How many of us can say that we are doing what we love everyday, and at the same time, be able to make some money from it?
For Kai Xin and Eugene Cheng, they are doing it everyday at the company they cofounded: SlideComet.
SlideComet is a boutique design studio based in Singapore that specializes in Presentation Design.
Founded in April 2013, SlideComet has had close to 30 clients so far, ranging from bootstrapping start-ups and corporate individuals to larger companies and agencies such as A*Star, Bridge Alliance, SMU, Singtel, Dentsu, Motul.
Essentially, for clients who are too busy to make their presentation look professional, and looking to outsource presentation creatives to a design team, SlideComet is the perfect team to go to.
Is SlideComet sustainable? Vulcan Post speaks to Eugene Cheng, cofounder of SlideComet to find out more:
Tell us more about what you do.
Whether you’re pitching your $2 Million idea to investors, showcasing your organisation at a global conference or trying to close your next sale with a prospect, chances are you’re gonna have to give a presentation. That’s where we come in.
We help our clients conceptualise and create visual experiences that sell their ideas, products or service. They get to save time struggling on crafting that perfect first impression for their presentation and focus on what they do best: Giving the presentation.
If you have that high-stakes presentation coming up, the SlideComet team walks the extra mile to understand and streamline the relevant content, craft and design compelling visuals to reinforce the intended message and puts it all together in a hard-hitting presentation experience.
How did you and your cofounders meet and why did the both of you started SlideComet?
I met Kai Xin while pursuing our Business Studies Diploma in Ngee Ann Polytechnic. We discovered that we shared a burning passion for design and a love for powerful presentations. Having sat through boring lectures and tutorials strewn with endless lines of bullets and text for 2 torturous years, I decided to do something about it.
I took the initiative to learn about design software during the term break and at the same time, flipped through numerous presentation books. I believe application of skills runs corollary to knowledge acquisition so when the new semester began, I greeted the project presentations with a different approach, effectively employing the techniques I’ve mastered. Surprisingly, they were met with raving reviews (notwithstanding some criticisms) from our peers and tutors and I quickly saw a niche in the local market.
After contributing work to SlideShare.net – the largest online slide sharing platform, I was met with an overwhelming flood of commissioned work enquiries after the staff handpicked my presentations on a number of occasions ( top 3 out of thousands ) to be exclusively featured on the homepage. Being a design-thinker herself, Kai Xin was intrigued and was bought into the idea as well.
We each contributed $800 as capital to get the business on its small feet after graduation.
How big is the need for presentation customization from clients?
Microsoft gave a recent estimate a few years ago that 40 Million PowerPoint presentations were given worldwide every day. It’s no surprise that there is quite a sustainable demand for it from clients both overseas as well as locally.
For some, losing a sales pitch could mean losing a $1,000 in commission, for others, the stakes may be a lot greater, such as losing $20,000 in potential business.
With the ubiquity of technology, PowerPoint and presentation software has become a staple in our workplaces and schools. Nonetheless, the problem arises when people don’t know how to use it effectively. Indubitably, people need to create better presentations to hold the audience’s attention, but not everyone is willing to pay for it.
What’s the best part and worst part about working with your cofounders so far?
Kai Xin and I have a very enriching professional relationship. We love interacting with people and enjoy how design can add value to businesses. We also fill each other’s shortcomings – She’s more creative and idealistic whereas I’m more sensible and rational. So in that sense, I’d think we’re rather complementary. The best part is that both of us understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we try to utilise our individual talents to the best of our abilities.
Of course, it’s not fine and dandy all the time. Although we’re quite alike, we face disagreements due to some differing beliefs and ideals at times. Often, these are resolved once we put our heads together to seek an adequate solution.
In addition, our similar personalities may impede our decision-making process; we’d then have to seek for a second or third opinion.
Isn’t the barrier of entry for PPT design low? What makes you stand out?
As with any form of offering, we face the risk of becoming commoditised. The value we provide besides being able to crank out quality, functional visual designs is also our ability to understand and simplify complex industry concepts that clients typically bring our way.
Our prior education in business concepts as well as participation in Business Plan Competitions had granted us a wider perspective of comprehension compared to the typical designer specialised only in rendering the visuals. The intimate knowledge of business strategies and coherent structures along with our unique visual style helps us stand out amongst other firms.
Locally, there aren’t many in operation, so we hold an early adopter’s ( first-mover sounds a little cliche ) advantage.
What other services do you provide and what’s moving forward for the company?
SlideComet currently specialises on content and visual creation for presentations only. However, we’re currently working on a training program to help more people create effective presentations on their own.
Apart from the aforementioned, we intend to expand our team to accommodate more client work and have a greater capacity to spread our methodology to a larger audience through innovation and outreach initiatives.
What’s the most common mistake people usually make for their powerpoint slide?
I would say the most common mistake is that people focus too much on the nitty-gritty of how the presentation looks before creating a coherent content flow. No matter how you package a sub-standard product, once the audience unveil it, they’ll see it for what it really is. We agree with the old adage: Content is King . If your structure is logical and compelling, keeping the visuals decent would still produce a good presentation.
We don’t believe in design for superfluous decoration—we prefer our design to provide both aesthetic and functional appeal. Indeed, better designs, besides from beautifying your slides, make presentations more effective.
Who do you and your cofounder get your design inspiration from?
We constantly scour online design sites like Behance, Dribbble and some specific ones for presentations like Pitchenvy.com, NoteandPoint.com and SlideShare. Offline media like magazines, outdoor advertisements and newspapers also offer tremendous inspiration.
Apart from exposure to visual collateral for inspiration, Kai Xin and I also try to surround ourselves with creative individuals, she co-organizes a monthly design discussion known as OrangeHive where designers and start-ups gather in one place to mingle and share ideas.
The beauty of design is that its principles are universal; if you understand the fundamentals, it’s all about adapting them to fit the medium of choice. Magazine headlines and cover pages slapped with large text and shapes are very good examples that we sometimes emulate.
Is Slidecomet a lifestyle business or a proper career?
I would say it’s currently a lifestyle business which allows us to further explore different areas of business, meet interesting people and enhances our learning experience. We may decide to pursue other endeavours in the near future.
The benefit of starting young and small is that it offers less risk and gives us plenty of flexibility to pivot when we need to. We can make important decisions at will to best provide value to our clients.
We love what we’re doing right now. It can very much be a viable career option, but we hope to keep our options open.