Interested in being on the show? Applications are now open.

Apply now

Nolan Perkins: Owner of Radcollab

Jun 17, 2021

Nolan Perkins

Season 2 Episode 8

Located in Tampa, Florida, Nolan is a self-taught UX designer and front-end developer. He also has experience in business management and technology. For many designers the process of collecting feedback and iterating upon it - can be very time consuming. But what if there was an alternative to getting feedback from users? Well today, we’ll show you how Nolan Perkins is doing just that. Nolan has built Radcollab, a company which helps startups evolve into long lasting tools and brands. Radcollab also builds custom design systems that help products and marketing teams work more efficiently.

<iframe style="border-radius:12px" src="https://open.spotify.com/embed/episode/5JyTGxE9jEyxevXIVYgSSg?utm_source=generator" width="100%" height="352" frameBorder="0" allowfullscreen="" allow="autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; fullscreen; picture-in-picture" loading="lazy"></iframe>

Megan Luedke

You're listening to Design Atlas Season two.



Jens Bringsjord

For many designers, the process of collecting feedback and iterating upon it can be a very time-consuming process.



Megan Luedke

But what if there was an alternative to getting feedback from users? Well, today we'll show you how Nolan Perkins does just that. He's built Ride Collab, a company which helps start-ups evolve into long lasting tools and brands.



Jens Bringsjord

They also build custom design systems that help pilots and marketing teams work more efficiently. Located in Tampa, Florida, Nolan is a self-taught UX designer and front-end developer. He also has experience in business management and technology. So without further ado, let's buckle up and head over to Tampa, Florida, to meet up with Nolan Perkins.



Nolan Perkins

Ideas aren't important. It's the execution that's important.



Nolan Perkins

Hi, I'm Nolan. I'm a UI and UX designer. I'm a friend and developer and director at Red Cloud Design Agency. Turn Product Development House. Our agency is focused on idea validation, basically taking that idea from 0 to 1, otherwise known as the MVP stage of the product. We now make apps with our community on Tick Tock. Currently, we're working on six unique apps that all came from community comments.



Nolan Perkins

I have two young daughters and most of my free time is spent keeping them entertained. I also enjoy listening to audiobooks and watching TV with my wife.



Jens Bringsjord

Growing up, Nolan realized that he had had a knack for art and design. From sketching to playing instruments, there was always a creative side to Nolan's pursuits.



Nolan Perkins

It wasn't until, like high school that I really got into, you know, just anything artistic, right? I played instruments when I was growing up and that was about it, right? But then in high school, you know, there's a lot of people who aren't, you know, mathematicians, scientists or doctors, like they're not slated for that in life. And so I was really feeling that right heading into college where I was like, What the hell do I do?



Nolan Perkins

Yeah. So I just started drawing and was really, really enjoyed that. Never got like super good at it, but it was when I was like, You, maybe I'm like good at something artistic or creative. I had this teacher in like third grade, Miss Lois, so I still remember her, but she was like, hard core. Like more hard core than some of my, like, professors in college.



Nolan Perkins

Right? And it's like, we're all like molding youths. And she basically would just trash me all the time, you know, attached to everybody. It wasn't just me, really. But so for a long time, I didn't think that I was really, like, slated for creativity. You know, it might have been like one of those, like, self-fulfilling prophecies. Like, you know, like that started as a small thing where she like, maybe it wasn't meaning to be crazy, but like, it just, like, builds up in my mind, you know?



Nolan Perkins

So my mom is really, like, creative and fun and all that. My dad's very like by the book Logistical kind of guy. And so I think that that probably played a part in it too. That held me from it for a while. But. But yeah, I'm glad I found it in the end.



Megan Luedke

Shortly before graduating high school. No one was really thinking hard about a variety of universes he might possibly like to attend. He also looked at a variety of creative programs at those schools, weighing his options carefully.



Nolan Perkins

So I did think about going to Full Sail psych art school near kind of like Disney area. You know, it's got a lot of good, ah, programs. I was thinking about like doing video game development for a little bit. I even like we toured school and I was like, well, actually, you know, I want to do production because I was really into like making videos and like after effects graphics and stuff.



Nolan Perkins

And so, you know, I just ended up on a few Reddit posts that were just like, you know, like art schools, you know, like maybe it was obviously people with an ax to grind, right? So it hit me. I was like, well, you know, maybe I'm wasting money on that. Like, maybe I can just teach myself. That was when I was like, Okay, I'll go to a local college here at University of South Florida, went into like the ad, the creative ad program kind of thing.



