The Transcript Is Auto Generated And May Contain Spelling And Grammar Errors
Unknown Speaker 0:00
from ABC News Radio Okay, MBT 1490 in Southern California, this is ninja entrepreneur radio with your host Tyler Jorgenson.
Tyler Jorgenson 0:13
Welcome out to business, entrepreneur radio. I’m your host, Tyler Jorgensen. And today I have the privilege of speaking with Russ Perry, who is the founder and CEO of one of the coolest companies out there. Many of you have probably heard about it. You’ve seen their ads, and had a random craving for pickles. So welcome to the show, Russ Berry, the CEO of design pickle. Thanks for having me. So am I right? Are you the founder and CEO?
Russ Perry 0:38
I am I am. And you know what, like, half the time people think we sell pickles. So I’m glad we got the design part out there. But yeah, I started this business actually in 2016. So we’re now on our sixth year of the journey.
Tyler Jorgenson 0:52
So in my brain 2015 sounds like yesterday, but it’s actually quite a few years. First things first, right like so. What Design tickle for those that don’t know, I know because I’m a customer. But what is design pickle? Yeah,
Russ Perry 1:04
design pickle and its shortest statement is flat rate Creative Services. So we started out with graphic design, we’ve moved into custom illustrations, which is a more nuanced subset of graphic design. Later this year, we’re launching motion graphics and we’re gonna continue to expand there. But our clients pay one flat rate every month. There’s no variable pricing, no hourly, no project billing, you can request as much as you want as many revisions. And really the only limitation is your designers human they only can work so much in a day. So it’s really about you know, how much you can get done just depends on the creative work, but it’s simple and that’s that was designed because I needed it first. You know, I was before design because freelancing I couldn’t find an easy way to find help. And, you know, typical entrepreneur story created it for myself.
Tyler Jorgenson 1:54
I love that. So how did you we’ll get to the brand next within the company as a whole Like you needed some design services. One of the scary things about flat rate design services is like your margins are fixed, right? So I’m assuming you had to consider things like utilization. Like what’s the flow that people are going to give? How did you did you just napkin that all out and then figure it out as you go or how much research did you do before you
Russ Perry 2:20
launched? You nailed it? Yeah, I didn’t just randomly out of nowhere think of it Friday design pickle. I had almost nine years of running and creative agency, and that sort of unceremoniously closed. I mean, I had a business partner, you know, bit of trivia history of my background, he was actually in Argentina. So I had like an early play at trying to find different models for delivering design, like the cost structure of it. And so I had our creative team in Argentina, but that closed really just decided I didn’t want to be in an agency model anymore. I was data on okay, how much how we will do the big projects like I did like quarter million half million dollar brand projects. But when that was done, we had to then just design stuff. And Facebook covers or whatever. So I was like, Well, how much of that does someone need? On average? How much does a designer cost either in the United States globally internationally, I was doing all this math. And could I estimate and guess a flat rate model that where I could take one designer pay them full time, all of our creators By the way, are full time employees we don’t you know, contract this out, and then like lease their day, you know, have a designer work with five to 10 clients and at a time some clients need stuff everyday other clients need at once a week, maybe more and back of the napkin. I mean, it wasn’t back of the napkin. It was in the moleskin mostly. And truthfully, Tyler my my predictions are great. And even I I was like charging too little. Actually, our pricing right now is 399 for our entry plan. It’s like secret, but it’s How many people know I launched that? 195?
Tyler Jorgenson 4:03
Russ Perry 4:04
Yeah. Clients telling me, Russ, we love your service, you definitely need to charge more.
Tyler Jorgenson 4:11
And then this is, so one of the challenges on a user side is utilization. Right? So where’s the price point that even if they have a low month of use that they still feel like, Hey, I’m going to keep it instead of cancel and resign back up? Is that something you had to calculate and figure out?
Russ Perry 4:26
Well, I just really mean we have like a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the available market. So most people are paying 50 bucks an hour 150 bucks an hour $200 a job sounds I mean, like our price point is crazy disruptive. So really, what I tell someone is if you’re using it twice, three times in a month, you’re going to get the value and not just in that Yeah, that makes sense. But your time to like that’s another thing people don’t realize is finding designer managing their time. Are they available? Are they not do I have to have a brief meeting getting a proposal. Like that’s eliminated, you don’t have to worry about any of that.
Tyler Jorgenson 5:04
Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. And, okay, so we want to keep going down that road, but let’s go all the way back to this real quick. Why did you decide to like, make the idea of like, Okay, I’m gonna take design and then I’m just gonna add a really weird word to it and come up with a brand like was that strategic? Or was it a silly idea after like a six pack with a buddy? Like what happened?
