A guide to InVision’s lean growth hacking

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The guest who you’re about to meet has a software that has been used by almost every serious designer and design firm out there.

That’s exciting enough for me but what makes it even more exciting is that he’s one of the first Mixergy fans. I’m in awe of what he’s built.

Today’s guest is Clark Valberg. He’s the founder of InVision, which transforms your Web & Mobile (iOS, Android) designs into clickable, interactive Prototypes and Mockups.

Clark Valberg

Clark Valberg

InVision

Clark Valberg is the founder of InVision, which transforms your Web & Mobile (iOS, Android) designs into clickable, interactive Prototypes and Mockups.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com. It is, of course, home of the ambitious upstart. I’m so psyched to be doing this interview because the guest who you’re about to meet, his software is used by I feel like every serious designer and design firm out there.

That is exciting enough for me in itself, but what makes it even more exciting is he’s one of the first Mixergy fans, an early Premium member, a person who I’m so glad that I’m finally going to get to talk to here and more importantly introduce you to so that you can get to know how he’s built up his company.

His name is Clark Valberg. He is the founder of InVision. And I’m going to read like the official sentence that my team put together and then ask him to give us a clearer sentence. The official sentence that my team put together is, “It’s the world’s leading product design collaboration and communication platform.” It’s just, like I said, used by so many people that I’m in awe of what Clark’s built up.

This interview is sponsored by Toptal, the company that will help you hire a developer and by Acuity Scheduling, the company that will help you actually get people to talk to you on the phone or in person. That’s what we used to book Clark. Clark, good to have you on here, man.

Clark: Pleasure to be here.

Andrew: What’s the description that you would use for someone who doesn’t know InVision?

Clark: Sure. So, when the companies that make the products that you love the most, the Ubers and the Twitters and the Facebooks and the Airbnbs of the world, when they’re working on the next version of their product, their app, they typically don’t start by just engineering. These days they start in design. You want to make sure the thing works, make sure that it looks the way users want it to look. We make sure that it actually solves user experience problems and creates delight whenever possible.

So they take those designs. They bring them into InVision. They create interactive simulations. We call them prototypes of what the finished product should look like. They then use those prototypes to get feedback from internal stakeholders and from customers and they do user testing.

Andrew: Because it feels like the app. It feels like the website.

Clark: It looks like and feels like the finished product. Right.

Andrew: And you record the user’s actions so that the designer and the team knows how people are interacting with it. I think you even do audio, right? So, if someone as they’re using it goes, “Where is that freaking menu?” then you’ve got a recording of a person doing it. Am I right or am I just imagining that?

Clark: You don’t stop until all the freakings are gone.

Andrew: Right.

Clark: So everything is just freaking great, 100%.

Andrew: For me it’s incredibly validating that I’ve been doing these interviews and that you were listening and that not just you as Clark, but you as the guy who created InVision was. Was there any customer of yours that you saw and said, “I can’t believe I built something that is touching that company and improving the way that they do business?” What’s one?

Clark: Oh, sure. There are so many examples of that. Toptal, by the way, one of your sponsors, awesome example. We’ve used the product and they use our product. So it’s weird to see that come full circle. So obviously Uber–I’m a big Uber . . .

Andrew: Right, Uber. Everyone is talking about Uber, the simplicity of their design and now you know that they’ve been using your software to help create that design.

Clark: Sure. I can’t take responsibility for how awesome their design is, but we definitely play a part in giving them the platform to make it better, for sure.

Andrew: Yeah. All right. As a listener, when I asked guests what their revenues were, did you cringe or did you feel like it added some insight into how big the company was?

Clark: I always want to hear. Just because you want to hear doesn’t mean you want to say. I can tell you that InVision–you want some top-level metrics I can tell you?

Andrew: Sure.

Clark: So we are just about crossing the two million user mark.

Andrew: Okay.

Clark: We tripled our revenues last year. We’re well into the double digital millions in ARR. What else can I tell you? So, when this is shown–when does this go live? Not tomorrow.

Andrew: It will be a few weeks.

Clark: So, you’ll see that we raised series D just last week. It’s unannounced at the time of this recording from Iconic. We raised a $55 million series D. Those are some top-level.

Andrew: That’s huge. At that point, you’re taking some money off the table, right?

Clark: Personally?

Andrew: Yes.

Clark: It’s not outside of the normal range.

Andrew: But enough to buy a house–do you own the place? You’re in your house right now recording this, right?

Clark: I am actually in the–I’m a very humble liver. I live in a two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, where I reside with my wife and child. I’ve been lent one room of that two-bedroom apartment, one precious room of our very little space as an office.

Andrew: That means your family as one room, one bedroom?

Clark: We have one bedroom.

Andrew: That’s it. Where does your child sleep?

Clark: The baby is only a year and a half old.

Andrew: Sleeps in your bedroom?

Clark: Sleeps in the office when it’s not being used, just to the left or right depending on where you’re standing, you’ll see like a whole actual bedroom here. My space is right here.

Andrew: I feel like that’s an intentional thing, right? You could have leveled up and gotten a little more space, especially a year and a half ago when your baby came, right? Why did you choose not to?

Clark: So it happens to be that I live in Brooklyn. The tension of Brooklyn real estate is very real. The struggle is real. Finding a house is actually really hard, aside from the paying for the house, finding the house is hard in my neighborhood. I live in Flatbush.

So, it’s that we really, really like where we live. And at the end of the day, when you’re an entrepreneur–I’m sure many of your listeners will respond to this–being an entrepreneur and a parent and a husband or wife and then trying to like do a crazy thing like buy a piece of real estate, at some point you just defer the thing. Something has to give.

Andrew: I see.

Clark: So we’re just happy here right now and at some point we’ll end up buying a house when my schedule clears up, but it’s pretty intense.

Andrew: I told you that I was surprised when I looked at my notes and saw that you started the company in 2011 because it feels like it’s just been around forever and it’s just part of the toolkit. You said it made you anxious, that it made you a little worried about something. Then you gave the Warby Parker example.

Clark: Sure.

Andrew: Talk about that.

Clark: You have a company. Your brand is your catalyst for growth. Your product is your ultimate CRO and CMO. So we’re product-focused. I think many companies are understanding the power of the product to propel you forward even more than some external marketing about the product. So, you want to keep things fresh. The product itself has some interesting story has to connect with people the most.

So the Warby Parker story I told you is that I asked the founder of Warby Parker and said, “How do you keep your fashion brand,” which is something that there’s a natural organic process of a fashion brand kind of evening out overtime, cooling down overtime. So, “How do you keep it fresh? How do you keep Warby Parker as cool today as it was five years ago?”

And he said, “In every pair of glasses we design, we ensure some element of the unexpected.” He actually took the frames off of his face. He said, “You see this little bridge. You see this little embellishment we added here, this little angle–this is the element of the unexpected for this design.”

Andrew: I see.

