Let’s Ask the Monster: Interview with Template Monster CEO David BraunLet’s Ask the Monster: Interview with Template Monster CEO David Braun
D4U Interview: the conversation with David Braun, CEO for TemplateMonster, well-known public activist and serial IT entrepreneur.
A new project or an idea is the best energy drink for me. (David Braun)
Today, David Braun is the prominent figure in the sphere of information technology and web design. He is a well-known public activist and serial IT entrepreneur. In May 2002 together with his mates, he co-founded the TemplateMonster company. He is the happy father of 3 children, a drummer and passionate social activist in the development of the local small businesses. Working as CEO for TemplateMonster for 13 years, he has launched numerous IT projects and got the image of inspiring leader. Since 2002 he has invested in multiple projects, such as MotoCMS, Photodoto, Site2you, Designfloat. No doubt, all this background gives him a broad outlook in professional and lifestyle issues, so today we offer you the interview with David Braun to get some tips and ideas from the person who already knows the taste of success and recognition, still never let’s himself stop growing.
Hello David, thank you for being here today. I know that you launched TemplateMonster in 2002 when a concept of templates was just starting. So I won’t beat around the bush: why templates?
David: We didn’t rush into this business just like that. Before 2002, we were a local web agency. What took me to the idea of creating TemplateMonster was a big number of customers who didn’t strive for a custom design and needed something cheaper. Once I saw one of our designers working over his pre-made templates, and that was the minute when the idea of TemplateMonster was born. We decided to move to a new a direction and turn the agency into an online store which would sell templates.
Could you name the most prominent milestones of TemplateMonster growth?
David: There were many of them. There were template number milestones, milestones when we enlarged our inventory by adding new CMS, there were milestones when we opened our offices in different countries, a first multipurpose theme milestone… We hit the first 30 000 templates milestone in 2011; in 2012, we re-educated all our developers who worked with Flash into HTML and got a new old group of professionals; 2013 became the year when we started rolling out local TemplateMonster versions. I’d say, all of them were significant, because in the long run they prove they were worthy.
Do you have any special rules or habits in your routine which you find directly influencing your professional success and comfort?
David: Everyone has them. For me, one of the main rules is never to stop and choose the people to surround myself with. They make a team, and a team works best when it consists of smart inspiring people. Forming your environment with people sharing your passion is amazing. Well, keeping a life-work balance would also be worth mentioning. Keeping yourself in shape, discovering new areas – paradoxically, but all these things help you stay focused and strengthen your critical thinking.
With your experience, what kind of tools, apps or other things help you to increase personal and professional productivity?
David: There are dozens of great tools on the Web. Time-management tools and collaboration tools always come in handy. Still, even with all the gadgets we have, having a usual notebook is essential. I always carry one with me.
What are your predictions on promising perspectives and directions in modern web?
David: In its very basis, the model of the Web won’t change. The rules of economics and business will stay the same. The methods, however, will alter. Keeping to the golden rule of flexibility and adjusting to your audience may keep many businesses safe. If you want to know what the promising perspectives in the future are, just look at the required careers now. I believe, software development will be a growing area. Web design may change in its technique, but we still will have photographers, agencies, small and big businesses which will need online presence, so web design will still be in demand.
What are the most important aspects to keep in mind communicating with clients?
David: Listening to them and, most importantly, hearing them. If they are not satisfied with something, find out which exactly problem they have and fix it. Don’t chase money as the only objective, sometimes having good relationship with a client is a much more beneficial thing to aim at. Our first client, who was from Brazil, messaged us via ICQ (that was an instant messenger at the moment) and asked if he could get a template for free. We did him a favor and provided it for free. Later, he got back to us and said he’d completed the project and got paid for it, and as the customer was really satisfied, he asked us to take our share. This guy is still our client.
Are there any books you find must-reads for intelligent people of our time?
David: Among must-reads I would mention “Thinking: Fast and Slow”, “Delivering Happiness”, “The Lean Startup”. These are the three books I’ve read lately, and they served me an inspiration. We, at MonsterPost, often publish lists of books and articles which may be useful to designers, developers and marketers.
Are there speakers in the sphere of design, communication, management and marketing which you would recommend to people creating various digital products?
David: There are no specific speakers whom I would recommend. However, I would recommend TED-Talks. Don’t narrow down your search to only “design”, or “communication”, or “management”. Soak up the information from the outer world and at some point it may serve you a great deal.
What are your tips on creating healthy, productive and motivating atmosphere in the company full of highly creative professionals, like yours?
David: Just like with the customers, listen and hear what your team needs. Giving them enough freedom in a workplace, investing in their skills upgrade, creating team-building activity outside the office, all these things raise a supportive spirit inside the team. And supportive spirit consequently leads to a productive work. The main requirement to work in TemplateMonster team is to love what you do.
What do you think helps to find the balance between personal and professional life? Should they be separated or interconnected?
That depends on a person. However, I don’t see any contradiction and I believe that you can combine these two lives perfectly well. As long as you keep balance in each of them, you keep balance between them. A good professional life helps you feel happier in your personal life, and a happy personal life helps you be more productive in your professional life.
It’s been a pleasure to talk to you, David. Hopefully, we’ll meet again soon and you’ll be able to share even more experience on running a company with us.
David: I hope so too. Thank you, it’s been great talking to you.
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