Russ Perry 5:26
Okay, so it’s because I had a horrible name for my agency prior and I deal dealt with this for three and a half years. My previous company’s name, I’m gonna spell it out. I know the audio for a lot of people. And s b slash Yes, I have a forward slash in it. Ke, ke A and E so many consonants in this word. So what I do sales calls over within a speaking what’s the number MSP MSP King King King bedroom. I was like, This is horrible, man. Like I just need a name. Anyone can understand. I personally love pickles, Rubens and pickles are my two favorite food design pickle or Reuven pick reason,
Tyler Jorgenson 6:10
design Reuben would have been too hard to spell for too many people.
Russ Perry 6:14
Calm was available. There you go. That’s the brand new story.
Tyler Jorgenson 6:18
So I remember you from the early days 2015 maybe 2016 I started seeing you at trade shows started seeing your guys’s booth saw typical, you know, costumes and stickers and stuff being handed out when you got started. So this is a two part question one is how long did it take you to go from idea to first customer and and then how long did it take you to go from first customer to where you were like profitable or at least covering your your hard costs.
Russ Perry 6:46
We launched January 2015. idea was November December 2014, in which I was consulting as a marketing consultant and I started to secretly put my clients on this model. So I had the idea I built it out and I told my clients Hey, by the way, you know, I was consultant, I was working for a handful of clients. If you need something, I’m not available, just email, this email address, I’ll get it designed. And that was the beta of it. They didn’t know they were using design pickle, I was working on it. And it started to click. So when we launched, I already had three to four people using it. And my launch in January, I did a guest blog post launch. So I just reached out to anyone and everyone, man, if you had a blog, I wanted to know, I would write about anything you want it. I’ll figure it out. And then we launched and at the end of January, I had 22 clients, and we were profitable. And my key there was charging enough. You know, I had one designer, I had one project manager, and I had myself I was not paying myself at the time. So technically, maybe we wouldn’t have been profitable
Tyler Jorgenson 7:55
deferred earnings or whatever, right still, yeah,
Russ Perry 7:57
we were there. And that to me For anyone starting out, especially right now, with the current environment, there, probably so many people entering into the entrepreneur space, I say, charge enough charge enough make money from day one, you don’t have to be in the red really, if you have a valuable product or service. And what’s funny is you’re saying you charge enough but you’ve now doubled your pricing over the last five years.
Tyler Jorgenson 8:19
Yeah. So and is that just was that a metric of your confidence of quality? Or is that just a metric of Hey, we realize the real value in the market of what we deliver is closer to this or caught, you know,
Russ Perry 8:32
confidence, you know, definitely underpricing. Like we were just way too cheap. I got clearer on the numbers. As we’ve grown, we’ve had to add a lot of middle management management, of course, so so my margins would have decreased but also we’ve added a lot of value. We actually have $1,000 a month product called our pro plan, and you have real time chat in slack with your designer. So we charge more now, because we’re giving you more value. We have more thoughts library now that’s accessible that you get for free. Like all these things you
Tyler Jorgenson 9:04
get, how fresh is the content in that stock library.
Russ Perry 9:08
Nice set up. Well, it’s very fresh. It’s called fresh stock that was built that was built out of a need, you know, we couldn’t find good vector assets and things for our own use. So we just said, hey, let’s build our own Asset Library.
Tyler Jorgenson 9:22
Does that also allow you to manage your team’s downtime, saying, Hey, if you’re not getting sufficient tasks work on content creation for fresh start? Is that like part of it or no?
Russ Perry 9:33
Well, not for our graphic designers. But yes, for our custom illustrators call, we wanted to do more custom illustration work, but there wasn’t the client demand. So we use their bandwidth to help build an asset library.
Tyler Jorgenson 9:45
You know, I’ve heard that from a few businesses where they say, look, if you’re trying to add, you know, new services, new resources and opportunities, look for your current opportunities within your company for low utilization, things like that. So that’s really neat. I have not checked that out. I’m excited to do that. So what you know, it sounded like you’d started very intelligently, right? You started with some initial customers, you kept your costs down. You started slow. What was the first time where you’re like you hit a major hurdle in your growth? And then how do you overcome that?
