TSP048 | Daniel Maw – Transcription

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TSP049 | Linda Galindo – Transcription
Inside The Protein Bar

John Livesay:

Welcome to The Successful Pitch podcast. Today’s guest is Daniel Maw from the UK. Daniel says that A people hire A people but B-level people tend to hire C-level people, and what he means by that is people who are an A skillset, A quality are not intimidated by other people at that level and, in fact, get inspired by them and the competition, but B-level quality staff, they want to hire someone less impressive than they are, so they don’t have to worry about them outshining them. Really great stuff when you’re hiring a team. He said, “You know, the key to getting good clients is to have a real relationship, not a service relationship” Finally, he said, “It’s so easy to be busy being busy without taking your headsets off and looking up from your computer screen. You need to be focused on how you’re going to be profitable.” Enjoy the episode.

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Hi, and welcome to The Successful Pitch podcast. Today’s guest is Daniel Maw, all the way from the UK, calling in with a huge time zone from Los Angeles. Thank you for joining us today, Daniel. Daniel’s background is quite interesting. He is the owner and development director of an agency called DMSQD, but if I remember correctly from my earlier podcast with his partner, Mark Asquith, they are changing the name, so I’m going to ask them about that. We’re going to do a deep dive into what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and how do you find the right co-founder. Without any further adieu, Daniel, welcome to the show.

Daniel Maw:

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

John:

Our pleasure.

Daniel:

Very nice intro.

John:

Thank you. I am always fascinated to ask people to take us back a little bit and what made you decide that you wanted to have your own business? Did you always know that was what you wanted to do? Take us back to your days when you were at university, if you would, and give us your mindset there.

Daniel:

Well, university was the sort of starting point for it all.

John:

Nice.

Daniel:

My course was what’s called a sandwich course over here in the UK. The course length was four years in total. You spend the first two years continuously at university. Then the third year is what they call a sandwich year which you spend a year in your chosen industry, so you go work as an employee for a company as a normal employee would, so you get paid and you get to do the job that you’re intending to do. Then when you complete that year you go back to university and complete your final year. It was during my sandwich year that a few things came together with a friend and a few of the turning points that made me decide that, look we can do something here. It was really started from then and then it progressed. It was a very distinct turning point during my year out in the industry.

John:

I love that.

Daniel:

Going into my final year at university there was a few ideas thrown about almost in jest, and one thing lead to another and here we are, five years later.

John:

It’s fascinating. I love the concept. Do you know where the idea of a sandwich year came from? Is it something that everyone does in the UK or is it only certain universities?

Daniel:

No. It’s quite a common thing, and because how universities work over here it’s kind of the first year is almost just bedding in. It doesn’t really contribute that much to your final degree level. It’s the second and the final year where it counts. A lot of universities do it over here. I think it depends on the kind of course you’ve got. Obviously if you’re being a surgeon not just going to go out there your second year and do open heart surgery or anything like that. I think it just gives you a bit more rounding of what you want to do and get a bit of experience because in the final year you can do quite a bit of changing around. You can actually go back and not do the same course. You can go down a different path. I think it just sort of beds you in to what you’re hopefully going to be going into as a career.

John:

Well, it’s interesting. It’s very different than the concept of a summer intern here in the US where you work for basically free and you’re just doing filing. You don’t really get a sense of what the job is sometimes. Ideally you do. This sandwich year is you’re really being treated like an employee and what a great experience to see if this is really what I want to do, and it’s not just a quick fun summer thing. It’s a day-in-day-out, a whole year. You know with that year, I would think, whether that’s the culture you like, those are the people you like and if not you’re going to pivot. The ultimate entrepreneur thing, right?

Daniel:

Exactly. That’s it. That’s exactly the case. It was one of the reasons why I chose the course, actually. I looked at a few universities close to home, further away, and it was just the university I went to which was in Notes Field, and they just seemed to … There was just this extra bit of care that they have for the students, and that was obviously just an assumption I had, having only been there for the open days, but when you get there, there really is a tight-knit community. The lecturers really care. You do get that support network as well. I graduated in 2011, and I still speak to some of the lecturers that were there.

