Technically Speaking With…Cello Vergara

Cello-BioSMFor this month’s “Technically Speaking With…” column, we had the pleasure of speaking with Cello Vergara, President and CEO of Propaganda3, a leading interactive production studio based out of Kansas City, MO. Be sure to check out the full interview below, as Cello had lots to share about interactive design and the emergence of mobile marketing technology. In addition, he offered some great insights about the designer/client relationship, and how he and his team approach client work.

Newtek Technology Services: When you sit down to talk with a new client, what is the first question you ask?

Cello Vergara: I ask them to tell me their story, not recount the fact sheet. The narrative of who they are, what their business is about and where they are going. Once we know the story we can have a conversation and really get to know each other. If all you get is the facts (which by the way is available on their website not matter how good or bad it is) then you miss the story. The story is what people really want to know and if you know someone’s story, the richness of our relationship with them can grow. You also learn what needs to be communicated in the project much more effectively this way.propaganda3

NTS: Clearly, mobile marketing has become a huge piece of the pie in the last few years. Given that your clients have approached you for your firm’s expertise, they “get” it. Who still doesn’t and why do you think that is?

CV: We have five iPhone apps in store and three in development. Also we have two Android apps in development right now. So we have jumped into mobile in a big way. It’s not that people don’t get it, most now do. They just don’t have any basis for understanding yet. No one walked around with their computer before, so this is all new. Most people think about what to do in context of a static position. Mobile is not about doing something when you are anchored but when you are in motion. This is a new concept that everyone is just now working through.

NTS: Of all of the projects you’ve worked on, which presented the biggest challenge and how did you deal with it?

CV: Technology has never been a problem, so the biggest challenge is poorly formed relationships. When you find yourself in a project in that your business relationship is in bad shape you have few good options. I always opt for directness and honesty. I have worked hard at finding clients we are unable to serve well with other options – whether that be another partner or a financial resolution. I try to always make sure we part ways with respect for one another.

NTS: If you had to pinpoint three sources (online or off), where do you go for inspiration when approaching a new client project?

CV: The first source is history. If you know your history you can make a decision of whether to continue on the path or break from it. So for this I go through things that have worked in the past. I look for a trend that worked for a past project and I ask why did that work. Second source is parallels. I look for businesses and projects that have similar goals but not in the same business space. Third source is the bleeding edge of what could be done to solve the problem. So I look for things we can aspire to whether it’s technology or process.

NTS: While it’s difficult to pick and choose clients, you probably have a loose idea of the types of clients you prefer. When it comes to acquiring new business, what does the ideal client look like?

CV: They are real, open and honest. They need to clearly communicate the problem that they want solved or be open to us exploring the problem without feeling picked on. There is no substitute for clarity of thought and purpose. Without this we start the relationship in a deficit. It’s hard to overcome.

NTS: With the recent releases of the Motorola Droid and Google Nexus One, with Android, Google is clearly making a big push into the mobile landscape. Are there any particular benefits to working with a newer, potentially more open platform like Android versus a more established and highly lauded platform like Apple’s mobile framework?

CV: Both offer great constraints to work with so we don’t have a favorite or contrast one method over another. We like it all and are open to the opportunities and challenges they all offer.

NTS: You have lots of options when it comes to selecting a hosting company. Why CrystalTech/Newtek Technology Services?

CV: I always recommend CrystalTech for two reasons: Service and Quality. In 21 years of procuring technology services I have dealt with many companies. I can honestly say I trust CrystalTech. We have been trusting CrystalTech for six years and have not been let down once. Every challenge was met with honesty and integrity. What more can you ask for?

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