Nolan Perkins

For a while. I left and went to creative writing for a bit too, and then ended up graduating back at the creative ad program. I don't really tribute much of my skills to college. I mostly just teach myself. Well, so my best friend growing up in school is actually transgender. Her name's Sail, so we grew up and together we were like best friends and she was like one of those, like, genius kids, you know?



Nolan Perkins

Like, it were like always like, yo, I use like the infrared of the camera to, like, test the temperature. Like it's like, yeah, know, or ten years old we talk about. But yeah, it's kind of always one of those things like, oh, she's going to go like crush it when, when she's, when she's grown up and her and I just, you know, kept in touch.



Nolan Perkins

She went to Virginia Tech. But we like she like hit me with this idea for a start-up. And so her my brother and I made it. It was called fitter, basically using like machine learning to design workouts kind of thing. But it was like before machine learning was even like coined machine learning at that point, you know.



Nolan Perkins

So I was really able to like cut my teeth in that I can design. I've done a few websites at that point and then I was like dove headfirst into that. And I always felt like we were a month away from like be millionaires, you know what I mean? And it was like design. My design could get us there, you know?



Nolan Perkins

And so, yeah, like real stakes. I think that's the big thing. I mean, still today day, every time I finish project, I'm like, all I see is the bad stuff, right? And so I was my own harshest critic in a good way. In a constructive way, I guess.



Jens Bringsjord

Realizing that the shit her fitness app wasn't going to be a success, no one moved his attention. Working for a small design agency and later realized he wanted to start freelancing.



Nolan Perkins

I didn't believe in that agency like five years ago, just been freelancing since. But last year I was having some clients like just before the pandemic, I was having some clients like picking up and new clients coming in from referrals. And so I was like, okay, you know, maybe I should start a company or start hiring people to help me.



Nolan Perkins

And so I was going through and then, you know, pandemic hit and then I was like, okay, maybe not, now's not the time. But then like technology, right? Like that's what gets better in a pandemic. And so my retainer clients gained work, you know, and so I gained work with them doing it. So, so I was like, okay, now's the time.



Nolan Perkins

So I brought on a few junior designers and yeah, that was another part of it too, is like, I wanted to want to work with new people to like that. Haven't got a shot yet, you know, all around we, we were trying to mark ourselves on Instagram wasn't cutting through. You know, there's a million designers out there, a million design agencies.



Nolan Perkins

And so, yeah, Gary Vee told us to go to Tic TAC, not us, but just told everybody to go to, to talk. And so, yeah, the rest is history. Now, like, I don't consider us design agency anymore. We're just our own product design company that does that invest for our client revenue into our apps.



Megan Luedke

While Nolan was freelancing, he started to pay attention to Tic TAC and the traction it was gaining as a social media platform.



Nolan Perkins

I started doing what everybody else does right. Like, Oh, here's some tips on how to be good at design and stuff like that. So we were doing a lot of like design concepts that weren't like real client work. Then we were putting those in on stuff and then we used, we used one and I just like did a time lapse of me redesigning it, you know, and that one blew up pretty good, got like 50,000 views.



Nolan Perkins

But at the time, like, our best was like, like 2000. Like, I really do feel like one of those tricked out into like how like I know all the tricks that's why we're cranking now. And followers.



Megan Luedke

One of the videos that Nolan posted on TikTok was a gardening app which told users you needed to water your plants. Something clicked after posting this video, people from all over the world started commenting and providing their feedback on changes in additional features that they would like to see.



Nolan Perkins

A comment on that video was like, Hey, make it so I can change the pictures to be icons and then make it a to do list app. And then so like 3 hours after that comment, we post a whole new concept of its Delist app. 30 days later, we had a beta like develop, right? Like we had only had one screen design within.



Nolan Perkins

We had a beta 30 days later and then yeah, we had a few viral videos. We had one that had a million views and it was about confetti, right? Like it's like it's always a thing that you don't think is going to be big, right? In December, I was like, you know, hey, we're done with Tapestry.



Nolan Perkins

We're, you know, going into native development. So what do we do next? Do you have any other ideas? Yeah, we got like I think 300 comments and like all of them were really good ideas. Yeah, that turned into three other apps and there's like three other ones that we're still designing or don't talk about that much, but we are going to be soon.



Nolan Perkins

It's just like, Yeah, it's insane. Everybody just still giving us awesome ideas. Yeah, it's fun.



Jens Bringsjord

To know when he feels this is the start of a new movement in how getting user feedback and working iteratively with an active community is harnessed through the fast paced social media platform uptake.



