Stefan Endress

Introducing Dekks. The new presentation engine for creative teams and individuals, bootstrapped by the crew behind the experience design studio International Magic. Why are we building an app to create presentations? Aren’t there enough solutions already? None of them worked for our studio and that’s why we’re taking matters into our own hands.

Before I dive into why we created Dekks, the problems we faced with other apps, the first prototype we built, and what is to come, I’d like to give you some context about who we are and what our design studio, International Magic does.

In late 2016, Adam Rodgers and I started International Magic, an experience design studio that operates on the intersection of design and development with a strong focus on ideas.

This hybrid approach allows us to bring our vision to life and create forward-looking experiences powered by cutting-edge technologies. It has always been our ambition to produce new ways of seeing and interacting with our physical and digital worlds.

Adam and I met back in 2013 at Studio 3 in London, a shared studio space that hosted many incredible talents including; Thomas Traum (Traum Inc), Tara Darby, Marc Kremers (Future Corp), Damien Poulain, Carl Burgess and Tom Darracott (More and More), Marcus Wendt and Vera-Maria Glahn (Field), Mike Tucker (Universal Everything), Jesse Kanda and Malika Favre.

Back then, Adam and I collaborated on smaller side projects and night-jammed on presentations with next day deadlines. We loved hanging out at the studio, enjoying ourselves while fixing javascript issues, or learning how to run code on the command line. I’m not a developer by any means, but I love coding and solving technical and logical challenges.

We loved hanging out at the studio, enjoying ourselves while fixing javascript issues, or learning how to run code on the command line.

A couple of years and a few night-shifts later, we both packed our bags and moved with our families to different cities — me to Munich and Adam to Bath. Looking back, Studio 3 was an inspiring time for both of us, and set the groundwork for where we wanted to take International Magic.

Working remotely from different countries

We both had our own thing going, but we worked together on so many projects that it made sense for 2 to become 1. We were excited and full of energy for what was to come. A few days later, Article 50 was triggered and the Brexit horror show began 🤯🤬 An instant setback before even getting started.

After days of processing the news, we realised we had even more motivation to turn our Pan-European venture into a reality.

We started by forming our new identity. We needed a name that reflected our outlook on the world, and distilled the very essence of our existence (deep). Finding a name that feels right is challenging and usually takes a lot of time and consideration. In true Developer fashion, we opted for a logical name choosing framework. Our thinking went as follows.

Since we both lived and worked in many different countries running a remote studio, this led us to the word ”International”. The next step was to find a sparring partner, a word that is powerful, fun and describes what we strive to achieve in every project we do. That little bit extra that you can’t put into words and is more about a feeling. I told Adam that I’d been a magician since the age of seven. That was it, ”International Magic“ was to be our name. Done.

We got started with a new name and invigorated energy.

Today, International Magic draws on the skills and talents of Designers, Artists, Developers and many other types of creatives from around the world. We have collaborated with clients and cultural innovators such as; adidas, Brian Eno, FKA twigs, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Mamag Studios, Management + Artists, 032c, Somerset House, Superimpose and Yeezy Supply.

A thought on effortless content consumption

Everyone presents in some way or another. Some more than others, but certainly today more than ever before. Presenting happens at work when introducing new concepts or privately on the phone when we share our latest holiday pics with the family.

Today, social media platforms such as Instagram are both the platform and the medium through which we express the very simplest of human feelings to the most complex ideas. Using content, context and aesthetics to tell stories is a skill that we treasure in our world today.

The most successful accounts, have one thing in common — a narrative. We scroll and scroll … hunting for the next image that satisfies our curiosity, triggers our imagination and releases the next dose of dopamine. Our devices and social media platforms have made it incredibly easy for us to capture and quickly share content, whilst also entertaining us for an unnoticeably long time.

It was exactly this ease of capturing, storing and sharing content that was missing from the presentation tools we were using, and which led us to begin creating the first early prototype of Dekks.

