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Getting Real with 99designs

F.Y. Teng | Nov. 23, 2010
A global phenomenon leverages the Cloud to go global and deliver top dollar value to sharp companies looking to elevate their corporate identity and enhance their brands with right designs and smart advertising.

Is your big talking, high maintenance marketing person farming out advertising and design work to a no-name local firm and making your company pay insanely high fees for insipid work? If so, its time to fire her and set your browsers to 99designs, where you will not meet a slimy self-proclaimed managing director trying to smooth-talk his way into your wallet, but instead interact with a community of more than 80,000 designers from across the world with more than 55,000 completed to satisfaction design projects under their belts.

The value there is difficult to argue with: 99designs is a Web exchange that offers you inspired design work at 10 to 30 percent the cost of going the traditional route with a typical advertising agency.

We had the pleasure of interviewing recently CTO Lachlan Donald, who told us how 99designs came about, why its platform for design work exchange naturally means better designs and infinitely better value than what youre probably getting now, and what technologies are driving its phenomenal global success.

Donald with the facts and the numbers below.

Computerworld Singapore: Tell us how 99designs came about.
Lachlan Donald: The way 99designs got started is a really cool story. It was founded by Mark Harbottle and Matt Mickiewicz, who also founded, a media company that publishes educational books for designers and web developers. At SitePoint there are designer forums where designers hang out, share information, learn from each other et cetera. One of the things the designers were doing was playing Photoshop tenniswhere they would create fictitious design projects to see who could come up with the best design. It was a great way to hone their skillsgetting better while competing and having fun with their peers. One day, an entrepreneur suggested that rather than making up a project, the designers could compete to design a logo he needed and he would give the winner a cash prize.

It was a smashing successword spread and it really took on a life of its own as more and more design projects were being run every day. Eventually, we realised there was a legitimate business here and built out a platform to make the process easier and spun 99designs into its own company in February of 2008.

What challenges did you face starting out?
As with most marketplaces the challenge is attracting the buyers and sellers and generating that initial activity. It's the classic chicken and egg scenario. 99designs was fortunate in that the marketplace really developed itself organicallywe just recognised the business opportunity and put the pieces in place to facilitate it and make it grow.


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