Project Service Information
Facilitated by Ardent Partners
Services are able to be performed remotely, internationally and delivered to appropriate local contractors.
Business between our Partners or Associates are streamlined via Binder (our custom operating software).
Early Stage Projects
Our team has a process for assessing and evaluating projects at all stages. We look for innovative projects that have international application and significant market potential. Projects must eventually be self sustainable, true for all commercial or philanthropic ventures we undertake. We may arrange meetings with potentially suitable partners in a variety of fields and/or industries to assist in the development of the project.
The most typical goal for clients is to achieve funding, so it’s important that all prospective clients understand what is required and what may be expected in order to close a deal. Sometimes partners can be as valuable as capital, whether they are correcting, adding substance, improving presentation or delivering qualified results.
Our team has a process for assessing and evaluating a project team, and also the current and/or proposed overall management team. We place significant and equal emphasis on the skills, competence, attitude and suitability of individuals that form a team.
We need to see skill in the curation of necessary documentation that can be sufficiently (and where possible externally) validated. However, we understand that some entrepreneurs will require assistance, particularly those who are technically focused (the “mad inventors”). Impress us with whatever you have, we will watch, listen and ask questions – and this is where it’s important to know how to pitch.
What you have invented may be the most brilliant widget known to man… the most lucrative product, service or idea. However, if you cannot or have not validated it with market data or qualified it with third party experts, how do you really know?
We need to see that you and your team have invested time, sweat and equity (cash) into your idea after validating and qualifying it. Sometimes this is in the form of a prototype product which not only demonstrates features but also points of difference. Why and how is your product better, faster, cheaper. Why and how is your company going to be more profitable or more scalable. What level of quality. Comparisons required!
It’s important to understand the valuation can be treated in many different ways, and it has perspectives and opinions as well as factors of influence. Parties need to discuss and negotiate these points in order to calculate and weight them appropriately and fairly.
There are many instances where we will advise changes in a projects direction and for purposes that may impact existing partnerships, access to markets, cost of manufacturing and labour or even laws for the protection of IP and brand.
Sometimes a project will be increased or decreased in potential value. However, that must not be confused with actual value in the form of a valuation i.e. a project with a billion dollar potential market is not a billion dollar start up. Sometimes, value will be attributed to factors that ignore or discount a lack of past/current income.
We will need to first see an Executive Summary – 2-3 pages of high level information. This should be extracted from a Business Plan – 20-50 pages (not the other way around). Key factors, statistics, populous etc. type data should also be appropriately referenced so that numbers suggested in a forecast can be validated.
You will need to address feasibility, reasoning, points of difference, size and placement of market and justify why. You should note the level of quality, whether there are prototypes and what methods of testing have been done – does your widget meet certain internationally recognised standards i.e. for strength and safety.
There should be a formal financial forecast, a separate research referencing document and information on your team with respect to qualifications and experience i.e. a great product may perform poorly if the team managing the business is not adequate. Our team will seek to see how organised and capable your team is.
If a project has ticked all the boxes, or is willing and proves capable, we will look to involve relevant partners. This may be a process for validation, qualification and/or to seek interest from external sources that may have a use for the project’s widget and may be interested in investing or co-investing.
NB: This can create an environment where the investment party is driven to help make the project successful. We are also careful not to propose partners that may restrain or limit the project i.e. a manufacturer, where the project becomes locked into an inability to negotiate price for supply.
We will then approach our associate at Aegis Porter. They are are hybrid VC/PE (Venture Capital / Private Equity) firm that we have a close working relationship. If they are unwilling to fund or co-fund a project, we will open it up to other resources, funders and institutions as supporting project management partners.
We will assess the project beginning with an Executive Summary… and then we will assess the project team, the business as a whole, the business case, the business plan, the financial forecast, and all validation / qualification information that is available.
If we’re contracted to project manage your project, we will do as contracted and maintain a professional Project Management relationship with our client. This will require many team meetings to properly identify the Stakeholders, the Sponsor, and map the project in PM software.
If the project has a funding requirement, much of the process explained under “Early Stage Projects” will need to be fulfilled. This may be conducted simultaneously to project planning at the discretion of the team.
Depending on whether there is an existing Project Management Plan or not, what resources are available internally and/or as provided by the client, and whether the project budget has any kind of approved budget range, we will assess with a view to contracting professional Project Management services to a prospective client. We also have partners where we will refer or send business on a case by case basis.
