With over 25 years of experience spanning Financial, Sales and Information Technology markets, a straightforward approach to solving complex business problems and a childhood fascination with all things tech-related, Alex Rich was always destined to be a tech entrepreneur.
From a young age, Alex had a passion for information technology, having partnered for his first business in his hometown of Bournemouth, England, at 17 marketing technology for printed shopper dockets shortly after designing personal electronic greeting cards for his family and friends by code back in 1989 with the help of a Commodore Amiga 512 after he was introduced to coding by his mother with a Commodore 64 at the young age of 8.
Alex believes it’s his passion to create something that didn’t exist and create code for business ideas that could help consumers needs that fuelled his love for wanting to stay connected in the design technology space.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Alex Rich: I have a background of 25 years of experience in Financial, Sales and Information Technology markets, a love of solving complex business problems and a childhood fascination with all things tech-related, so becoming a tech entrepreneur was probably always destined for me. Along with our founders, we started Desygner in 2016 after we had experienced the frustrations that so many small businesses deal with in the creative design process, which led to the vision of creating a design solution where non-designers could customize materials efficiently and safely.
The success of Desygner was rapid when it launched. It became the first design solution for apps in the market and the world’s first cross-platform design tool. Fast forward from where Desygner started with only 1,000 users in 2016, Desygner now boasts close to 25 million users and 100,000 business subscribers worldwide.
Being a bootstrapped company, we’ve had our challenges, but Desygner has retained its original staff from inception, which is why Desygner has a valuable hold in the marketplace even through tough times.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Alex Rich: The whole workforce has changed on a scale I’ve never seen before in my career. Now businesses have had to pivot into remote working conditions, and on a global scale, this has proven to be challenging, but it’s also allowed managers to provide more localization and flexible options for their staff. However, even when employing globally, we still need senior management locally because of the value they bring to the company on a higher level.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Alex Rich: More than ever before in history, we’ve seen more entrepreneurs enter the market. The past was about working for a big-name company, but now everyone wants to create their own business and be entrepreneurs. This means everyone now needs marketing tools and a plug and play platform in their back pocket so they can compete, which is what we excel in. Everyone needs to be a marketer, from influencers on Tik Tok and YouTube who create their own digital content to the plumber servicing local suburbs and need quality images for his website and email campaign. Without quality design and marketing in 2022, businesses can’t survive, and Desygner gives that security without hiring a large marketing team.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Alex Rich: As a global company, we saw different challenges both locally and regionally and globally during the pandemic. We had to be much more competitive in perks to gain and retain good staff. Also, as a bootstrap company, this proved more difficult than some of our venture capital-backed competitors. As a technology leader in digital asset management, document management, and design customization, we had to choose where we focused our energy and time. For us, this was on the larger enterprise companies.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Alex Rich: The pandemic has made long-lasting changes to the world, and therefore we’re now not just adapting to the pandemic but new times ahead. This will separate good business leaders from poor ones. The good ones have learnt and will continue to bring a new context and understanding that some things have changed the new future forever. The bad ones will go back to how things have always been done.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Alex Rich: It will extrapolate more and more as small to medium companies become familiar with the new technologies and start seeing the benefits. We’ve seen our organic traffic increase month-on-month in B2C, and we’re also focusing on more B2B solutions in 2022. Our focus will also be providing a tool that will remain free for users.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Alex Rich: Not as many as you would think. Maybe 4-6 hours because I’d rather be in meetings and have face-to-face meetings with management staff and my team.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Alex Rich: The biggest challenge we face is finding the right experienced staff who excel in their field and fit with the company culture. Of course, recruiting is a challenge in any business. Still, salaries in the tech industry have also jumped substantially, so it’s no secret there is a tech skill shortage not only worldwide but in Australia.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Alex Rich: The subject of NFTs and the copyright of content produced online is an extensive discussion as this industry grows. Technology should be enabling artists to exercise control over their work so they can sell it more efficiently and, more importantly, protect it against others appropriating it without permission. As a business leader in online marketing and design solutions, we are constantly motivated and abreast of these areas.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Alex Rich: I can honestly say we’ve had a high retention rate of keeping our good employees. The majority of our staff are still here from our inception or in the first few years. We are a bootstrapped company. We are completive in salaries, but we also offer more flexibility and company culture than purely pay focused. We hire very fast and fire very fast if people can’t deliver or keep up. People who stay do so because they are excellent at what they do and align with Desygner’s future vision. Employee culture is very important to me. If my employees aren’t happy, I’m not happy, and I want to be happy at work.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Alex Rich: If only I could click a finger and help everyone understand how Desygner Enterprise can revolutionize their company and why it’s not just a design tool but a platform that every CEO, CMO and CPO would want in their organization.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Alex Rich: My vision for 2022 is to create a more harmonious work/life balance. My business is very important, but my family and health are more important. I believe balance isn’t something you can strategize about; it’s something you create from within. Whether you’re a CEO of a large corporation or a small entrepreneur just starting out, it’s what we all aspire to have, and it will be an ongoing challenge well beyond 2022.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Alex Rich for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Alex Rich or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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