Architecture popularly known as a creative field, with myriad theories formulated by architects, sculpts the built structures with a calling that is from within the architect. Almost everything seen by the eyes, felt by one’s presence in the surrounding, everything has an impact on how an Architect finds his calling of wanting the world he/she lives to be in a particular way, beneficial for all. The architectural schooling phase is one of the crucial times in the life of an architect as every institution structures its course in different ways that better suit the students.
But there is one aspect that almost all architecture schools miss to educate the aspiring architects, how to run an entrepreneurial practice. Ar. Rodney Robles in this interview throws light on this aspect.
Business of Architecture
This YouTube channel that was started in 2011 has a collection of facts and knowledge shared by architects around the world on how to shape oneself as a better architect, strategies to start and run the practice successfully, especially guides small firms or startups to excel in their venture, a place to find the answers to questions that are normally not found elsewhere, trying to bridge the gap between the academics and profession. Episode 276 of the channel was an interview with Ar. Rodney Robles from Mexico has been in practice for 15 years as of 2021.
Architect and entrepreneur Rodney Robles
Rodney Robles is the founder of an architecture firm Factor: Recurso, based in Monterrey, Mexico. The initial 7 years of his practice were focused on getting more projects with low pay (as there are no standard rules on standardized pay) like any fresher in the field would do. The reason being so naïve on how too much should be charged.
Though the projects or the business part of architecture was not so good, the hard work put into every project that came their way brought the firm laurels. It was only after 7 years that Ar. Rodney Robles balanced the focus of running a successful business along with practice. And also, had planned to conduct workshops to help architecture startup firms in Mexico build business along with practice from the beginning.
What to look for in this talk with Rodney Robles?
This talk with Rodney Robles covered topics especially focused on making business or taking the business to the next level with his insights and his journey after architecture school into the field and after 13 years where he stands and how far he has managed to take his firm. The talk can be broadly divided into 3 subtopics: how social media especially Instagram helps business, his realization, and the journey that led to pivot his focus towards business, strategies for business.
Journey of Ar. Rodney Robles
Ar. Rodney Robles was interested in both civil and architecture so he was pursuing both and eventually dropped out after the fourth semester from the civil engineering course as he found out that he was inclined towards architecture. He shares his journey of how he got his first project and how his works brought him more clients and how he got later projects. He later on invested time on books that were given to him by his dad that had books old and new, those taught him the strategies to run a better business, the importance of sales and marketing, none of which are taught at architecture schools. On doing the same he envisions starting a platform called archipreneurship to help firms level up their business.
How does social media help businesses?
Ar. Rodney Robles has an Instagram page named Rodney.Robles, that has been active for the past 4 years. As people in today’s world are aware of social media it has become quite a platform for marketing and showcasing one’s business. Rodney Robles prefers Instagram to Facebook as Instagram is curated in a way it is a place for eye-candy photographs. He discussed his posting schedules on how frequent he posts and how he chooses when to post something.
More than feeds, the Instagram story feature has more power to show people who you are. From his experience of running a successful page, he discusses the importance of curation of the Instagram page, what kind of posts engage people, and how documentation helps.
Strategies for firms to run their practice along with Business
Initially, it was through word of mouth that most freshers got their clients. Nowadays social media is a big win for such people so engagingly curating them to reveal the nature of one’s work and how the firm focuses on specific specializations, how they go about the process from visiting the sites, concepts to execution. Rodney Robles believes that the fundamentals for selling are building trust, and having a good behavioral personality.
Rodney Robles shared points on how to get clients without underpricing. The best way to gain clients is by having a good portfolio, experience in the field, whole service like from designing to execution. Marketing and business can excel by building networks. Who you know and who you get to know is crucial for any business to thrive. Three key questions that one has to give an in-depth thought before venturing into starting up a brand are, what you want to do with your firm, how are you choosing to go about it, and finally why you want to do it.
We all have heard inspiring stories and journeys of renowned architects, they do teach a lot, but if you’re a startup or a few years into the practice of architecture it makes more sense to look up to firms and architects who are not on our same level of experience, likewise not too old. Ar. Rodney Robles falls into this category where the startup firms of now can look up to. After all, schools don’t give the students the practical workings of the field, though it has been spoken about a lot.
So, architects coming forward to help the new young architects of the field grow through a mentorship program is pretty amazing and it makes it easier and less scary for those who want to run their firm. The whole talk had valuable points that every architect would agree to and help them step up.
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Archipreneur. (2018). Architecture Portfolio | Archipreneur Guide to Crafting a Great Portfolio. [online] Available at: https://archipreneur.com/5-top-tips-creating-great-architecture-portfolio/. [Accessed 1 Sep. 2021].