I was curious about how to improve my business presentations skills and this was what brought to me to an awesome oral battle “PowerPoint vs Prezi”. This event was organized by 356labs, a boutique presentation design and training agency. I tell you more about it in my new article.
During the event, the founder of 356labs, Boris Hristov, and his lovely team delivered a great speech about the advantages and disadvantages of those two presentation tools as well as they demonstrated effective, confident, energetic and enthusiastic public speaking.
If you are not familiar with 356labs, launched in 2015, here below is my interesting discussion with Boris, who was so friendly and open to share his story, rich experience, future plans and what else – check it yourself..
How did the idea for 356labs appear ?
Unexpectedly ! That’s for sure ! I was an IT guy and had a crazy career. At 25 I was delivering sessions in almost 30 countries across the world, many of which were rated as the top ones at the event. I just loved presenting. I was constantly looking how to improve my presentations even further with one very simple goal – to make them even more effective. Then one day I delivered a webinar on presentation design for some friends from the US and a few months later I started receiving e-mails. They were from some of them, telling me that they applied what they learned on that webinar and that changed their careers – they got a raise, won a deal, etc. That was the moment when I said to myself : “OK, I love presentation so much. People seem to appreciate my work and can see how important it is and what results it can bring to them. Why don’t I try starting a company focusing on presentations ?”. That was the start of 356labs…
What is 356labs and your mission behind it ?
356labs is a presentation agency and we stand for something extremely simple – truly effective presentations. That’s it.
How do you manage to change the world around you through this project ?
I truly believe we are slowly changing the presentation space around us. We are now already seeing people and companies applying what we are sharing and teaching them. Important to note here is that many of those individuals didn’t even think they need any help or improvement for their presentations. I am extremely happy that (first) we were able to change their mind (which is very hard if you think about it) and that (second) they are now using everything they learned from us in their day-to-day life. The results they achieve speak for themselves and I am happy that we are part of their success.
What kind of lessons have you learnt in this creative process of building 356labs ?
I learned a ton of things. I learned that just because I can see that people need presentation help that doesn’t mean they understand they need such. I learned that the way I did sales was wrong and if I didn’t change it, it does not really matter how much I loved presenting, we were going to go out of business. I learned that having and leading a team is way more difficult than it seems. I learned a lot of things and to be honest – I continue learning every single day…
What has been your most satisfying moment in business ?
Oh, it’s hard to say. For us as a company, it was being accepted to speak at Microsoft Ignite. From what we have delivered for a customer, it will be the two presentations that we created for Novatel, who are part of Deutsche Telekom Group, which helped them win a multimillion-dollar deal. I think those two are our top moments up until now.
What are you currently working on ?
We are currently rebranding the whole company. Everything. The logo, the website, all our materials, everything. Together with that, we are delivering just a huge amount (surprisingly for the summer period) presentation trainings for very big financial and IT organizations. There is no such thing as summer break for us.
How have you started your own business – summarize your experience.
I started it while still on my IT consulting job. I built a website and a Facebook page and shared it with friends just to see what’s going to happen (“validate the idea” as people say). We had our first client on the 10th day after me announcing the existence of 356labs and after I saw that, I immediately started saving money on the side. Few months later we already had a few other projects completed, a full month of client work ahead of us and I have collected a bit of money to be able to live in the upcoming 12 months. That was the moment when I left the IT industry and dedicated completely to 356labs.
In one sentence, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Full of challenges, but rewarding.
How do you find inspiration ?
By exploring the world. I love learning from everything that’s around me. You can spot me reading on various subjects, see me at exhibitions or events that are not related to our business. Many people see me at such places and say “Wow, it’s great you have the time to come to this one because I don’t have time to go anywhere!”. My answer is always the same: “You don’t get it. I don’t have time. I just prioritize it!”.
What 3 books would you recommend that every entrepreneur read ?
- Nancy Duarte – Resonate,
- Garr Reynolds – Presentation Zen Design 2,
- Simon Sinek – Start with Why.
What it feels like speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2016, Atlanta ?
It’s the ultimate honor and responsibility. This is the biggest yearly event of Microsoft that is attended by more than 25 000 people from across the world. Try to imagine the scale. It’s insane ! Everyone wants to be selected and get to speak there. For me, as someone who owns and represents a presentation agency, it’s even more stressful in a way because my presentations must be just incredible. It would be really strange if my own talks are not on a top level, right? So yes, being selected to speak at Ignite is a huge recognition for your work, but as with everything else, it comes with a price !
Thank you Boris Hristov for this very nice and friendly interview. We will follow you, definitely.