Nolan Perkins

Talk When you're making an app or a product, you need to like take all of the features that don't address that assumption that you had of why you're making this app and cut everything else and then just use user data and like user interviews to be able to determine if that is the right, right thing or not or what they need.



Nolan Perkins

On top of that, we were as a design agency working with really early stage start-ups and validating ideas. And so like, like we were really a basic like an MVP design company, right? But now we're doing that like live with the people who are using the apps, right? Like we're going to use the apps I guess. And so it's what the Lean Start-up had in mind, like D2, where it's like back then you didn't have a community of people just sitting around like offering ideas or features, you know, like tick tock.



Nolan Perkins

And I also think anybody, any social media platform could do this right where you like validate an idea before you even develop anything. That's kind of our vision of where we're going.



Jens Bringsjord

Having created four apps already through this type of user feedback process where Nolan interacts with the community on social media, he's noticed just how powerful the fast paced feedback loop is, shaping the way in which he designs basically.



Nolan Perkins

So most of the time with is you have to use like either direct user interviews or data of the users using the apps to be able to determine like if the features are working or if you need to pivot or not. And so we are lucky enough to have our community like tuned in. And so they watch our videos and then offer ideas through the comments thing like, Hey, you guys need this new feature?



Nolan Perkins

Or, Oh, I didn't like that. Yeah. There was one time where we, we did like a dark mode video and then somebody asked if we can make it like dark gray instead of just pitch black. And so we, we did that. And then a bunch of people were like, I like the black better. But then other people were like, I like the gray better.



Nolan Perkins

So that's really how it goes. We showed two options and everybody, it's split down the middle and then like through the comments, it's split down the middle. But we're just like, okay, we'll make you we'll make it so you can choose. And then everybody is like on the next video, you know.



Jens Bringsjord

With Rand, clams, engaged community feedback and comments are what keeps the process going.



Nolan Perkins

So, you know, I really do feel like we're kind of making a process out of all of this now. You know, we've done like four of these. And so it starts where we just do a few concept flow shots, like two or three, like get a user flow like out there so you can see it. You know, we've posted like a digital closet app like that.



Nolan Perkins

We did three screens and got like 600,000 views in a day and it got like 1500 waitlist listers that day as well. And we were like, okay, we have to make this. So we scramble and go design as much as we can based on the features that they asked for there. That way we don't go too far before comments and features come in.



Nolan Perkins

So then we start posting on those user flows, but then like everything starts to like go against each other on one screen people are asking for completely different features that don't go together and both are really good. For instance, that digital closet app, I think we had to rework the flow like four or five times of the whole app.



Nolan Perkins

And so we like chaos, but we like are trying to control that chaos. In fact, we even let people on all of our figma files so they can go check out our designs as we go. And it's like, yeah, it's just a fishbowl, you know? We like a design in a fishbowl every day.



Megan Luedke

One of the most empowering apps that Nolan and his team has made is Vibe Check. Like most of their apps by Black began from a comment on TikTok.



Nolan Perkins

This this comment is so cool is hey I want you to make an app that's a mood tracker app that you can share with your friends because sometimes it's hard to ask for help. I think that like it really hit me because it's like we can make some impact with this app. You can log your mood, you can choose to share with your fellow network, which is like your family, you know, text.



Nolan Perkins

It'll shoot them a text of, you know, my mood. But also if you if you don't want to share with your family or if you don't have friends or family close enough that you care to share with can share with anonymous support group. And that's like internal people that you don't know. All you get as a first name, they can see your mood and send a canned response.



Nolan Perkins

Basically, they can choose from a list of hundreds of responses. That way, there's no trolls who can lead to issues. I started the year off open for five apps with only two designed at all at that point. So it seems like a lofty goal. But now I'm like, we can maybe do ten this year. I don't know.



Megan Luedke

While making for different apps at the same time is exciting, it can also be difficult when communicating with the radical app community because there are these subgroups within the overall community that have different interests and expectations. When it comes to the apps being created.



Nolan Perkins

It was good. It was a good idea on accident for us to do two productivity apps back to back because it kind of bounces off each other. And then too, it's tough because tick tock since it just randomly chooses different groups of your followers. And so yeah, so like I've, I get the feeling like sometimes our videos aren't going on.



Nolan Perkins

Like what's happened is because I'm like sending out point journal videos to our digital positive people, you know. And so that's, that's been a struggle like getting through that. But I think I've got a little figured out.



Megan Luedke

You know, and keeping distant from one's personal ego continues to keep him humble while designing and not taking anything for granted.



Nolan Perkins

You know, I've always prided myself on like being an egoless designer. I think it's really easy to have an ego as a designer, and that's how I've always set myself apart, at least in my own mind, right? That it only takes you so far. Right? And now, now it's like. Like I said, like having no preconceptions on anything.



