Building the business
Video: Building the business(Music playing.) Mark Duarte: Before we even moved down to the Bay Area, we lived in Chico and after the birth of our daughter, Nancy stayed home and did some odd jobs working from home and one of them was working doing bookkeeping for a small business who-- he was recycling? Nancy Duarte: A recycling company. Mark Duarte: He did recycling.
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Duarte Design is on a mission to change the world, one PowerPoint presentation at a time. Nancy and Mark Duarte, the wife-and-husband team behind Al Gore's famous slideshow about global warming, have built a thriving business out of creating high-impact PowerPoint and Keynote presentations. Their company has become the go-to presentation resource for some of high technology's most visible companies, such as Adobe, Cisco, and HP. But Nancy will be the first to tell you that it's not the technology that matters most, but rather the story. This installment of Creative Inspirations tells the story of how this power duo elevated lowly PowerPoint presentations to arguably the most compelling form of modern media.
Building the business
(Music playing.) Mark Duarte: Before we even moved down to the Bay Area, we lived in Chico and after the birth of our daughter, Nancy stayed home and did some odd jobs working from home and one of them was working doing bookkeeping for a small business who-- he was recycling? Nancy Duarte: A recycling company. Mark Duarte: He did recycling.
Mark Duarte: Anyhow, he had a little Mac. Nancy Duarte: 512. Mark Duarte: 512K computer, one of the first ones that came out that Apple produced, and he just gave it to her and said, take it home, figure out how to use it. Nancy is not very technology savvy. Nancy Duarte: Or bookkeeping savvy. Mark Duarte: Or bookkeeping savvy, for that matter. But at that time we would do anything of course. We were just trying to eke out a living. But I just sat down at it, started playing with it, just clicking everything, trying to figure out how to make it work, and why it did what it did, and just fell in love with the technology.
So the first time summer I was down here, went to a temp agency, worked all summer long moving furniture from five large buildings into one building for a company. I earned enough money to buy my first Macintosh Plus computer and a little ImageWriter Dot Matrix printer. Nancy is really sort of driven, she has got this sort of like ambitious spirit and she is a go-getter. So she couldn't just stay home and raise an infant and a four-year-old daughter, she wanted to jump in and help me. She is fantastic.
She is excellent at sales, at marketing. She did. She picked up the phone, made some calls and it just-- Nancy Duarte: Destroyed our personal life. Mark Duarte: Just happened to be at the right time and the right place, because this was such a new thing. It was like we were able to ride the desktop publishing wave. A lot of companies were wanting to transition from traditional methods to digital methods and so we just caught it at the right time. Nancy Duarte: The epiphany to have focus on presentations came from a couple of places, a couple of things happened at the same time.
One was the dot-com crash. We did about 75% presentations, 25% was print web, and print web went away and the phone kept ringing for our presentation work. So we knew we must have been pretty good at it. Then Jim Collins' 'Good to Great' came out at the same time too, where he said, if there is one thing you can be best in the world, do that one thing passionately. That's when we decided, you know what? This is what we do, and this is what we're really great at, and this is what we love. It doesn't matter that other people don't love this, we do, and we're going to do it with all our heart.
It really just kind of focused our organization and improved our work too, which was really interesting. So Mark applied to a little two-line ad in the San Jose Mercury News, where they were looking for desktop publishers, and that's the first year he worked on Apple's Developers Conference. So the gal who had hired him through this ad didn't want to do it anymore. She wanted to go off and do aromatherapy. So she had Mark Apple as a client, which is kind of cool, and then we just grew from there. We just grew every year and picked up NASA and Tandem and some really significant clients.
Mark Duarte: Supermac at the time. Nancy Duarte: We did their IPO. Nancy Duarte: Yeah, it was kind of fun. So we arrived at the forefront of the technology as it was being developed, which was very cool. Mark Duarte: We decided to move out of our house in 1993 and it was because it was a long day, we were tired, and we thought, well, let's go home now. It dawned on us that we never were able to say that, "let's go home from work," because we were always home, always working. The idea of having an office was about as exciting to us as it is for most people to work out of their home.
So we began a search looking for an office space, and we found one, and it was a huge leap of faith for us to commit to a lease and to inhabit that space and then to consider hiring more employees. But we did it. We thought we could either kind of live in fear, or we can just take this leap of faith and go for it, and we did. Every time we've done that, the business just grew. Nancy Duarte: Kind of fills the space.
Mark Duarte: Yeah, it's kind of like you get an empty barn and it gets filled and that has just happened that way for us. We've been fortunate. We've been very blessed.
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