Aaron Marshall: Go big and go home

Founder and designer of the mobile photo app Over, Aaron Marshall shares his six key business values.

No amount of success at work can make up for a failure at home – Aaron Marshall

App designer Aaron Marshall recently relocated to Cape Town from the States, via a harrowing trip to Ethiopia. He calls Cape Town the #nofilter city – its beauty so profound and inspiration to be found wherever you look – from Robben Island that reminds him of the importance of freedom to Table Mountain that speaks of the value of scale.

Marshall’s move to Cape Town was part of his journey into realising the importance of a balanced work-home life, and that success in business can never make up for a deficiency in other areas of life. While living in Ethiopia, a near-death experience largely due to poor healthcare services also changed Marshall’s perspective. He realised to make a real difference in issues like poverty he would need to take his business to the next level and use the power and financial freedom that comes with that in a truly significant way.

Marshall’s core business values speak to this life philosophy.

    1. Forget the cart, ride the horse

      Sometimes it’s less about doing X before Y and rather just getting on with it.

    2. Embrace complexity to find simplicity

      To obtain true simplicity and find those tiny golden threads that Marshall likes to call those “I wish I had thought of that” moments, one has to immerse oneself completely in a problem. Understanding your customer is the hard work – but imperative to get the product right.

    3. To be a great creator, be a great consumer

      Try other products and apps to immerse yourself in them and understand the psychology of why those products are successful.

    4. Live a great story

      Rather than aiming towards goals that ultimately set you up for failure and disappointment, think of your life as a great story with highs and lows. If you’re not living a great story you need to change something in your life.

    5. Who am I? What do I want?

      This needs to be absolutely central to your business model because if you’re not 100% committed it is less likely to succeed.

    6. Look for a passion/market fit

      Rather than a product/market fit your business model needs to be based on your passion – and finding a place for this within the market. You need to make sure you’re doing things that really matter to you.

Aaron Marsall spoke at the Net Prophet conference in Cape Town yesterday. His photo app, Over, by Potluck, has had over 8 million downloads to date. Beautiful and simple in concept, the app allows users to overlay text onto photos, using various typefaces and designs. The app is available on iOS and currently being developed for Android.

Marshall’s ultimate aim for Over is to be the Adobe for mobile. His long-term goal is to “be a line on your CV”… listed in people’s skillsets alongside MS Office and Adobe software.