Clark: This is the thing you didn’t expect. This is the thing that catches you consciously, subconsciously, that tickles your fancy in the right way, that makes you feel like the thing you’re looking at is fresh and interesting and new. So we think about that with our product. Aside from new point product extensions and new ways that we solve real business problems, trying to keep the product interesting and keep the experience of the product engaged in that.

Andrew: So what’s an example of how you do it? I get it in a fashion product. What do you do in software that people rely on the way the way they rely on their computers, to make it interesting and also functional and not distract from the functionality?

Clark: So I’ll give you a marketing example that’s something that’s anchored more in the marketing side and then give you a product example that’s still kind of marketing-ish but anchored more on the product side. So, on the marketing side, we just released a week ago our design industry report.

So we interviewed I think maybe like 3,000 to 4,000 designers around the world. Intensive interview process–I think it’s taken us like a year or six months or something like that to put this together. We produced this gorgeously designed, super insightful paper, it’s about 50 pages of insights into the product design industry–salaries and gender equality questions and everything you can imagine. Any question you ever had about this industry, we packaged it together and that’s become our contribution back and also part of our voice to our customer.

There’s also a marketing vehicle, right? So it’s real content that is super useful. The experience is great and also connects with our brand. That’s the marketing example. Product example would be the favored design environment, the place where the screens are actually designed of current is something called Sketch. Have you heard of Sketch, Andrew?

Andrew: Yes.

Clark: So the Sketch app, everybody uses it. People don’t usually use Photoshop for screen design. Many people have moved over to this Sketch product. So, we created a product that embeds basically a plugin that embeds into Sketch and then unlocks crazy screen design superpowers through this product. It’s called Craft.

Andrew: Craft?

Clark: So, if you go to InVisionApp.com/Craft, you’ll find this thing. This is a little bit more for the designer audience. It lets you pull in images live into your designs. It lets you connect into your API. So let’s say if you’re Spotify and you’re redesigning the Spotify interface, you can connect to the Spotify API and actually populate your design with live data directly from the Spotify API.

Andrew: I see.

Clark: Its’ about designing with data. It includes a million and one interesting tasks and productivity things for designers.

Andrew: I see.

Clark: So that’s unexpected, making designers’ lives better even when it doesn’t necessarily connect with our core product or it’s not something we monetize directly, but caring about the customer and building things that make the workflow better.

Andrew: This whole thing started when you were running an agency that’s still up, actually.

Clark: So I ran a creative agency here in New York that–so, we built the product, InVision product, exclusively with no other intent, solely for the purpose of using it with our customers, with our clients. We just wanted to improve the conversations we had with our customers, improve the workflows, stop sending emails back in forth with designs attached. We created it. We ate our own dog food for some period of time.

We found that the product really transformed our relationship with our customers, not just the workflow, but the actual relationship with the customers and then somebody had the idea–it wasn’t me, by the way, Andrew, I’d love to take credit for this–someone said, “Why don’t we make this into a SaaS product?” This was five years ago. It wasn’t at that time a foregone conclusion that you would turn everything–

Andrew: It wasn’t intentional.

Clark: It was not in any way intentional.

Andrew: It wasn’t? I feel like a lot of consultant companies intentionally–

Clark: I would love to tell you guys a story. I would love to tell you a story about it being intentional. It wasn’t. And it wasn’t even my idea, by the way, to turn it into a SaaS product. Because it was–this is like the early days of SaaS–Basecamp was like the one and only SMB-focused SaaS product that you could go and buy monthly. It wasn’t a thing. It wasn’t an evolved ecosystem at the time. Obviously it existed, but it wasn’t like everybody and their mother didn’t have a SaaS business, right?

Andrew: The people who created wireframe software at the time were selling it as one-off items. You’d buy it once. You’d install it on your computer. You’d use it until you were done.

Clark: 100%. So someone said, “Hey, why don’t we sell this as a monthly subscription?” And of course, you should know, so you know what kind of visionary CEO I am, take all the credit, I said, “Absolutely not. That’s crazy.”

Andrew: Why?

Clark: Because we’re focused on the consulting business and that’s going to be a distraction. Who’s going to buy this thing? How much can we charge for it? Is it going to be worth it to us? Is there a market? The fundamental question is: Is there a market big enough? Is the design market big enough to actually turn the dial and be worth the investment?

Andrew: Good question.

Clark: So after some research, I was convinced. After a significant amount of research and enough arguments to get the neighboring offices to knock on the wall.

Andrew: What do you mean by neighboring offices to knock on the wall?

Clark: Like, “Hey, guys, what are you arguing about in your offices every day?”

Andrew: By the way, your point about would this be a big enough market is a good one that I understand what you were saying. There aren’t that many. It doesn’t feel like there are that many designers who also care enough about the design that they want someone to interact with it and then have the time or the financial resources to go adjust their design based on people interacting with it. What kind of research could you do that told you this was a big enough market to be worthwhile?

Clark: I think it was a change in perspective. So, even today, where design is an evolved–it’s understood that design is at least at many companies, we call them big D companies as opposed to small D companies, these big D companies get that design is one of their primary value centers, right?

You invest in design in the form of people and practices and platform and design is something that when you put a dollar in, you’re going to get more than $5 back at the end of the day, right? People get that design is important today. But even inside of those organizations, if you look at the ratio of designers to developers, sometimes it’s 10 to 1.

By the way, at InVision, where we’re super-duper design-focused, our whole business revolves around design–I’m the only person not wearing a Design Makes Everything Possible t-shirt at this very time of day. It’s still 10 to 1. At really big companies, companies with all the enterprise bucks, sometimes it’s 20 to 1 or 50 to 1 designer to developer.

So people get that you can make money off the developer seat, but can you make money off the designer seat when there are so few designers? So we redefined the question. The question is: Is design an individual practice? Is design a practice of document creation that really involves one person? Or is it an organizational discipline? What happens to designs? What happens to the design once it’s designed? Where does it go?

In the best organizations, what we found is design is really an organizational discipline, that the document gets created in design, but the conversation happens much more broadly. So, some of our bigger enterprise customers, we can have 1,000 or 2,000 seats inside of InVision and a very small fraction of those seats are occupied by designers.

Andrew: I see. I see. So the designers might be the ones who are creating this prototype but it’s other people in the company who are getting to play with it and say, “This is what we would need to do.”

Clark: 100%.

Andrew: So I’m actually looking at the first version of your site, just Wayback Machine.

Clark: Don’t show it, Andrew.

Andrew: I think you’re right. It doesn’t look nearly as polished as it does right now. But I do see that the collaboration is up there, but it’s collaborate with other designers. You were still at the time in that feature saying, “We are for designers by designers only,” right?

Clark: 100%.

Andrew: So you hadn’t fully grasped it or you hadn’t yet expressed that vision at that point?

Clark: I don’t think the market understood that as the reality.

Andrew: But you did, even though you’re presenting it as for designers, you knew designers have to create in it. Other people have to experience it.