Problems and Solutions

As International Magic grew and more people became interested in our work, we found ourselves creating and sharing presentations more and more. We were drowning in an avalanche of proposals, portfolios, and project updates, and it felt like we were always starting from square one, rather than building up a core bank of assets and content.

Being a remote studio working closely together every day, forces you to use the right tools to streamline your workflow as a team.

We tried many presentation tools, and sometimes they addressed our needs, however, none of them felt intuitive or filled us with confidence. We invest a lot of time shaping our ideas into a format that makes them clear and well presented. This is a time-consuming process, and we needed to find a way to make it easier for ourselves.

Rather than waiting for someone to solve the problems we were facing, we decided to take matters into our own hands and build a simple yet effective presentation tool that solved these problems.

Dekks Prototype

The first version was built in one day and gave us the ability to make scrolling online presentations in Wordpress. At this stage, we had created many websites for clients using a customised Wordpress back-end. This involved us stripping out much of the unnecessary clutter that comes with Wordpress, and only giving our clients the tools they need to update and edit their website. It meant that anyone, despite their web skills, could dive in and update the website and play within the boundaries we had created.

It was this highly customised approach to building websites that gave us the idea for creating a presentation engine that would operate in a similar way.

Screenshot: How we managed content in the cms.
Screenshot: How we managed content in the cms.
Screenshot: Share recipients a URL and passcode.
Screenshot: Share recipients a URL and passcode.

Our new tool helped us create presentations in our own International Magic style. The assets were stored in our media library, hooked up to Dropbox. We also developed a custom plugin which syncs videos directly from our Vimeo account. We would send whoever was receiving the presentation a URL and password, which they would use to access the presentation via their browser.

We had removed all of the formatting and layout options, leaving only the essentials. Through reducing the choices we had to create presentations, we streamlined the number of decisions we were making and could ultimately make presentation decks in our own style, FAST.

It feels strange calling this first step a prototype, as at this stage, all we wanted to do was create something that would help us make high-quality presentations quickly and efficiently.

However, as we started to receive more and more positive feedback about our presentations, and talking to friends in the industry, we realised that other people might also benefit from this tool. We had proven that the best problems to solve are your own and that quite often your problems aren’t as unique as you might think.

Introducing Dekks 1.0

Dekks is a software as a service, design-focused, presentation app that simplifies the process of making great presentations, pitch decks, mood-boards amongst many other types of presentations.

In the same way Instagram made it easy to share images, and Twitter revolutionised how we share our thoughts, Dekks aims to streamline the process of combining a variety of different media types into informative presentations or persuasive narratives.

Like most of the tools that we love and use habitually, Dekks will be compatible with all browsers and devices meaning that your presentations will be with you wherever you go.

Dekks’ core features are informed by our experiences designing innovative web platforms, as well as our understanding of how people interact and consume content today. Many people, especially those operating in corporate environments, still require a more conventional type of presentation tool. However, those working in the creative industries and the ever-growing gig and freelance economy, face a different set of problems and require a toolkit tailored to their needs.

With Dekks, we aim to remove the little bugs and annoyances that we often face when making presentations. For example, we’re using a modular approach to creating slides, making it easy to re-use content blocks and reduce the amount of duplication.

We’re building an intuitive asset management system that will make it easy for you to find and use the images, videos and text you have been collecting over the years. Our novel approach to templates will make developing your own visual language and unique style easy and fun.

It’s our goal to improve the entire presentation process, from beginning to end. Dekks will make it easier to plan, create, share, and receive presentations.

We’re a remote team working with collaborators around the world. We’re building Dekks to have all the tools and features required for teams and individuals to work efficiently together in realtime. We also understand the power of data, and over time will be adding features that improve your ability to understand your audience and create presentations that have maximum impact.

This is only the beginning, and over time, our small yet super talented team will work hard to make Dekks a useful tool that grows to reflect the ever-changing nature of content creation and consumption.

We aim to seek and listen to your feedback and are looking forward to launching Dekks soon for everyone. Take our survey to become one of our early adopters.

Love and hugs,
Co-Founder of Dekks