusing on the architecture space. Charrette Venture Group (CVG) announces new contracts with Process Architecture in Orlando, Florida, BuildingWork in Seattle, Washington, and HKP Architects in Mount Vernon, Washington. “We now have eleven firms in our investment portfolio and roughly 20 additional firms contracting for various services,” said Todd L. Reding, president and CEO. “We have come a very long way in less than three years,” he said. Charrette Venture Group provides services, technologies, group purchasing programs, and other assets related to improving the business side of a design firm. “Ultimately we help firm owners improve as business leaders,” says Rena Klein, FAIA, the firm’s vice president for investment partnerships. “Most architects never received any formal business training, and there are few resources to help them. CVG identifies firms that want to grow, and forms a long-term partnership with shared risk so we’re all working together to improve the business,” she explains.

HKP Architects has undergone several ownership changes since its founding by Henry Klein in 1952. The small, rural Washington firm has successfully taken on large scale projects and bares a strong reputation in the Northwest. Owners Julie Blazek and Brian Poppe intend to diversify its customer base and build upon the strength of the firm’s history. “We know we must constantly be improving our firm,” says Blazek. “That includes improving the way we’re running our business. The CVG partnership gives us a wide range of resources that would be difficult for us to secure in their independent categories,” she says.

The architecture firms in the CVG portfolio range from a sole proprietor in Vermont to an 18 person firm in Alabama. The areas of practice range across all industries. CVG is actively working with architecture firms in sixteen states and one foreign country.

Wes Featherston AIA, founded Process Architecture in Orlando, Florida in 2011. The firm currently employs three full-time persons and has experienced consistent growth. “I don’t want to just create the usual architecture firm,” says Featherston. “I want to grow a profitable business that allows us to win the projects we are most passionate about. The CVG partnership gives me an immediate sounding board for business decisions,” he says.

CVG has also developed its own proprietary client relationship management system, nicknamed “Abadaba”. The software is made available to all of the firm’s investment partners, and they use it to create and manage their business development processes. “It is critical that our firms adopt a consistent business development process, and we’re proactively pursuing new opportunities,” says Reding. “We don’t wait for the phone to ring,” he says.

BuildingWork was started by Matt Aalfs, AIA, in Seattle in the Spring of 2016. The firm has a staff of six full-time employees working on a range of civic and commercial projects. Previously Aalfs spent 16 years at Weinstein AU Architects and Urban Designers, eventually becoming the managing principal. “It felt like the time was right to set out on my own, and I wanted to build something new,” he says. “But running a business is very challenging. I knew from the start that I could not do it alone. CVG gives me a team dedicated to the success of my firm,” he says. “It is a strategic advantage.”

Charrette Venture Group is currently considering new investment partners in key geographic areas. For more information, visit www.CharretteVG.com or call 515-207-2422.

Charrette Venture Group Adds to Its Senior Team

Charrette Venture Group (CVG) announces its newest member of its senior team, Emily Hall.  Hall will begin her role as vice president for marketing on September 1, 2017.  She has been serving as a senior associate and the director of marketing and new business development for Union Studio Architecture and Community Design in Providence, Rhode Island for the past seven years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Colorado College, a Master of Industrial Design from the Rhode Island School of Design, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Rhode Island.

“Emily has advised our group for more than a year, offering marketing direction for our investment partners and our own firm,” said Todd L. Reding, CVG’s president and CEO.  “She is a stellar professional with over 16 years experience helping small architecture firms grow their marketing programs and will bring enormous value to the team,” he said.  Hall has managed multiple rebranding and renaming projects for firms, as well as conducted numerous messaging exercises.  

“I look forward to helping CVG continue to grow and positively impact its design community,” said Hall. “Every architectural firm is different, and this opportunity enables me to help our clients communicate how they’re unique,” she said.

Charrette Venture Group is one of the world’s only investment firms focusing on small-to-mid-sized architecture firms.  The group provides services, technologies, group purchasing programs, and other assets related to improving the business side of a design firm, and offers a shared risk revenue model.

Charrette Venture Group is currently considering new investment partners in key geographic areas.  For more information, visit www.CharretteVG.com or call 515-207-2422.

