Designing Digital Experiences with Impekable’s Pek Pongpaet
Helping enterprise companies achieve their dreams.
Pek Pongpaet is the Founder and CEO of Impekable.
Impekable is a full service design agency that specializes in Research & Product Design, Product & Project Management, Mobile & Web Development, and Product Maintenance.
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Welcome to the 200th episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur podcast. My name is Josh Elledge, I'm the Founder and CEO of UpMyInfluence.com. We turn entrepreneurs into immediate celebrities growing their authority, helping them build partnerships, helping them grow revenue. We build sales systems, we turn entrepreneurs to help them go from invisible to being seen and celebrated because we believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. Listen, we are right now gearing up for our next 200 episodes every single day. We've got a daily founder story full of inspiration you're going to learn great tips from them. We would love to have you as a guest. All you got to do is simply go to upmyinfluence.com slash guest and please let us share you with our audience. We have over 120,000 fans on the socials and combined listening to this podcast. Visitors to the website, we want to promote the great work that you are doing. So just stick around to the end of the show where I'm going to reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15, 20 minutes. Let's get going with the 200th episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur.
And with us right now we've got Pek Pongpaet, and Pek, you are the Founder and CEO of Impekable, and you actually have a really interesting background and people may be familiar with your Mortal Kombat moves as a little bit of a teaser.
Yeah. Hi, everyone. Pleasure to be on the show, Josh. Yes. So a little bit about my history. I used to be a pretty serious martial artists And so at some point I got recruited, I heard about the auditioning that was happening at the Mortal Kombat video games where they were starting to use motion capture as a tool to capture the movements instead of keyframing or hand animating the movements of a video game character. So I heard about that, went to audition, did my moves, at that point I was pretty serious martial artists in Chicago you know, I did a demo demonstration for Ed Boon the creator of Mortal Kombat. He liked my moves so ever since then I would just get a call and get a get a list of moves get get the you know kind of script a rough script of the the fight scene that the trailer that they were working on the cutscenes essentially and yeah, we get the move list for the characters and I was just execute those moves in my motion capture suit in the motion capture room, and yeah, did that for 10 years spending six six games Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance, deception, Armageddon, Shaolin monks, MK vs DC Universe and Mortal Kombat reboot. Yeah.
Wow. And so so you were actually like wearing the green suits with a little white balls on it? Uh,
yeah, black black. So I would call it you know, my analogy is it's like a wet suit made of Velcro and then they would attach these reflective dots on it that the infrared cameras would pick up. Yeah,
yeah. My gosh, so So did you have a favorite move that you did?
You know, I had a lot of fun you know, like I love doing you know, obviously I love the jump kicks and kind of like the big big cool movements. One one fun part that I episode that I recall that was cool to shoot or interesting to shoot was in MK vs. DC Universe. I also played Superman. And if you ever played Superman in those games, he he looks like he's floating. He doesn't walk he's you know, he's he can fly so he's always levitating. Yeah, and And the way we did that was you know, I'm they had two really big guys on the one on each side of me kind of just lifting me so my feet were never touching the ground well my gosh, those moves that was that was funny that kind of like one of those memorable things
do you do you would you do all of the finishing moves as well?
No now they kind of did that in house. Yeah, they kind of like you know, like we we were you know, martial artist. So we did the the actual martial arts moves. Yeah. Right. He'll to make it look real. Yeah,
yeah, yeah. Alright, so you're doing that and then So talk about what you do with impeccable today.
Sure. So Impekable, is a world class, product agency digital design. So anything that has nowadays a digital screen name, you know, most commonly mobile phone so mobile apps, web applications, smart watches, smart TVs in car, you know, digital experiences. We were just helped with creating those experiences. So we'll design those will engineer those those types of experiences. And we do those for brands, global brands like Google, Nike, Adobe, Samsung. We work with, you know, kind of those those type of clientele.
Yeah. Yeah. How did you get to that level of client? And when you when you started off, so you've been at the helm of impeccable for quite some time. Let's see you launched in October 2012.
