We had the good fortune of connecting with Lizz McKay and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lizz, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk taking is an interesting concept. When you are young, it seems easy to leap into new things without much thought, only to realize later they may have been risky. My husband Chris and I have always thought of risks as new opportunities. When we decided to take over Venture nearly a decade ago, it was a risk. Venture was deep in debt and it was during the market downturn post-2008; not a winning combination on paper for sure. We started with a 5,000 square foot rented space and turned it into 16,600 square feet of our own space. We turned a 2-person team into an 11-person team. We turned a stagnant business into a thriving industry leader. Perspective is everything: risk seems scary while opportunity seems encouraging. It all depends on your mindset.
What should our readers know about your business?
Venture Games is a different kind of game table company. We don’t fit in to any one box in our market. We aren’t a traditional mass-produced game table, although we can run production models efficiently through our shop. We also aren’t a bench-made type product because we have six artisans working on each aspect of our game tables. We create our own market segment serving all aspects of the billiard business with quick-ship items, built-to-order items, and full ground up build custom items. Venture has been able to adapt to a changing market from traditional avenues of customers through brick and mortar and online sales to emerging markets like high-end custom and commercial amenity spaces. Eight years ago, Chris and I created a five-year plan that really focused on two things: quality of our products and building our brand. We far exceeded our wildest expectations for our company within three years and had to adapt yet again and find where the next growth was in our business. The most important part of owning a business is being able to identify and adapt: identify your market and adapt to make it work. Don’t worry if it doesn’t yield the wild success you thought it would; if it doesn’t work, adapt, shift and move on. Learn from the setbacks as much as you learn from your successes. We are always looking back to see what went right and what could have gone better. Not everything will work the first time. We tried some things eight years ago when we weren’t ready for them and they fell flat. We shifted, moved on and were able to work those ideas and concepts into our business when it grew again.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love company and love to show people around our little part of the world. OTP south side Atlanta is largely undervalued but I have fallen hard for this part of the world. Peachtree City has a ton of amazing food offerings and fun for the whole family. Highland Bakery with their ricotta pancakes and mimosas, Palmer’s with their blue cheese chips and brisket tacos, Christo’s with their eggplant rollatini and lasagna always on point. Local live music is fun and intimate with Brickhouse Grille & Tavern in Newnan, Grazing Here and The Fred Amphitheater. A new favorite hangout is Royal Lanes Social which is a mashup bowling and social club with the game on, as well as delicious local beer, food and a game of shuffleboard for those willing to play the sharks. All of this topped off with hundreds of miles of golf cart and biking trails that access almost all my favorite places, along with long nature trails and perfect kayak launches for a little taste of nature. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would not be the person I am today without the respect, support, love and friendship of my husband, Chris. Chris and I are rule breakers from way back. When we met as teenagers, we were told we were too young to be so serious. We bought our first home together when we were 21, married at 23, first baby at 26, second, third and fourth homes before 30, added two more kiddos and fell into business ownership by 35. This road has been rocky at times, but I am so grateful for his love, encouragement and level head. I also have a mother-in-law who sees the value of togetherness (and can cook like nobody’s business). She makes sure we don’t starve and is one of my biggest cheerleaders. I am truly blessed with a group of really strong, smart women who encourage me to step out of the box and bravely blaze a new path for my family and business. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my strong, outspoken momma who was my first friend and showed me to be fearless in this crazy life.
All images were taken by us so no credits necessary.