Vasile Tiplea, CEO, Founder & Director of Product and Design of Creative27 talks about his story which begins as a university student in graphic design, and continuing with building and managing a successful digital marketing
Creative27 is recognized as a top California Mobile App Development Company on DesignRush. The agency blends cutting-edge engineering with aesthetically creative designs to create distinctive products across platforms.
We asked Vasile about the agency’s story, tips on success and digital marketing.
Q: You are the founder of Creative27. What motivated you to start a company in the first place and what inspired the agency name?
I remember being in college, at the Art Institute of Orange County, studying Graphic Design back in 2006. As a student, I was eager to work on freelance projects as I loved what I was learning and was intrigued by creative challenges. All through college I freelanced, attended school full-time and had a part-time job as a sales representative.
With time, I learned how to manage clients, projects, time, budget & marketing. As time passed, projects and budgets got bigger. I had to create some kind of fictitious name and start operating as a business. This is how Creative27 came to be.
The way I chose the name Creative27: I wanted something that is easy to spell, short and easy to remember. My favourite number is 27. As I was reading design books, one evening I came across a book I bought called Creativity 37 Awards. Bingo! I put the two and two together, researched to see if the domain name was available and moved forward with it.
Q: As a professional designer, how did you transform your career into a businessman? How did you get started in the digital marketing industry?
My training at the Art Institute was formally in graphic design which at the time dealt more with print-based design. In my numerous full-time roles as a visual designer after, I finished school, I was placed in positions where wearing multiple hats was encouraged. I started learning more and more about web design and mobile apps. I took a number of courses online and next thing you know, slowly I shifted from print-based design to digital design.
One of my last jobs gave me the opportunity of working remotely full-time as the company closed their remote office in Los Angeles but still wanted to keep me on-board. When work was slow, I continued to do freelance work on the side. With time I was making significantly more money and was more fulfilled doing freelance work than my full-time job.
Time, mistakes, successes and risks over the years are what transformed me into the businessman I am today. I wish I could give you the recipe for success. But the truth is, you just have to stick with what you’re passionate about.
Q: As an agency specialized in design and app development, what tips would you offer to your clients looking to get better a return on investment?
I think is important for clients to thoroughly do their research before hiring an agency. Here are a couple of questions worth asking:
1. Does the agency have relevant work?
2. How long have they been in business for?
3. Is it easy to get a hold of someone?
4. Have they won any meaningful awards?
5. What do their clients have to say about them?
6. What am I paying for and what will it get in return? Know this thoroughly before you get into any business relationship with someone.
Also is important to note that in the app design and development world, after an app is designed, developed, tested and put out in the market, this is when you can see an agency’s true colors. Creative27 offers 3-months free complementary support after the app is launched into the market as we stand by our products and customers 100%.
If this is your first time designing an app, you don’t want to hire an agency that will do exactly what you tell them to do. While this might sound controversial, you want to partner with an agency who knows more than you do. One who can guide you through, add value to your product and set it up for success. At the end of the day, you are not building an app. You are on your journey to building a sustainable business model which, for small startups, with time, will turn into a full-time dream job.
Q: You have been nominated for the “Digital Agency of the Year” award twice in a row. Could you share some tips for agencies on how they can become successful?
At Creative27, we are truly honored to have been nominated Digital Agency of the Year. This along with the many awards we’ve won on behalf of our clients is due to the simple fact that we look to add value to everyone that comes in our path from the prospect stage. Before we sign contracts and before we talk money.
At the end of the day, while this may sound strange, we get value from seeing prospects that come our path succeed, even if they did not choose us as a partner. How so? Is the mentality of being grateful for being considered as a possible prospect?
With that said, do your very best and go above and beyond. When troubles arise and challenges come your way, see it as an opportunity to shine and add value. These are but trials that open doors to make a difference.
Q: After you receive a client brief, how do you come up with new ideas, insights, and strategy for a new project and what is your approach behind them?
