While working as a management consultant at Booz & Co, Alec discovered that the traditional graphic design industry was slow, expensive and risky.
Determined to do something about this, he started DesignCrowd in his parents’ garage back in 2007, aged just 23 at the time.
In a nutshell, DesignCrowd is an online marketplace that connects designers from around the world with businesses that need graphic design work done – logos, business cards, websites, banner ad designs, and the like.
Within a few years, it has grown into one of the world’s largest design marketplaces.
Alec was recognised for his efforts in driving the growth of DesignCrowd, a company that has made several acquisitions (including Brandstack and Worth1000), raised $6.3 million in venture capital and grown to over 400,000 designers from more than 165 countries.
Anthill spoke to Alec and below is what he shared about how his business has gone from a garage start-up to an award-winning company and his predictions for crowdsourcing.
With what strategy have you reached this level of success?
DesignCrowd has had three phases of growth as a business.
In the first two years, I bootstrapped the business. I launched from my mum’s home with some savings, three credit cards and $30,000 in loans from friends and family.
In 2009, I raised $300,000 of angel investment, my co-founder Adam joined the business and we used this funding to grow the business 13-fold in two years.
In 2011 we raised $3 million of venture capital from Starfish Ventures. This capital has supercharged our business and helps us scale internationally.
We now have 30 team members in three countries, designers in over 100 countries around the world and we are approaching a $15 million revenue run rate.
As an individual entrepreneur, my personal approach across all these phases has been to think big, move fast, test everything and never give up.
What next for DesignCrowd?
Our plan, in a nutshell, is to scale DesignCrowd internationally and to take crowdsourcing creativity to every corner of the globe.
We’d like to scale our business further in key geographies like the US but we also plan to launch our service in new geographies and languages.
In the next three to four years, we’d like to grow from 400,000 designers to one million designers and we’d like to go from a business doing $15 million in revenues to a business doing $100 million and then $200 million in revenues.
Lastly, where do you see crowdsourcing in the next ten years?
Crowdsourcing is already a disruptive force within many industries – but it is still a relatively new innovation.
In the next few years, within the design industry, crowdsourcing websites will continue to consolidate the global design market while the crowdsourcing models used will continue to evolve and improve.
More broadly, I think we will see crowdsourcing touch, change and disrupt more and more creative (and also non-creative) industries.