Partnering to Win – VV Daily Press
VV DAILY PRESS – MAY 6th, 2012 – COVER STORY, SUNDAY EDITION
APPLE VALLEY • A success story in business often requires a combination of a creator who makes great products and a marketer who sells them — such as Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs.
Scott Perkins and Daniel Garibay didn’t start out in a garage, but they complement each other like the Apple cofounders. And the two recent high school graduates dress a lot like Silicon Valley entrepreneurs as they work in their tiny Apple Valley office — just enough to house two desks and computers with multiple screens.
The duo co-founded DesignFluxx LLC one year ago, watching it grow into one of the most successful website and graphic design firms in the High Desert. They’ve worked with more than 370 clients in 14 states, Perkins said, including the city of Hesperia, Century 21 Fairway Realty and Green Tree Inn.
They follow the basics of business: Provide a service no one else is offering.
“We joke in the office that the High Desert is behind in technology. Our goal is kind of to reinvent that and show the true value of marketing,” the 21-year-old Perkins said. “There’s a massive opportunity. We ran into almost no competition.”
The company builds a custom-designed website using no templates, while making sure the website is optimized to pop up high on search engines, he said. Perkins meets the clients and handles the business side, while 19-year-old Garibay works on a computer all day, coding and designing.
“I felt their young ideas might help me,” said Jim Phillips, a broker at Century 21 Fairway Realty. He was looking to renew the company website and approached DesignFluxx after seeing its work online.
“I needed somebody to take my idea and put it into a design,” he said. “I think they got down to business really quickly. That’s one thing I really liked. … I’m not an easy customer to work with. I’ve got a lot of demands. But they’ve gone above and beyond to make things right, and that’s the key.”
Competitors to Partners
An honor student at Hesperia High School, Perkins was heavily involved in mock trial and commanded a 120-student marching band.
He took several years of computer classes at Victor Valley College beginning when he was 12. He used those skills to get a part-time job at a local pool company, where his boss taught him about business and gave him opportunities to learn about design.
Compared to Perkins, Garibay kept more to himself while he attended Silverado High School and graduated from Options for Youth. He described himself as a “skater kid” and said he wasn’t interested in academics.
“The only thing I enjoyed was math,” he said. “Everything else, I hated it.”
He first designed a website at 12, when he created his own template for his MySpace page. He developed his design and computer programming skills by teaching himself using the Internet and began freelancing.
“I’ve never wanted to work for someone,” Garibay said. “I’ve always enjoyed building things, producing things that are going to grow and are owned by me and not by somebody else.”
His work caught the eye of Perkins, who had a bigger business of his own.
“We were competing who can design better websites and get more clients,” Garibay said. “We competed on whoever ranked on Google higher.”
And then in May of last year, Perkins gave Garibay a call, asking him to work together instead of splitting shares. Perkins also needed help to take on a major project from a local radio group, which became DesignFluxx’s first client.
In exchange for giving a discount for redesigning websites, DesignFluxx got free advertisement on radio. Word spread after working with a few customers, and now they get most of their clients through referrals.
They hire local freelancers when necessary, but the young managing partners still do most of the work on their own.
“I was trying to do both. By bringing (Garibay) in, I can focus on meeting clients and he can focus on design,” Perkins said.
Challenges and Future
Perkins said the toughest challenge for DesignFluxx is keeping up with the workload while providing quality service consistently.
“That’s why we work 12 hours a day to make sure our project doesn’t get pushed back,” said Perkins, who posted a photo on Facebook of the iPads they bought to increase productivity using a project management system.
DesignFluxx generated $100,000 in revenue in the past year, Perkins said, but they invested most of the profits back into the company for growth. Although the overhead cost is low, Perkins and Garibay each get $1,200 a month. And they are responsible for every decision they make.
The company announced the leasing of a second office in Long Beach last month. Perkins said he will move there in August so that he can personally meet clients in the area. His goal is to open one more office within three years to provide better customer service.
Tomoya Shimura may be reached at (760) 955-5368 or TShimura@VVDailyPress.com. Follow Tomoya on Facebook at facebook.com/ShimuraTomoya.