We manage internal and external client projects as standalone projects or as part of a portfolio. Sometimes we will also seek to arrange funding for a project, the terms and term will vary from project to project and it may encompass a long term view with an ownership stake in the project company. Such arrangements will often include Ardent managing a portfolio of projects on behalf of that business.
A part of our job is inclusive of assessing value. This may be the value of a product, the expected value or income from a product vs prior or alternative products / services or its potential sales / margin in alternative markets. We could be required to value the entire project with respect to the business case and respective project management documentation i.e. viability, whether the project is for internal or external use.
We may seek various experts to effectively measure value and these factors impact schedule and budget. In order to effectively propose value, we must also be clear on the scope of the project and ideally have it plotted in PM software to identify which processes could be run simultaneously i.e. where time and budget are major factors, we may look to condense the schedule.
A client may ask us to engage, write, co-write, participate in, validate and/or qualify a feasibility study. This is generally a document created to support a major project that originated from a demand and carries a well definable business case (purpose) and scope.
The objective of a feasibility study is to validate and often also to qualify the project as feasible. Feasible means the execution and eventual existence of the project with all components (scope, budget, schedule, quality etc) considered, is more positive than not. The project is viable – the project is justified and worthy of investment.
Should the project require funding, the support of partners in related and/or relevant industries or assistance in the validation and qualification of a product or service, or to attract a major potential client… a project will need to ensure an adequate pitch is delivered to the intended party.
A pitch for project funding is entirely different to a pitch delivered to a potential client, or even potential partner. We can consult, guide, format, validate or potentially create a clients pitch. The client must clearly understand what they wish to pitch, to whom they are pitching and have pre-determined level of acceptance in defining the results of a successful pitch.
A client may be funding ready… This may be:
- A business executing a project of their own, with their own funds, requiring appropriate project management of the project. We may consult or project manage that project per a contract.
- A proposed project that has already attracted internal and/or external funding. They may already have a project plan and may need a project manager / project team to assist in executing the project.
- A project has produced all necessary documentation and is ready to be funded. Any required partnerships, validation and qualifications are complete. Ardent recommend / promote the project as investment ready. Ardent will almost always be the appointed Project Manager for such projects.
Depending on the asset, asset class, country and market, per recognised methods of valuation… we will look to purchase and build (in whole or part), hold, lease, rent and/or sell based on assessments we make at or near the time of executing a decision.
We may purchase, build, hold and lease or rent physical assets to clients (in whole or part) for use as offices, retail space, warehousing space or otherwise. We may purchase, hold or sell alternative asset classes per market conditions or for other purposes such as a hedge against currencies.
In addition to physical assets, we also hold intangible assets such as shares in projects or project companies where we take a vested interest in their long term success. Here “asset management” crosses “project management” and we utilise specialist staff as back-office to our Relationship Managers who may represent our interests at Board level.
We will take a determination of present value and estimate future value based on data – market, currency, governmental, legal, population, trends etc. and utilise specific tools to assess these datasets for direction.
We apply strategic thought to the data and plug in all available information to best validate and/or qualify a decision before making it. This includes cost analysis and benefits/use analysis.
A physical property may have applied value to us and/or a project / group of projects. That value may sacrifice future estimate appreciation for current geographical location and size for the purchase price.
We will assess all forms of market relevant to the asset class / type of asset being purchased… and factor why we’re looking to make that purchase i.e. is it to hedge, hold for a capital gain, lease for income, develop to increase potential future earnings and/or capital gains.
We will assess the business climate, the currency value, applicable government policies, legal framework, taxation framework and other metrics to assist us in determining current and future value.
We will assess equity based on competitive analysis, brand and market/sales or penetration in various markets, success of project products/services and projected forecasts. The activities of partners in related geography and/or industry also assist us with trends analysis to form a more complete ‘market analysis’ picture.
We would not ordinarily apply ‘project management’ methodology to physical assets as they are typically existing structures. However, if our various analysis suggest expansion or alterations of a physical asset, we will seek to develop the asset as a project, where Project Management processes apply.
With respect to asset projects our clients may undertake, we are likely to be the contracted Project Manager. This may also extend through to our Associate Aegis Porter for operational management of the asset/s.
Land, buildings, mixed use developments, utilities, metals (gold and silver).
Associates, partnerships, industry network relationships.
Donations of cash, permitted use of physical assets, sponsorships.
At present, we’re focused on equity funding only. This is based on the principal that… if we believe in a project and the sponsoring organisation, its team, its vision and its capability to deliver, then we will share the burden of risk in exchange for potential profits. We will commit resources and partner to best achieve success.