Russ Perry 10:15
Well, our first major hurdle was growing our team and hi how, who to hire next. So I made a huge mistake. I hired an amazing guy, as a salesperson with a big salary, big pedigree in sales. Our first year, he was actually technically the second person I ever hired here in the States. And it was a colossal failure. And what I realized is I didn’t even know my acquisition process. I wasn’t clear on my customer. We were still so young. And here I was expecting someone to do the sales for me. So that’s, I mean, at the time, it really set us back morally, emotionally. This is a friend you know, and I have like, recruited him. So that was really hard. Sorry, man. You’re getting fired. And I told you Come here.
Tyler Jorgenson 11:00
Yeah, like I pulled you from something but and then it turns out it’s not a fit. How did you handle that? Like that’s the human side of things. Sometimes people forget in business like, how do you navigate then? Are you guys still friends?
Russ Perry 11:11
Yeah, we’re still good. And he ended up going he came from insurance and he went back and crushed it in that area. It was radical truth. That was it. Yeah, radical truth. I didn’t, we don’t know how to sell this product. And you’re not going to be successful. Because we can’t give you a system. We can’t give you reps and leads and all these tools and things were so young and new. Yeah, but it was radical honesty. And to this day, that’s how I approached leadership is our core one of our core values as a company is truth. So you’re never gonna get anything except for that.
Tyler Jorgenson 11:40
I love that idea of radical truth. And it’s the common the idea of having the hard conversation quickly, before it builds into resentment or anything else, right. just deal with it, face it head on. So just so people have a little bit of a range of understanding kind of your growth, end of 2014 have an idea 2015 you launch first month, you get 22 clients, how many people are on design pickle now?
Russ Perry 12:03
We have over 3300 active subscriptions. And a lot of clients on more than one subscription. So yeah, but yeah, we’ve grown and we’ve had over 12,000 plus people come through our doors. We’re not a forever product or service. A lot of people come use us for a few months and they leave really happy.
Tyler Jorgenson 12:21
Yeah, but 3300 to 12,000. That’s not a bad retention and churn rate. Like that’s pretty epic.
Russ Perry 12:27
Thank you. I feel a little bad about it, but I appreciate your positivity around it.
Tyler Jorgenson 12:32
Well, we can talk about some SAS companies that would love your numbers. No, because again, I’ve used you multiple times throughout my journey as an entrepreneur on different projects. And sometimes the prod like one of them the project I worked on, that ended so yeah, that project didn’t need you guys anymore. And then we’ll call him our happy churn we it’s,
Russ Perry 12:52
it’s an internal term. It’s called Happy churn. And like, we bang our heads because they’re like, we love you. That was great. We’re done. Like oh, how do we do Return.
Tyler Jorgenson 13:00
That is actually awesome. I’m going to apply that into our agency because like, the idea of happy chart, like there will always be some clients that move on. And it’s not because you did anything wrong. Right, right. How do you deal with unhappy churn? And how do you like internally manage your quality control and improving?
Russ Perry 13:18
Well, it is a really art and a science delivering creativity, because unlike a pure software product, where it just works every time and if something’s not working, you can fix it with some code, right? We you and I could have the same designer and you love you love design pickle, and I hate design pickle and has nothing to do with the designer. So we actually have a full time and very large, US based customer success team at US and Mexico. We have a lot of team members, they’re growing. And all we do is focus on communication. I mean, ultimately, if we can intercept a challenge before you’ve given up and lost trust, saying like, you know what, this is not for me. We have a 90 plus percent retention rate of solving that problem and you sticking around for a long time. Yeah, so it’s it’s like the detective work hunting. We use data and metrics like you haven’t logged in in 30 days. Why? You know, maybe because you just that last request wasn’t great. So we’re always looking at that. And that’s another value add is designers want to design truthfully, they don’t want to manage conflict and challenging commerce, right, we have a separate resource for that. And that that actually clients like sometimes they don’t want to give hard criticism to their designer, they feel bad.
Tyler Jorgenson 14:30
Yeah, there’s a lot of just like you said, designers like your designers probably fall in a pretty similar personality type because they’re all designers. Yeah, but your customers are going to be some of them are going to be you know, all ranges of personality. So you’re super direct, some are going to be flowery but still be actually criticize it. And so you, I can only imagine, like all the different ways of managing that now, from my side, I’ve seen it, you know, you don’t log in and while you get an email, there’s some feedback. Somebody else on the team steps in and helps. I’ve been very impressed with your guys’s His internal quality control and communication because what you mentioned is super true not everyone’s going to have the same opinions, right? Like there’s a there’s a chemistry that has to happen from create someone who has an idea and someone who has to create that idea
Russ Perry 15:12
and we may not be the right designer the first time to write like we want to make sure we have over 400 people to choose from, but we got to know and you know, that’s the art of all of this is getting you that right set.
