UXSG Conference 2014 – Keynote #6
Trent Mankelow – The Rise of the UX Entrepreneur
In late 2002, two young guys took a gamble and incorporated a UX company called Optimal Experience. They started out sharing a desk, but eventually grew the business to more than 30 people across three offices in two countries, before selling it in July this year.
As UXers, we believe in designing for people first and we want to make a difference to the world we live in. Entrepreneurship is one way of driving these kind of societal-level changes, yet very few people in our industry take this path. Those that have been brave enough to start their own companies tend to stay small.
In this talk, Trent will give us an insider’s look at what it was like to build, grow and sell a UX consultancy, and why the world needs you – yes, you – to be an entrepreneur too.
Trent Mankelow is the co-founder and former CEO of Optimal Experience, an UX consultancy started in New Zealand. Trent helped grow the business from two people sharing a desk in 2003, to 30 staff across Auckland, Wellington and Sydney. Earlier this year, Trent played an instrumental role in selling Optimal to PwC.
He is an active participant in New Zealand?s start-up community, judging at Startup Weekend, mentoring for the Lightning Lab business accelerator and being a tenant at four business incubators. He is a co-founder of Optimal Workshop (which builds tools for UX professionals), was the Chief Product Officer for a high-growth SaaS business, and most recently has helped run a corporate venturing programme.
Trent knew he wanted to be a computer programmer when he was 11 years old, but that?s probably because no one had told him that there was such a thing as a usability consultant. In fact, it wasn?t until he was four years into his software engineering degree that he found his calling, thanks to an introductory paper in Human Computer Interaction. Since then, he has not stopped complaining about poorly designed lifts, doors and ATMs. He?s the life of any party.
He has a love affair with South America and has visited six times.