Websites, Apps and Hip Hop poetry
BY MARC RODAN
Posted: 2 February 2021
Every Tuesday, we put one KREW Member in the Spotlight. This week it’s UI & UX Designer Hector Ruiz‘s turn, who also happens to be a hip hop artist!
Full name: Hector Andres Ruiz Mondragon
Business name: Intellegends
Currently lives in: The Hague (NL)
Grew up in: Colombia & Aruba
Entrepreneur since: 2016
Who is Hector? I’ve lived for 10 years in Cali, Columbia. Then 10 years in Aruba, which is like paradise, honestly. Now, for the past 6 years, I’ve been living in the Netherlands. I originally came here to study Biomedical Research in Leiden. Though after one very revealing afternoon when I saw the future ahead of me, I decided to change career paths. I happened to come across a course in User Experience (UX) Design and it just hooked me — even though I had never heard of it before.
Fast forward a couple of years and I completed my internship at Tao Company by Pim Stigter, who eventually became my mentor. During my internship I picked up a lot of skills on the more practical side of UX Design, particularly when it comes to creating WordPress websites. So that’s one of the things we focus on now with our company Intellegends, which I run together with Renato — who is also originally from Aruba.
Next to my UX and web design activities, I also love music. Three years ago I started writing poems after a friend recommended it to me as a way to deal with emotional issues. I can be a person that bottles shit up, so I thought ‘why not give it a try?’. Soon enough, I realised that I have a knack for writing. I used to have some low-fi hip hop background music on and at some point I found that one of my poems was hitting the beat nicely. So from that point on I kept writing, but always with a beat. And that was the beginning of my rap career. I got more and more serious with it over the years and now I just released my first EP.
Fun fact: my EP is was released on 12-12-2020. Numbers follow me around for some reason, so I looked up what it means. Apparently it represents stepping out of your comfort zone. And how big of a step out of my comfort zone is it to just put something I made out there for the world, you know?
What is your biggest superpower? Perseverance. Just the road that it took me, to get here to The Netherlands… that alone was a test of perseverance. It has actually helped me a lot to deal with negative things in my life. Of course I still get down sometimes. I can go from positive to negative like that *snaps fingers*. But I can also push myself to leave that negative state quickly and just get back to it.
What can be your kryptonite? My impatience. I’m a very impatient person. I’ve worked hard to define where I want to be in the future. I have a clear vision. I even have pictures of it around the house. But getting there is so slow. I do enjoy the process of getting there, but sometimes I also feel anxious about not being there yet.
Just so we can refer them to you: who are your typical clients? Entrepreneurs who want to solve problems in an innovative way. That’s the area where I can apply what I’ve learned and studied. For example, if you have an idea for an app, that’s where I thrive. Figuring out why people would use this or how we’re going to get people to use this, that’s pure UX.
Which products and/or services do you offer? We build user friendly, mobile optimised websites that are also data machines. We believe in data, hence the ‘intel’ part of our business name. We believe that any product, either physical or digital, needs to be collecting as much data as possible. So that entrepreneurs can use that information to apply to their marketing, their strategy or even to make a pivot.
When it comes to apps, we don’t develop them ourselves yet. We are there before development — to interview customers, to craft personas, to make prototypes and wireframes, user flows, data flows and structure, the architecture… all of that we can make. Based on our research, we can also create and optimise a high fidelity prototype, which is pretty much the entire app from a user perspective. It’s just not connected to a database yet. Going through this process first will reduce your development costs significantly.
This process doesn’t only work for apps though. It works for services too. Let’s say you want to create a a KREW building. Just like on a website, you’ll have multiple touch points. A journey people go through when they visit your building. How do you want that experience to be and add maximum value for your customers? That’s what we can help you with.
“On a good day, I wake up at 5 am. From 5 to 10 am, I work on myself: I read, I follow a course, I listen to a podcast, I work out. I work from 10 am to 2 pm […] and then I work on music for the rest of the day.
What does success look like to you? It looks pretty much like this day for me. Normally, on a good day, I wake up at 5 am. From 5 to 10 am, I work on myself: I read, I follow a course, I listen to a podcast, I work out. Then, in an ideal future, I work from 10 am to 2 pm. Managing. Having meetings with people in my company who ate responsible for that everything well. Then I work on music for the rest of the day.
And I could copy-paste this to anywhere in the world. Aruba, Indonesia, even the North Pole if the internet connection is good. I want to have the freedom to choose where I work from.
What is your favourite way to celebrate achievements? Beer. A good craft beer. I love me a good Tripel. Then just some games, hanging out with friends, good music. That’s usually how I celebrate anything.