Tyler Jorgenson 15:25
Yeah makes sense. So now you know 3300 people versus the initial 22 as the entrepreneur as the you know, the CEO, what have you had to do to grow to be able to manage this size team versus when you first got started?
Russ Perry 15:40
Right, well 2015 when I launched design pickle in November, in September, I also started my first ever investments in personal development. So I have done so much work in personal development, whether it is you know, your typical, you know, Tony Robbins type work to meditation training, physical training. coaching, public speaking training everything. And I, my belief is I can only my company can only grow as much as I do personally. And that has been a big thing on the management side, it is that adage, you know, hire people who have more experience than you. And that’s tough as a self funded company, because we could only afford to hire so much experience. But we have worked really hard to build an incredible team. And that to me, like there’s actually been a big moment today, this past week of design pickle history, where I left the customer service, Slack channel for the first time in five years. And they all celebrated because our new customer success manager, director, Aaron, he’s killing it. And you know, we found someone to run that company that I no longer need to be involved. So that’s been the big play for me and truthfully, what I spent a lot of my time in is recruiting our management leading our team and also growing myself because I don’t know what I don’t know. I don’t know how to run 100 million dollar company which is the direction We’re headed, but I can learn it. And I’m going to study different people on how to get there.
Tyler Jorgenson 17:04
Do you ever see like, I mean, you’re a CEO of a big growing company, you work with a lot of other big brands. You ever run into an entrepreneur who has just got who has just decided they’re done with growth mindset, they’re no longer seeking out that education. Right? I see that.
Russ Perry 17:20
And it’s, uh,
Tyler Jorgenson 17:21
it’s not common, because I think a lot of the people in the circles we run in our growth minded people, but when, you know, you’ve, I’m looking at a headline of yours. Right? And it’s talking, it says, Stop playing life on hardmode. Yeah, right. What? And I love that because sometimes I noticed that some entrepreneurs and especially are really good at solving problems, right? That’s what makes them so unique. However, the bigger a company gets, the type of problems they should be solving are different and you just highlighted a perfect example. You no longer should be managing the customer service problem. you’ve hired people to do that. Right? How do you like how do you help entrepreneurs make the steps towards like, hey, you’re you’re still a problem solver. But you have to, like, make that transition.
Russ Perry 18:06
You know, I don’t you’re right. Not everyone makes that gap. And I think what you’ll find is the entrepreneurs who stop growing, have a very vicious cycle of their business, they lose it, they gain it, they lose it, they gain it, they lose it, they gain it. And so I think to sustain in this world, you have to sustain your own growth and development. And it’s hard to get people to see that I usually find when someone’s hit rock bottom or a big challenge, they’re more open and willing to enter into that. Sure. And what I simply do is I try to be the most vulnerable person I can about my challenges in the past. The headline new reference reference me I’ve been sober for over six years. I quit drinking prior to starting design pickle. I had a horrible life before that drinking and managing many, many, many years. decisions. I wrote a book on it. I everyone could learn. So we’re entrepreneurs in the name of the book. Yep. I’m vulnerable and open about it to help encourage people to do the same. And so I think that’s the best way we can be leaders for others is lead from our own experience, not from a place of judgment or preaching or anything like that.
Tyler Jorgenson 19:18
Yeah, absolutely. What if you had to say like, this is near impossible to do. But if you had to give one piece of advice to that entrepreneur who has realized they are now self aware that they’ve been making that cycle that you just described, where they’re like growth, struggle, growth, struggle, growth, struggle, what’s the one thing to do to break that cycle? And to get into next level of achievement? Oh, I have
Russ Perry 19:40
the I have the answer. It’s not. I love it. Don’t do it alone.
Tyler Jorgenson 19:44
Okay, so what I’ve seen is most of these people that get stuck in these cycles, they struggle to accept help, right? Either it’s white knight challenge, right? They think they have to be the one to solve the problem to be validated, you know, or some other kind of a battle where they have to, they struggle to trust So, one of the challenges, right, like when you let go of customer service, it’s never, maybe I’m wrong, but it’s probably not going to get to 100% perfection, right? So how do you accept that gap? Okay, I’m not there and it’s not going to be 100%. Like, how do you set your metric? I’m okay with 93% whatever your thing is,
Russ Perry 20:20
you know, it has to do with just like kicking your ego out the door. I mean, that’s the thing. Your ego is what prevents your personal growth. And if someone can realize that, like, I had to let go of my ego when I even started design pickle time when I was doing quarter of a million dollar design projects. And here I am selling graphic design services for three figures. Come on. It was like I switch to the dark side or something, right? Let my ego go and build the team and trust people. So that is the same like if I run into a dude who’s like crushing it personally or professionally, but like having all these problems personally, usually it’s their ego is in the way they don’t want to admit that they’re the person problem. And some people will realize that others won’t. There’s nothing you can do usually a lot of pain helps the ego fade into the background. But that is truthfully there and if that happens, people grow exponentially.
