The musician who turned a side project into a multi-million dollar company – David Okuniev (Typeform)

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Episode #19: David Okuniev

Joining us today is the former musician turned designer, David Okuniev. He is the co-founder and joint CEO of Typeform, one of the hottest young startups out there.

In this conversation, we discuss his journey from being a musician with a record deal to owning a design agency and eventually building a product that was transformed from being a side project into a massively successful startup. Through Typeform David and his team have set the goal of making beautiful tools for human interaction that anyone can use.

David discusses his amazing world-wide journey from touring with his band in England, to starting a small design agency in Colombia, and eventually meeting his co-founder, Robert, in a co-working space in Barcelona. Looking forward, David and the team at Typeform continue to innovate and bring in new ideas to create the best conversational UI in the industry.

This is the seventh episode of the second season of the Hacking UI podcast, ‘Scaling a Side Project’. In this season we interview designers, developers, and creative entrepreneurs who built and scaled successful side projects  that we admire.

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Key points from this episode:

  • How did David go from being a touring rock star to building a full-time design agency? Find out how the events in his life played out, leading him to become a successful entrepreneur.
  • Find out exactly how Typeform was inspired by the movie War Games, and how David and Robert translated that into a successful startup.
  • David and Robert both had great faith in Typeform as a project. Learn how even after the first round of investment they still took no salary.
  • Side projects can give you the advantage to perfect the product before launch. Understand how pressure from investors can create a completely different outcome for your product.
  • Learn how when designing Typeform David and his team worked based off of a “gut feeling”. So without data and user testing, how did they actually know it was right?
  • Find out how Typeform used conversational forms to achieve a 55% completion rate, compared to the industry benchmark, which is only 15%.
  • Understand how Typeform is working to help people create conversations much more easily by removing the friction out of starting a conversation and providing them with the right tools.
  • Learn how even though David is the co-CEO, he still manages to spend time designing and places a high value on design in his work life.
  • At Typeform they have created a culture of happiness. Find out why David believes it best to organically establish a culture and how to manage it as the company scales rapidly.
  • David’s advice to new entrepreneurs is to build your company from the heart, and not from the head. Learn how this concept has scaled Typeform rapidly to success.

Links from the show


If you’d like to read the full text of this episode, you can  download the transcript.

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About The Hacking UI Podcast

The Hacking UI podcast is hosted by Sagi Shrieber and David Tintner, a designer and developer who are also both entrepreneurs, bloggers, productivity/time-hacking maniacs, and all around tech geeks.

We started this podcast off with the ‘Scaling a Design Team series’ where we spoke with design leaders from top notch companies like Facebook, Apple, InVision, and Intercom, to discuss team structures, responsibilities, and workflows.

A few months ago we quit our day jobs to work on our former side project, Hacking UI, full time. So we found it fitting that our second season of the podcast should touch on that subject. The second season is called ‘Scaling a Side Project’, and we’ll interview creative entrepreneurs that we admire in order to get them to share their tips, experiences, and secrets to success.

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