Clark: At the very least, so we have three basic super-obtusely considered market segments. We have creative agencies, we have startups and we have corporate enterprises. This is like the way we dimensionalize this question. In the creative agency side, for sure you have clients. They are a necessary part of that transaction and that ecosystem. So at the very list you have n-number of clients for any one project and those people need to be exposed to the design and the feedback as part of the workflow, right?

Even within startups and corporations where it’s not explicit, it’s not explicit that you would have a client, we like to say the quality of the product that you produce is directly correlative to the quality of the conversations that happened during that production.

Andrew: Better quality conversations beforehand means better product afterwards.

Clark: 100%. The better you can synthesize the domain expertise around the topics that are basically flattened into those screens you’re working on–for example, if you’re Uber, if your drivers aren’t involved in the design process at some point in the form of user tests or the people who are in charge of operations who manage the KPIs around how you make a pickup happen elegantly and somebody get to their destination with a few road bumps along the way, no pun intended.

If those people aren’t part of the design process, you’re basically asking to think about these things when it’s too late when the product is done and it’s out there and someone says, “Hey, you know what would be nice?” So the design process, the future really is a process of engaging as many of the critical stakeholders as early and as often as possible, ideally before you start the engineering process because in engineering, you end up with layers of abstraction.

You have code of various sorts and you have databases of various sorts and you have servers of various sorts and they all interconnect, so making changes it much more costly. When you’re in design, moving a box from here to there is basically trivial.

Andrew: Much easier. So, is this right–I’m looking at the notes that my producer made from the pre-interview conversation with you. It says here, “Client issues basically went away overnight.” That means after you started implementing InVision internally, your own internal just for your company version, they went away.

Clark: Yeah. He quips people like to get their clients involved at two points in a project–when it’s too early for them to have any meaningful input because you haven’t done anything yet. “This is our kickoff meeting. Tell me everything you ever want to do.” “I don’t know. I’m not looking at anything. I’m just a client. I can tell you what we wanted to do, but I imagine that might change over time.”

Or when it’s too late, like, “Hey, voila, here it is. We just disappeared for six months. Here’s the product. Can we go live?” “Sure, except for that, which needs to change?” which changes everything, right?

Andrew: Yeah.

Clark: “You know what would be nice?” or, “Hey, you know, I was thinking . . .” These are like the worst things you could ever here if you’re a consultant, right? So, for us, changing the conversation, changing the cycle, the cadence of the conversation and the material of the conversation, like, “Hey, let’s get some design done. Let’s build this simulation of this prototype.”

“Let’s talk again in two weeks. Let’s sit down. Let’s look at it. Let’s click through it. Let’s have a conversation about the workflow and do you mind if we get this kind of persona and that kind of person and somebody who’s involved in shipping and the billing manager and let’s get them in the conversation also.”

Andrew: You said that. You went to your clients and you said, “Hey, do you mind if we get the shipping guy in too?”

Clark: 100%.

Andrew: Most people wouldn’t do that. They’d say, “I think we know what we’re doing. I don’t want to get the shipping guy in, honestly.”

Clark: Well, we’d made enough mistakes at that point to know we didn’t know what we were doing. It’s like this fundamental shift and we see this in other ecosystems in technology shift away from delegatory communication to collaborative communication, like, “Hey, Andrew, you’re going to be the product manager.” And there’s a product manager on the other side and you two will kind of fight it out and we’ll have 100 people on both sides like an old fashioned field bottle. The titans on each side go to battle and everyone else is standing there watching and cheering.

That model is broken, right? No one person can possibly reflect the evolving organically presenting needs of the entire organization. It’s not possible. So, you need to get something real in front of people really early, let them feel it, let them get feedback, change, make iteration and that needs to happen throughout for as much time in the product cycle as possible.

Andrew: I get that. Someone just gave me software last night that I thought, “All right. This could be useful for us.” Then when I started playing it, it was done and I realized. “No, it’s a little bit off here and a little bit off there,” but enough that it’s too confusing and this guy’s already spent a lot of time developing and designing it and giving him the feedback kind of broke my heart because I know that he doesn’t have the time now to implement it. It’s too late. He’s already invested so much, now he’s ready for users. He’s not ready for feedback. So, he can’t get me as a user, be he can’t use my feedback either. It’s kind of painful.

All right. Why don’t a do a quick sponsorship message for the first sponsor. It’s called Acuity Scheduling. And here’s the problem that we had at Mixergy. For a long time, I advocated sending out a request for an interview with one time. So, I’d say, “Hey, do you want to do an interview with me for Mixergy, this is a place where,” and then I give a list of all the people who gave interviews with me. “Are you free to do this interview on Monday at 2:00 p.m. pacific?” I’d send it out.

And the reason I did that is because if you give a date, people will often respond back saying, “No, that doesn’t’ work for me,” but at least now you’ve got the conversation started about, “Now we’re going to talk about the time, not about whether you’re going to do the interview.”

It really worked well but it was such a massive distraction because I’d have to list a bunch of available times and send it over to them. They’d have to pick one. Until they picked one, I’d block all those times on my calendar. It was so much work that it just couldn’t get a response. I don’t know if you ever heard my interview, Clark, with Paul Graham where I asked him–did you?

Clark: How could I not?

Andrew: Such a good one. He said this one thing that just spread. It went like viral, at least in the startup community. I asked him, “Why do so many Y Combinator sites look alike?” He said, “Look, we’re battling the back button. Every time that someone has to be, if they’re a little confused about what your site does, they’re going to hit the back button and go back to where they started. So we want to be really clear about what the product does. That’s why our pages are so clear. We want to have a very clear button, etc.”

When we’re sending out a request for someone to talk to us and we’re not being that clear, we’re risking them clicking the next button on their email or the archive or delete or just procrastinating. We want to make it really easy for them to say yes to getting on a call with us.

So that’s how Acuity Scheduling comes in. That’s how we booked an interview with Clark. I go to Acuity Scheduling. I connect my calendar. Then I used the paint tool to paint the times on my calendar when I’m free. They give me a URL at the end of it that I can give to Clark or anyone else who I want to do an interview with.

If they follow a link, they see all my available times, they can click on the time that they want to do the interview. Once they click on that time, they’re asking a few questions that I pick ahead of time, like obviously your name, what’s your phone number in case we have a backup, that kind of thing.

That’s it. Then it goes on my calendar. It goes on their calendar so we don’t forget. They get reminded. I get reminded. The call actually happens and it happens with a process that you could actually could on and that you feel proud with. And if there’s a problem–and frankly, at times there are–I don’t just deal with it, I go back and adjust the system. I go back to Acuity Scheduling and I say, “Maybe I can be clearer about how it’s video Skype. Maybe I can be clearer about how it’s whatever.”

