Building your own ideas is high on most of our lists, but rarely do many of us take them on and evolve them into something useful or with longevity. When matched with a problem, Luke Beard took a hobby, paired it with his risky travel plans and a new mindset of creative work colleges, and created what I would class as one of the purest platforms for storytellers to use, Exposure.co.
As simple as putting pen to paper, they have created a platform where anyone can showcase photos with narrative text and create a sleek story with no hassle other then a simple drag and drop – free to share and stand with other great tales from around the world.
Not only is the business he created interesting, so is his journey, from leaving the UK to living in San Francisco and the company he works within. I imagine most of you will have the same first reaction I did, which was, “How do I get a job with you guys?”
Where does it all start?
LUKE: The weird thing is, I was never creative as a kid really, and I mean I did doodling, that was as far as my creativity went. I was never super into anything like that – it wasn’t in my vocabulary till I went to college.
I had a teacher there called Ray, who was always raving on about technology design. He wasn’t really super stoked on anything but design, and we always ended up doing Photoshop stuff because he loved it. So this was the first time I got to play with web design, html, and CSS.
I produced something that felt legit [and] it just made sense to me. I could understand the software and can make it do what I wanted. That was my first step; I was 18.
Instead of going to University, I started self-teaching at home on these skills and just playing around with a few tutorials here and there, but the main thing I was into was reverse engineering.
It got to a point where I didn’t know how to move my work forward. I knew I needed to go into a studio or something, and it was actually a government plan that helped me; a sort of job seekers programme. I went in and asked for help and they placed me in this design studio. I started off on a trail, ended up with a full time design job. I felt like I had made it!
“IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME TO FIGURE IT OUT [THAT] IN THE RAWEST FORM, I WANT TO BUILD GOOD THINGS.”
I learnt a lot there – people skills, what non-creative people expect – and I also got to build a lot there, too. So I learnt the base of my front end skills there and 3 years went by. It was cool but I got restless, started looking elsewhere, trying to figure out what to do next.
Then I remember one afternoon I was bored and just wandering the Internet and made some dumb tweet, saying something like I would really like to work on a project in America. I was dabbling on this service called Zerply at the time – I had been chatting to the creators a little bit online too and they saw this tweet and were like, “Come to Silicon Valley.” I was super naive, didn’t know what that meant, Googled it, and was like, “Wow, this is the dream.” I remember calling my mum and dad, being like, “Does this sound like a good idea? Because I would have to quit my job.”
I bounced. I was nervous as hell on my way over, got to Mountain View, California, and we pretty much hung out making stuff for five weeks. At the end, they asked if I wanted to be their designer, so that was wild. I had no idea what I was doing, I didn’t know how much they were paying me, I just wanted to do this, so I was like fuck it, I want to make product. I built my first real product for a year straight with them, remotely mostly from the UK. A year later, we had built a lot but it was time to move on. The work I was doing was spreading through the right channels. It had given me a bit of credit to my name at that point. I was getting emails from Google and Facebook and was like, “Guys I’ve got to go.” I’m still friends with them and I really appreciate the opportunity.
This is when you made the jump then?
I did some consulting for a few years which worked really well for me. My main long term client was Hipstamatic. It was really fun, but there was something about belonging to a team that I wanted. I also knew if I wanted to do this for a career, I needed to be in the right surroundings, in San Francisco, so I packed a suitcase full of stuff and headed off.
At that point, I met Kyle Bragger. We had been Internet bros for a long time and we started hanging out. He kept inviting me over to Elepath for lunches, some which turned into ambush interviews. He was sending me doodles of me jumping on a Elepath logo, etc.
So I was like, “Fuck it.”……
Read the rest of the conversation with Luke Beard over at TheHundreds.com