Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises lead the World Economy

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution recognising the crucial role Micro-, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) play in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and declared 27th of June the day for MSMEs Celebration. 

Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, all member countries have been striving to implement the agenda and ensuring to contribute as much as they can. MSMEs are the backbone of most economies worldwide and play a key role in developing countries. According to International Council for Small Business, MSMEs make up over 90% of all firms and account on average for 60-70% of total employment and 50% of GDP.

Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises have the potential to make a long-lasting positive impact on global development needs, since they are the engine for economic growth and job creation, accounting for two out of three net new jobs created worldwide. Since Agile Precis Ventures acknowledges the importance of MSMEs, we offer a wide variety of services customised to your specific needs and goals! In addition to our vast knowledge and experience, the Co-Founder & Stakeholder Relations Officer of Agile Precis Inc. Dillon Franks is a proud member of The International Council for Small Business. 

May - World Trade Month

Every year during May we celebrate World Trade Month. It highlights the opportunities trade brings to companies, countries and the world economy, celebrates companies that export goods/services around the world and educated the public on the importance of global trade. 

The mission of Agile Precis Ventures is to provide the citizens of the World with meaningful employment through sustainable and growing Small and Medium Sized Enterprises. Working with businesses to provide expertise, education, operational systems, sales and marketing, finance opportunities that will help them become the members and participants of the world trade. 

One of our main priorities at this point is Georgia - located between Europe and Asia on a historical “Silk Road”, the economy of Georgia is highly integrated with international markets.

Georgia’s liberal trade regimes provide investors with a favourable opportunity to not only access the country’s 3.7 m residents, but the wider region’s markets, as a direct result of the absence of customs and import tariffs. Georgia has a Generalised System of Preferences with the US.

Financial Literacy Month

April marks the beginning of Financial Literacy Month in the United States. Since 2004, Financial Literacy Month has designated April as a period to promote and refine the pecuniary analysis and decision making abilities of the American people. While Financial Literacy Month was originally conceived as a government initiative to fortify the monetary choices of everyday citizens, this event has been well received and heavily promoted by various communities in the private sector.

At Agile Precis Ventures, we believe that Financial Literacy Month touches the very soul of our group’s mission. Through our business coaching, consulting expertise, and access to advanced pedagogical technologies, expanding the financial comprehension of our clients is at the core of APV. Our staff is composed of veteran entrepreneurs from a variety of business backgrounds. This diversity of experience translates to a thorough understanding of sound fiscal practices applied over multiple area of life. Our experience, when harnessed through our partnered universities, as well as IBM programs such as Watson and 3D virtual reality training, creates a robust classroom in which can blossom anywhere on Earth.

6th Millionth Tourist Surprise in Georgia!

Over the past decade, Georgia has had increased flow of visitors and tourists to the country. International arrivals increased by 7.6% in 2016 (compared to 2015) adding up to 6,350,825 people.

On March 10th, Georgian National Tourism Administration decided to welcome the 6 millionth visitor into its borders with exceptional style. Jesper Black, a visitor from the Netherlands arrived in Tbilisi International Airport and was invited to  dine with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. At the dinner personally hosted by Prime Minister Kvirikashvili, the Dutch national was introduced to Georgian cuisine, culture, and history.

The steadily increasing number of tourists traveling to Georgia is indicative of Georgia’s economic and societal growth. The rise of inbound tourists has paralleled the consistent increase in Georgian GDP. Much of this expansion has come as a result of small and medium size business growth by Georgian entrepreneurs.  

Agile Precis Ventures is currently positioning itself to accelerate the growth of the Georgian economy by providing business consulting as well as educational and software support to Georgian startups. Through our own software as well as our partner’s innovations such as IBM’s Watson, we are prepared to provide Georgian entrepreneurs the resources they need to succeed in the marketplace.