So, if you want to actually get people to talk to you, maybe people before they buy. You want them to be able to reach out to you and talk to you about why they should be buying or what your product is, maybe you want to welcome people after they buy. I don’t know what it is. Maybe you want to talk to mentors, investors, whoever it is. Use Acuity Scheduling to set up your meetings and you’ll actually get them done fast. Here’s the URL. It’s AcuityScheduling.com/Mixergy. When you use that URL, they’re going to give you a bunch of free time because you come from me.

Clark, that was a little bit long of a commercial. They actually pay for like a minute. I think I went four minutes on that one.

Clark: You love the product.

Andrew: I do. And I want to make sure people understand it and appreciate it.

Clark: I enjoy the passion.

Andrew: Thanks.

Clark: I wanted to jump in. It was so good.

Andrew: Yeah. And I didn’t even like engage you because I was so lost in this, even though before the interview started . . .

Clark: I was sitting here looking thoughtful. I thought that was my job, like okay, alright. That was my move.

Andrew: So, did you then start to show it to investors fairly early before you looked for customers?

Clark: So, we had some. We had a ton of signups. We had a ton of people using it for free. We had a good number of paying users, probably in the I’m going to say thousands, early thousands. Somebody made an introduction to like a seed stage investor. I thought, “Listen, we’re funding this thing ourselves. We have the creative agency. I have one full-time person focused on the R&D of the product.” I was the marketing guy to whatever degree, whatever that means.

We just said, “Let’s just go. Let’s coast this and like run this as a side business and maybe it will make some money and at some point if it pays for any . . .” We had this like vision, at least in those days, before everybody wanted to make $1 billion overnight, but like, “If I could just pay for our office rent with this product, that would be great or if we could just pay our salaries.”

Andrew: That’s literally your thinking?

Clark: That was our thinking at the time. Yes. We were just like, “Hey, this is a great product.” We were so focused on how it made the creative agency side of our business better, it was profound how many more projects we could take on in parallel and the quality of products we created for our customers. We were building applications primarily, so, more sophisticated the applications could be because of the quality of the conversations, all that good stuff. We were so enthralled by what it did for us, the second thought was what it could do for others. I’m being very honest here.

Andrew: As the marketing guy, how did you get the first 1,000 people?

Clark: I had a really good coming soon page and a really good video. So, I hired somebody to make a video about the future of product design and the future of design or something like that. I scripted the video myself. I did the first voiceover and I storyboarded the whole video and I hired somebody to professionally produce it. Then we made a coming soon page. It was like super–these are like the super hacks that today wouldn’t even work. Back then they were novel, like, “Something big was coming soon. Watch this video and be blown away. Give us your email address.”

We had collected–it was crazy at the time–all numbers, by the way, the past is a far off country where they do different things. I’m sure you’ve heard this quote, some literary quote. But if I were to tell you we had 10,000 people signup for the product before it was even released, that doesn’t sound like a ton today, back then it was like a ton.

Andrew: It does sound like a lot, frankly. I see the page. The Wayback Machine is not very good at keeping certain things. I don’t think they’ve got your CSS. But here’s the headline, “Build High Fidelity, Fully Interactive Web Application Prototypes in Minutes with No Code and Complete Artistic Freedom: This is Exactly What You’ve Been Waiting For.” Then there’s a link to the video which I can’t see because it’s gone.

Clark: Is that it? You have the page?

Andrew: Yeah. I can send it to you via Skype.

Clark: I have got to see it. Send that to me. I haven’t seen that in years. I’ve not seen it since it was live, to tell you the truth.

Andrew: I actually like Archive. It is better for things like this because they take actually snapshots and thumbnails.

Clark: Holy cow. This is my copy.

Andrew: That’s it, huh?

Clark: This is my overly verbose copy. That’s what I was good at.

Andrew: But how did you get people to come to that page?

Clark: I don’t even know. Maybe Reddit. It somehow just became viral. That’s the honest truth. It somehow just got out there, maybe we seeded into a few different communities. There wasn’t event–there weren’t any like de facto design communities online that I could remember at that time that were like the community to engage. Somehow it just happened organically. This is a true case of totally–we didn’t buy any advertisements. It just happened organically.

Andrew: Is it possible also that you were part of the design community in a way that you just couldn’t do if you were starting out blankly. I’m recognizing even some of the people who gave you testimonials, on the very early page which now I can’t find and I’m not going to hunt it down, but Matthew Smith from Zaarly. I know that guy. He actually built our site, the parts where you can do search and all that?

Clark: Cool.

Andrew: He’s one of these design guys who’s deep into it.

Clark: Okay. So, I will tell you that we had obviously a great amount of context on the design field and then literacy around who the players were in the emerging design and product development world, Matthew Smith being one of them. You’re talking about Matthew Smith, right?

Andrew: Yeah.

Clark: Yeah. So, I’ll give you an early hack that I did. I don’t know if these work today, but I went through by hand every single person who signed up for our waiting list and then when the product was live, every single person who signed up every day. At that time we had like 115 people or something signed up on a really, really good day.

Andrew: For the mailing list or . . .

Clark: For the actual product once the product was live.

Andrew: If someone bought . . . okay.

Clark: And I went through every single email address looking for people who worked at big companies or people whose name I recognized and people who I met at conferences and wrote them personal emails like, “Hey, bro, I see you’re checking out my product. Can I give you a personal tour of the product? Can I hook you up with a free license to the product?” And I would give them like six months free.

There are people still using InVision today, by the way, who had been given at some point in the past like an unlimited–Matt might be one of these people–an unlimited lifetime license of the product. I connected with influencers and asked for a quote in return like, “Hey, can you give me a few words. I want to put you on my wall of awesome designers.” We had a little customer’s page.

Andrew: You did have that from the beginning? I’m looking at all kinds of . . . yeah.

Clark: Yeah. And then we started a really successful content campaign where we had something called Inside Design. We still do this today. We did an Inside Design with Capital One recently. We’re working on one right now to be seen soon. But every week we would send a photographer into someone’s office and take photos of their office, take photos of them and talk about their design process.

Early on, we did Airbnb super early on. We did Zappos super early on. We did like Eventbrite, like all kinds of cool companies that were hot and fashionable, design forward brands. We just took great photos and wrote up a fairly simple interview and that was our original content marketing strategy.

Andrew: That makes sense. I think a lot of what you’re talking about . . .

Clark: And we still do that today.

Andrew: I think a lot of it would work today. Frankly, I think it’s a great idea to go in and see every single customer. I need to do that, just get a sense of who is there, maybe even every single person on the mailing list.

Clark: I did it by hand. I did it, I think, when Rapportive came out–remember Rapportive, which was then acquired by LinkedIn–I actually had the system send me an email of every email address that signed up for that day and I would hover over because Rapportive allowed you to hover and I would hover over so I could see their LinkedIn thing and I would do that every single day. That was like my end of the night, 3:00 a.m. move.

Andrew: Just go in and see who’s there.