What is a major challenge you have faced as an entrepreneur and how have you overcome it? Delegating has been one of the biggest ones. I consider myself to be a jack-of-all-trades. I studied photography, digital marketing, web and UI/UX design in school. On the side, I’ve completed courses on Illustrator, Photoshop, Lightroom and SEO. Because I know a lot about all of these things, I used to feel like I have to do tasks related to them. I didn’t trust the people around me to do these things, so I did them myself. But of course, you can’t do everything yourself.
What has helped me a lot to let go of this feeling of “having to be in control” is communication. I using clear written briefings of what needs to get done upfront. Then I have a meeting to discuss whether everything is clear and whether someone needs anything more from me. When I get the feeling that this person gets it, I let it go and wait for the first draft. Aside from this, finding the right combination of tools has been extremely helpful to me as well. It can make the entire process of running your business a well-oiled machine.
^ Hector with his business partner Renato and girlfriend Shewska.
So which tools do you love to use for your business? Well, Slack. It’s a typical one, but for communication it’s great.
I personally also like this app called Focus To-Do. You put in a project and in this project you put in the tasks that you need to complete. Then you estimate the amount of time you think it takes to complete each task using the pomodoro method. For example, four bursts of 25 minutes with 5 minute breaks in between. Once you have that scheduled in, you click on ‘Go’ in Focus To-Do and it will block everything on your phone. So if you get tempted to check out Instagram it will start vibrating really annoyingly to help you stay focused.
I also love Monday.com. When it comes to planning, that’s the tool that I’ve loved to use. I can tailor it exactly to my needs and there’s also time tracking in there which I like to use.
What do you love to do when you’re not working? Working on other things. I’m a workaholic man. I’m always working. Though music for me is both music and leisure. I need to consider it work for me to be serious about it. Besides that, I game. I like single player games with legit focus on good storytelling, like The Last of Us. One of the best games ever. The Witcher 3 is amazing too, because you just get lost in that world.
I love film as well. I’m a photographer myself, so I love when all the aspects of that art form come together. The art, the composition, the score. Please check out Waking Life, for example. Amazing movie. I also love classics like Donnie Darko or anything from Tarantino. Anime series like Death Parade, Death Note and One Piece I love as well.
Who is your superhero (fictional or real)? My fictional superhero has always been Batman. I used to read a lot of comics when I was in high school. Always DC. They are always dark and gritty. Marvel was too jolly for me.
In real life, my hero is the Puerto Rican rapper known as Residente. He blew up because of how unique and different he was. He made a lot of pop music, but he also released tracks that put up a legit middle finger to the government. He’s very socially aware and not afraid to speak out against all the corruption that goes on in our continent. I look up to him a lot.
Which book has made a major impact on you? Oh man, I couldn’t pick just one book. Though this year the book that has impacted me the most is On the Shortness of Life by Seneca. He’s a stoic philosopher and in this book he speaks about time and how we waste it. I was always aware of that and of the importance of time, but he put it so eloquently that I was like ‘yes, yeeees!’. Before this book I was always more focused on the present and the future, but this book actually states that the past is our true treasure. It has made me look at the past in a completely different way.
Other books that have impacted me a lot, particularly when it comes to business, are The Lean Startup, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Managing Oneself and The E-Myth Revisited. Other books that have made a major impact on me are The Art of War, The 48 Laws of Power and Mastery. Everything Robert Green wrote is amazing.
^ Hector and Shewska at the KREW’s VR Tournament in The Hague last year.
Why did you join KREW and what is the value that you got out of it so far? I joined KREW, because I think it’s important to build a network. Especially if you’re able to build a network of likeminded people or people who are also in your area — entrepreneurs in this case. That’s something that I place a lot of value on. Because it’s people that can relate to your struggles and successes and you can relate to theirs. The value has been just that, mainly.
Not only does the network help you develop your business by connecting you to the right people or pieces that are missing, but there are also opportunities to grow. For example, I went to a sales workshop which was really interactive and the guy that gave it (Jorgen Barthel) was also really dope. Really amazing. I had some very good conversations with him afterwards.
What can KREW Members reach out to you for? Oh man, I don’t know, anything. Want to learn a little bit more about hip hop? Let’s go! Do you need help with your website? Let’s go! Let’s talk and see if I can help you out with that. Or if you just want to talk about life… yeah, just reach out.
Where can we best find your business and you online? On Facebook at Intellegends and Hector Ruiz. On Instagram at @intellegends, @harmsway.photography and @harmsway.music. And of course, just through email as well.
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Marc Rodan is the Founder of KREW and Chief Editor of KREW Stories. In 2015 he started his first business as the tallest (mini) pancake baker in Sweden. Since then, he has travelled the world to start businesses in both branding and online education. Marc loves penguins, UFOs and anything blue and orange, always makes up songs while doing the dishes and dreams of one day living in a tree house as big as Jake and Finn’s. Connect with him on LinkedIn.