Yeah, we're seven years. Yeah. We just turned seven last month. And we It was great celebration because we were on the Inc 5002 years in a row. That's actually where I met you. Right, Joe? Yeah. And just last month, Silicon Valley Business Journal also. So, no, we're on the list of Silicon Valley business Journal's top fastest. Private, you know, Silicon Valley companies, top 20. So the Valley companies in the Bay Area under 50 million, so they have to list over 50 million under. And we were one of the fastest growing private in Silicon Valley. So that was Yeah. How do we get started? So I've always been in technology have a computer engineering degree from Chicago. That was like over 20 years ago. I'm like a little old now. And so I've always worked in technology for 20 years and but I've always wanted to be an entrepreneurial and have my own company. That's so lived in Chicago for most of a good chunk of my adult life. But I've always been a tech guy, I've always been a startup guy, and I thought, okay, I really want to I should move out to the Bay Area to try to go at this. So I moved out here 11 years ago, no, nine years ago and then about about a bit over a year I started impeccable, which, at the time was I started actually as a freelancer during both design and engineering. So at some point during my career as an engineer, I transitioned to being a designer, so software designer needing like, I would design the interfaces rather than coat them. And I thought that was where my passion was my true calling. This was around the time of Apple's resurgence of Steve Jobs, kind of went back to Apple and all these products started Apple products started to get better. That was around the time that I thought, you know, that's, that's really where I can have an impact on the customer, you know, like designing how the product works. And that really, I was actually also more natural and better at it. Just from, you know, as a as an individual. I had more natural talent to design interfaces versus you know, be you Okay, engineer. Yeah,
yeah. Right. So, when you look at websites today There's a lot of bad design out there. And I think there's a lot of outdated design. What are some of the biggest things that you see pretty commonly that, that you wish folks would be like, hey, you should probably update that people don't really do that.
Yeah, I mean, I think fat design is like fashion, if we're talking about visual design, so some of the stuff that was in Vogue, in, you know, the early 2000s, especially during Max, Apple's resurgence was this notion of skeuomorphism. So skeuomorphic design is basically mimicking the design of actual physical devices. That's right. Yeah, right. So like a calculator application look like a calculator and notepad application look like a notepad like that, that stuff doesn't, you know, that's kind of not in vogue anymore, right?
So it's like three d buttons at
buttons. Heavy drop shadows. So that's kind of from the visual perspective. what's what's always going to be tried and true, in terms of universal design principles are like you always wanted to make it easy. You You always want to add, you know, don't add a lot of friction when doing stuff. So like if I want to, if I'm running an e commerce, right, things like, Hey, don't make Don't force me to have sign up for an account, create, you know, a guest checkout experience or something, you know, don't make Don't make me do work. You know, if I'm designing a software product, you know, maybe, like, let me try the product out without a heavy commitment, you know, without signing up for an account, maybe give me a quick, easy free trial. No, basically, removing friction to the customer is is always going to be a universal principle. You know, some people some companies want to ask a lot of questions upfront before they kind of provide You, I think, you know, being you being a natural marketer, you provide a lot of free upfront value, you know, in terms of your marketing. Yeah. So you can think of design like that, you know, let have a product give up a lot of free value before giving, you know, before asking so, yeah,
yeah, you know, we're seeing a lot of trends with this. And in fact, I have a lot of connections in the marketing world and Facebook as if when we're recording this by the time this airs at this will probably, it'll be very, very well known, but you know, Facebook has even put out some signals and they have then listen, if you're just dumping people into a lead registration page, and, you know, registering for webinars and it's anything that, you know, that's just really really, you know, it's just a very, very shallow funnel. Facebook is not going to they're going to make It really expensive to use their platform. They're just trying hard to make it a better, better experience. And I think people are sick of being, you know, click on stuff and it's just then they're just being sold to. It's a negative experience for Facebook and, and Google's right on board with that YouTube everywhere. So I think it's it's just mandatory for marketers, you know, just create an amazing experience for people to get to know you give away everything to the extent that, you know, people will finally make a decision on the things that you maybe can't give away. Too much your team's time or that sort of thing.
Right, right. Yeah, I think, you know, the product design principles is the same, you know, give give away as much as you can. But But balance that with the needs of the business, right, like giving away everything, obviously, it's not a sustainable business model. But you know, like, Here is a great example of a product design. Zoom is free for up to 45 minutes.