Clark: And then just send out all my emails and just engage people, block and tackle, hands on, giving love, then we came up with a t-shirt. We had a friend of ours design this Design Makes Everything Possible t-shirt. And then we started giving out t-shirts and then we started like a t-shirt landing page. So, all the little marketing tactics were totally organic.

Andrew: You still give out t-shirts today, right?

Clark: An absurd number of them. We have a whole marketplace if you go to InVisionApp.com/Marketplace.

Andrew: I saw it. I can buy a t-shirt. Every single thing has a button that says buy it or get it for free. If I get it for free, I just have to give my email address to be entered in.

Clark: And then you have to tweet. You get your email address. You get on our mailing list.

Andrew: And then tweet.

Clark: We have two-something million subscribers to our weekly email that goes out every Tuesday or Wednesday.

Andrew: That email comes out from you. There’s someone who on Quora said, “Does he really write that email?” You don’t write it anymore, do you?

Clark: Not only do I write that entire email, I send every one individually to each person. That’s all I do all day. No. So, Clark from InVision is actually Clair from InVision, who runs out marketing here.

Andrew: Okay.

Clark: And Clair has a phenomenal team of editors and writers and most of our content is contributed from fantastic super thoughtful people who are in the trenches, doing design every day, not thinking about design or talking about design, people really doing design. Between them and the editorial staff, they produce this fantastic content every week. I will preview the email at this point in our company’s evolution. I preview the email before it goes out. I can take no credit for the awesome.

Andrew: You used to send it yourself?

Clark: I used to send it myself, 100% I sent it myself.

Andrew: That was you writing and sending it out.

Clark: I’d open my Campaign Monitor account doing it myself, doing it live.

Andrew: You seem like such a chill guy, like we’re just in a coffee shop drinking, but your work style is like a super-obsessive person, like Gary Vaynerchuk on speed, right?

Clark: On speed? Gary V on speed?

Andrew: Maybe not on speed as in like–you’re calmer in your presentation but I feel in many ways you spend even more time on your work. Like here’s an example. You told our producer that you guys launched the software on your wedding day. As a result . . .

Clark: Totally true.

Andrew: True. So what did you do?

Clark: I walked to the wedding canopy with my wife on the day probably like within a couple hours of launching the paid version of InVision and my wife told me as we walked into the hall, “If you check your phone, I’m leaving. That’s it. I’m leaving. Turn your phone off. Give it to somebody else. I don’t want to see you check your phone during this entire ceremony.”

That was like my wedding anniversary and I don’t know which one is easier to remember because of the other. Definitely the date of the founding of the company is easier to remember because I remember my wedding anniversary.

Andrew: So, I feel like there’s a hunger inside you. It’s not just to pay the bills. It’s not just enough to get rent and to pay your salaries, right? Don’t you feel like there’s a hunger?

Clark: For sure. I don’t think you can get–we’re 200 employees today all over the world.

Andrew: That’s even more from our pre-interview time, yeah.

Clark: Probably we’ve hired people since we got on the call.

Andrew: You were 170 just a few weeks ago.

Clark: We just crossed 200 and we have an office in SoHo, Manhattan and an office in Boston, in Austin, in Portland and in Downtown San Francisco. So, to get to this point, you are either going to fizzle out, duck behind a tree and let somebody else take over the ship or you’re just going to ride it through.

The only way I think you can ride it through is if you’re super excited and super happy with what you’re doing. If you from day one surround yourself with people who are really enthusiastic about the problem that you’re solving together, not just enthusiastic about a job or a cool job or a cool job at a cool company, that’s all great. People have to be super-interested in the fundamental problem that you’re solving for the world.

Andrew: Wait, you’ve solved it yesterday or in the day before. You’re still excited about solving the next version? You gave me such a face when I said that.

Clark: The problem evolves. That problem is an old problem.

Andrew: What’s the problem now that gets you so excited that you’re actually going to be recording with me at 7:20 right now we’re recording, your time.

Clark: By the way, this is like the afternoon for me. That’s true for most people watching this video, right?

Andrew: But you don’t need to do this. You could have passed the reins onto someone else. There’s a reason why you’re doing it. You’re saying it’s the problem. So, what’s the problem that’s getting to you to keep working?

Clark: Our company mission is we are driving the future of digital product design through our unique understanding of the dynamics of collaboration, right? That’s a really long-winded thing and you won’t find it on our website, but it’s the vision that we share internally. It’s the understanding that here is a workflow that produces great product.

It begins with inspiration. It ends or continues beyond our little purview, our little wheelhouse in integration with engineering. There are parties within that workflow. There are handoffs. There’s connective tissue between these people. This is our . . . I can go on this for hours and hours.

Andrew: You want to be the glue. Why is that exciting?

Clark: What excites me about collaboration I think is what I think defines collaboration. Collaboration isn’t defined by the number of people who are doing something. We have 50 designers who are all working on the same design. I think that’s a false picture of collaboration. Collaboration is defined by the diversity of the voices in the conversation, by how far away the people who are working on the same thing with the same intended end are on the org chart. When an engineer and a designer and a VP and a product manager . . .

Andrew: Why does that excite you?

Clark: It excites me because there is this load balancing effect to the human cognitive power that you can only achieve through diversity, through different, totally unique perspectives on the same problem being brought together and synthesized into one effective end. Does that make sense?

Andrew: I see. Are you excited about the new creations that could come from that, if you could bring in more diverse opinions?

Clark: I’m excited by how much better the end product is when all those voices–remember, I come from a creative agency background, right? The reason I started this company is because when someone said two minutes before we were about to launch their product, “Hey, you know what would be nice?” I was angry at that person. I hated that person. They just threatened the success of everything we were about to do. They threatened to prolong the project and take us into overtime and screw up our budget.

But I agreed with them. They were right. They were right nine times out of ten, maybe more. No one listened to them before. Someone should have. It was my job to do that. But I didn’t I didn’t because the process was built in a way, the workflow between client and service provider and engineer and developers didn’t afford. There was an inherent friction, a conflict of interest at the connective tissue level that prevented that from happening. Does that make sense?

Q7: It does make sense, but it’s also scary. I’ll give you an example. When I was working with Matthew Smith, he gave me an example of when TechCrunch launched their new logo and people just ripped into it and everyone had an opinion. Some loved it but some hated it.

It was just so many different opinions that if you’re a designer, there’s no way you–and you’re getting all that feedback before you actually create it–there’s no way you can integrate it. Meanwhile today, by the way, that TechCrunch logo is just a thing. No one cares about it that much. So, what do you say about that, the fear of having so many people?

Clark: There’s a difference between interested parties and intelligent parties. When I say getting diverse opinions, I mean diverse opinions that the power of their opinion is anchored in their domain expertise. Hey, we’re going to design the next version of Twitter. And there’s someone inside of Twitter that understands how the Twitter advertising system works and how that algorithm can be enriched by the content and there’s the content person who understands the delicate tension between the content and the advertising. Does that make sense?