Nolan Perkins

I feel like I'm like, on a rocket. I'm just, like, trying to pull it. That's it. That's all I can do. I don't. I don't have controls or anything. And like, so, yeah, I've definitely, I've definitely learned so much on like on being able to like let go and just see how it goes. My skills, definitely I feel I feel like most of them I've been in management that I've gained this past few months.



Nolan Perkins

I was already getting pulled in a lot of directions. And then now I'm making, you know, at least a video or two a day, which takes, you know, about an hour every day. I'm commenting all day. I've had to let go in order to keep all this all the rocket going, you know. And so when we started Tapestry, like I still didn't have full faith in and the two designers that we have, they're probably better at design than me.



Nolan Perkins

Like some days I'm just like, Yo, you're better than me, you know? And, and it's like, that's, that's been so fun and so cool to be able to, like, see, because that's my goal, right? Is bringing on like new people, giving them a shot and seeing them grow has been really rewarding among all of this, among all the other rewards that have.



Megan Luedke

Speed is what keeps Brad collab moving.



Nolan Perkins

Like most apps and most start-ups like when they when they make an app, they have to go through these phases of like of planning what the features are, designing those features, developing those features and then launching, trying to find a market for that. And then like people who maybe use it and then using their data or interviews, if you're good, then you're able to action on that and pivot on that.



Nolan Perkins

But all of those steps take months and a lot of money to do. And but if you're a hustler, you make it like a Facebook group instead of an app. Right? Like good on you for doing that. Right? But for us, we're like bypassing all of those steps. It's just like 100%. We're we've already pivoted every single one of our app’s multiple times now.



Nolan Perkins

Right. And, and we haven't even launched anything, you know. And so that's what's so cool about this. Yeah, because we're doing all of these processes so much different than, than most start-ups go through. We are going to do as much different as we can. So first off, we're not completely subscriptions. We're going to make everything free to download and free to use, and then we're going to every month ask if you're willing to pay this month.



Nolan Perkins

And then when you do that, you'll also be able to choose what you want to pay so you can choose zero if you want. We're going to remind you of our costs. And you can choose to pay under that, or you can pay more than that if you want. It's company wise, as I took it from them a little bit, is like they're just this awesome company that basically takes like really expensive technology and makes it really cheap because the innovative components are really cheap.



Nolan Perkins

And so and so they had this whole thing where they had this software that allowed recognition of faces and you know, yeah, basically they had to start charging for it because their partner pulled out on them and so they said, they said this is what our costs are every month, and you can pay that. That's awesome. Otherwise, you can pay zero.



Nolan Perkins

And so, it's just like, that's it, you know, that's what every company should be doing. Because like, if you're doing it right and you're working with your community right, then somebody is going to pay, you know? So hopefully it's enough because right now we're putting all of the money in basically paying our people and development also. We're basically getting all that money from our clients that we're not that they're investing, but like all the work that we do for our clients, we're basically funnelling most of that money into investment on these apps.



Nolan Perkins

We could change the game of how apps get made. And these apps are also super impactful too. So, I can see us becoming that in the same time we've been growing a lot of client work a lot more than before too. And so, there's going to be a push comes to shove moment. I don't know where we go, but it can either be a huge agency or a huge, huge development powerhouse.



Nolan Perkins

So, we'll see.



Megan Luedke

Using tech, Black Lives has really helped Nolan bridge the gap between the content, comments and ideas needed to validate to continue improving the apps.



Nolan Perkins

Comments are great, right? But I've gotten so much more detailed insight from lives, so that's why I do them so often is because the people who are coming on our lives, we have like ten regulars that show up almost every time. They give us awesome feedback and they get other people giving good feedback too. And so yeah, we named Vibe, Check and Journal and Alive.



Jens Bringsjord

For over the past nine years before starting Brand Plan, the fear of failure really kept going back from trying new things.



Nolan Perkins

I feel like I'm almost like rebirth and it's super weird to say that. But like after Fear, it was it was the hardest thing that like professionally that I've gone through, you know, it was just like so hard to do. Every day was such a struggle and like, you know, because consumer apps are incredibly difficult to do. We got some kind of success.



Nolan Perkins

We got on Yahoo! and got like 15,000 users still. We failed because we didn't know what we were doing well enough. The past nine and a half years, I've been like, I'm never doing that again with all this tick tock stuff, even as late recent as December, I was like, Rad Club is a design agency and we're not.