In fact, as recently as yesterday or the day before I got something as personal as a text message from one of the key lecturers asking if I would go back and be part of a series of lecturers for the next year, so between now and April, and just basically speak to his final years about what’s really out there post university, not in the sense of post-university life or what I’ve been up to, but what actually is out there, how can I inform that current student of what’s out there and what to do and advice and things like that because obviously it’s quite full-on, especially in the last year. There’s obviously quite a lot of information and experience I and other past students can give to the current ones about what they can do and what’s coming next.

John:

Right. Well, that’s a big honor. I want to ask you about this award you were given for best interactive project and how that helped you in your career, so can you tell us what that was and how you won it?

Daniel:

Oh, yeah. Definitely. How it was, there was this module on the course. It was just called group project, but that was the specific module’s name. Basically you worked with it in semester two. The first half it was just two people, myself and a really good friend of mine, and the second half we were put into big groups. I believe there were five, and it was actually the first half when I was with my friend Mark. We did something that we called synchronous and it actually featured in the interactive media event in the final couple of weeks of the university. They do a bit of a show to show off what the media students have been doing. What it was was an interactive but live feedback system.

We created a bit of a web app for people to use on their phones. It basically just required their name and an email and just some information about the event they were at. It was also on the database, every bit of feedback that each person gave. We also had it linked up to some projectors so that every time somebody posted some feedback about the event or something light it would flash onto it. We’d got about seven or eight projectors. We would slide in a bit of animation and say John Doe really loves this, and he has just taken a photo and he’s changed the color of his hair, for example. Everything was animated in. It was also on the database that we could get access to afterwards, print it out and it was used as part of a case study for the event for that year.

John:

Wow.

Daniel:

Yeah. What was quite funny is we’d got a TV show over here called The Gadget Show which has got all these crazy, wacky things on the show you can imagine. About 8 months to 12 months afterwards they do a live show and they actually had something that was pretty much exactly the same.

John:

Ah. Well, that whole concept of getting meetings interactive and getting audience participation at a whole new level and people really feeling like they’re part of something and now with Periscope and things like that you don’t even have to be there to feel like you’re part of it, which really is the future. Take us to what you went into with Pixel One, this leading creative studio. I’d love to know in terms of who do you help and what problem do you solve?

Daniel:

Well, the Pixel One days was the company that I started during my final year at university. I mentioned there was pivotal point where I’d be an entrepreneur, be self-employed. That’s my avenue that I want to go. Like I said, he in jest for a few ideas about, but a very dear friend of mine, obviously from when we were younger, Kyle Bulkinson. He’s also a co-founder of the company. He is immensely creative. The talent that he’s got across all media is like nothing I’ve ever seen. It’s quite frankly unbelievable. He won’t like me saying that. He doesn’t take praise very well. How we set out for that was because of Kyle’s immense creative flare we kind of got a bit of a niche in our area, so we were attracting numbers and we just opened the door. There was nobody there. We couldn’t even see anybody for miles. Nobody knew who we were. We just started doing these nothing projects really, just doing the odd bit of commercial work that we could pull in while I was at university and Kyle was at work.

We started building a bit of a reputation up for being this really really creative small agency that was pulling in certain types of work, not necessarily B-to-B or anything like that for the big companies. It was just something that people wanted that really have this flare. We actually only did that for about 12 months, 18 months. Before I skip forward to that I’ll just hold back. As I mentioned I was doing this while at university and Kyle was still working and we progressed through and as I came to my final weeks before graduation we had this stockpile of money so we got something to give ourselves as some sort of wage, some sort of income, but we’d also got outlet studio sale, so it was paid. We got all the machinery and the desks, everything. I graduated the Friday. Monday morning we were in the office.

John:

I love it.

Daniel:

Up and running.

John:

Got it. Talk about planning your future?

Daniel:

Just a bit.

John:

No grass growing under your feet as we say here in the states.

