Darren Clark

Founder of Dazlab

Darren Clark is the founder and CEO of Dazlab, a boutique software company based in Sydney that helps people turn their ideas into digital products. Unlike many tech companies, Dazlab doesn’t just build code. They create a full-service experience from idea validation to completed product.

Darren has called Sydney, Australia home for nearly all his life. In 2020, Darren, his partner Rachel and their two sons moved to a sleepy little beach town just north of Sydney to focus on family time while running his company Dazlab and a team of twelve, remotely. During this time he also started a new startup project, called HandL, which will be hitting the market in 2024.

Prior to launching Dazlab, Darren built hundreds of software products for startups, SME and corporations including several products of his own. Kohab launched in the USA in 2019 and before that, he co-founded a digital creative agency, called Webling which won international awards over a decade.

His first brush with entrepreneurship was at twenty years old when he started an IT company called Bylogix. It was around that time he realized that business was as simple as fixing other people’s problems and getting paid for it — and that’s been his motto ever since. Find a problem, figure out a solution, bring it to market.

Since then, Darren has worked with clients across many industries including mental health tech, real estate tech and health care tech finding creative solutions for complex problems.

What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?

When I start to procrastinate, I have very little time to turn it around — otherwise, it’s game over and I might as well go golfing — so following a rhythm that flows the way I do is imperative.

I usually wake up early, around 5 am. Take a shower then dive straight into my toughest work of the day. When the kids wake up, we hang out and have breakfast before they head to school. The rest of the day is broken up with exercising like walking my dog on the beach or getting in a golf game — and short bursts of highly focused work — something that took years for me to figure out.

Once the kids are home from school I try to switch offline to be with them — they’re only going to be young, once — so I want to be present as they grow.

When it comes to my work, I am the most productive when I have had time to actually think about what needs to be done. If I’m working on a new product flow or tech solution, I need to sort out all the kinks before we dive in. My best thinking is done away from my desk, in the car driving, playing golf, or basically doing anything except sitting down in front of my computer.

Grinding out a solution never works for me. The more thinking time I give myself, the faster we can move into production mode.

How do you bring ideas to life?

In my line of work, the nucleus of an idea is created by truly getting into the minds of our clients by the words they use to describe their business, the way they talk about their customers, and the things they don’t say, as much as the things they do.

This nucleus gives us the starting point.

I’ve always been an overthinker, which allows me to really get into the mind of my client. So once I understand their problem, I let my mind do its thing. Usually just by daydreaming about it enough that I solve the problem. Once I’ve solved the problem, our next step is to make it a commercial reality.

What’s one trend that excites you?

In the tech world, there’s a new trend every day. Honestly, they don’t even make me blink anymore.

The trend towards an AI world is one in particular that I have a love/hate relationship with. On the one hand, AI like chatGPT can help the fundamentals of so many tasks, but there are two major factors we aren’t considering.

1. AI is going to put 35% of the world out of a job
2. You can’t be great at something without being totally shit at it first. If AI is doing all the basic level stuff, then you don’t have to — which means you won’t get better.

Yeah I know it sounds a bit dark — but call me old fashioned, creative minds foster creative minds and AI simply doesn’t create.

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

I wake up fresh and then as the day wears on, it picks up weight. Doesn’t need to be bad weight, but my brain gets noisy with conversations, random thoughts, things that happen, traffic, anything really.

So I do my most intense work early when my mind is clear.

If that fails, good music like Fooies, Beatles, Tribe Called Quest, and good old Snoop.

What advice would you give your younger self?

1. Care less about what people think and a lot more about what makes you happy.
2. Slow down more and give less f*cks to things that you can’t control.
3. And lastly, wear sunscreen.

Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you.

1. Vegemite on toast is a great cure for a hangover.
2. Golf is a great way to waste 4 hours.
3. AI will kill creativity.
4. Wifi on a flight should not exist. ( Use the time to switch off! )
5. Volvo designs some beautiful cars.
6. Foo Fighters will go down as the best rock band ever. GOAT

What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?

Drink lots of water every day. Chill out. Don’t take life too seriously. And… update your to-do lists every day for work, personal stuff, and long-term goals. It’ll help you keep track of where you’re at so you don’t forget stuff.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

I am a pretty empathetic guy so things tend to affect me more than maybe average — whatever that means. As a result, I can get overwhelmed pretty easily, which leads me to overthink, and then can lose sight of what I’m really working through.

In the past, I bottled that overthinking energy up and would release it through partying or picking arguments with the wrong people — but over the years I’ve learned to lean on my partner and those I trust, so I can talk it out.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?

The three things that have made a significant impact on my business are:

1. Overthinking everything. While overthinking can be a curse, it can also be a blessing. It’s one of my secret weapons and by being able to imagine all the possible scenarios, I’m able to predict and prepare for the future. Thinking is free, so allow yourself to think through everything, so you can find a clear path forward.

2. Ask for help. This one is key. It took me a long time to learn that asking for help doesn’t mean I suck. Find someone that has done what you are trying to do and learn from them.

3. Get comfortable with doing things you aren’t good at. So many people tell you to outsource all the stuff you aren’t good at — and in general that advice is sound — but the things that are blocking you from moving forward, lean into them. Sooner or later you need to get over whatever hurdle is in front of you, so it might as well be now.

What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?

Honestly, the trick to success is failing, every single day. Every entrepreneur struggles with imposter syndrome. Every one of us lets it get in the way of moving forward. Once we truly realize that everyone is making it up as they go, and you just put your head down and focus on perfecting your craft and being comfortable with failing. You are not your failures.

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Surf wax but make it a subscription. If you know, you know you’ll only ever run out when the shops are closed and the surf is pumping. Same with golf balls, personalised golf balls sent every month. If they don’t exist, someone needs to create it and make the public aware.

What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Ironically, I’m all about the pen & paper. It’s cheap, has no bugs, and doesn’t require high-speed wifi. Sometimes tech gets in the way of our creativity. Simplify your processes.

What is the best $100 you recently spent?

Flowers for my partner Rachel. Happy wife, happy life.

Do you have a favorite book or podcast from which you’ve received much value?

Startups for the Rest of Us – Podcast by Rob Walling https://www.startupsfortherestofus.com/

Its focus is on building sustainable businesses, rather than defaulting to the VC way.

What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?

My not-so-secret guilty pleasure is trash TV, so I’m proud to proclaim that “New Amsterdam” is my current obsession. Medical TV Drama has been done and redone a million times, but I really like the idea behind the show. The lead character has this way of always trying to make life better and won’t take no for an answer. People come to him and he always says, How can I help? It’s a great tagline for family, friends, and even your work.

Help where you can.

Key learnings:

  • How overthinking can be your secret weapon
  • Why AI will kill creativity — and how to utilize it
  • Why simplifying everything you’re doing is likely to get you where you want to go.
  • How following your own rhythm is likely to yield a far better result than following the flock.