Tyler Jorgenson 21:16
Yeah, that I think you’re absolutely right. And part of that for me that I’ve seen the ego like letting go of it also means accepting, like that you’re working with humans, right? And that people people are going to Yeah, people are going to do their best and I always say we can promise best effort you can’t promise perfection, right? And then you nurture and you coach and you improve. So your growth minded entrepreneur, you focus on personal development, you’re doing all these things. How are you passing that down to your middle level managers and your team leads and your company as a whole,
Russ Perry 21:45
real practically you got a couple things that we’ve been doing. First is I have six hours of open office hours every Monday and it’s a calendly link you can get it you can book half hour increments, so I’ve dedicated an open door policy anyone everything we’ve I’ve talked about that every topic under the sun. And that’s like a thing I think every leader needs, you need to have access with your team. I’ve recently started a book club, which has been very successful, we had a really good kick off of that. And then we have a stipend for all of our team members to invest in their own decisions around personal development. So teams can can get reimbursed for courses, conferences, whatever they want to take online as it pertains to their own growth. I’ll say that and then I talk about it all the time. All the time, man, I’m always sharing stuff and just leading by example, like I hired a meditation coach recently. And I’m talking all about this and how crazy it was. And I almost passed out from breathing too hard. And
so what I love is
Tyler Jorgenson 22:43
that for really good points, and I think I really like how you have your you have open door, but scheduled, right like I’ve opened door, but don’t just interrupt me all day long every day like these are the blocks of time that you can get access and you know, whenever you want and it’s that good balance. It’s Like, the door is available to be open on these times, right? Because if it’s always open, you’re just getting interrupted all the time and you got to block out productivity. And I really like the leading by example, I think that’s super important. You’ve done some really cool stuff. You’re building an amazing company. You know, you’ve checked your ego at the door, you’re growing. What are your next big growth moments for design pickle?
Russ Perry 23:21
We are I mean, we mentioned it launching fresh stock. That’s our stock asset library that launches to the public in June so we’re going to be opening that up for anyone any creative any creator out there who wants world class vector assets? reason that’s so big, it’s gonna be 50 bucks a month, unlimited downloads, and it’s pure SAS play. So we’re gonna really try to adventure into that. And then we’re looking at how do we just go wide where you can build your perfect creative team. I’m going to go out on an edge might offend some listeners, like we want to go after agencies to be completely honest. We want to be able to come here you can assemble the team, build them flat rate, use whoever you need, whenever you need and just have a Really killer experience. So I think those are big pushes that you’ll be seeing coming out of the jar here shortly.
Tyler Jorgenson 24:05
Well, I love that I always ask this question, I think it’s going to be super relevant for you, to me. And because because you are a conscious entrepreneur, to me, the business is about building a lifestyle that you want, even if you’re an entrepreneur that wants to exit or whatever it is you want to do. What is one major item on your personal bucket list you’re going to accomplish in the next 12 months? Not design, pickle,
Russ Perry 24:27
raspberry, oh, personal buckets list item.
It’s a million a mistake. I tried to become a real estate investor last the last two years and it’s been a nightmare. So selling those estate properties at a loss probably and admitting that I suck at real estate and just continuing to go all in on design pickle, that would be a huge relief for me and my wife because she really hated this decision from day one. And she was like,
Tyler Jorgenson 24:58
I’m laughing with painful empathy. I’ve absolutely been there
Russ Perry 25:06
ever never invest in a 66 acre ranch with the son of a very famous reality TV star I’m going to end it at that
Tyler Jorgenson 25:15
not specific at all. So obviously go to design pickle comm Make sure to your service check out design pickle I personal recommendation very worth it. If you’re doing anything more than two design projects a month. It is a huge relief for most companies and teams to have. One thing I’ll say like if you’re watching on YouTube or things like that, we’ll have links and stuff like that for you if you’re catching it on the blog, if you’re on the radio design pickle.com to learn more about design pickle and Russ Perry. And thank you all for listening. It is your turn to go out and do something.
Unknown Speaker 25:48
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