Andrew: Yeah.

Clark: These are interested parties, but they’re also highly intelligent parties. They’re parties that understand the domain super well. There is a place for feedback. Let’s call it user testing with people outside of that circle, that sphere of domain expertise. There’s a place for that. That’s a totally different gesture.

Andrew: And then how do you integrate that then? I’ve got to do a sponsorship message in a moment. How do you integrate that then?

Clark: Sure. So, that burden of turning that information into insight is on the producer, on the product manager, the team. How do you ask a question, like, “Hey, what do you think about this?” and not just change it because someday didn’t like it. How do you ask that question that right way and how do you interpret the answer to that question and how do you react in the work itself in a constructive way that doesn’t just have you flailing your hands just because somebody doesn’t like the color green, right?

Andrew: I see.

Clark: It’s active listening. It’s like the interpretive insightful power and it’s having a clear vision for what the end product should be, having a clear vision that you’re at the same time opinionated on, but also open to insight on.

Andrew: You know what? This is actually interesting. I’ve got to do the sponsorship message, but it can wait. When Peter Thiel came out with his book, he seemed to be disagreeing with Eric Ries’ premise of the Lean Startup methodology needing to have user feedback at the MVP level. I think his opinion was the creator needs to have a clear vision.

I think that the idea behind the Lean Startup methodology is understood by many people as you don’t need a clear vision. You put something out and you get feedback and that’s how you create your vision. It sounds like what you’re saying is that it’s a marriage of both. It’s having a clear vision with the understanding of how to use user feedback to execute on that vision. Am I right?

Clark: It depends on what posture you start from. If you start with a clear vision, by all means, don’t dismiss your clear vision to the whim of the audience or the whim of the masses. Figure out how your clear vision can be enhanced or formed through further insight from outside sources.

If you’re an entrepreneur that maybe is coming from a different perspective or different angle of entrepreneurship, I know there are people that have capital–this isn’t everyone–but, “I have capital and I want to do a business,” and people sometimes go to these fairs where you can look at what do you call them? Franchises, right?

Andrew: Yeah.

Clark: They know they want to do a business. They have about $500,000. They want to start something locally and they want to do something they can have their hands involved in or their family involved in or whatever. Those are the parameters walking into the equation, right? So, they go to a fair and they pick a business that fits their existing parameters, right? It can work from both angles. It’s not one or the other. It’s very individualized, right?

Andrew: All right. Let’s talk about Toptal, my sponsor. You said that you guys have used them. How have you used Toptal?

Clark: So, I haven’t. Our engineering team has. It’s a fabulous product. I also understand the use InVision, which is good. It’s a great product.

Andrew: Do you think they use InVision for developers or is their designers–oh, maybe it’s that they use it . . .

Clark: They used InVision to work on the Toptal product.

Andrew: I see, the Toptal not marketplace, but the company that allows you to connect with the designers and developers. I see.

Clark: Sure.

Andrew: For anyone who doesn’t know at this point, what Toptal’s innovation was they said it’s really hard to hire top developers. What people do at the low level is they just go out to everyone in these marketplaces and they get someone who’s inexpensive and it doesn’t matter how good they are because they’re inexpensive. But at the high level, people end up having to go recruit through recruiters who are expensive, through tons of job placement ads, through all kinds of things to find people.

They said, “What if we just turned the process on its head?” Instead of waiting for someone to say, “We need to hire someone,” and then find that person like a needle in a haystack of a world, they said, “What if we just find all the needles? What if we put a database together of all the best people we know, the best people we can get? Then when someone wants to hire, we can just go to our database and pick the perfect persona and make the match.”

That’s what it’s about. You guys have might have heard me say that if you’re interested in working with Toptal, I will personally make the introduction. The reason I’ve offered that is because so much of this is really a very personal connection. You’re not just going to go to their website and click a link and then end up with a developer.

What you’re going to do is go to their website, click a couple of links and then end up on a phone call or Skype call with someone from Toptal who’s really going to understand what you’re trying to build, how you work, who you work with, etc. And then based on what you’re looking for, they can go to their network and find the right persona and make that match. If it works, you can often get started with them within days. If it doesn’t, no harm no foul.

In fact, many people who want to work with Toptal are told–I know this because my audience has emailed back and were told, “It’s actually not a good fit of you. You shouldn’t be working with them.” So, if you want to check it out and see if its’ a good fit, they’re making a special offer to Mixergy listeners.

I know Airbnb is a client. I don’t know if Airbnb got this. I don’t think that JP Morgan got this. I don’t think that Zendesk got this because this is a brand new deal they’re just offering to us because they specially asked for something. We wanted them to trace it and they said, “We will trade it and we’ll give you guys a good deal so the Mixergy audience talks about us.

Here it is–Mixergy listeners are going to get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when they pay for their first 80 hours. That’s in addition to a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks. Go check them out–Toptal.com/Mixergy to get that deal. If you want an intro from me, my email address is Andrew@Mixergy.com. I’d be happy to introduce you to my guy over there. A lot of this is going to be personal touch, so you might as well start with a personal touch.

Clark, once you get to a certain level, you told our producer that one of your first goals was to get to $1 million in annual recurring revenue. You hit it, then you guys celebrated for like a moment and then you continued. When you get beyond that, how does managing the company change for you? What are the different issues you think about at that point?

Clark: It has much less to do with your individual activity and your visibility. You have to learn to–they say that people with super memories are able to, I think they call it chunking. They can take a bunch of data and turn it into one object. So, they just have to remember these chunks of data and not all the details.

They do this for lists of things. They can take a list of like 100 animals and remember it in order because they somehow figure out a way to–it’s a strategy around taking things that are really detailed and complex with a lot of moving parts and making it simpler, right? I think that evolving from two people, me and my cofounder, to 200, that’s the same mental muscle.

So, marketing goes from, “We’re going to do this tactic and that tactic and collect an email this way and that way,” and you in two different layers of extraction evolve. The strategies that are effective for you and your brand and your customer evolve and those are your plays and those become part of your living playbook, right?

And then the people that know how to implement that strategy and extend that strategy and come up with new strategies all together become their own layer of extraction. Then you end up as the leader operating three layers of extraction away from the actual thing that gets done, right?

Example–I told you about the design report. We just released–and by the time this is seen–will have premiered our documentary. So, we produced a feature length, like an hour and half long, documentary around the world of product design. We call it Design Disruptors. If you go to InVisionApp.com/Design–no, actually sorry.

Andrew: DesignDisruptors.com.

Clark: DesignDisrupotors.com. You can watch all the trailers. You can get a ticket to one of our premieres. Andrew, I hope you’ll be–where are you located?

Andrew: I’m in San Francisco. I’d love to come to one of your premieres.

Clark: And you will come. It’s next week, two weeks from now.

Andrew: Okay.