And they do that because
what they've learned in building so the founder, you know, before prior starting zoom, he has worked worked on a conferencing solution that was acquired by by Cisco. Anyways, he, you know, during his tenure there, he learned that basically the average meeting time is 50 minutes. So by Guy kind of giving away up to where people, you know, kind of commonly get the most, you know, like it was a, he knew that the conversion rate was high, so giving it away for 45 minutes at a time as a freemium. freemium lead gen was was an effective conversion tool, but you're still getting a lot of value, right? Like zoom is a great tool by getting 45 minutes out of it at four not and not having to pay anything. If you can keep that going. Great. Good for you. But if you need more than 45 minutes, then Yeah. Hey,
you know, slack is another one where, you know, we pay a lot of money for both today zoom and slack. And it was great because, you know, brilliant marketing, because, you know, we got that we live on slack. And so if it was right out of the gate and you said, Hey, here's a communications tool. Give us $180 a month to use it right out of the gate. I'd be like, now, I know, thanks. We'll find a different way to do that. But because they made slack so indispensable to how my team communicates. And eventually like, Look, we're just we we have to upgrade at this point. It's too valuable to us not to upgrade. Absolutely brilliant.
Yeah, I agree. We, you know, and it's it's orders of magnitude more expensive than some of the competing tools And we tried to switch one one month. I was like, Man, this is like, so much more expensive. Can I just can we just try? We're not like swimming in money. Can we just try switching to another tool? In less than a month people I was having a mutiny. They said they would either pay for this themselves or if we won't, and they'll just leave. That's the product and the marketing. Yeah, the product. Really Wow, how much better the product is? So yeah,
so pick when you're meeting with companies like Google, Samsung, Nike, Honda, Hewlett Packard, I can keep going to be a Liberty Mutual fan of Sonic Whole Foods, like what are those meetings? Like? What are people talking about in regards to user interface and the user experience and design?
Yeah, I think you know, it all starts with the problem, right user interface. Improving the user interface has to have a goal. You know, doing a project has to have a goal. What do you have in mind? What are you looking to fix? What are you looking to improve? It's really about problem solving. At the end of the day, user experience design is in the service of the customer of the business in terms of either improving efficiencies, improving the customer experience improving the customer journey. You know, so are solving a problem. What problem are we trying to solve? What goals are, you know, if somebody comes to us say, we just want to redesign this website? Well, our first romley first question would be like, well, what's broken? You know, what do you want to fix? Or what do you want to achieve? Our signups not good, you know, our people not converting people not sticking around? Is the application like, you know, is it people are just coming in and they don't know how to use it because it's not intuitive. You know, so those are the things we're trying to, you know, it's problem solving at the end of the day. One of the things we have is, you know, and a lot of our work is actually not consumer facing and enterprise. So we're having a lot of these these big brands, a lot of the work is enterprise b2b work design work or enterprise application work. And a lot of these business processes that we're trying to translate into design are fairly complex. But we have a saying where the complex doesn't have to be complicated. You know, we can't always simplify the complex, but we doesn't we don't have to make it complicated.
And and Pek I guess I want to ask this question a little bit differently. Who was your first big enterprise over client and how did you get their attention?
That is, that is a great funny story. So in the beginning, early days of Impekable you know, I was a solo Freelancer and then I built a small team around me, you know, in the early days, I think we finished the first year with kind of two two people working for me.