Financing is debt, an expense that disappears from a project (operational company’s) balance sheet before equity can be accounted / a dividend paid. Income less expenses is gross profit/loss. Total revenue less expenses equals net profit/loss.
Debt can affect a companies ability to utilise cash and can also restrict a company’s decisions or involvement in some activities. Debt can also force a company to maintain lower levels of financial ratios i.e. reduce a company’s dividend payout.
We prefer risk equity deals to debt financing – it’s a projects best chance at success.
Decisions on whether to purchase assets, for whatever purpose, are made from the culmination of many factors. For Ardent, these decisions are ultimately made by our Associate: Aegis Porter. For clients, Ardent and Associates may present options and make recommendations, we may execute projects and plans on instruction, in which case the client may ultimately be the decision maker.
An Executive Summary is generally a two or three page, high level brief on the project. It may be accompanied by a similar snapshot of the organisation who intends to sponsor the project, or who represent the organisation (project owner) who seeks project funding.
This document will be our first formal request and a prospective client should always have this prepared from the first submission / first meeting. This is the first phase in the Ardent assessment process.
A Business Plan is a high level, medium detail overview of a proposed businesses project, generally seeking funding… versus a Business Case which is a high level, medium detail overview of a proposed project that is sponsored by the business.
A Financial Projection or Forecast should accompany a Business Plan (where the business seeks funding) as a separate but related document.
A Marketing Plan or section within a Business Plan should also accompany a Business Plan. Otherwise, a Business Case should include background information, expected business benefits, options and reasons for choosing or rejecting certain options, the expected project costs, expected risks and a gap analysis.
FYI: Facts should be supported in an accompanying reference guide i.e. where the listed facts came from.
It is crucial that a project knows its market. The reasons for creating a widget, the application of the widget, the problems the widget solves, the likely appeal of the widget (consider a local and a global landscape) etc.
The project must then assess the costs for manufacture, logistics and delivery. Scope of project including the level of quality and variance of features. Warranty and cost of product returns and/or replacements. The brand, the target market, a competitor analysis, supply and demand etc. This information can feed a Feasibility study.
Ultimately, a project needs to know everything about its company (processes, procedures), its product and/or service, its target market (who will buy), its financial requirements (forecast, modelling) etc. However, market research is THE validation of THE market, it’s THE numbers that represent income expectations. This is the main basis of a decision by any investor – invest or not; therefore market research is of great importance.
The accuracy of information as validated by third party experts, that qualify stated facts and ensure expectations are likely to be accurate, notwithstanding the many factors that may render even accurate assumptions inaccurate. We can only take our best guesses, but even guesses need corroboration.
Analysed data and the ability to sell an idea ultimately drive value. Many projects, especially early or start-ups have little more than an idea. In most cases a lack of capital will dictate how far a project is developed before it’s presented to any potential investors. Sensible negotiation, validation and facts.
- Vision vs. Realised Value:
Too often we see projects as innovations, whether prototyped or not, guess their inventions will be popular the world over because they demand what they have created as a solution to a problem they have experienced. However, an infant project has a long way to go to build actual value (share price). What may become a billion dollar valuation at YR5 may have been valued at ten dollars in YR1.
Our team will assess everything from the project, the sponsoring business, the project team (if any), the business team, the market, our and/or any available and relevant lessons learned resources, information on the geographic location, laws, policies, currency rates and more.
The process and requirements are naturally stronger and more stringent when we’re working with an early stage project that was developed on a tight budget, with limited resources and a small team with basic skillsets. Such business/project teams need to harness true entrepreneurial spirit, belief and unwavering tenacity.
We encourage businesses and project teams to work strongly on relationships. “What you know” can increase in two ways – a) by learning, b) who you know. A project applicant, particularly when seeking funding, will struggle in the shadows if he/she/they do not get out quickly to validate and qualify their ideas.
If our team believes in your team, and in your project… We may offer to:
- Partner; or
- Consult at a reduced rate; or
- Push for funding via our Associate: Aegis Porter; or
- Support your project and assist with pitches, pitching and attracting alternative partners / investors.
If you’re successful in obtaining funding from our Associate: Aegis Porter, then congratulations and welcome to the team. We will be working closely for years and you will gain access to our networks:
- Project Management Team;
- Associate Teams (expert advice, structuring, funding)
- Partners (valuable business assets);
- Offices (as we expand into other global markets);
If unsuccessful, we look forward to seeing you at a future date with a more prepared work through of your ideas and/or project. Sometimes you just need to find another or a more suitable partner to assist. Maybe your idea needs refining and defining. Whatever the case, do not be deterred; persevere and good luck!