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What's Happening at Venture Architects
who we are talking to
What recent advice have you given to your portfolio companies since the economic downturn?
Since we only invest in capital efficient models, we have not had to tell any of our companies to spend less or cut staff - they are already lean and mean. However, we have advised them to maintain a rigorous focus on sales and to use the downturn to gain market share and be well positioned when things get better. We also think the lack of public markets will force many heavily funded, large private companies to make more acquisitions within the next 24 months.
What our clients are accomplishing

Planning Plan
In case you missed Sequoia Capital's PowerPoint slide show, we think it is a must view. Distributed by TechCrunch and dubbed the presentation of doom (scroll down to the video in the middle of the Sequoia page), it's about survival of the quickest. Flip through the entire deck, but pay particular attention to slides 47 & 53. If we do say so ourselves, you still need a plan. Now, more than ever.

Planning Operate
This is a story that I relayed when I spoke at the Council of Fashion Designers of America's Business of Fashion event last week.


While waiting for my business associate to arrive at a restaurant in New York City's Upper East Side, I had the good fortune to eavesdrop on a conversation that two well-to-do ladies were having at the table next to mine. The first woman was explaining to her friend that her husband had assured her their finances had not been impacted by the economy, but just in case she was going to cancel their weekly flower delivery for their apartment. Her friend regarded her sternly, and with a firm voice responded that if she canceled her flower delivery, she would be hurting the flower shop that depended on her standing order. She would therefore be contributing to the problems with the economy rather than doing her part to help it. Then, sensing she had been too harsh, her friend suggested that she could just cut back on her order and not display flowers in the rooms she never used.

Stifling a laugh, it occurred to me that this is exactly the sort of operational exercise that entrepreneurs need to conduct with their management teams across all lines of business:
- What do we keep doing the same?
- What critical modifications do we make?
- What do we cut?

Planning Communicate
Even though it's tempting to cut your design and marketing budget, keeping your brand strong is crucial to surviving tough times. We encourage you to read this brief article called "Strengthening your brand in an economic downturn" for a few pointers, rather than diminishing your footprint when cash is tight.
What we are reading

Execution
Given that the gyrations of the domestic and global financial markets is mostly out of our control, why not focus on what is in our control!? We recommend revisiting Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. The 2002 classic explains that the biggest obstacle to success is the absence of execution. The authors point out that execution is "the missing link between aspirations and results." Time to brush up on your execution skills.

What our clients have to offer

Car seat cover
This holiday season practical gifts are what's hot. The nomie baby car seat cover was invented by our client, a mompreneur. It is an easily removable, waterproof, washable cover for an infant or toddler/convertible car seat. It has elastic edges allowing it to fit most standard car seats, such as the Britax Roundabout and the Graco brands. No need to cry over spilled milk, or worse! Just enter code VA2008 and receive a special 10% discount. Expires December 15, 2008.
What our clients are accomplishing

785 Records identifies, signs and cultivates emerging talent. Discover their new artists. Fourteen year old singer-songwriter Tiffany Giardina's singles "Hurry Up and Save Me" and "No Average Angel" appeared in the 2008 Warner Brothers movie Another Cinderella Story. Other artists include At First Blush, a group of four young women from Philadelphia whose debut album is scheduled for release in late 2009, and Article A, a four-man power-pop and alternative rock band that released its first album "Stay Now" in early 2008.

Last week, the Miami Children's Museum opened the Blue Man Group: Making Waves Traveling Exhibit. This national traveling exhibit is designed to bring together science and art, and will take the whole family through a multi-sensory exploration of sound. And take a look at their redesigned website that we created. We designed features such as a fun interactive homepage, a virtual tour, calendar of events and interactive floor plan, along with a cool section of activities just for kids.

Store Adore is a web-based guide to the best boutique shopping around the country and online. On November 1st, Store Adore will launch a holiday gift guide, featuring exclusive discounts and deals of up to 25% off at dozens of retailers both nationwide and online. Store Adore will also launch in San Francisco, bringing the site's coverage to nine cities - San Francisco, New York, Brooklyn, The Hamptons, Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Washington, DC.

what we care about

BotherVoting
Do you know someone who may be too busy, unmotivated, skeptical, disillusioned, or sleepy to bother voting? Then put some effort into changing their minds. Go to BotherVoting to find an ecard such as "I just can't picture myself sleeping with a non-voter" or select an ad for your website. They even provide directions to polling places.
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 our clients 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.