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What's Happening at Venture Architects
who we are talking to
What information can you provide that would be useful to entrepreneurs who want to pitch Virgin Management?
We focus on the consumer. We are not interested in pure B2B deals. Also, no hard technology, infrastructure or devices. The exception to this is Virgin Green Fund, our renewable energy fund. While we invest in companies with or without adding the Virgin brand, service companies have the most potential to be a good fit. We get a lot of crazy proposals in the mail. If you do reach out to us, please stick to the standard business plan or pitch deck!

What influences your decision to make an acquisition vs. an investment?

The most important factor is whether or not we plan to re-brand the company Virgin. If the company will not carry the Virgin brand we can make a standard venture capital investment. If it will carry the Virgin brand we will most likely acquire the company as there is much more involved. We ensure that the management team understands and relates to the Virgin brand, values and culture, and that these are all properly translated to the new organization. Then we need to ensure that all of the products and services are innovative and differentiated enough to create a unique Virgin experience for the customer. Finally, we must give the new company a Virgin voice, and re-introduce it to the marketplace with a splash.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from working with Sir Richard Branson?
It is hard to pick just one! First, is how to build a strong personal brand that can help you build your company, connect with your employees and identify with your customers. I am still amazed at how Richard's personal style can be so different from other business leaders, and just how much significant value (and fun) that brings to the group. Second, Richard sets an example for how to leverage success as a business leader into being an effective global leader. We call it "business as a force for good." He could rest at this point in his life, but he feels a responsibility to make the world a better place, both through our businesses and through our non-profit arm Virgin Unite. And just as important - he has a great time doing it!
What we are advising
Planning
Plan
Two secrets about investors: 1/ an investor's goal is to spend very little time on a lot of deals, and a lot of time on very few deals; and, 2/ investor's don't care how good you are, they care how good you can help them to be. Armed with these truths, below are three things entrepreneurs can do to improve their pitches:

Know your audience. Investor presentations should be market focused. Strategic partner presentations need to focus on the product. Most likely a potential strategic partner knows more about the market than you.

Keep your cool.
Investors want entrepreneurs to deliver results faster than light, but that doesn't mean that you have to speak faster than light. Be in command of the room. Speak slowly and deliberately. Be sure to explain where you are in your company's development and what you have achieved to date. Track record is critical. Also, remember that investors invest in people they want to spend time with. Let your passion and personality shine through.

No tiptoeing.
Play offensive and address key business challenges head-on. Be candid. Be direct. Stay focused. Ask for what you need, not what you think the investor wants to hear.

Planning
Operate
In the spirit of making the complicated simple, we offer you the following seed thoughts for operational planning.

For the short-term, plan for three, six and nine months, but break down the tasks into weeks. Who will do what differently? What is staying the same? Where? When? How will individual team members be held accountable? How will they be rewarded? It's essential to get your entire team aligned and focused on the same priorities, especially when business is more competitive.

For long-term planning, engage your team in a worst case scenario exercise. In order to "be prepared" as the Boy Scouts say, consider all the black swan scenarios that may occur in your industry. Next, develop a planned response for each. Doing so will make you and your team more confident in the short-term, and potentially more successful should upset occur in the future.


Planning
Communicate
As with fashion and hairstyles, in communications, there are also trends. Listed below are just a few that have surfaced:

Stale: Long print pieces.
Sparkly: Smaller print pieces that direct readers to more detailed information online.

Stale: Out-of-date marketing materials.
Sparkly: Online printing services with overnight delivery, so your printed materials always contain your latest accomplishments and stay in sync with your online presence.

Stale: Hoarding information.
Sparkly: Judiciously passing along useful information to your clients, colleagues, and friends, especially when it's timely for them. For example, TechRadar's 50 websites you'll wonder how you lived without is useful for almost anyone, while "It's lovely, I'll take it!" is the perfect stress-buster for anyone trying to buy or sell a house.

What we are reading
The Unforgiving Minute
Had it not been for Craig M. Mullaney's appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart about a month ago, we never would have given The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education a glance - let alone a can't-put-it-down read. But Jon Stewart said, "great book, huge respect," and he was absolutely right. From West Point to Ranger School to a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford and finally to the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq, Mullaney's memoir is a honest, brilliant and often funny testament to fortitude and service. You'll race through the pages and be amazed at how much you learn about how to lead and inspire.
What our clients have to offer
Mimeo
Mimeo.com isn't just one of our earliest clients, it's also our favorite online printing service. Mimeo is the innovator of online, on-demand document printing and distribution. Not only do they deliver quality, on-time printed documents, but should you need to call, their customer service is exceptional. If you don't believe us, then believe their numerous accolades for technology, innovation, and rapid growth, including the Red Herring 100, AlwaysOn 100, Deloitte Fast 50, and Deloitte Fast 500 awards. Or, better yet, just try Mimeo.com yourself!

Friends of Venture Architects will receive 50% off a first order at Mimeo.com when you enter "VentureA" as the coupon code at checkout. This offer is valid for 30 days from the date of this newsletter.
What our clients are accomplishing

In March, Michelle Obama wore one of Kai Milla's bold, sophisticated dresses when Kai's husband Stevie Wonder was honored at the White House with the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize. Kai Milla has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to reveal items from her Spring 2008 and Resort collections and has dressed celebrities including Halle Berry, Salma Hayek and Eva Mendes. Kai's first retail store is scheduled to open in Beverly Hills this Fall. Her flagship store is sure to be the talk of the town.

Congratulations to DRM Labs, Inc. on becoming a full-fledged strategic partner of Sysco's iCareTM program. iCareTM is an aggregation of value-added programs that Sysco Corporation leverages to help more than 250,000 independent restaurant customers across North America become more successful. DRM Labs, Inc. has developed the next generation of coupons and punch cards, as well as an electronic organizer that saves and automatically organizes paperless promotional offers, menus and almost everything else one might find in a kitchen drawer. Their platform enables consumers to enroll in a vPunch loyalty program or clip a "Voupon" (virtual coupon) online or offline for redemption with their registered credit card.

The Children's Radio Foundation, an international nonprofit organization that supports the intellectual and personal growth of children through the production of quality audio content made by and for children, has launched its nationally broadcast radio program in South Africa. Starting April 4, the Radio Workshop broadcasts every Saturday at 12 noon on SAFM. The show offers younger listeners a mix of current affairs, entertainment, and information, and showcases the stories of young people across the country. Click here to listen to episodes of the Radio Workshop.

What we care about
National Volunteer Week
We are smack in the middle of National Volunteer Week 2009. This year's theme is Celebrating People in Action. During this signature week, Points of Light Institute and HandsOn Network will honor the individuals who dedicate themselves to taking action and solving problems in their communities. If you have some extra time, get involved in voluntering. Be the change.

Venture Architects, LLC positions private companies for success in the capital-raising process through the development of business plans, financial projections, and investor presentations. We help entrepreneurs to plan, operate and communicate. Since 1998, Venture Architects has worked across a wide variety of industries with over 400 early and growth-stage companies, which have raised approximately $450 million in investment capital.

New York 212.308.9885 Miami 305.285.9885 Email info@venturearchitects.com