Daniel:

That’s when we started really to push on and get known a bit. Obviously we’d got a place and people could come see us. This is just us pouring our blood, sweat and tears into it. Like I said, there was nobody there. We had no client base. We’d just opened the doors. We got our bright yellow wall. It was just as people started picking up who we were that sort of Mark, in the company that he was working for then, started to find out who we were and one thing lead to another. We found that they were, Mark’s company at the time, were buying services for us for the creative things and then we ended up buying services for them for the things that we couldn’t provide at the time. It kept going like that for a few months, and then Christmas comes along and we get asked to go for a meeting. There were actually three of them. There was Mark, another chap called Marc, spelled with a C rather than a K, just to be different and then a chap called Don.

They drew the idea of maybe, we’re buying services from each other. At this time it was becoming quite a lot. There’s got to be something about joining forces here because they’d been going longer and got their business-to-business sort of client base and we were bringing in this creative stuff. Everything just seemed to fall into place, really, like dotting the I’s, crossing the T’s and it just came into one big mold. It was like, right, we’ve got a lot of the best covered here. We can really start making the groundwork.

John:

Let’s talk about that for just a second. You open your business the Monday after graduating. You’ve got the wall painted yellow so you a major statement about this is our brand, and you started on the side just letting people know what you do, that it’s a specific niche, took a lot of courage and a lot of chutzpah and focus to say, “We are determined to make this work,” and that’s what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and get some traction whether you’re going to attract another company to collaborate with you or find an investor. It’s that initial moxie or grit or whatever you want to call it. What would you call it in the UK? What do you guys like to describe that personality.

Daniel:

We probably have a couple. It’s called a bit of a gutsy move.

John:

Gutsy, yeah.

Daniel:

The guys in the office. We said we’ve got a go big or go home attitude.

John:

Yeah.

Daniel:

It’s just going the balls deep. Let’s just, if we’re going to do it, it’s only going to get there one way and that’s the best way possible.

John:

Balls deep. That’s the phrase I was looking for. I knew there would be some little niche there. I love it. You’re totally in. You’re committed, right?

Daniel:

That’s right.

John:

You believe it. You could see it. Did you have any doubts or fears that you had to overcome during that process?

Daniel:

I’d come from being a student. I’d lived off next to no money for the last four years, really, so I didn’t really have anything to lose at this period of time. I still lived with my parents back at home.

John:

Got it.

Daniel:

It was like, I didn’t have a plan B. I was going to do Pixel One and that was my sole focus. That’s just how I went.

John:

Nice.

Daniel:

Kyle had actually just flat out quit his job.

John:

Yeah.

Daniel:

It was a very safe job doing what he can do, but he found it incredibly boring. He just thought, right, we’re just going to go out as well. I mean, just flat out quit his job. He’d got bills to pay. Like, we’re going to do this. The same sort of attitude, exactly the same.

John:

Nice. You started to get some traction and that’s when you started collaborating and now you’ve merged with Mark Asquith, so that’s what became this other DMSQD agency. Is that right?

Daniel:

That’s right. Yeah. That’s what became DMSQD.

John:

Right. Tell us about, did you do any kind of due diligence on each other or did you already know each other pretty well from working together?

Daniel:

To be quite frank I didn’t particularly like Mark when I first met him.

John:

Okay.

Daniel:

We’re actually quite the same person, so at first we kind of clashed because we’ve both got the same attitude, but once we got around … We didn’t particularly dislike each other. We’re actually on the same page here and now we’re obviously, 3, 3-1/2 years later, great friends, and so on. We did start with some background research. Obviously we did it on them because we were very happy in what we were doing. Obviously we were young in age and young in experience, but it was just one of those positions where it just kind of made sense. We got both Marks and Don. I think Mark is about 5 years older than myself and Kyle. Another chap called Marc is about 50 and then we’ve got an older chap called Don in his 60’s.

They were all running their own businesses previously and then they joined together to make what was DMSQD at the time. They’d got all this wealth of experience and they built an open-eyes client base as well, so what the information they gave us and were kind enough to give us, it all looked great. Obviously us, as Pixel One, we’re open people, so they had access to everything they wanted to as well. Obviously we had a few meetings to get to know each other a bit better. The key thing from our side was what sort of company do we want? What are we striving to be? What’s all this blood, sweat and tears for? What are we in it for? What’s the end game?

