Ever wonder how other FreshBooks customers run a business? Customer portraits connect you with your fellow FreshBooks peers to share guidance and inspiration.
David Martinez has always been a storyteller, and with his current company Mimic Interactive out of Long Beach, CA, he’s able to tell stories with the latest digital technology to make them come to life. Learn how he approaches putting himself in the spotlight as an entrepreneur with a creative vision:
Tell us a bit about what your company is about and how do you describe what you do?
The name our company is Mimic Interactive. We love “Putting Character into Code”. What I mean by that, is we take charge of the consumer’s agenda, and build an experience focused on delivering immediate value. Basically we understand “The Experience is the Product”. The clients who get the most leverage from Mimic Interactive are early stage startups, or small businesses who can’t afford c-level marketers or a seasoned product team. We step in and help them scale their business with creative, branding and interaction design; be it on a tablet, mobile phone or website. I’ve been referring to what we’re doing now with handhelds as ‘contextual design’ which is designing based purely on user goals at any given time or on any given screen.
Did you do something similar before this?
I’ve been working on interactive projects for the better part of (gasp!) 15 years now. This is actually my 3rd time around, and instead of being a one man shop – I’m now leading a small team so I’m taking this very seriously. We’re very reliant on great referrals from my past work. My education is in graphic design. My parents were very supportive of my artistic and storytelling abilities from an early age and helped me foster my interest in technology. I also got into film and photography in high school – also two disciplines that are only successful with great narrative.
Were there big surprises in running your own business?
Going forward the biggest surprise is how much business development you have to do! My best new projects come from referrals. But in order to grow, business development has to take a front seat to creative and that’s been a huge shift for me because at my core I’m creative, but I now understand how important it is to keeping a business alive.
What do you love about your job?
That’s easy. The clients. Sure you can watch episodes of Mad Men and see Don Draper complain about a meeting but to me it’s the most wonderful game ever. How do you sell yourself, your services, build confidence in the client and execute brilliant creative? The only way to do this is to run your own company. So being in charge is the best feeling. You can’t use your managers as an excuse anymore, because essentially you put yourself in the spotlight. The work is yours to win, but it is also yours to lose. Now that’s a rush.
What’s a typical day at your company?
Any given day can be pretty different. I can have face to face prospect meetings, or use Google Hangout to meet my team to discuss new business. There’s always time spent on the phone, writing emails, working estimates and invoices (YAY FreshBooks!) and doing project management. Anything you can do to automate tasks, such as invoicing and time tracking will do amazing things for your bottom line. Admittedly, I’m not the best at administrative tasks, even if they are key to company survival, so services like FreshBooks are a godsend.
What the positives and negatives of being your own boss?
The best part is managing your own time and resources. You’re basically playing the game of life and seeing if you can win it on your terms. The worst thing about being your own boss is the risk involved. I now have a wonderful wife, mortgage and two beautiful children so when I take risks, they are extremely calculated. The stakes are high.
What advice do you have for small biz owners just starting out?
Since you’ve already decided to make a go of at it, be prepared to go all out. Automate as many administrative processes as possible, or make them as fast as can be. Services like FreshBooks, online banking, and email give us lightning fast ways to accomplish our business activities.
Give yourself the right technology (within economic reason) so you will be competent at what you do. If you are doing something digitally, don’t be afraid to get last seasons fastest computer and do cheap things like add an extra hard and max out the ram. Use VOIP services to save and get better fidelity phone calls. 80% of my calls are either through Skype or Gmail/Google Voice – and the fidelity is amazing. For backup I have an Ooma Telo connected to a Dect 6 wireless phone so I can roam around while talking to clients. Remember to get a high quality microphone for VOIP calls, some of my clients say it sounds like I am in the room with them thanks to my Blue Yeti USB mic. Your digital presence can be anywhere you and your client have internet connectivity!
What is the one thing you’d love to do or happen with your business?
I’d love to get it to the point where we can afford a large loft or studio to incorporate more multimedia projects with video, animation, motion graphics and audio solutions to offer our clients. The first startup I worked for was set up this way, and it was amazing to offer so many services under one roof. With companies like FreshBooks, we’ll get there!