Clark: So, this is a year of interviews with 55 leaders inside every company you’ve ever cared to know about, every design-focused company you’ve ever cared to know about–Google and Facebook and Airbnb and Pinterest and Twitter, you name them. We created a documentary. It’s not about InVision. It’s not about our product or how they use our product. I don’t think we’re mentioned once in the entire movie. Many of these people are customers, but that just happens to be by virtue of our rolodex and who we were able to reach out to.

But this is like an effort of biblical proportions–the number of details, the amount of work that it takes to go from idea, “I want to do a movie,” or, “We’re actually having a premiere in two weeks,” boggles the mind.

Andrew: While running a business. So, who came up with the idea to do this?

Clark: So, the idea originally was mine. But my ideas mean nothing. It’s how they’re activated in the team.

Andrew: So, then how do you at this level now with everything else that you’re working on get an idea like this off the ground? Do you hire someone and say, “You’re the perfect person to run this. I’m hiring the best, now you go do it?” or is there a different management process.

Clark: That’s almost exactly the way it works.

Andrew: Is it really what it is right now?

Clark: You find people. So, I had a film dude, like a guy who’s done some video work for us in the past, “Hey, Matt, I want to do this project. Here’s my vision for it. Are you interested?” Sure, he’s interested. I had our head of marketing, “Hey, this is the idea, what do you think about it?” They add their own twist to it and they actually embellish iota.

So much of what it’s actually become is an extension of their DNA added to the original idea and it just kind of happens. You hire really, really sharp people who have a clear attention to detail, have a relentless attention to detail, who are smart and creative and humble.

Andrew: That’s where your job is, where in the past it was, “How do I come up with a way to get more people on my mailing list? How do I come up with a way to understand who my customers are so that then I could the right referrals,” those are very tactical. Now you’re thinking, “How can I find the right person who can have those ideas?”

Clark: So, hiring, juicy missions and feedback. That is the stack that I operate on today.

Andrew: Hiring, juicy missions.

Clark: Hiring good people, defining juicy missions for those people and for the company as a whole, and then providing feedback, let’s say feedback that is in some way activates my unique view of the world or whatever, quality feedback as much as I can on the work as it evolves. That’s my general mode of application.

Andrew: What’s a juicy mission?

Clark: Let’s make a movie. Let’s make a documentary. Let’s make–

Andrew: You go clearer than that, don’t you?

Clark: Sure. But it starts off with one big kind of juicy idea. So, in marketing, for example, we dimensionalize our marketing stack into cookies, kittens and crack. That’s our stack.

Andrew: What does that mean?

Clark: Sure. Cookies are abundant. You can bake up batches of them by multiple dozens at a time. That’s our block ecosystem, right? Our kittens are things that are obviously much cuddlier and higher value. That’s all organic content–eBooks and our downloadables and you get the idea, things that are gated content.

Andrew: I imagine also the t-shirts being part of that.

Clark: 100%. Gated content–you give us your email address, you end up on our mailing list, we give you something of higher value. And then crack–these are the big moonshot things, like the conferences and the big events that we host, the Design+ panels that we’ve done around the world, our movie–you get the idea, right?

So, by creating an operating system for how we–we can create the framework where patterns for success can evolve and we can end up repeating the same pattern, but through a unique and authentic medium–does that make sense?

Clark: The same pattern that makes the downloadable–we have so many UI kits that we give away for free, Photoshop and Sketch UI kits, InVisionApp.com/Now, which is a UI kit and all these different crazy UI kits that we produce. But the thing, the mechanism, the marketing vehicle that makes the UI kit work also makes a t-shirt work, also makes our industry report work. It’s the same message or the same mechanism, new medium.

Andrew: I see, meaning give me your email address. I’m going to give you something great. I’m going to give you a kitten.

Clark: I’m going to give you a kitten.

Andrew: But it’s overly simplified. What makes a conference . . .

Clark: And then once you get on the kitten, you’re going to end up getting all these great cookies every week. You’re going to end up on our mailing list. You’re going to end with 5 to 10 pieces of unique, awesome blog content every week.

Andrew: What makes a conference something you’d call crack? I’m imagining when you say crack something that’s addictive, something that they can’t shake.

Clark: Something that is an overwhelming experience. I guess that’s’ the way I’d define it.

Andrew: Ah, got it, not in the sense that it’s addictive, but in the sense that crack is so overwhelming.

Clark: It can be addictive. For example, any marketing vehicle, we think about the before, the during and the after, right? So, as important as the premiere of Design Disruptors will be and orchestrating these event–we have a crazy amount of focus on this premiere that we’re doing globally–all of the time leading up to the premiere, all of the buzz building, the articles, the interviews, this, that and the other, all the things leading up to it are just as important.

Everything that will happen afterward will be important. We’re going to be live on iTunes. Netflix is in the movie. The movie will be on Netflix. So, the life of the movie and general distribution beyond the premiere is super important also.

Andrew: Are you going to be here for the premiere?

Clark: I probably will be. Yeah.

Andrew: I just applied. I’d love to come. I’ve got to check my calendar to make sure I don’t have anything scheduled.

Clark: You have an app for that.

Andrew: For the calendar?

Clark: One of your sponsors.

Andrew: Yeah. But I was looking, if you saw that I was getting distracted earlier because I said, “Wait, there’s a movie we’re going to next week.” My wife works for Yahoo and someone at Yahoo is organizing a trip to go see a movie. I thought maybe that would be yours and it wasn’t.

Clark: Was it our movie? They should come and see our movie.

Andrew: They should see yours in addition to–it’s not even a conflict. They’re doing it on the 22nd. You’re doing yours on the 29th in San Francisco. Why don’t I close out with asking you this–there was a period there where someone said that he could either give you $40 or a bunch of cassette tapes and you took the cassette tapes. Do you know what I’m talking about?

Clark: No, I thought this was hypothetical. This was a real case.

Andrew: No, this actually happened to you.

Clark: Yeah, this really happened.

Andrew: Who was it and what are the tapes that you took instead of $40?

Clark: I was working as a very rank and file like staff member at a web company in Upstate New York. I was, I’m going to guess, 19 years old. Someone had lured me out of my higher education, my ambitions for higher education to come work at this web company because it was like the year 2000 and what else would I do with my life except become a millionaire overnight.

Andrew: You’re talking about uTrax Corp.

Clark: Yes, uTrax Corp. So I’m working there in their little office, which looks nothing like you imagine startup offices today, very drab. I’m sitting there in my little cubicle working and some guy came over from the office next door, totally unrelated, totally different company. He said, “Hey, I need your help creating a PDF,” which back in those days, the average person didn’t know how to make a PDF. That was like, “You better do some magic, hit my computer with a magic stick and a PDF will come out.”