For the amazing video of the 6 millionth tourist please visit: 6 millionth tourist surprise in Georgia

For more information on which industries we work in and other details please visit: Agile Precis Ventures

Georgian Viticulture: An 5000-Year-Old Tradition

Since roughly 5000 B.C., the people inhabiting the country of Georgia have practiced fermenting the many grape varieties native to South Caucasus. Noted for their extensive array of forms and cultivation, Georgian wines have long been considered some of the most exquisite in Asia, if not the world. As a result of the Cold War, as well as French and American wine production, Georgian wine has faced many obstacles to reaching Western consumer markets. However, these challenges have not hampered the impressive sophistication and taste that imbibers experience when tasting a glass of Tvishi or Mukuzani.

From its humble origins in clay pots buried under the earth of the scenic Caucus Mountains, Georgian viticulture has grown tremendously over the past few decades.

Today, Georgian wine is poised to emerge onto the international market. The Georgian economy has become increasingly integrated with the European Union and other neighboring nations. With Georgia’s rising role in the world economy, it is expected that the wine produced within its borders is finding a wider audience with international consumers.

To oenophiles in the US, Georgian wine can be hard to find.  If you know of a good store where they are offered, let us know and we will pass the word around.  We at Agile Precis Ventures are excited to take a part in this expansion of a signature Georgian product.

Through developing SME’s, Agile Precis Ventures will fuel innovation and job growth in Georgia and throughout the developing world.

For more information on Georgian wine please visit: Georgian Wine

Information on our activities check: Agile Precis Ventures  

Customer Insights Comes from Internally Collected Data

Customer Insights Comes from Internally Collected Data

It is no secret that the most successful businesses are the ones that know their customers well.  It is also no secret that big businesses spend billions focusing their attention on just that, knowing their customers.  Today all businesses must be customer centric and have a process for collecting customer insights. What can a small, cash strapped business do to compete?

For one thing, small businesses are by nature closer to their customers making unstructured data (one on one conversations in person or on the phone) easier to collect.  Also, structured data (invoices, cash receipts, inventory purchases, inventory turns, etc.) exists in bookkeeping systems and can be put in order to analyze the true results of business operations.  After all it is not the effort expended that is the guarantor of success, it is the results of the effort.

Does your small or medium sized business have a management information system that combines structured and unstructured data that is used by all departments to run your business and gauge its health?  If it does, do you know how to read it?  We have seen how a lot of SMBs who were early adopters of CRM systems dropped them in favor of a basic contact management system and how perfectly useful accounting systems just buzz with warning signs because no one understands the implications of the reports if they bother to read them except when it is tax time.

Utilizing technology is not a “like to have” for successful businesses today. It is a “need to have”.  Of course the technology you use must be effective and produce results, it must have an immediate ROI to be affordable for most SMBs.  That’s where Agile Precis Ventures can help.  We can provide affordable technology designed specifically for your business, plus the sales-marketing and financial management to operate it for less than the cost of a typical C level executive.

Business Owners Need to Get Out of Their Own Way

If you are an entrepreneur or the owner of a small or medium sized business, there are times when you get a little paranoid or have periods of uncertainty which cause you to Google the Top Ten Reasons Small Businesses Fail" right?

In over 30 years of working with small and medium sized businesses I have had experience with many facing major trouble, including my own. Overwhelmingly, owners tend to blame the lack of availability of capital or economic conditions.. What I have found is that this is usually delusional. Statistics from the Small Business Administration indicate that the economy has little impact on small business survival, nor does the industry in which the small business is involved. 

Restaurants do not have a failure rate greater than retail or construction firms, for that matter. Regarding capital, most successful small businesses I have been associated with were self-financed, in other words profitability was the source of their capital. Only about 6% of capital for young firms comes from Angels or VCs (venture capitals). 

Interestingly, recently VCs and Angels have taken to investing only in young companies who are passed the seed stage usually about 2-5 years old. Add to that the realization that the first thing VCs usually do when they invest is move to replace the founder as CEO.

My analysis has concluded, that the number one reason small businesses fail is  because the owners get in their own way. Its a management issue, primarily. Usually, we can find the issue buried is the sales trends of the business and upon investigation we will find a change in the marketplace, usually customer attitudes. Being always on the pulse, always on the lookout for changing trends is crucial. Ever heard the term: the world just passed them by? Dont let this happen to you!