John:

Also, what’s the culture, right?

Daniel:

Right. Yeah. It just matched up. It’s one of those stories where you think, really? It was just great. It was just a click, and we never looked back.

John:

Can you define now what your end game is? Is it to keep going? Is it to get sold? Is it to go public? What is your end game, big picture?

Daniel:

No. We’ve got a staff of … Well, there’s 9 of us altogether. We don’t particularly want to go too much bigger because what we want to do is we want to be picking and choosing the clients we’re working with. If we’re going to put all this effort in and strive to be the absolute best, not just the best locally, the best in the UK. We’re going for the whole hog, and that’s what we want. We want to keep working with the big grounds and the good people and the good clients. It’s great to get the dream clients, but we’ve had a few where you get those and it’s not as rosy as you might think. We want to work with the good people.

John:

I love the expression of who you say no to is just as important as who you say yes to when you’re taking on clients. Sometimes it’s so difficult to say no to a new client when you need the revenue, right?

Daniel:

Exactly. It’s such a hard thing to do. God, is it worth it.

John:

Yes.

Daniel:

You have the ones where it doesn’t work or they are troublesome, not because they’re wanting to be. It’s just that they are. Because in our industry it’s sad because some of the clients don’t really appreciate it. They just see, for example, it’s a website. Well, it’s not. It’s so many more different things. There’s been a lot of effort put in on it time wise, planning wise for UX and development and things like that, and they just see the aesthetics of it. They don’t see the hard work that’s gone behind that takes the real time.

John:

Right. Let’s talk about that for a minute because this is your area of expertise. Everyone has a website. Everyone knows they need a website and some people have what I call website shame. They’re like, “Oh, I’m still working on that. It’s not quite where I want it to be. I know I need to make it better. I need to update it. Blah, blah, blah.” Clearly it’s so important for branding to grow, to get new clients and if you’re looking to get investors obviously. When you pitch a new client, since this is The Successful Pitch podcast, I would love to have you share with us your tips on pitching because it’s all the same whether you’re getting a new client or getting an investor. One of the things investors look for is your ability to get clients. How do you pitch a client that shows that what you do is worth your premium price and what makes you different than everyone else?

Daniel:

That’s actually something that has been quite a talking point for quite a period of time of what we’re trying to get across to some other people, not just staff. It’s what I’m actually going to talk about at university when I go and speak there.

John:

Terrific.

Daniel:

It’s that fact that if we’ve got two companies, A and B, both web agencies, design agencies, whatever they are, whatever the project, they’ve obviously got great staff because they are pitching for this work and the client has allowed them to pitch for it.

John:

Right.

Daniel:

If both the designers are going to create great work, they’re going to build the website and it’s going to be great, I find the biggest separator, the difference between company A and B, are the people. You can have the same skills, but you’re not going to be the same person. What we find over here, I’m sure it’s the same in the states, is that people buy people.

John:

Yep.

Daniel:

I honestly, hands down, think that’s the biggest part of winning a pitch.

John:

It literally is. For an investor, they invest in the team more than the product.

Daniel:

Oh, definitely.

John:

It’s all about we both have the skillset to create your website. At the end of the day, it’s like the real deciding factor is, if I hear you right, who do we like? Who are we going to click with? Who’s going to have rapport? That’s so important when you’re putting your team together. You and Mark, we have to get on the same page so that we like each other and then we present a united front and then we’re going to attract the same kind of client that gets us and appreciates us. That’s what I heard you say earlier.

Daniel:

Yeah. That’s right. Yeah. I mean, it’s a relationship. It’s not service. I mean, it’s like a partner, a husband, a wife. You buy into it. It wouldn’t just be one thing, they can cook. Great. That’s not just it is it? It’s everything else. I think there’s a better end game, there’s a better end product if you get on well and you can collaborate well I think that you can be up front with people and I think you can just tighten things down or you can just get these little hints and suggestions. It’s the trust and the belief that you really want their product to do as well as they want it to. I think that’s where the real picture stuff is.