I’m like, “I’m happy to help you.” He’s like, “Listen, I could pay you, but I have an offer to make.” I said, “Sure.” “I will give you $40 in cash,” I think he had the money in his hand, which was particularly cinematic. “Or I can give you this audiobook that will change your life,” right? I said, “Well, I’ve got to believe it’s no fun to take the money. I’ll take the audiobook.” My grandfather taught me, it was a value that I had grown up with that wisdom is more valuable than any amount of money. I had no idea what was on those tapes. It could have been total crackpottery.

He said, “This is somebody called Dale Carnegie.” This is pre-CD, pre-everyone having a CD player or maybe he had to get rid of this CD player had killed this format. But it was like a boxed set of audio cassettes, like a folio of audio cassettes. I said, “Sure, let’s do it. I’ll call my grandfather up. He’ll be proud of this decision.” I listened to the whole thing. It was very formative for a 19-year old guy working at a web company. It was probably one of the most profound experiences.

Andrew: What book was it?

Clark: It was “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.

Andrew: I see. And that’s the thing.

Clark: It was a major transformative moment, not just the taking of the audio cassettes, although I thought it was a great actualization of my family values, but listening to it on my commute, I had a 45-minute commute. I’d just pop in the cassette and listen to it all the way through. It probably took me five weeks to get through like 52 cassettes. But it was transformative for me as a 19-year-old.

Andrew: It was for me too. I discovered it around the same time. If eel like that’s when I needed it the most. That’s the point in your life where you can either go Ayn Rand, which is like, “I have something special inside me. No one else does. We all have to. . .”

Clark: We all know that’s BS, just FYI.

Andrew: Sorry?

Clark: We all know that’s totally BS.

Andrew: To some people it’s not. To me, it is. Or you it’s the opposite . . .

Clark: Cut that out of the audio, in that case.

Andrew: What Dale Carnegie does is he goes the opposite side and he says, “You have this feeling that you have some kind of greatness inside if you. Everyone else does too. If you feel like you haven’t been able to speak to them and they seem irrational, it’s because they think they’re great too. How do you speak to their greatness to achieve your greatness? That’s what we’re going to spend this book talking about.”

Clark: 100%. So the way I kind of thought about it in my head, it was like selfish empathy.

Andrew: Right.

Clark: That led to authentic empathy.

Andrew: Yes.

Clark: You’re like, “Hey, this is great. I’m going to get along with people and people are going to like me more. I’m going to have better business connections and make more sales if I just do these things.”

And then you end up seeing the true human virtue of having authentic relationships with people because they react and they respond to the fact that you really care about them and your interested in them and you’re interested in promoting them, then you realized, “This is just a better way to live.” I was super, duper, on the arrogant, cocky jerk scale, as a young man, I indexed very poorly.

Andrew: Me too.

Clark: This was definitely a totally–so, you should know, I keep on the bookcase that you cannot see, copies of “The Magic of Thinking Big” and “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” I just buy like a bunch of copies on Amazon and I will give them to like guys come to me, girls come to me, they’re about the same age I was then, a little bit older and they’re trying to break into startup and you ask the local startup guy, “Hey, I heard you do a startup. Can you tell me. . .?”

And I say, “I’d be happy to help you and chat with you and mentor you in any way I can with whatever time I have available, but before we do that, I want you to read,” and I pick whichever book they need the most. “I just want you to read this book and I’d love to talk about it with you.”

Andrew: Yeah.

Clark: It’s good because it’s like a little gating investment, like, “Hey, if you want to hang out with me and talk about startup stuff, let’s first see if you’re. . .” So, there’s that little qualifying gate. And also I’ve seen people’s lives really turn around because of it.

Andrew: Well, this is such a great–

Clark: I’m not even like a self-help guru, you should know.

Andrew: You’re not.

Clark: I’m not even.

Andrew: But you’ve written a book on design, am I right?

Clark: I did write a very, very short book that was mostly marketing back when I ran the agency.

Andrew: I’m surprised that you even charged for it. I think it was like a $25 book.

Clark: It was $25 just because we had to print it. But you could download the digital version for free.

Andrew: I see.

Clark: I’m not an author.

Andrew: Did you write the book?

Clark: I coauthored the book with my very close friend and mentor. His name is Hal Helms.

Andrew: Okay.

Clark: Who, by the way, incidentally it’s worth saying here, who taught me to prototype, who basically instilled in me the excitement around the art of prototyping and helping me transform my agency, which led to InVision. All things lead back to smarter people than me.

Andrew: Yeah, and good ideas, good books. I was going to tell people to go check out InVisionApp.com. Then I had to ask you–how much do you hate that someone is basically squatting, in my opinion, on InVision.com?

Clark: You know what? It’s crazy. That’s not an easy story. I wish this was easier. It was a company–I won’t name the name–they’re not squatting. InVision.com was a legitimate infrastructure company that was acquired by Dell and then like the minute they were acquired, I was like, “There’s no way we’re every getting this domain name out of them.”

Andrew: Yeah.

Clark: They don’t need the money. They’re not even being unreasonable at all. They just have a crazy amount of infrastructure tied into that domain name in some way, CNAMEs or whatever it is, however the domain world works. And then they then sold that business to somebody else, to Best Buy or something, somebody very big who’s disinterested in our $500 offer. So, we will be living at InVisionApp.com as long as no gigantic public companies are interested in design.

Andrew: They can’t be, actually, right? You have a trademark on it.

Clark: Yeah. We’re totally protected.

Andrew: You’re totally fine. I see what you mean, actually.

Clark: It makes this fight even harder.

Andrew: It hasn’t been used in years. All right. So, anyone who wants to go check it out can go to InVisionApp.com. The thing that I like about the site apart from anything else is I just like your design and everything, like the t-shirts, everything is just so beautifully cared for about your site, which is why I’m surprised looking over your shoulder. There were like boxes of cookies before we started. I just imagine you living inside like an iPhone looking design room.

Clark: I have one awesome poster.

Andrew: It’s hard to see.

Clark: This is my Design Makes Everything Possible poster.

Andrew: What is that?

Clark: That’s Design Makes Everything Possible poster, which you can get at InVisionApp.com/Marketplace. That’s my Thou Shalt Not Commit Logical Fallacies index of all logical fallacies so that when I’m on the phone and they commit one, I can call it out and say, “That was a gambler’s fallacy. Google it.” It keeps people rational.

Andrew: That is handy. All right. Well, thank you so much. I’m hoping I’ll get to see you in two weeks when you come here. I applied to get a ticket to the premiere. Thank you all for being a part of Mixergy.

Remember the two sponsors that I talked about today are Toptal, which is used more and more by people who I’ve interviewed to hire great developers and designers and the second one is a company that will help schedule meetings with people that you want to get on the phone with or get to see in person. It’s called Acuity Scheduling and I’m grateful to both of them for sponsoring and I’m grateful to Clark for listening to Mixergy for so long and also for doing this interview. Thanks so much.

Clark: My pleasure.

Andrew: You bet. Bye, everyone.


  • ? Scott

    Clark loved your collaboration view Clark 38 minutes in.

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