Almost 11 years ago, Marco Perry and his wife Kathy Larchian, decided to fuse together their love of design and invention and launch a business from their kitchen table that would improve quality of life through better products and experiences.
Pensa, which means “think” in Italian, was the perfect name for their budding company because it described what them and their staff did all day long with their hands and their minds: think and build.
Perry, who gives himself the job title of “design doer,” says he always knew he wanted to be a designer, inventor and engineer.
“My dad was sculptor,” he said, “and when I was younger, I worked in his shop making things. That had an influence on my career journey.”
Perry has worked on some bizarre, yet practical projects in the past, like a diaper-making machine, desktop wire bender DIWire, and Street Charge, a solar-powered cellphone charging station in Brooklyn.
We talked to Perry about why he loves his commute, his aversion to email and the importance of leaving work at work.
What’s the first thing you do every day before doing any tech-related work?
I really love our commute. We live in Cobble Hill and our office is in Dumbo. I bike along the waterfront of Brooklyn (on my olive green Trek District) and I take it as slow as possible. I find looking out in the horizon, seeing the boats and the buildings in the distance really relaxes me. It calms me down.
How often do you check your email and do you use any program to get to inbox zero?
This is a point of contention for me because I check my email way too often. It’s probably the first thing I do when I wake up, before I drink my coffee or brush my teeth. The problem is that your emails become your agenda for the day and that’s not the right way to work. I use the Gmail app. I’ve never had inbox zero. I get hundreds of emails a day and 75-100 are important and need to be dealt with that day.
How do you keep track of your revenues and expenses?
My wife and cofounder, Kathy, does all of that. She’s the one who makes sure the money comes and goes. Most of it is tracked on a project-by-project basis.
When you need to take a break, what are you turning to?
I love to take walks. I walk around our hallway and if I need a larger break, I find an excuse to go for a longer walk outside. I tell people I’m going to the bathroom, but I’m not. I just go on a walk instead.
What’s your gear?
I recently shifted over to the Microsoft Surface and an Android phone. I had an iPhone before. I’m constantly connected with those two devices.
What’s one time saving tip you have?
Don’t read your email. Do what you’re supposed to be doing. It’s just a direction and it slows you down. My main problem is that there are so many inputs coming in (text, email, Twitter, social media) trying to grab my attention and it then becomes difficult to focus. So my tip is to just focus on the tasks you need to do first and you’ll get stuff done faster.
What’s one tip you have for other people who are looking to start a company with a close friend, family member or spouse?
The most important thing is when you leave the office, you leave the office. We work hard not to bring up work at home. If you do, it becomes stressful because then you think of work on your downtime and work becomes your life. As soon as you leave the office, it’s done. It’s not that it doesn’t come up in my head, it does. But when it does, I suppress it and change the topic.
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