Part of what helps us be innovative is the process we go through.
At Creative27, we start all of our projects by doing Research on successful competitors. We see what they do, how they operate, what makes them successful and what opportunities there are for a new competing business/app product to shine.
We then move on to providing our clients with a through list of ideas including features and innovative functionality that will make their app different from the rest.
User Experience is our next stage. The best products feel natural to use. This is why we spend time carefully mapping out each product’s user experience and flow in detailed annotated wireframes.
At the User Interface stage, our focus is not merely on aesthetics. People are captivated by stunning imagery, graphics, illustrations, colors, typography & iconography because these visual elements make an app beautiful to behold and a pleasure to use. At Creative27, we pride ourselves on designing apps that make a lasting impression.
Before you move on to development, we put together interactive prototypes so our clients may clearly see and play around with a product before it gets programmed and developed.
Q: You have received multiple awards with your mobile app project ‘Let’s RandeVu’, which is a lifestyle booking service. Could you tell us your tips on how to create a reliable and trustworthy app?
At Creative27, we had a lot of fun working with the team at Let’s RandeVu in defining the award-winning lifestyle booking app.
As we do with all of our clients, part of engaging with a client is you become a teacher. And you have to have the heart of a teacher to walk and guide the client through. With time, this turns into a trust relationship which shows in the product/app that you are building.
I have one tip, which is work closely with the client as this is a collaboration. If a client has an idea that you don’t necessarily agree with, mock up his idea and then mock up yours. Present both to the client and make your case. 80% of the time, if you go the extra mile and if you are honestly interested in seeing that client succeed, you will see the fruits of that and it will pay back. Ten-fold.
Q: What are some useful digital marketing tools and platforms that help you and your team accomplish your everyday goals at Creative27?
At Creative27 we have one tool that has helped us tremendously for the past two years and we are looking forward to continuing to use this. As we have remote-teams and work with clients globally, this tool/app helped us be more efficient and productive while keeping everyone on the same page.
The tool/app is called Vabotu. A new collaboration tool built for teams of all sizes, for the creators and doers and for those who take dreams to done. You may find out more about this tool by visiting vabotu.com.
Q: You have a section called “App University” on your web page. What kind of educational programs and opportunities do you offer?
We have a program called C27 Academy. This program teaches how to become an app/UI/UX/digital product designer. We teach the fundamentals of design after which the majority of the course focuses on creating a variety of projects over the course of 10-months. Students are then tasked with building their very own website, their resume and taught how to clearly discuss the projects they’ve worked on. The goal, at the end of the program, is to have each student that completes land a job.
Q: What are the most important marketing trends that you have observed recently? What do you think will be the next big trend in digital world?
I am not sure that I believe in marketing trends, but I will share what I think works. Quality content marketing posted constantly is the key. Over time this will turn into a great SEO tactic. Aside from this, we did quite well using DAN Global. While we don’t have as much traffic from DAN Global, most of the traffic is quality traffic which is important.
Q: How would you describe your agency’s culture?
At our core, we are just a great bunch of people to work and do life with. Yes, we do live, breath and passionately bring our passions to live. We’re smart, willing to go the extra mile to find unexpected solutions for our client that most times have our clients sit up in their chars. And not to mention, up their bottom line.
Q: Both failures and accomplishments teach a lot. Could you name some experiences that have shaped your career?
I learned to be kind and respectful regardless of how things turn out. You cannot please everyone, and you cannot control how people think. You can however always control your attitude and how you react.
I learned to highly value the people I work with and understand when things turn out bad. I learned to gladly take the fall for my team and support them and back them up 100%.
When I take on a project, even if I lose money and have to pay out of pocket, I complete it and do my very best time sure the client is happy.
Q: How does being a DAN member contribute to Creative27’s success?
Being a DAN member helped qualified traffic come to our site. While I cannot discuss conversion rates, I can share that we have a decent percentage fill out our contact form.