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Seven Creative Questions for Paintzen CEO Mike Russell

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Paintzen is an on-demand residential and commercial painting company. Kinda like the Uber of painters. Except here, you can use a friendly online interface to book a painting crew within 48 hours.

It’s as simple as that.

And if you want to freshen up the surroundings, but not sure of the color scheme? No worries. Paintzen can help with that, too, providing color consultations to help any customer select the perfect hue.

In this interview, we talk with Paintzen CEO Mike Russell and learn more about him… and his colorful company.

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NAME:  Mike Russell (above)

AGE (if you want to give it up): 36 

COMPANY: Paintzen

HOMETOWN: Hoboken, NY

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OUR SEVEN CREATIVE QUESTIONS

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 1. Why did you help create or found Paintzen? What need was missing?

We founded Paintzen in the midst of quickly building our first business, MyClean, a company that matches clients with housecleaners.  A general contractor across the hall from our office asked if we did painting;  we didn’t, but we figured we could! That’s when the real work began, as we immediately recognized a problem that needed solving and the opportunity it presented us: almost nobody sold paint online and if they did, they certainly didn’t do the painting. Finding and booking a reputable painter was a challenge and getting an accurate, guaranteed quote online was nearly impossible.

We knew we had the capabilities to streamline the process and benefit all parties: the consumer who wants an easy, convenient and guaranteed, one-stop-shop  painting solution, the painting company that wants to book more jobs, but prefers not having the overhead of customer acquisition and other logistics, and the paint company that wants to effectively sell paint online.

Today’s business achieves all of this. We provide transparency of pricing (our prices are not estimates – they are guarantees), timely service (we can start within 2 business days – sometimes less), the online sale and delivery of paint (no need to go to a store and lug gallons of paint home), all while supporting over 200 independent painting companies and crews across the country. Additionally, we provide personalized consultation services, inspiration tools, galleries and color sampling to help clients select exactly the right paint for the right room, all complimentary.

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2. What is the most popular color that people request?

Simply White.

It was Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year last year, so it gained a lot of popularity within the design community. That, paired with the fact that is really is a very soft, clean shade of white, makes it a very popular request. It makes a wonderful backdrop that allows all room décor, including accent walls, stand out – really allowing the resident’s personal style to shine.

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3. What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve heard? And do you follow it?

Every startup that is based on a great concept or uniquely fills a key need in the marketplace encounters growing pains. Along with those comes a new challenge to overcome almost every day.  So it’s imperative to stay level-headed and solve each problem as it arises. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, especially as you and most of your staff wear a number of hats. Therefore, it is vital to hire the right team who can roll with the punches and help you to remain flexible, positive, and pragmatic.

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4. What is your most favorite or strangest customer request? Did the company follow through with that order?

There are three recent examples that stand out, as we get very different kinds of requests from the three sides of our business: commercial, residential, and public service spaces:

  • On the commercial side, we’ve painted more than a few concrete floors over the years, but Northwestern University had a very creative vision that we fulfilled:  painting a colorful path that resembled cobblestones through a parking structure as well as different areas on campus.
  • On the residential side, we find people can be very unique with their design ideas. We recently had a request from a customer here in NYC to give a child’s playroom a circus feel. To accomplish this, we painted a mural of the inside top of a red and white circus tent on the ceiling. It was one of our favorite projects to date!
  • As one of our public service projects, for a charter school, we created a double-layer wall covering. The first layer was painted with designs approved by the Board of Education. The second layer was a coating of dry erase paint, so that any marks made over it by mistake by the young students could be easily erased, and the art would remain undamaged.

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5. What are some new painting or design trends that enhance your industry? Are there any painting or design trends that you don’t you like?

I’m a fan of the monochromatic trend, and bringing in various different shades of the same color throughout a space. This is especially effective in larger homes where you can see down hallways or into other rooms from one focal point; it adds drama and depth without being super distracting. It also allows those who are a little nervous to play with color, to enjoy a home that has different shades throughout, while still being “safer” with color choices.

Something I’m over is too much pattern as it impacts, and must go with, every other popular patterned element in the room (such as rugs or pillows), which is tricky. That said, we actually have one simple chevron wall in our nursery! I give my wife all the credit, as she has the knack for blending it with the rest of the décor to create a harmonious environment.

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6. What is the question a person should ask you, and how would you answer?

Q: Why should I use Paintzen when I can buy paint and hire a painter on my own?

A: You could, but why would you want to attempt to choose just the right shade of white, cart gallons of paint home, research painters online hoping their reviews are accurate, try to find a convenient and available date that they can come in the near future, cross your fingers that their initial quote doesn’t change once the work starts, and pray they do a good job and, if not, will fix it for free? I’d rather use a service that eliminates all of these hassles, worries, and potential problems.

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7. If you can have one photographer shoot an advertising campaign for you, who would that be and why?

We love the work of Simon Kennedy. He has an airy lifestyle bent about his architectural renderings that often includes a snapshot of humans functioning within a particular environment.  This resonates strongly with Paintzen, as our services are all about allowing our customers to best succeed and enjoy within their personal spaces.

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BONUS QUESTION: Is there anything else that you’d like to add, discuss or promote?

Yes!  Two things:

  1. One trend we’re seeing is interest in custom work on theme rooms – be it man-caves or game rooms, nurseries, children’s play rooms, etc., complete with faux textures and/or murals of landscapes, circuses, sports teams, etc.  This creation of completely new environments is both fun and creative for the client and for us!
  1. Don’t underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint to give a room a whole new look, feel, and personality all for a tiny fraction of the cost of renovating or refurnishing.

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All images courtesy of Mike Russell and Paintzen.

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OTHER “SEVEN CREATIVE QUESTIONS”

* Designer Philippe Vergez

* Illustrator Bonnie Pang

* Artist Rafael Lanfranco

* Painter Laura Lancaster

* Designer Nina Dornheim

* Fashion Designer Lan Yu

* Laurel Berman, Founder, Black Halo

* Minika Ko, KOVASKY

* Painter Jaime Poblete Aravena

* Portraiture Artist Tiffany Von Hoff

Writing On It All’s Zina Goodall

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