By correcting the market strategy, providing skilled staffing and proven sales methodologies, we can most likely turn a lemon into a lemonade for less than you can do it yourself. More importantly, always pay attention to what to customers are requesting, how their tastes are changing from time to time. After all, marketing is the beating heart of a business and sales in the lifeblood, why leave those important functions to chance?

Applying Social Entrepreneurship Theory to the Real World

APRIL 13, 2016

Applying Social Entrepreneurship Theory to the Real World

This spring, Professor Bala Mulloth launched Developing a New Social Venture, a capstone course offered to fourth-years in Batten’s undergraduate program. Part of the suite of SE@UVA social entrepreneurship classes, the three-credit course, originally taught by Professor Mulloth to MBA students at Central European University Business School in Budapest, takes students “out of the classroom and into the marketplace.” Throughout the semester, students have the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship by building a business from the ground up. Student self-organize in teams and work with Professor Mulloth and local entrepreneurs to take their ideas from concept to launch, culminating in a final assessment of the venture’s viability.     

The 13 students currently enrolled in the course are building on theories and concepts learned in Mulloth’s social entrepreneurship class, “Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship.” In the introductory class, these students had the opportunity to pitch initial concepts. Now, they have the chance to build out the idea and launch their venture.

The class is a unique offering for undergraduates. It is loosely structured into five phases rather than typical bi-weekly or weekly class sessions. The five phases are Scoping and Viability, Team Creation and Business Plan Development, Building the Organization, Resource Building and Running the Venture, and Final Assessment. Instead of traditional lectures, Professor Mulloth encourages students to use class time for data collection. He also invites local entrepreneurs, business advisors and venture capitalists to speak to students each week. These guest speakers share personal lessons learned from past experiences, including key takeaways from their successes and failures. Students then have the opportunity to pitch their business to the visitors, who provide feedback and advice for the student venture.

“The course mirrors the process social entrepreneurs go through. The students develop the professional skills they need to create socially-minded ventures that are attractive to customers as well as investors. They also explore public-private partnerships and policies that might affect the venture,” says Professor Mulloth.

A team of five Batten students are working on developing their own venture, C’Full, an after-school program that educates area youth about nutrition. The idea originated in the Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship class. Students have successfully negotiated a partnership with Whole Foods to secure less expensive food for the program. They have also signed an agreement with Zion Union Baptist Church as the first venue for their after-school program. Their goal is to become sustainable through grants and donations and pass on the project to interested Batten students in the fall.

Emma Clark, one of the founders of C’Full, says, “[This course] has allowed me to take what I have learned about the growing problem of childhood obesity and create a real company that aims to increase nutrition education and bring healthy options to children in Charlottesville. The class has provided me with real experience creating a business and I learned more about what it takes to create a social venture from creating partnerships and relationships to scaling and creating a business plan.”

While some students are working on their own social venture ideas, others are working with local entrepreneurs to amplify existing business development efforts. Two Charlottesville companies, Agile Precis Ventures and 2 Gen Cville, have partnered with Professor Mulloth to provide students with opportunities to take part in the venture creation process.

Agile Precis Ventures’s key project is Pearl Island Foods, a venture that serves to bring awareness of Haitian cuisine and culture to the Charlottesville market and hopes to develop a strategy for accessing the local customer base. Students have tested the product and have started to form partnerships with local grocers such as Rebecca’s Natural Food. 2 Gen Cville provides single mothers in Charlottesville with access to higher education and supports children with early childhood education programming. Students have helped to grow the nonprofit and develop its niche in Charlottesville’s crowded nonprofit industry.

The local entrepreneurs are happy with the students’ success and contributions to their companies. The model is a win-win for Batten students and Charlottesville business-owners: Students love being able to work on real-world problems and entrepreneurs are happy to have the help and even serve as mentors. Professor Mulloth hopes that these unique partnerships may lead to long-term opportunities for those students interested in the ventures.

“We are very pleased and impressed with the enthusiasm, dedication, responsibility, and thought process the students have brought to the table,” says Dillon Franks, CMO of Agile Precis. Although the students do not have in depth business training, “they are all clear and practical thinkers who only need to be mentored.” Thus far, Franks has been happy to step into the role of mentor for the capstone students.

