Pärtel Vurma is the CEO of Velvet. Pärtel is a thought leader, influencer, visionary, and successful entrepreneur. Pärtel provides the leadership and energy that has inspired the creation of Velvet. Pärtel Vurma joins other leading CEOs and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team is delighted to have Pärtel join us for our Leader Roundtable Interview.
Pärtel, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day for this interview about your company, leadership, and entrepreneurship.
1. Pärtel, please tell us about Velvet. What is the elevator pitch?
Velvet is the #1 empathy-first design agency in the world. We have a team of 35 designers, developers, architects and producers, working on projects that range from classical graphic design to interior graphics to user experience to developing services for public and private sector. We design the future.
2. What is the one thing that makes Velvet great?
Being the most awarded design agency in our region we a confident that our approach is something that actually works. We believe in collaboration among different disciplines as well as working with the client, not for the client. We believe that human-centered design approach is key to understanding the actual challenges people face. We know that making sense is the only way of making lasting impact in people’s lives.
3. Please tell us what is the key to being a great entrepreneur?
The key is to experiment a lot. There are all those beliefs about how to approach doing business. There are a lot of books to read on how others have succeeded. They are all great. But if you actually want something to happen you have to start doing things. Prototype your ideas, fail a lot and fail fast. Learn from these failures, stick to the things that work and move on to try out next things.
4. What is the best advice can you give to a young entrepreneur just starting out with a new venture?
If you are starting out with a new venture it means that you most probably have an exciting idea that gives you a lot of energy. That idea might not turn out to be the best one but use that energy to fuel your activities. Invest in people and meaningful relationships. Try to create value from that energy. Don’t overthink it, don’t wait too long with important decisions. Even a wrong decision is better than not deciding anything. An unmade decision eats away that precious energy.
5. What is the one thing that you, as a person, want to be known for?
Design is something that has been traditionally associated with aesthetics and the visual side of things. Actually the value of design approach is using creative methods for finding solutions for wicked problems that otherwise would not surface. My mission is to find solutions for problems that make the world a better place. Whether it is solving the garbage problem or climate change or just making healthcare better for everybody. All these need a lot of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. If I can affect these changes to happen I have lived a meaningful life.
6. When building a business, what is the one most important thing to keep in mind at all times?
Being in the design consultancy business, people are everything. Of-course this applies to most other businesses as well. Choose the right team and nurture and develop it as if your life depended on it.
7. When hiring employees, what is the one most important thing you look for?
We used to have a requirement in our job ads that you have to be a “reasonable grown-up person” to apply. This is actually a criteria for finding the right attitude. You can learn new skills and you can get experience on how to do stuff but it is rather difficult to change attitudes. This is something that I look for. Willingness to learn a lot, work hard and not be afraid of change and failure.
8. What is your “Why”? Why do you get up in the morning?
It is probably a cheesy cliche but I get up in the morning to see other people smile. It’s as simple as that.
9. What is the one thing that makes a great company?
I think it is all about the culture. For employees a great company is like a good friend. It is always being there when you need help. It is brutally honest when you are doing something that hurts yourself or your team. At the same time it is great fun and supports you in your development as a person and as a professional. Finding time for attention and understanding others is something that a great team requires from each of it’s member. It does not come by itself but it is something that can be nurtured through culture and supported by company values.
10. What is the one thing that makes a great leader?
It is often believed that great managers must take broad, bold actions, rousing speeches, uncharted direction. My perspective is that true leadership is not lavish, nor massive. It is small, incremental action that engenders real progress in the long run. It is noticing and caring for your people. It is being thankful and honest at the same time. It is removing the blockers of real progress. It is noticing the potential of others and creating opportunities to apply everybody’s strengths. It is keeping others accountable and holding the same standards for yourself as well. And once again, it is about having fun and sharing smiles and praise.
Pärtel Vurma, thank you so much for participating in the DotCom Magazine Leader Roundtable Interview Series. We very much appreciate the time you spent helping our readers learn more about what it takes to build a great company and become a great leader. We wish you, your family, and of course Velvet, nothing but the best.