Nolan Perkins

We're just going to launch this app history and like let it go and we'll maybe we'll keep updating it. We'll see how it goes. But, you know, I was talking to one of our clients. He's kind of like a friend now. And he was like, yes, what are you guys going to do? It's like you're going to make it like you're going to try to do a start-up out of it.



Nolan Perkins

And I was like, like, yeah, no, I'm a design agency and I love the call. And I was like, what am I doing? I just thought for this, I've got like at the time we have like I think 20,000 followers is like we've got 20,000 people waiting for these apps. And, and so that day I posted a video of, hey, what do you guys want to do?



Nolan Perkins

If you have an idea, we'll, we'll go make it. And that turned into four apps now, you know, four more. And so, it's like, yeah, it's just that was really my, my rebirth. I feel like as like a consumer product design manager or whatever, you know, where it's like, yeah, we're sending it now.



Jens Bringsjord

Oh, Ryan plans team is worldwide and working remotely for Nolan working remotely hasn't really been something he had to get used to even during this pandemic.



Nolan Perkins

You know, I've always worked from home, so for about, you know, eight or nine years now, I guess it was like it was like half remote when I worked at the agency. But yeah, I've been fully remote at least five years now. It wasn't too too bad for that, right? I already had those like processes in my mind to be, you know, leave it, leave it at the door of the office, you know, so that that was okay for me.



Nolan Perkins

But yeah, the biggest problem is like, you know, I've got two daughters who are screaming right outside this door. And so before I was able to like take a day and just go like, you know, a coffee shop and work there kind of thing and then get that like release, you know. And so that was a bit that was probably the hardest transition.



Nolan Perkins

It was actually pretty difficult the first few weeks productivity definitely went down and also Tuesday's really stressful. Building a remote team would be would be tough anywhere. I think honestly like the good part of that with the pandemic is there was a lot of people who were displaced and so people were more willing to jump on a remote team, you know.



Nolan Perkins

And so that's a lucky part of it.



Megan Luedke

Music has also left a lasting impression on Nolan's creative endeavors.



Nolan Perkins

Yeah, like I've always been pretty musical. Right. Like, I played the cello when I was a kid until high school because it wasn't cool to be an orchestra. So I stopped playing cello, you know? And then I wish I kept it because, like, yeah, it's, you know, it's a stupid kid thing that I like, stopped it, you know?



Nolan Perkins

So I play ukulele. I sing pretty well. I'm like a big time karaoke guy. But obviously, with the pandemic, it's none of that. But yeah, I can do like Queen on karaoke too. So there you go. It.



Jens Bringsjord

Nolan story is one of intrigue and ingenuity. Social media has changed the way we interact with each other forever, and brand flambe has learned to harness the power of social media to collect feedback and engage with users at an extremely fast pace. This is the future of working with users. And Brand Cloud is leading the way in how this new way of working is taking shape.



Megan Luedke

We, as designers, are our worst critic, really shaping the way in which we think and perceive our own work. However, if there's one thing that no one has taught us today, it's to focus on the feedback from the users and to detach one's own feelings to a specific project. That way, we can become more nimble and exploratory in each project, guided by our engaged users.



Megan Luedke

You never know where the next great idea will come from, and that's the beauty of the design.



Nolan Perkins

This is Design Atlas.



Jens Bringsjord

We hope you join us next Thursday as we travel to Bulgaria to meet up with social media, influencer and graphic designer and Venus. Alina. Want to remind you of when the next episode comes out. Simply subscribe to our email updates by Visiting Design Atlas Podcast.



Megan Luedke

To find out more about Nolan Perkins and Red Club, we've included their Instagram, TikTok and website links in the show notes. We definitely recommend you check them out to learn more about their current beta apps.



Jens Bringsjord

Also, don't forget to join us for our next episode by subscribing to the show and leaving a positive review. We really appreciate.



Megan Luedke

It. To learn more about Design Atlas and to sign up for updates, visit our website at Design Atlas podcast. If you want to get in touch with us or have a topic idea for our next episode, feel free to send us an email at Hello Design Atlas Podcast or DM us on Instagram at Designers Club. Thanks for listening.



Megan Luedke

I'm Megan Luedke.



Jens Bringsjord

and I’m Jens Bringsjord.

Have a show topic in mind?

We’re always on the look for new and exciting ideas.

What will you bring to the show?

Sign up for our newsletter.

Join the Design Atlas newsletter for additional design resources and to stay in the loop. Don't miss out. If you don’t subscribe, you’ll never know.

©2021-2024 Design Atlas Podcast. All Rights Reserved.

Created with love in Barcelona, Spain and Los Angeles, CA.