At the end of the semester, students will not be graded solely on the success of the business or viability of the concept. Rather, Professor Mulloth hopes students learn valuable lessons throughout the semester. A student’s ability to demonstrate personal growth because of his or her experience as an entrepreneur is success in itself.


Assistant Professor of Public Policy
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Garrett Hall L020A

Business Growth Formula

In over 40 years of working in both small, medium and large business organizations, I have developed a formula to develop business growth strategies.  Without getting in to an MBA discussion the methods for operating a business vary depending on the investors (owners) objectives.   Large, publicly help businesses tend to be operated for the sake of profit alone and as a result pay an extraordinary amount of attention to managing expenses and costs.  How many times have you heard a corporate CEO say; “We need to increase profit so let’s hire a bunch of sales people and put on another production line”?  Small and medium sized businesses see this cost control emphasis and catch the same disease.   I learned a business truth early in my business career from my father.  I was running one of our family’s lumber yards and was compensated on a small salary with a bonus based on net profit.  I proceeded to cut the heck out of expenses trying to make my bonus.   He finally came to me and said; “you are going to cut us right out of business!”  Lesson number one; it takes an honest investment to support an enterprise, there is a point below which your business model cannot be run so, focus on growing profitable sales. 

A second lesson I learned was from the Vice President of Marketing for a major quick serve hamburger restaurant chain.  We talked about branding, a consistent marketing message, customer perception, etc.  At the end of our conversation he looked me in the eye and said; “Dillon, it’s not so much about the food, it’s about new products.”  His point being, without innovation and new products his company wouldn’t and couldn’t grow beyond adding new stores which is not sustainable.

Much later in my career I was a Corporate Account Executive for Kinko’s Copies in the Dallas-Ft Worth market, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how businesses used Kinko’s, for what and the impact Kinko’s could have on their business operations.  It was an early exercise in being customer centric rather than business centric and we worked hard to figure out WIFT (what’s in it for them).  We were well trained by Miller-Heiman in their Strategic Sales Methodology to work our way through small, medium and large companies and build networks within those companies.  The result was business we did not even see coming.   One day I had stopped by our branch in Plano, TX, a women customer called my name, came running over and grabbed my elbow.  I recognized her as representing a large local real estate broker.  She said to me; “Dillon, I came in here because of you, but I’m coming back because of them”, pointing to my Kinko’s co-workers (we never called Kinko’s people “employees”).   That’s customer service.

Growth comes from understanding your customers as well or better than they know themselves, developing products that they will want to improve their circumstances, positioning your business to be easy to buy from and making the necessary investment to support your customer centric plan. 

Go Get ‘em Sparky!

During over 30 years of working with small and medium sized businesses (SMB) we have discovered a universal truth; the most expensive mistake SMBs make is hiring a VP of Sales too soon.  Research from the firm Leadership IQ shows that 46% of new hires fail within 18 months.  Think about the consequences, hiring and training a new employee can be very expensive, undermining profitability.  Calculations will easily reach 200% of the employees’ annual compensation figure for managerial and sales positions. Show me a CEO of a start-up or any other SMB who wants to throw money out the window like that!

When building a successful sales machine it is not all about hiring the right people either.  It is also about providing those people with the appropriate training, tools and guidance to do the job.  Giving them a feature-benefit dump sales pitch, pushing them out the door and saying; “Go get’em Sparky” is not a formula for success.  A successful sales strategy starts with a structured methodology for designing and reviewing a customer acquisition process that is appropriate for your value proposition and business model.  It starts with the idea that the only right way to build a sales and marketing process is to design it around your customers.   Most of the time we have found SMBs are using a company-centric processes which is not working as well as hoped or is significantly underperforming because they failed to take into consideration the customer’s concerns and motivations, leading to VP Sales turnover and CEO discontent.

The SMB sales machine must be customer centric, scalable, and repeatable.  It must also contain these elements:

  1. Ensure that Sparky is aligned with Marketing.
  2. Automate Sparky so he/she can access and act on real data both structured and unstructured generated by your company.
  3. Give Sparky the tools (CRM) to communicate and engage both prospects and customers and you the ability to track Sparky’s activity and results.
  4. Train Sparky in the appropriate sales methodology that has the best chance for success within your business model.