John:

I just hear a great quote from Judy Robinett which is how I know your partner Mark Asquith. She said, “You want to work with people that have your back and have your future.” I love that quote and I think it’s exactly what you’re talking about.

Daniel:

Yeah. Definitely. That’s a great quote.

John:

Yes. It’s right on that whole concept of, I’m going to tweak this out from your episode. “Have a real relationship, not a service relationship.”

Daniel:

Yeah. I’m going to write that quote down.

John:

Feel free. I just tweaked it a little bit because that’s what I do with pitches. If you’re in the room, you’ve obviously earned the right to pitch.

Daniel:

Yeah.

John:

The next step is, it’s not about razzle dazzling them with all your tech stuff. It’s people buy emotionally and back it up with logic. Wouldn’t you agree?

Daniel:

Entirely. At the end of the day, tech, anybody can do it. If you’re in that industry you can do that from your bedroom as a one-man band. You’re fighting against anybody.

John:

Yes.

Daniel:

Everybody. Certainly not anybody. Which is why I say you’re buying the individual because tech is tech. People can do it. What’s the deciding factor? That deciding factor is, as I’ve said, it’s you with the individual’s company.

John:

One of the things I’ve learned from listening to and talking with Mark Asquith, your partner, is he’s really keen on focusing on this is a business. Is it breaking even? Is it profitable? Can you speak to the kind of conversations that you guys have focused on that?

Daniel:

Would you mind just saying that again?

John:

Sure. One of the things that Mark likes to focus on is how profitable is the business and keeping your eye on that and not letting that, especially if you’re in a creative industry, get, oh, isn’t this beautiful? It’s like, are we putting too many hours in for what they’re paying us or making sure that what you’re doing is profitable.

Daniel:

Yeah. That’s quite a funny one there. It is quite easy to be busy being busy. I’m sure Mark will have mentioned these days, it’s so easy to, I say again, be busy being busy and take your eye off everything else. The business is a business and the business needs to survive and, yes, you need to do the work for that to happen, but aside from the day-to-day stuff that you’ve got to do that’s your service, a business requires so much else. You just can’t take your eye off that because that will stop moving forward. The business needs to grow and there needs to be other avenues of income and you need to look at those needs, see them on the horizon and you need to plan for them. You need to aim for them. You need to get those people in which you can’t do if you’ve got the headphones on and your head down. You need to look up.

John:

I love your expression that you need to look up to be profitable. You can’t keep your head down with your headsets on. Is there any piece of advice that you would give new entrepreneurs when it comes to finding the right co-founder or enticing the right people to join your team to grow?

Daniel:

I think there’s two things there. I think when it comes to the co-founder I think it’s very important to go in with the facts and from my experience I think knowing a handful of people who’ve dealt with them in the past also is a great factor. Don’t just go in with the facts that you’re given. It’s the facts that you’re not given necessarily that can be quite useful and almost be a deciding factor. When it comes to staff believe it or not we’re finding it hard to find good staff.

John:

I hear that all the time. It’s hard.

Daniel:

Have you heard the phrase, “A’s hire A’s and B’s hire C’s?”

John:

No. What does that mean? Tell me again. What is it, A?

Daniel:

A’s hire A’s.

John:

Yes.

Daniel:

B’s hire C’s.

John:

Oh. Nice.

Daniel:

Basically what that means is we’ve got the A level employee, extremely talented, very good at their job and the reason they hire A’s is because they’ve got no doubt in their abilities and will often thrive on the competition to make themselves better which in turn will make the other A better because they’re trying to beat them as well.

John:

Because they’re not intimidated, right?

Daniel:

Exactly that.

John:

Yep.

Daniel:

We’ve got the B’s who hire the C’s because they are obviously not as highly skilled or have not got the confidence or the output is not quite the same as an A, but they won’t want to be overshadowed by a fellow B because it will make them look bad, so they hire C’s so they can remain above.

John:

Oh, Daniel, that is gold. I’ve never heard anybody describe that. That’s really valuable. We’re going to tweet that out, really promote that. It’s really sophisticated insight into human behavior and also so important to know when building your team. It’s fantastic information. I’m sure you’re an avid reader and I would love to hear you give us a suggestion on a book that you like either around business or just life in general.