But so when you're when you're serving smaller business, This is a lot of
Yes, a lot of the time in the beginning startups, you know, well, the problem with enterprises, it takes sometimes several months if you know, like, like just Panasonic, for example, took a year to close. So you know, when you're small when you're just, you know, cash flow is very important. So, in the early days, we worked a lot with startups because you deal directly with a CEO, they can make a decision, they can write a check, boom, it's, you know, the projects going, but how we landed our first customer, enterprise customer in the early days, Aruba networks, this is funny. This is very kind of happenstance. Basically, I was having a meeting with a customer at a coffee shop in Mountain View, so maybe location, location, location, Mountain View, California, you know, kind of like the heart of one of the kind of major hubs of Silicon Valley. I was just discussing the project with the customer, and we're just kind of reviewing the project. And after he left, you know, the guy sitting next to me taps you on the shoulder says Excuse me, I couldn't help but over here, you know, do you do you do design work? It's like, yeah, yeah, we do the software design. And you know, that's I was just meeting with a customer. And it turns out, he worked for Aruba networks, he was just having coffee in the morning before he headed off to work. It's like, you know, I think we may need your help. So, so that's it was this happened to be a guy who worked at, you know, in a big enterprise having a coffee in the morning, and I was just meeting a customer sitting next to them. So my, I had this idea of a growth hack, where potentially, you know, I should just pretend I'm on a zoom meeting with customers at coffee shop, talking about the work and yeah,
me and having it outside of Google headquarters is something that is Starbucks and yeah, going on and on about like, Oh my gosh, can you believe this man? If only Google knew about this, right, you know, too bad. They don't
know. Yeah, just just just that was the growth hack idea. never actually kind of implemented that. But anyways, that's how we got our first customer, enterprise customer. Is this just just totally happenstance? But really how we consistently do it nowadays? It's relationships, relationships, relays. Yeah, it's I, I the saying, I tell my people when people are they're so impressed like yourselves, like, how do you, you know, I actually suck as a salesperson, I don't know how to sell to strangers. I don't know how to sell to every stranger. So what I do is how I have this is I create more relationships I create, yeah, I increase my network. You know, we were just talking right now, before the show, you know, as there's potential, you know, now that I have a relationship with you, there's potential for us to you know, collaborate or you know, your clients could potentially work with us. Yeah. And that's how it works in in business. It's kind of how I see business, especially with the enterprise. It's all about relationships.
Yeah. So when you I mean, obviously, introductions are really, really You're I'm sure you're very grateful for that. But But how do you initiate a new release? What's the best way currently to initiate a new relationship? Say, with the head of, you know, you know, whoever's in charge of user experience at, you know, at Adobe, for example, like, do you do some point is there a cold outreach or what do you do to initiate that relationship?
You know, so, cold outreach has worked for a lot of people, you know, this is what works for me is is warm introductions, right. So, you know, how we got for example, Nike was an introduction from from Twilio, so Twilio is another big enterprise, you know, like impeccable is small, right, like, impeccable, a lot of people have never heard of us even though we do great work with great companies. But when you have an introduction, a solid introduction, where you know, a Nike comes along and says, Hey, we have a problem with Twilio, you know, we want to implement Twilio with We don't have the resources. We don't know how to know how to do this. Who can who, you know, I need your help. And Twilio says, you know, you got to talk to him peccable they've been working with us for over five years or cold partner, that that adds instant. That's instant credibility, right? Like I could, I could cold call all day long. You know, we're a tiny company, and nobody's ever heard of us type of thing. It's just an uphill battle. But when you have, you know, what a, essentially a channel partner, who's this big giant that says, whoa, talk to these guys. It's just that introduction is, you know, invaluable. I don't even know how you would measure that. Yeah, no. So So one, one, you know, the way we got there, though, is by knowing their technology really well, is just knowing that their platform knowing how to use their product, so you know, as a small guy, you know, you you kind of my analogy is you're you become the remora to the shark, right. You You attach yourself to this giant. And and yeah, then then you become their, you know, a trusted channel a trusted partner that they they could refer you to you know, the other half of that is you know being good at what you do being good at your craft that that the Giants feel comfortable because it's their reputation at stake too if they make that introduction and you fall flat they have egg on their face. So you have to know your stuff. And you have to do you know you have to deliver
Well, you are on the web, Pek, and it is Impekable which of course is a play on your first name. And that's I M P E K A B L E impekable.com. And so I think for a good study in you know, seeing some examples, you've got a lot of case studies on here. Of course it's it's kind of impressive to you know All of the clients you've had the pleasure working with. But But Pek I want to thank you so much for joining us again. Pek Pongpaet, you're the Founder of Impekable, and and CEO. I want to thank you.
Yeah, thank you so much for having me on the show Josh.
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