Home Articles Australian crowdsourcing start-up DesignCrowd has hit $20 million in sales and is...

Australian crowdsourcing start-up DesignCrowd has hit $20 million in sales and is expanding to the US


Sydney-based crowdsourcing marketplace DesignCrowd recently hit a remarkable milestone of $20 million worth of payments to its designers.

Now the most astonishing bit is that it took six years to get to $10 million last year and now, just one year later, the start-up has doubled that!

“Last year we hit $10 million in payments, this year we hit $20 million and next year we aim to hit $40 million,” declared Alec Lynch, CEO of DesignCrowd, who recently scooped the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Emerging Category award for the eastern region in Australia.

DesignCrowd, which launched in 2008, helps businesses world over crowdsource graphic design work, from logos and business cards to WordPress and website design.

This latest milestone of theirs is definitely a testament that more and more people are crowdsourcing for design projects online, and willing to shell out lots of bucks for great work.

Started in Sydney, now in San Francisco

DesignCrowd is not relaxing at all though – they are now expanding to the United States – they have set up a presence in San Francisco and hired their first staff on the ground.

The office is the first in the United States, and will support the region which by the way is DesignCrowd’s largest market, with 40 per cent of overall sales coming from the US.

“While DesignCrowd started in Australia – it is now a global marketplace, with users in over 100 countries. The US became our largest source of sales without any staff there, and it remains a huge opportunity for further growth. Setting up an office in San Francisco and hiring our first staff there is incredibly exciting and will allow us to continue growing there,” Lynch explained.

A year of growing in leaps and bounds

On top of the $20 million in project payments, DesignCrowd has reached several other milestones in the last 12 months; more than doubled its sales in the United States and acquired one the world’s most established online creative design communities, Worth1000.

The start-up has also opened a new office in Manila, grown the team from 20 to 30 full timers, and more than doubled its creative community, now well on the way to half a million designers.

With designers in over 165 countries, DesignCrowd allows businesses to tap into a truly global talent base of almost 400,000 designers. “DesignCrowd now has more designers on it than if you door-knocked every single graphic design agency in the United States,” Lynch remarked.

DesignCrowd, which was among Anthill’s 2013 SMART 100 innovations, is backed by more than $6 million in funding from Starfish Ventures and angel investors.

How has DesignCrowd pulled off such explosive growth?

If you are a start-up owner out there who would like to replicate DesignCrowd’s kind of explosive growth, Lynch’s advice for you is brief and precise, “Look to grow internationally. Test everything. Move fast. Never give up.”

However, it’s worth noting that times weren’t always this sunny for Lynch and DesignCrowd.

“A start-up can be a roller-coaster – from both a business perspective and personally,” Lynch shared with Anthill about the challenges they have faced, “At DesignCrowd, the first two years were the most challenging. I had no capital, no team and better funded competitors.”

“From a personal perspective, there was a lot of uncertainty and debt. I bootstrapped the business with credit cards and $30,000 in loans,” he added.

He further revealed that raising $300,000 in capital in 2009 and a further $6 million in venture capital since then has been a game changer for DesignCrowd, and today, they are doing almost $15 million of revenues and 75 per cent of their sales come from outside of Australia.