On creating technology for passionate brands

A chat with Osi Peters, our Director of Technology – Part 1

Introduction:

Cultivating a culture of innovation is something we’re proud of at Vistaprint Corporate. To shed light on what it’s like to lead our technology initiatives, we chatted with Osi Peters, our Director of Technology.

Tell us about yourself and how you landed at Vistaprint Corporate.

I joined the B2B retail team at Vistaprint.com as a founding member in 2006, and then went on to head the studio design team until we hit a billion dollars in annual revenue. In 2012, I left to pursue some entrepreneurial interests and spent three years doing that. This was a period of a tremendous growth for me. I adapted one of my movie scripts into a graphic novel I started an innovation consulting company. I applied for a patent for Vistaprint.com, who was a client at that time. I invested in and consulted for a few startups, including one that got acquired. It was an interesting time in my life.

Then, in the fall of 2015, the opportunity to work at Vistaprint Corporate came about. One of the main drivers was Don Leblanc, the President of Vistaprint Corporate and former CMO of Vistaprint.com, who I met during an innovation consulting stint at Vistaprint.com. In 30 minutes of talking with him, he impressed me so much that I thought it would be exciting to work for him. So, when he asked for my help building new portal technology, I jumped at the opportunity.

What makes print portal technology exciting to work with?

When you go below the surface of an online print portal, it’s a very interesting proposition. We put a company’s brand identity—their logo and color scheme—on physical products that meet their quality expectations. These products can evoke emotional responses in people. To get their printed materials delivered to people around the world, a company simply applies, connects with our team, and uploads their designs. This makes a seemingly boring category one that’s emotionally strong, and I think it’s fascinating.

What part of your job excites you the most?

That’s a good question. I believe it’s the opportunity to rethink this category: helping companies distribute branded material to employees and prospects via trade events. I see a lot of potential in transferring the emotional affinity that companies have for their brand into the real world. When you combine our selection of products and the online print portal technology with the passion people have for their brand, that’s where we can create some real magic in the marketplace.

What’s challenging about your job?

I will preface this by saying that although this is challenging, it’s a necessary part of the job. It’s working through contentious issues with talented people during the creative process. Great people get very passionate about what they’re doing. Giving oxygen to the most credible idea without hurting anyone’s feelings is an art form. My ideal approach is maintaining a culture where people are comfortable collaborating in a chaotic environment without leaving behind hurt feelings.

Two talented people may come up with two very different solutions to a problem. And the fact is, there isn’t one right answer. But depending on how passionate people are, they might be unable to compromise. It’s about trying to navigate that and being comfortable with saying, “Even though I believe my idea is strong, I think your idea is just as good, and I’m willing to rally around you. And if yours doesn’t work, then let’s try mine.” But, it actuality, it can be really contentious.

Find out Osi’s secret to creating technology that people love in Part 2 of our interview.