Erin Poppe joins the CVG Team as Strengths and Coaching Expert


Please join me in welcoming Erin Poppe as our newest member of the CVG Team.  Erin will be serving as our Strengths and Coaching Expert, helping our partners further utilize the Gallup StrengthsFinder data and leadership coaching.  She has a Masters in Public Administration from Kansas State University, and has most recently worked as a graduate research assistant in Kansas State University’s StrengthsQuest program.  Erin is also an experienced photographer and journalist.  She lives in Manhattan, Kansas and is the daughter of an architect.

RM Klein Consulting merges with Charrette Venture Group

Des Moines, Iowa - RM Klein Consulting announced today it is merging its operations with Charrette Venture Group (CVG). Rena Klein, FAIA has built the consulting firm’s brand over the past 20 years, serving small and mid-sized architecture and design firms. She authored the book, “The Architect’s Guide to Small Firm Management” published in 2010, and has been an advisor to Charrette Venture Group for the past several years. “Rena brings a depth of experience that will substantially strengthen our ability to serve growing design firms,” said Todd L. Reding, president and CEO of Charrette Venture Group. The group was formed in 2014 to address the common challenge among design firms to develop into thriving businesses. The group manages investments in firms throughout the United States, and has recently begun to offer individual consulting services as well. “Strengthening my partnership with Charrette Venture Group will allow me to have a greater impact on the advancement of design professionals and their firms,” Klein said. “I am thrilled to be a part of this talented team, and contribute to the Group’s success,” she said. Consulting services will become a part of CVG’s offerings and the RM Klein Consulting brand will become a division of CVG. “We see enormous opportunity to positively impact firms wanting to grow,” Reding said. “Our unique investment offering is strengthened with this merger, which also allows us to support design firm owners with management coaching and customized engagements,” he said. For more information on Charrette Venture Group, visit the website at www.charrettevg.com, or contact Todd Reding at todd@charrettevg.com, or 515-207-2422.

CUBE Design and Research expands its reach with investment partner

DES MOINES, IA, BOSTON, MA and RALEIGH, NC – July 12, 2016 – Charrette Venture Group, an investment firm focusing on the design space, announced its first investment in the Boston area today. Likely the only investment firm in the United States focused on the design industry, the firm has invested in CUBE Design and Research owned by Chris Johns and Jason Hart. “We are thrilled to formalize this partnership,” said Todd L. Reding, President and CEO of Charrette Venture Group. “CUBE Design and Research is a unique firm with tremendous talent. We look forward to helping them build a strong and growing business,” he said. CUBE is a relatively new firm, however, the partners have worked together in various forms for more than twenty years. “CUBE is finally coming together as its own entity with clear definition,” says partner Chris Johns. “We plan to grow CUBE into a significant player in the East Coast market,” says Johns. Partner Jason Hart, who is located in Raleigh, NC, has been responsible for the firm’s achievement of awards such as the AIA North Carolina Honor Award and the first place finish for the George Matsumoto Prize. “We have been fortunate enough to work on some amazing projects over the years,” says Hart. “I am excited to help CUBE Design and Research develop as a business and take on even larger challenges,” he says.

Charrette Venture Group (CVG) will provide support in marketing, business development, finance and management. “We will help CUBE Design overcome many of the common challenges that face small businesses in their early years,” says Reding. “Our goal is to help firms like CUBE grow into robust, strong businesses,” he says.

Charrette Venture Group is a global venture firm focused on professional designers. The group seeks to positively impact the way new and growing design firms operate throughout the world. For more information, contact Todd L. Reding at todd@charrettevg.com.

Learn how CVG provides services for growing firms.

Local Venture Firm Names Finalists in Architecture Business Plan Competition

Five firms will compete for $15,000 business plan competition prize DES MOINES – May 2, 2016: Charrette Venture Group has named five finalists in its annual Architecture Business Plan Competition. Architects from across the United States and Canada were invited to register for the free competition and submit an explainer video and executive summary of their business plan concept. For the third year running, Charrette Venture Group has organized the competition that is unique to the profession of architecture.

