Venus Williams and V*Starr Interiors – Think Like an Entrepreneur, Head to the Cloud
Venus Williams learned a lot from her father and mother growing up, the game of tennis, female self-esteem, and thinking like an entrepreneur. According to her 2010 New York Times best seller, “Come to Win“, after four to five hours of practice a day, her father would hold family discussions about economics and social Darwinism. It is this relentless work ethic and her business sense that I have come to admire most about Venus. Even while she was in her tennis prime, she was already looking into the future and starting to pursue her other passions, like design and owning her own business.
In 2002 she started V*Starr Interiors, a company that specializes in commercial and residential interior design. In 2004, she made the decision to use Design Manager to run her design business. Back then, the version of Design Manager was Pro 6.0 desktop, which many of our clients remember fondly. As her business continued to grow and the design team started to need more and more features, they came to us in 2014 looking to upgrade. I was excited to start working with them and show them all of the new improvements.
At that point we had been offering the cloud software for 6 years and it was out-selling our desktop software 50 to 1. I was confident that Venus would see all the benefits of cloud software. She did. We were set to move V*Starr to our Pro Cloud software. The transition went as planned except for one problem; we all came to find out that their internet connection was just not stable enough to give them the speed and access that they were comfortable with. At the time, it felt like a huge loss, but we moved them up to the latest desktop software and they were satisfied with the upgrade. It may have been a loss, but it was not a defeat.
Over the next two years, I stayed in contact with Venus and her team. I checked in on them and followed up on what features they were using and kept them thinking about the cloud for the future. In November of 2015, Venus was speaking at the BDNY Trade Fair in NYC about the challenges, opportunities and trends facing the hospitality design industry. I was able to attend the seminar and found it interesting, relevant, and fun. Afterwards I was fortunate enough to spend time talking with Venus and Sonya Haffey, Design Director at V*Starr Interiors. Once again I saw Venus’s business acumen as we talked about the cloud software. Venus saw the benefits in having her employees be able to access their project information from anywhere, not having to worry about backing up their 10+ years of accounting data and the flexibility it gave her employees to use Mac or PC devices without needing expensive servers or hardware maintenance. Sonya was interested in the continual feature updates and the fact that the business would always be using the most up-to-date software.
The timing was right because V*Starr Interiors was moving offices and upgrading their internet in the Spring. Throughout the winter I worked with Michelle Koppelman, Project Designer at V*Starr Interiors, to arrange a plan for them to transition to the cloud. We actually chose to do it during their move in mid-March 2016 and it was a huge success. Michelle and Sonya were organized, cool under pressure, and a pleasure to work with. They had to organize the whole move of the physical computers over to the new building, in addition to communicating with our team as we did the data conversion and set up the account. Our tech support team logged in remotely with each user to make sure that they knew exactly how to login and access the software. The day after, Sonya said, “The conversion went smoothly and the tech support team took expert care of us during the transition.” We were happy to work with their team and get them upgraded to the best software package for their design business. When I followed up with Michelle a few weeks later she mentioned, “Everything is working great- no complaints! Thank you very much! The cloud transition was seamless from start to finish.”
This is just a snapshot into one of the thousands of cloud conversions that we have done at Design Manager over the past 8 years. We pride ourselves on building lasting relationships with our clients where our goal is to help their interior design business succeed and be their trusted IT partner. Through technology booms and busts Design Manager has been in business for over 30 years and it is because of these solid, long-term relationships. We cherish these relationships and have always run our business by placing our clients’ needs first. Therefore, we are honored when clients’ like Venus say, “I have been using Design Manager for years at my design firm, V*Starr Interiors, and highly recommend Design Manger to all design firms as it is a very useful tool to keep projects organized, and best of all it is extremely user friendly.”
I don’t know when Venus sleeps, possibly on plane rides to and from tournaments or business meetings, but she was gracious enough to lend us time for an interview. To read her thoughts on time management, organization, advice for women in business and more, please read our interview here: http://designmanager.wpengine.com/venus-williams.