Nancy Duarte’s Story: How She Grew Duarte Designs

Nancy Duarte, author and co-founder of Duarte Designs, is a pro when it comes to presentations. Check out her story.

March 31st, 2016   |    By: The Startups Team    |    Tags: Pitch Decks, Advisors

Nancy Duarte is a pro when it comes to presentations. Not just giving presentations, but starting them, finishing them, and every step in between. Author and co-founder of Duarte Designs, Nancy Duarte is a seasoned veteran when it comes to incorporating storytelling into speaking and creating connections with an audience.

The below video is the ninth part in a series of 10 in which Nancy shares the key components to making a successful pitch using creativity and critical thinking. Find out what she has to say:

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Nancy Duarte’s First 3 Clients

In 1987, after working and saving money for a whole summer, Nancy Duarte”s husband bought a Mac. He had a vision: he was going to get behind the technological movement and use his newly acquired equipment to build a business.

A very-pregnant Nancy had a different vision: her husband was going to go get a “real job” so he could provide for the family.

Her husband didn’t give up, however. After reading a MacWorld magazine article given to her by her husband, Nancy decided to give his idea a shot. If it didn’t work, she was forcing him out into the workforce.

While on maternity leave, she called three clients, won their business, and they got to work.

Those three clients? Apple, NASA, and HP (known as Tandem at the time).

The work started as technical illustrations, but new opportunities soon presented themselves. Apple was the first company to hook a computer up to a projector, which allowed Nancy to begin her journey with presentations and design.

How Nancy Handled The Dot-Com Crash

As their business grew, they became generalists. They entered the print and web realms of design. Unfortunately, in 2001 the dot-com crash caused Nancy to see 25% of her business disappear in an instant.

What did she do in response? She and her company entered “hedgehog mode.” The Hedgehog Concept came from a book Nancy read, James Collins’s Good to Great, and it conveys the idea that you should have one defense mechanism – like a hedgehog. Find something you can master and share that with the world.

“If you’re passionate about it, and can be the best in the world at it, do that one thing.”

For Nancy, her defense mechanism was presentations. Instead of expanding her services to compensate for the loss in clientele, she cut back and focused on one thing. After becoming a master of sorts, she wrote her first book, slide:ology. She had no idea that writing this book would open up a whole new world for her and her business: training.

Nancy’s Current Business Models

Nancy now has two business models running: creating presentations and training people on presenting. The latter grew faster and bigger than the former, and has been very rewarding for Nancy.

“Teaching people how to present changes them, and it brings me a lot of Joy,” Nancy shares.

Following Nancy’s story, what’s your “one thing?” How can you take your startup idea, master it, and share it with the world?

Nancy Duarte

About the Author

The Startups Team

Startups is the world's largest startup platform, helping over 1 million startup companies find customers, funding, mentors, and world-class education.

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