The Studio 17: The Architect Entrepreneur
by Tim Alatorre
Posted on April 23, 2010
architects, Business, CalPoly, Chris Allen, CSE, CWA Studios, Google, Marketing, Networking, Social Media, Unemployment
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Haley is out this week but Elise Drakes fills in as co-host and Seth Pare-Mayer, Kelli Franz, and Alaina McBride join us for an unusual show on Architectural entrepreneurship and how to market yourself.
Don’t forget to tell your friends about us, join our Facebook Group, leave reviews on iTunes, vote for us on Podcast Alley, and follow us on Twitter!
- Tim’s Big News… he passed the California Supplemental Exam!!
- New Facebook “likers”
- Chris Allen
- Chris Foisy
Cal Poly News (no general news this week)
- Hearst Lecture: 04/23/10 Ray Landy Business Rotunda, 4:00pm
- reKINETIC exhibit still ongoing
- Thursday, April 15 – Sunday, June 6, 2010
- Spring Job Fair, Thursday (4/22/10)
- Henry DeHahn updated his image gallery http://gallery.me.com/henridehahn
- Seth and Kelli decided to go out on their own the day after graduation
- They did their IDP and gained experience with Architects part-time throughout school then they moved to San Francisco and worked for a couple years with firms similar to the type that they wanted to start.
- Were you scared? Tim is!
- Never afraid, it was always a goal, and they had good training in the firms they worked for.
- Seth was laid off at the same time they got a job, that pushed them to go out on their own.
- Seth has finished the IDP, Kelli is almost done and they are starting to take the ARE’s.
- Their goal is to do small residential and light commercial projects.
- How are you getting work?
- Networking. Shmoosing everybody. Farmers market as a networking tool.
- Were listed in Dwell online: http://www.dwell.com/articles/sunset-district-renovation.html
- Also on Daily Candy: http:// www .dailycandy.com/san-francisco/article/80802/Local-Mission-Eatery-Opens
- Alaina’s perspective
- How to use Social Networking for marketing:
- How to use a Facebook fan page
- Collaborations – a key marketing trend as a way to offer unique combination services
- Seth and Kelli have been collaborating with Chris Allen: http://www. cwastudios .co m/. Chris designs and builds custom casework into their residential projects.
- Building relationships with contractors
- Kelli and Seth: What is it like to work with contractors right out of school?
- Worked with other firms and learned not to have an adversarial relationship with the contractor
- Working towards a common goal
- Involve builder as soon as possible
- Sometimes they have better ideas, it’s a give and take
- Clear communication prevents problems
- Elise’s question to Seth and Kelli: How do you avoid being taken advantage of (i.e. underpaid and overworked) by Owners because you are young/still gaining experience?
- Kelli and Seth feel as though they bring energy to their projects, and typically they establish a pay schedule which allows them flexibility to put in as many long hours as needed, while not feeling underworked/overpaid
- Alaina encourages Seth and Kelli to use their youth as a marketing advantage; older consumer generations are realizing that younger generations are more receptive and skilled at innovative technology
- Whats the greatest challenge of working on your own?
- Realization of how long the process is from the first contact to getting a signed contract
- Where do you splurge and save?
- Splurged on their desk, made by Chris Allen
- Save everywhere else they can
- Many tasks often outsourced by other architects (i.e. photography of projects, editing, website building) are done by Seth and Kelli to lower costs and keep work in-house (Elise’s side note: they are fantastic photographers
- Alaina’s perspective:
- Gorilla Marketing = Time, Energy, Imagination, not a large marketing budget
- The farmer’s market architect is a great example of marketing yourself and gaining contacts to sustain work
- Linked-In! (www.linkedin.com/ ) Your profile is highly ranked in Google
- Typically an older demographic, more professionals are on Linked-In
- Twitter! (http://www .tw itter .c om/ sloarch), find out what your competitors are doing
- Google Local (http://www.google.com/local/add/ ); puts you on a map literally; gets more reviews by local residents to increase your search visibility
- Use the “ladder effect” to get noticed
- Contact local media, they love talking to business owners!
- Yelp.com – Ask your clients to add your firm’s link to their profile
- Mission Eatery: h ttp://www.yelp.com/biz/local-mission-eatery-san-francisco
- Some general business advice from Alaina
- Have a good understanding of the cash flow process
- Have six months working capital when you start so you can wait out the start up process. Assume you are working for 6 months without pay
- Get good business advice
- Some free sources
- h ttp:// www.score.org – Service Core of Retired Executives contributing their time
- http:// www.sba.gov – Small business administration to find a Small Business Development Center http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/sbdc/index.html
- Business development classes
- Find local non profit business organizations
- Find good mentors, don’t be afraid to cold call people
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich –
- Some free sources
- For unemployed designers, you have the skills, design and sell something
- Ponoko.com – use digital manufacturing to design something to buy or sell directly on the site
- http://www.etsy.com/ – Make and sell stuff (jewelry, furniture, art)
- Do Seth and Kelli plan on growing or staying a small firm?
- They hope to maintain a steady workflow of projects, working side by side, in close contact with people they enjoy collaborating with
- Seth and Kelli saw a Cal Poly presentation and were inspired by the motto, “Start your career how you want to end your career.”
- The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It – Michael E. Gerber
- Get to know your ideal clientèle then you can learn to attract other people like them
- Baby-boomers are looking to younger professionals to leverage technology which gives younger people a competitive advantage
- Tim predicts Baroque Architecture being the next big thing
- Using your cat as your financial adviser; establish a person at your office (fictional or real) as the “financial person”; you want the face of the company to remain loved by all
- What are our best memories from Cal Poly?