10 David Martin BODY 1David is founder CEO the top San Francisco and New York based design agency, Fantasy. They are the multi-award winning design agency of choice for companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Spotify and Adobe.

David himself has built the company from the ground up, with nothing more than an unquenchable passion for beautiful design, and a hunger to be the very best at everything he does. The agency is renowned all around the globe for being one of the greatest independently owned agencies in the world.

David is an inspirational creative, with a humble yet relentless vigour to succeed.

We speak deeply about:

  • How he made NO money in the first three years of the business, and then went to win an award announcing Fantasy as the most profitable business in the whole of Sweden (before he moved the entire company to the US)
  • How he has attracted and sustained clients from big brands such as Facebook and Twitte
  • How he works directly with the CEO of Google
  • Why he turned down an acquisition opportunity from, Google who wanted to buy his company
  • The power of PEOPLE, this is a massive one for David he puts so much emphasis on this
  • On trying to create Instagram, before Instagram
  • David often flies to work in his own private plane. Yep. That’s right. His OWN plane. He is the single most ‘followed’ pilot on Facebook (as you can see here – CirrusPilot) and his journey to work is watched by over 285,000 people!


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  • When I was young I used to build Go Carts and tree houses, the stuff you would see in a Goonies movie
  • Values of competition, imagination and setting the bar high are what have got me where I am today  
  • It wasn’t  matter of what the career path was it was the feeling of whatever I do I need to be the best at it or else there’ no point
  • I’m not a business numbers guy
  • I try to solve problems creatively
  • I never knew how much money we made until 2012! (13 years after starting the business)
  • To me it was not about how much money can we make by the end of the year, but about how many awesome projects can we do
  • Google wanted us to move to San Francisco
  • Agencies have to grow around their people rather than their business
  • If we’re driving down the highway and there’s  , i’m the first person that’s going to be there pulling someone out of a car
  • I see a problem and I’ll bring all my power to solve it
  • I’m not a numbers guy, but I make up for that with strong creative energy
  • To be an entrepreneur as a creative, you really have to run the gauntlet and understand the balance between achieving the most awesome result creatively and the process required to make it happen. And you can’t do that alone.  
  • I’m not here because of me, I’m here because I was able to surround myself with people who are a lot stronger than me
  • Do you think that Elon Musk, or the president of the United States get where they are because they’re a one man army? Absolutely not. It’s the team or of people around them that prop them up, help them when they’re down and catch things that fall between chairs – and that ultimately is what makes the most successful entrepreneurs successful
  • It has to be Fisher Price, simple, beautiful, smart
  • Most things out there suck
  • My biggest fear is never about the business, it’s about the people
  • Our people ARE the business
  • Work with amazing people and adopt THEIR way of handling various situations  
  • Do it right or don’t bother
  • Being very competitive is very important, and to inspire people that don’t know how to get there
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Time Stamped Notes

00:03:46 – An overview of David’s journey
00:05:20 – On values instilled when David was growing up in Dublin, Ireland
00:07:11 – On David’s concept of money when growing up
00:07:54 – Earliest memory of self expression
00:09:43 – On why David’s company is called ‘Fantasy’
00:12:31 – David’s early days, cleaning toilets in Germany
00:14:40 – On moving from a small(ish) 30 person company in Stockholm   to the New York
00:17:29 – On the difficulty of growing in a digital creative industry
00:18:11 – David tells Rebelhead something he has NEVER revealed outside of closed doors. Google tried to acquire Fantasy in 2010.
00:23:24 – On creativity in business and how creative individuals can run businesses
00:24:20 – On the importance of surrounding yourself by people that are better than you
00:25:10 – on hiring the right people, and deciding to become CEO of his own business 15 years AFTER founding it
00:28:11 – On the decision to me quality over quantity, and NOT focusing on growth until recently
00:30:52 – On the importance of design and UX in today’s world
00:31:06 – On working closely with Sundar Pichai, Google CEO
00:36:45 – Tips for creative entrepreneurs who want to attract top clients
00:40:43 – On flying to work in his own plane
00:45:14 – On biggest mistakes – David sent a compliant VIDEO to Time Warner Cable RoadRunner publically.
00:48:40 – On the massive importance of people and staff
00:51:13 – Power of working for a small company rather than a large organisation like Google or Facebook
00:52:43 – On success secrets
00:55:56 – On taking risks

The Rebel Wrap Up Round

If you could go back to any point in your life, and have 1 hour with your past self; what moment would it be and what would you tell yourself?

00:57:41 – I would go back to the very beginning and tell myself this is a business, don’t treat it like a personal portfolio.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received, who gave it to you and how has it positively affected your career?

00:59:30 – It would have been right at the beginning, someone said “you know what, charge these clients more money”. Because in the first three years myself and my wife were living off her welfare, as all the money was going to the staff!

Who is the most disruptive, rebellious or revolutionary entrepreneur of the last 2 years?

01:00:37 – Frank Wang. Founder of DJI Drones.

Who is the most disruptive, rebellious or revolutionary creator of the last 2 years?

01:01:04 – Matías Duarte. Google’s Vice President of Design.

What is the one generally agreed upon rule or conventional piece of wisdom, that you disagree with?

01:01:58 – In Sweden they have a culture called the , that means that everything is very equal and even – and if you stand up you get hammered down. I had a very difficult time living in Sweden because that culture is about not being the best. I struggled living in Sweden for that reason, but it drove me to be like f**k you guys I’m going to do this.

What’s your definition of entrepreneurship?

01:04:06 – Someone that ultimately is not just a dreamer. That has a vision that they know how to legitimately execute on, that is set up for success in a marketplace that lacks that vision  

If you could change one law what would it be?

01:04:41 – Guns. America with the gun law is ridiculous.

What advice would you give to anyone listening to this who wants to become a creator entrepreneur?

01:06:03 – The top is not hard to get too. The top is not full of amazing people. The top is hard to stay on top of, but be competitive and you will stay there. I guarantee you, if you were to become President of the United States, and you were sitting there as President, you’re gonna look round and go ‘Holy Shit” I was the choice? Getting to the top of anything, I’ve noticed, you don’t have to be the world’s best.

Who do you nominate to be a guest on the RebelHead Entrepreneurs podcast and can you sum them up in one word?

01:08:24 – Firdosh Tangri. Fantasy.co Managing Director.

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