According to Matt Ostanik, Founder of Charrette Venture Group and organizer of the Architecture Business Plan Competition: “In the technology world, there is an overwhelming supply of resources to help new and growing companies. There are constant business plan competitions, pitch sessions, incubator programs, mentor circles, research, etc. etc. However, in the design space there is very little to aid for these entrepreneurs. The ultimate goal of Charrette Venture Group is to serve as an investment firm that helps growing design firms.” The five finalists named in this year’s competition are (in alphabetical order):

  • ADD+Venture of Houston, Texas
  • ARCH.406 of Billings, Montana
  • BuildIngenuity of Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Clever Moderns of Los Angeles, California
  • Love | Schack Architecture of Bozeman, Montana and Jackson, Wyoming

Final presentations and judging will take place in Philadelphia, May 18th and 19th in conjunction with the National Convention of the American Institute of Architects.

About ADD+Venture: ADD+Venture is the Houston, Texas-base non-profit, architect-as-developer practice that Courtney Brinegar, AIA is developing to provide creative services focused on sustainable and socially-responsible development in Houston’s urban, food desert environments.

ADD+Venture will serve the market where underserved communities are in need of development. Areas that for-profit entities avoid for lack of immediate financial benefit and the need to fulfill profit generating formulas. ADD+Venture’s mission is to purchase existing properties with to create developments that unify neighborhoods, celebrate local talents and businesses, and bring needed resources to turn dilapidated areas into thriving communities without gentrification.

About ARCH406: ARCH406 is a Billings, Montana-based Architect-led Design-Build firm that creates built work reflecting the founders’ passion for design and craftsmanship. ARCH406 develops projects that enrich their community by controlling the process by which they are developed, designed, and built.

About Building Ingenuity: Building Ingenuity is the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based brainchild of Victor Caban-Diaz, AIA. Buildingenuity will be an architect-centric “Invest-Build-Own” company that will leverage the power of social media, crowdfunding, education, and franchising to offer services worldwide.

The focal point of Buildingenuity will be the ability to offer a greater ROI by executing cutting-edge building projects for less through the ingenuity of Master Builders, who leverage technology, research, and mass production. Buildingenuity will set the stage for a new way of doing business in architecture by establishing a hybrid income generation structure where architects earn from service fees and passive revenue from real estate assets.

Buildingenuity will be recognized as a franchise opportunity for architects to fulfill their design passions, build passive wealth, and live a better lifestyle.

About Clever Moderns: Clever Moderns is a Los Angeles-based online platform where DIY owner-builders can download plans and get project support for building their own houses. Los Angeles-based Architect, Earl Parson created the Clever Moderns platform to operate on a freemium business model.

The designs are created by a network of certified affiliate architects for whom the platform will be a source of passive income. Clever Moderns’ goal is to grow to become a global lifestyle brand.

About Love | Schack Architecture: Love | Schack Architecture (LS:A) is a growing architectural firm that operates remotely through sister offices in Driggs, Idaho and Manhattan, Montana, serving the northern Rocky Mountain Region. As regional design experts and local design advocates, LS:A has the capacity to improve and inspire their local building community. LS:A is recognized as regional experts in high-performance design with certification in Passive House methodology as well as experience with natural products such as straw bale, straw clay, earthen construction, and natural plasters.

About Architecture Business Plan Competition: The Architecture Business Plan Competition is an annual event organized by Charrette Venture Group that recognizes entrepreneurial architects that have developed a thoughtful plan for fulfilling their dreams. The competition is open to registered Architects in the United States and Canada who are considering starting a design firm, or who have started a firm in the past ten years. In 2016, the winners of the 3rd annual event will receive more than $15,000 in cash and prizes. Final presentations and judging for the 2016 Architecture Business Plan Competition will take place May 18th and 19th in Philadelphia.

About Charrette Venture Group: Charrette Venture Group is a global venture firm based in Des Moines, Iowa, whose ultimate goal is to serve as an investment firm that helps growing design firms. Investments can be in the form of capital, or they can be technology, mentoring and business advice, marketing and business development support, or other expertise and resources. They seek to be a long-term partner who takes a stake in both the risk and the reward of the firm’s success. Charrette Venture Group seeks to positively impact the way new and growing design firms operate throughout the world.