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Within the past few months, there have been a lot of changes surrounding the Entrepreneur Architect website and podcast. Several Young Architect readers have asked me if I know anything about the EntreArchitect Academy.
I reached out to Mark LePage and told him I was interested in writing a review, and he gladly invited me to be a part of the EntreArchitect Academy for a month, so I could see what’s been going on.
Back in February of 2014, I wrote a Review of Entreprenuer Architects Hybrid Proposal for Architectural Services Course. Through that product, Mark taught me a ton about architectural proposals. And at the end of my review, I listed the following as a con:
The EntreArchitect Academy has since been created, and it definitely provides the value I was asking for two years ago.
Who is Mark LePage, and what is EntreArchitect?
Every practicing Architect should know who Mark LePage is. It’s hard not to. But just in case, Mark LePage runs a small firm called Five Cat Studio Architecture in Westchester County, NY.
In 2013, he launched The Entrepreneur Architect podcast, a show that focuses on helping Architects create better businesses. In his podcast, Mark is deeply passionate about marrying the concepts of entrepreneurship to the business of architecture. He refuses to accept the Architect /starving artist mentality. He has dedicated his career to building a successful architecture business, and he is deeply committed to helping similar small- firm Architects do the same.
With every podcast, it is very clear that Mark LePage has become an extremely influential force by helping Architects build better businesses. And ultimately, he is helping advance the profession in a very positive direction.
At the end of 2015, Entrepreneur Architect was officially rebranded as EntreArchitect.
What is the EntreArchitect Academy?
My quick and dirty explanation of the EntreArchitect Academy is that it is similar to an online MBA education, but specifically for Practicing Architects.
Mark LePage began the Academy during the summer of 2014. He has essentially taken his podcast and turned it into a community of Architects coming together—to meet and discuss how to build more successful architecture businesses. The Academy has hundreds of hours of prerecorded videos and content dedicated to this mission.
Each month, the Academy has a dedicated topic, and everything focuses around that topic for the month. For the past few months, the topic has been Business Development, Culture, Leadership and Finances. Upcoming topics will be Contracts, Fees, Virtual Studios, Social Media, Marketing, Sales, and Legal Issues.
The program is made up of several components. Here is a quick description of each one. Later in this review, I look at each component and break it down further:
1. The Academy Expert Training—A monthly presentation from an industry professional.
2. The Weekly Member Calls—Academy members meet (via video chat) in small groups to discuss various topics.
3. Video Library—The Academy archive of videos and trainings.
4. Resource Library—Access to all EntreArchitect products and other resources.
5. Private Member Forum—Access to a private web forum, Facebook group, and Slack channel, all exclusively for academy members.
The Academy costs $147/month, $397 a quarter or $1,497/year. Since the Academy is very structured, all members are put into small groups for weekly member calls, and there are a very limited number of seats available. Unfortunately, signing up is only available for a limited time.
Who is this program for?
The EntreArchitect Architect is perfectly suited for many people, including:
- All practicing Architects that are deeply interested in expanding their knowledge of the business of Architecture.
- Anyone considering starting their own Design firm.
- Architects who are feeling isolated and are looking to connect with other like-minded professionals that are facing similar challenges.
- Recently Licensed Young Architects, who are looking to transition into the next chapter of their careers.
- Landscape Architects, as they have many similar challenges.
The Components of the Academy
As I mentioned earlier, there are several moving parts to the Academy. I’ll break each of them down into more detail:
1.The Academy Expert Training
Once a month, the Academy brings in an Expert to give a live training about a particular topic. The rest of the month, the Academy focuses their discussions on that topic.
At the time of this writing in late April 2016, there are 5 expert trainings. They are:
- In April 2016, the topic was Culture. Steve Wintner AIA gave a training called “The Culture of Accountability”.
- In March 2016, the topic was Leadership. Philip A. Hodgin, AIA gave a training called “Large Firm Leadership Lessons for Small Firm Architects”
- In February 2016, the topic was Business Development. Rochelle Carrington gave a training called “7 Ways to Create Demand for Your Services.”
- In January 2016, the topic was Finance. Rena Clein FAIA gave a presentation called “Financial Management: Key Concepts.”
- In December 2015, Todd Redding from Charette Venture Group gave a presentation called “Supersize Your Small Firm.”
It’s important to note that these trainings aren’t just something to passively listen to. Each presenter gives you actionable to-do items that you walk away with. And do (dare I say it?)… Homework.
The Expert Training calls are recorded and posted on the website, in case you cannot meet when they are offered live.
2.Weekly Member Calls
This is one of my favorite parts of the program. Each week, Academy members come together in small groups and have a discussion about a chosen topic.
