Design Giant InVision Talks Australia Launch and Fast Growth Without Offices

Written by Alex Holderness

November 28, 2017

InVision launched in 2011 as a tool to let designers build out website or app prototypes in minutes—without relying on engineers to write code for every little edit.

In the six years since its debut, the team has grown to over 500 employees and 3 million users (including 80 percent of the Fortune 100) and released new industry-changing products like Invision Studio.

It’s been a busy time for the New York-founded design collaboration platform, raising a further $100 million to bring total funding over $240 million.

With a fresh cash infusion to fuel expansion and satisfy insane customer demand, the Invision team has kicked off a more formal global expansion plan, with one key area of focus being the APAC region and using Australia as its launch point.

For that reason, we spent some time talking with Ryan Burke, Senior Vice President of International at Invision, who is leading the next phase of expansion.  

“We’re getting a few thousand new users signing up every single day, and active users in every country in the world,” said Ryan Burke, “This includes strong interest and adoption in Australia, which is why  we’re ready to grow a base of operations here.”

The Product

Invision started trying to solve a simple challenge: help designers communicate their work in a real-life environment without coding. Since then, it has evolved from a prototyping tool to a full product collaboration platform that covers the entire product design process.

Today the platform offers everything from educational advice via DesignBetter.co, to Design Systems Manager, to Freehand, or the newly launched InVision Studio. The suite aims to give companies all of the tools they need to collaborate with peers across the entire product design process.

Invision believes that the world is screen-centric and, naturally, businesses will start moving towards a better human experience.

“Everything is happening on the screen. We often see customers chose experience over prices and product,” explains Burke. “Companies understand the key way for them to differentiate in the world today is based on consumer experience. Design-led digital transformation is how companies survive.”

InVision focuses on solving two key areas; rapid prototyping which helps people streamline the design process and collaboration, making it easy to socialise prototypes across people within the organisation and at all levels

In turn, giving designers a desk at the C-Suite: “We’ve democratised design by making it easy for anyone to get involved in the design process across multiple stages,” said Burke.

With InVision, you can easily build a high-fidelity prototype of your idea, transforming static screens and wireframes into something that is clickable and interactive.

The ability to rapidly build prototypes has had business-changing results in the startup community: “I met a founder just a few weeks ago who told me he got his first $10 million funding from an InVision prototype. People aren’t using decks anymore to explain the product vision, they can now show the actual product,” said Burke.

But InVision’s magic is not limited to scrappy startup founders. “The same goes for the IBMs and Googles of the world. They can save time by doing more work on the front end before sending to the back-end teams and bringing engineers, product teams, and senior execs into the process to ultimately help them get products out the door faster.”

The tools have grown in popularity, driven by support within the design community. The company blog is the most popular in the design world, with a strategy underpinned by sharing insights on some of the world’s leading design teams, including Airbnb and Google. InVision also has a widely-listened to podcast and a library of eBooks that delve into the world of design.

The team also hosts dozens of events per year, including everything from community meet-ups to tailored workshops to executive retreats. They even made a feature film in 2015, screened over 500 times called Design Disruptors, and more recently a documentary with IBM on their evolving design process.

“The community is at the heart of everything we do. We have a unique insight into some of the greatest tech companies in the world and saw an opportunity to create an educational film around how companies like Airbnb and Google use innovative product design to disrupt their spaces,” said Burke.

Remote Culture

Although InVision was founded in New York City,  it has a completely distributed workforce of more than 500 employees in 24 countries around the world, making it one of the first (and largest) companies to have a completely distributed team.

The team were treading new waters for a company this size, and Burke was initially skeptical of the concept when joining in 2014:  

Burke points out that the model has worked to InVision’s advantage: “We’re not tied down by location, notably when bringing in new talent, we really can get the very best from any zip code.”

What’s more, the freedom and flexibility that InVision’s model gives employees is remarkable. Whether it’s an engineer who had the ability to leave his apartment and travel the world, stopping in a new country every month, or the new mom who has found the time to balance work and family because she doesn’t have to go into an office everyday.  

Saving on the capital costs of running an office has also allowed the company to invest further than the average company on benefits and rewards:

“Whether it’s Starbucks for every employee, gym memberships or home office allowance, we want everyone to have a great sense of work-life balance and to feel valued.”

The team also use the rewards tool, Bonusly,  where employees can give mini cash rewards to anyone in the company every month. “It might sound small, but the peer-based employee recognition is really meaningful, especially when you don’t see your coworkers everyday,” Burke says.

And the results show that it’s working, the company ranks as one of the top places to work and a Glassdoor rating of 4.5 out of 5.

Just one of the many recent reviews seem to back this up, with one of the sales employees stating:

“I started with InVision earlier this year, and when I did, I was skeptical, working from home as an extrovert. I will never have work life balance like this in my life again. I have the luxury to work at home, in a Starbucks, in the London WeWork, anywhere I feel comfortable.”

Growth into Australia

As the team looks to expand internationally, they are starting with an Australian operation because of their strong organic support base in the region.  

This existing user base makes it a lot easier for a remote based team to hit the ground running and achieve success quickly:

“We have existing customers here, and strong partner relationships with companies like Atlassian. Australia has an incredibly vibrant market, and is becoming an emerging design hub,” said Burke.

In Australia, InVision already has a few local product folks; now Burke is looking to hire sales and customer success employees as foundational members of the customer-facing team before the end of 2017, with the goal of growing that number significantly over the course of 2018.

New Recruits

As any growing tech company knows, early recruits are essential when launching into a new market. Burke will focus his search on two aspects, experience and culture fit, in what he sees as an opportunity that doesn’t come around often for local talent:

“We’d love to have some people who have been in this high-velocity environment before, a design background or interest is also great, but that’s sometimes hard to find in salespeople. Culturally, you have to be proactive in this environment – you have to be company and team first, have a good sense of work-life balance and ultimately want to have fun.”

The bar is set high but Ryan Burke, after spending over 3 years with Invision, believes that it’s going to be worth the move.

“It’s going to be a fun ride joining at this time, a real career-defining opportunity and we want people who see that.”

Written by Alex Holderness

November 28, 2017

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