Daniel:

Actually, aside from the Jack Reacher novels I’ve got a couple that I’m just about to read. I go to a bimonthly event over here and it’s called UX Sheffield based in Sheffield, and it’s covering all things like user experience and interaction design and things like that. It’s a great event. It features guest speakers. One of the speakers, actually the owner of a company over here called. He did a talk about David Ogilvy, the master of advertising as they say.

John:

I know him well, yes.

Daniel:

After that talk I picked up the Ogilvy on Advertising. Now I’ve not got quickly too far into it, but you read reviews and if you know anything about David Ogilvy or, like you said, you do, you can’t not be interested in the guy. I mean, what he’s done and what he did, he’s just amazing.

John:

He was all about, tell them what they need to know. Get to the point.

Daniel:

Exactly. He’s just an interesting guy. The stuff that you can read about him. He’s obviously got Mad Men, the TV series, that’s loosely based on David Ogilvy and a book that I’m actually going to turn on to next is one recommended by Mark actually. It’s called The Art of Persuasion by Bob Berg. That’s all about your language, not only in speaking terms, but in emailing and things like that about how to entice people over towards yourself or the company or whatever you’re trying to sell. I’ve actually noticed a difference in how he writes email and how he speaks to people and it just works. He’s great. That’s at the side of the bed at the moment. I’m really looking forward to reading that.

John:

Yes. He’s quite the master. I watch his emails to his database and one of the subject lines he said is, “I’VE HAD A RELAPSE. DAMN.”

Daniel:

Yes. I recall that one.

John:

If that doesn’t get you to open up an email I don’t know what does. It’s very David Ogilvy. It’s very enticing. It’s a great great story there. I love it.

Daniel:

We say to Mark, we say that he’s got the gift of the gab. Now what we mean by that is he’s a talker and he can really really talk. It’s really strange. It just works whatever he does. Obviously he’s improving on that. When you notice a change in how somebody’s being or how they’re writing or how they’re speaking to people, when you see them every day, you’ve kind of got to take note because obviously when you see somebody or deal with somebody day to day, they’re pretty much the same, but when you notice a change that’s when something is happening.

John:

Right because it can be very subtle and you don’t even notice it, but that whole concept of the gift of gab, it might be an innate talent, but he’s obviously spent some time learning about it and developing it, and that’s what I really want our listeners to take away is you hear somebody who gives a great talk, gives a great speech, writes a great email and you think, oh they’ve just got the gift of gab. They may have some natural talent, but anybody who’s really good at it has spent some time developing it.

Daniel:

Yeah, he’s spent a lot of time over the last year or so going into that. His podcast is 12 months old a week or 2 ago and he’s really jumped into that with 2 feet.

John:

Daniel, how can people follow you on social media? What’s your twitter and all that good stuff?

Daniel:

My twitter handle is daniel_maw. Obviously I’ve got a strange spelling of the surname which is Maw and you can hit us up on our website which is www.hacksawstudio.com.

John:

Fantastic. Thank you so much for being on the show today. It’s been a pleasure.

Daniel:

Thank you very much. It’s been great.

John:

Thanks for listening to The Successful Pitch podcast. If you like the show please go to iTunes and write a review and encourage your friends to write reviews too. It really helps get the word out. You know, people say that the longest distance is between someone’s mouth and their wallet. People can tell you they’re going to invest, but when it comes time to write the check, they don’t do it. How do you get people to say yes and then follow through? Visualize yourself on the left side of a riverbank and you have to cross the river and on the other side of the river is where the funding happens. First you make up your idea and then you make it real and then you make it reoccur. Once you start dipping your toe into the water to get to funding that’s where I can help. I get you across that river faster than you would on your own with a lot less frustration then you will get when you hear a bunch of nos and you don’t know why. If you want some help getting funded faster with less frustration go to my free funding webinar, sellingsecretsforfunding.com/webinar. Sign up and get in depth information on how you can get funded fast. Thanks.

TSP049 | Linda Galindo – Transcription
Inside The Protein Bar