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What's Happening at Venture Architects
who we are talking to

What is Antares Capital’s investment criteria?
We are a traditional expansion stage venture capital fund. We provide growth equity capital - usually in the $500,000 to $5 million range - to firms headquartered in the Southeast and Texas. Companies should have good management teams in place, established sales with revenues of $1 million to $25 million and above average gross margins. We also consider special situations such as buyouts of minority shareholder positions. The best fit is when the management team wants an experienced partner to be involved with the company. There are no industry restrictions, although we do not invest in real estate, mineral exploration, distributors, franchisees, or project financings.

What advice would you give to an entrepreneur seeking an investment partner?

We are in the business of expanding the size of the pie. We suggest entrepreneurs focus on the same thing. Our view is that the money we provide should help companies grow faster than they could without it. In the end, the goal is for the entrepreneur to end up with a much bigger pie. However, just seeking money without it being tied to experience is not grounds for a sound entrepreneur/investor relationship. Due diligence should go both ways. First, make sure that you and your potential investor have the same goals for your business. Second, speak with other companies in the investor's portfolio. Their experiences will speak volumes about the investor's style and the type of partner they will make. For example, Antares Capital was established based on the belief that our partners' experiences as entrepreneurs and the success of our own companies prior to founding Antares was tremendously influenced by having great financial partners and board members who could contribute their operating experiences, substantial personal networks, and skill gained from having personally guided many companies through the growth and value realization process. So, the decision entrepreneurs need to make is - is it worth it to give up a percentage of their company to grow faster and smarter?

What we are advising

Just the other day, we spoke with an entrepreneur (let's call him "Simon") who is seeking $1.2M in investment capital for an idea he has for a mobile application. On the surface, the idea has legs, but at this point it's only an idea. So, we explained that unless he was Bill Gates it was extremely unlikely that Simon could raise $1.2M for an "idea" from any angel investor or venture capital firm in this market - and that he should reduce the amount of capital he is seeking and look to friends and family. We told Simon to ask his developers to work for equity and build the mobile app as quickly as possible, ideally without outside investment. Once the app was built, we suggested that Simon could then wow potential investors with its fabulousness and raise the $500K he wants for marketing.

This conversation reminded us of a post we read back in August on Fred Wilson's Musing of a VC in NYC blog entitled "Milestone Based Investing." The bottom line of Fred's post, which was spot on (although a huge time suck for entrepreneurs), was "raise smaller rounds more frequently and negotiate the prices of each financing as the round is done." It simply doesn't make sense for Simon to raise $500K for marketing before his app is even built!

Under the heading “worth sharing,” here is yet another TechCruch post (if you read our newsletter regularly, you know we are devotees of their weblog). This particular post really stood out as a takeaway for how to motivate employees or how a small gesture can make a lasting impression or just a cool move for a CEO. The post was entitled “One Reason Why Facebook Wins.” Here is the post in its entirety with compliments to TechCrunch: "If you’re a computer science graduate a year out of college, there probably isn’t a celebrity you’d be more excited about knowing than Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. So when he takes a minute to record a video with you to prove to your younger brother’s friends that you actually got a job at the company, it’s something you are pretty proud of. And the fact that Zuckerberg does this kind of thing is one of the reasons why Facebook wins. Watch the whole video with Dan Muriello here.

In the spirit of “practice what you preach” and “better late than never,” Venture Architects will be embracing social media in early 2010, to coincide with our new website. In the interim, we thought we would share two good articles on the subject. The first was posted on marketing guru Seth Godin’s blog. It asks and answers the question Is it too late to catch-up? if your organization has done absolutely zero with social media. The second article is called Ten Commandments of Social Media. It dissects the misconceptions of social media and provides smart guidelines for how to be engaged and appreciated online.

What we are reading

A Game Plan for Life
We have to admit that before a friend recommended A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring by John Wooden, we had never heard of John Wooden. But as it turns out, he is the most successful coach in NCAA history, having led the UCLA Bruins to 665 victories and ten championships in the years leading up to 1975. Since his retirement, he has become a mentor to dozens of athletes, journalists, and writers, and the author of eight books. So, it’s not surprising that this book makes you want to be a better player – not on the court, but in life. The first half of the book focuses on the people who helped foster the values that carried Wooden through an incredibly successful and famously principled career. The second half of the book is built around interviews with some of the people he mentored, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton. Essentially, it's an inspiring primer on how to achieve success without sacrificing principles (and a great holiday gift). Thanks HBS!
What our clients have to offer

Wild Bills Soda
Not from a can, not from plastic, and definitely not a cola, Wild Bill’s Olde Fashioned Soda Pop is an experience unlike anything you have tried before! We know because we tried it. Wild Bill's takes the best quality products and transforms them into flavors that remind us of our childhood. Made with pure cane sugar, each of Wild Bill’s eight mouth-watering flavors are brewed fresh from their authentic wooden kegs. From Vintage Vanilla Cream to Sasparilla Six Shooter, every flavor is a cool blast of delicious nostalgia.

Friends of Venture Architects will receive 10% off your order when you enter “VAWB” as the coupon code at checkout. This offer is valid through December 31, 2009.
What our clients are accomplishing

Congratulations to Burford Capital Limited, a commercial dispute investor, for raising $130 million in an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange's AIM market in October, making it London's second-biggest IPO so far this year! Shares in Burford, which finances commercial litigation in the U.S. in return for a share of any cash awarded to its clients, began trading on October 21. The IPO attracted major institutional fund managers including Invesco, Fidelity and Baillie Gifford. Using a portfolio investment approach, Burford Capital seeks to provide investors with attractive dividend returns and capital appreciation. Burford Capital's Board of Directors is chaired by Sir Peter Middleton, the former Chairman and Chief Executive of Barclays. Burford Group Limited serves as the Investment Adviser to Burford Capital. Burford Group's Principals are Christopher Bogart, Time Warner's former general counsel, and Selvyn Seidel, a former senior partner at Latham & Watkins.

If you are a college sports lover, you shouldn’t miss Buster Sports. This ultimate fan site offers provocative insider perspective on college football and basketball from the coaches of the teams you love or love to hate. They provide a tailgate-like online community where fans interact with experts and other fans to showcase their competitive pride and love of the game. With the mantra, "Being a Fan is no Longer a Spectator Sport" makes it easy to be a "fan-atic" about NCAA, Bowl Championship Series (BCS) football and associated basketball teams. Visit their website and help them continue their month-to-month trend of double-digit growth in site traffic.

Wall Street Services is a New York City-based INC. 500 firm that provides staffing for financial services, legal, insurance, and management consulting clientele. Their clients seek MBA consultants, accounting professional, financial analysts, traders, reconciliation and trade and sales support. Wall Street Services' administrative staffing division specializes in providing talented executive and legal assistants to clients who require the best and brightest. They are a great resource the next time you’re looking to hire or get hired.

What we care about

Changing the present
It's not our style to repeat information, but with the holidays just around the corner, we wanted to remind you about a special gift giving organization we introduced in our Q2 2008 newsletter.
If you are hunting for the perfect holiday gift for someone who has everything, or even someone who doesn't, take a look at They are making the world a better place one gift at a time by connecting gift givers with more than 1,500 meaningful charitable gifts that change the world. Browse by cause or nonprofit organization to find meaningful gifts for friends and family. You can personalize a printed greeting card, which has a photo and description of your gift, right from the website. This is a sure-fire way to avoid being put on a "worst gifts ever received" list.

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 $750 million in investment capital.

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