Prior to the meeting, Mark sends out of a list of questions for members to discuss. They’re either based on the most recent Expert Training, a recent podcast, or another discussion that has been recorded and shared across the Academy. The discussion is lead by an Academy member facilitator, who keeps the conversation productively moving.
I was only able to make it to 3 of these calls. But each time I did, I found it extremely powerful to hear about other Architects’ experiences, successes, and challenges surrounding the chosen topic.
Prior to the meeting, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to contribute much, but after it started, I ended up having a great time being a part of this discussion. Everyone in my group was very supportive about helping others in the group troubleshoot challenges that they seem to be facing in their practice.
The weekly meetings are done in GoToMeeting, and they seem to work pretty flawlessly. Some people use video chat, and others call in. These conversations are not recorded, which allows everyone to be candid.
3. The Video Library
This library essentially includes the Academy’s archive of videos. I had a ton of fun watching these videos. I actually watched most them on my iPhone while I was walking my dog.
I watched about 10 of them, and none of them were duds. Each video offered a ton of value, and often learning about the people who were contributing to the conversation was very entertaining and interesting. At the time of this writing, there are over 40 videos available, and these will only continue to grow over time.
There are currently videos available on the following topics:
Goals for 2016, How to Grow Your Small Firm, Member Goals (Small Group Test), How To Make More Money, ArchiSnapper App, Member Questions, Passive Income, Get Focused, Houzz.com, Hiring a Team Project, Interviews, Stress, Professional Liability Insurance, Your Target Market, Branding, Mentorship, Getting Things Done, Design Software, Member Questions, Customer Service, Financial Reports, Public Speaking, Vacations & Down Time, Work Spaces, Member Questions, Negotiation, Partnerships, Networking, Websites, Goal Setting, Work/Life Integration, Video Marketing, Member Questions, Growing Your Firm, Fees & Fee Structures, Personal Productivity, Legal Issues, Social Media, Sales Systems, The Virtual Studio, and Contracts & Agreements
4. Resource Library
The resource library contains access to all of the EntreArchitect Products, which currently include:
- The Hybrid Proposal For Architectural Services Course (which I mentioned earlier) – Here is a link to my review from Feb 2014.
- Foundations: Business Forms and Checklists for Small Firm Architects – I reviewed this product as well.
- The Hybrid Proposal Construction Management Addendum Package
- Entrepreneur Architect Business Trends: Survey 2014
- Profit for Small Firm Architects: Digital Course
- Get Focused: Digital Course
Several members of the Academy have also shared their own Architectural Proposals, Client Questionnaires, Staff Meeting Agendas, and several other documents.
All of this information is readily available to Academy members to use at no additional cost.
5. Member Forum
The Member Forum is a private community where members of EntreArchitect Academy meet to support one another, compare notes or just hang out and chat. The academy uses Slack to facilitate this discussion. Slack allows members to quickly share resources to each other.
Generally speaking, I was truly impressed with the EntreArchitect Academy. During my month as a member, it was very evident that a ton of hard work has been put into this program.
Here is my list of Pros and Cons:
- The Information – This program is a goldmine for any entrepreneur architect looking to grow their business and be more successful. The archive alone makes the Academy worth the value.
- The Community – Through the weekly discussions, I quickly learned that the Academy is a wonderful place to meet and connect with other Architects around the world. (Mark LePage told me they have members in Australia, Berlin, Philippines and Africa.) I could see how it would be an incredibly valuable resource to Architects living in rural areas or places with a weak local AIA.
- The Price – Is $147/month, $397 a quarter or $1,497/year a lot of money? At first glance, I thought it was. But after seeing the value of this program firsthand, good luck getting this information or education anywhere else (e.g., the AIA, MBA Programs, or Continuing Ed) at anywhere near that cost. Now I actually think this program is priced too low. But what do I know?
- The Accessibility – I watched many of the videos on the go, I couldn’t turn off the screen because it would pause the video. But that was ok because I just stuck the phone in my jacket pocket with the video running. It’s really easy to access this information.
- Information Overload – There is so much valuable information in this program, there is no way someone could join for a month and get in and get out. In my month, I felt like I was just scratching the surface of what the Academy had to offer.
- The Enrollment Periods – Currently you can only join the program 4 times a year.The next enrollment will be in May 2016.
- Time Commitment – I spent around 2-5 hours a week participating in weekly discussions and watching the expert trainings and archived videos. I blocked out my calendar for weekly discussions, but due to client demands, I was only able to make 2 out of 4.
Mark LePage has started a revolution by empowering Architects to be more successful. The future of this program looks very bright, and I believe that it will continue to grow over time.