Who are you and what are you up to?
My name is Mark. I’m the lead developer and founder of Mark and Pixel, LLC. I develop and design custom websites and have been working for myself for about a year now. My niche is law firms and online marketing firms, working as their development partner. I have a business partner who is based in the Netherlands who is also a developer and long-time friend. I recently hired our first (part-time) employee, who is going to be working at Common Desk soon.
What’s your story?
I was born in the U.S. but grew up in a rural part of the Netherlands. Having a Turkish father and Dutch mother meant I grew up at the intersection of two very different cultures.
After high-school I served in the Dutch military as a paratrooper for two and a half years and travelled to many different places. Although the experience was amazing the army life wasn’t for me. I went to University and after a few years I packed my bags for an adventure in the U.S. After backpacking for a year or so I ended up working in the tech industry in San Francisco and later worked in the sales industry in Boston. A few years ago I decided to become a front-end website developer and have been working very hard to make that happen ever since. I’ve lived in Dallas on and off for 5 years now and love it here. I’ve worked at Common Desk for about 2 years.
What sets you apart from others in your industry?
I set the bar very high regarding our work and refuse to lower those standards (no cookie cutter websites with stock photography). For example, we schedule a professional photography session for every website we create and will not create a site without those original, personalized images.
Mark & Pixel recently redesigned the website of another member, Heroic Search
How is it going?
Great! I’m swarmed with new business and have been getting more and more incoming inquiries. I’m looking forward to growing to bigger clients.
What are your biggest challenges?
Moving it to the next stage is the biggest challenge. That means more time meeting new clients and building business processes and less time doing all the development and support myself.
Another challenge is keeping the plates spinning. I wear many different hats and spend a lot of time providing support for existing clients.
What are the two most valuable things you have learned since starting your business?
“These things take time.” (I’m impatient)
Forget the competition and just be awesome.
What’s your favorite part of your work?
Meeting with clients and hearing how proud and happy they are with their new online presence. After so much hard work, it’s great to see it pay off. There’s no better feeling to me than getting a review or testimonial after you’ve worked so hard to help clients accomplish their goals.
What is the most time-consuming part of your work?
Definitely design. We spend a significant amount of time wire-framing and creating mock-ups and generating multiple versions of a website then discussing those with clients. The “about us” page of our most recent client took days to create.
The challenge about web design and development is knowing when to stop. I think it’s a very common trait throughout design that we do not know when to shut down the computer and consider it good enough. I can spend hours perfecting a social media button on a client’s website.
Do you get much free time? How do you spend it?
On a personal level I feel that finding enough time to spend with friends is the hardest part of working as a business owner. When I do find time I go ride my racing bike around White Rock lake and check out local eateries on Greenville, as well as talking to folks in the Netherlands. I also enjoy aimlessly walking around North Park Mall for a couple of hours.
Where are you going from here?
I want to go more conferences, start speaking at events and write articles for industry-specific publications while still trying to have a personal life :)
Are you thinking about expanding your team?
Definitely. The workload is simply too much to handle. I’m looking to hire a junior front-end developer at the moment.
Why did you decide to office at Common desk?
Great location and great atmosphere! You can tell Nick and his awesome team put a lot of passion and effort into making Common Desk a great place to work and an amazing community. I’ve made friends, met partners and acquired clients through the Common Desk.
Are you working on a Mac or a PC?
Mac of course!
What are two mobile apps that you couldn’t work without?
Google Calendar and Gmail
What’s your favorite place to eat in Deep Ellum?
Maracas!, the Mexican restaurant behind Common Desk. I’d go there every day if I could but my colleagues won’t let me.