In July 2013, Daniel Duckworth, founder and CEO of DesignQuotes, a service to help you find objective ratings of design and marketing services, completed a capital-raising mission.
Duckworth’s objective was to “make major improvements to marketplace software, and further invest in an already successful content marketing strategy.”
With that effort now behind, and the result is a change even more dramatic that Duckworth might have thought. DesignQuotes has just re-launched as ServiceCrowd.
Duckworth explains the strategy behind re-branding the company, and some of the changes to the company’s marketplace software.
The enduring confidence of capital
“When we raised the capital it gave us a lot of confidence. We had been working with the DesignQuotes brand for years. The more we looked at our growth figures and lifetime revenue per customer, it became obvious that we needed to begin offering more service areas for comparison. This is how ServiceCrowd was born,” said Duckworth.
Support from a Board of Directors and large capital investment enabled Duckworth to begin commercialising his product.
Overcoming the weakest link
But Duckworth discovered a weakness in the business model thanks to advice from a successful startup in the United States.
“One of the most important characteristics of a successful business is repeat customers. Our business model is a subscription service that sells pre-qualified sales leads to service providers. So, we hit that nail on the head.”
“The problem is, we’re not a typical business model – we serve two audiences at the same time.”
Although DesignQuotes was enjoying repeat business from a cadre of paying customers, it was becoming increasingly expensive to acquire traffic that was looking for service providers in their marketplace.
Becoming a destination
Ultimately, it was advice from another CEO who helped Duckworth connect the dots and commit to something bigger.
“I was watching a YouTube channel called This Week in Startups and they were interviewing Marco Zappacosta, founder and CEO of Thumbtack. One of the points he made was that the goal was to become a destination website – like Amazon is to shopping and Facebook is to social.”
“Marco explained that for every business they connect with a service, a new opportunity to connect to other services is created. They might initially request quotes from a locksmith. If they have a positive experience, they come back and request quotes from an accountant or web designer. We want ServiceCrowd to be a destination, not just something you stumble upon.”
The bold claim: faster than Google?
Duckworth took Zappacosta’s words of wisdom to hearth, and as a result, Duckworth’s company has taken steps to become a destination for those looking for services in various combinations.
“We introduced a directory of all the service providers in our marketplace. Previously, one could only access this information if they submitted a project. Now, the profiles are available for the world to see, which we think adds a lot of credibility to the website,” Duckworth said.
“The directory isn’t typical. It’s actually really smart because we’ve collected a lot of data about the service providers.”
“For example, if you’re looking for a combination of skills – like a service that provides product photography shoots, eCommerce web design and SEO copywriting for product descriptions – our directory can serve that up instantly. You can then request quotes from the services you find, instantly.”
The instant quote has proven to be a successful model for all sorts of industries, from insurance to car hire. Duckworth and his ServiceCrowd team aim to bring the same convenience to finding services on-the-fly.
Duckworth summed up the company’s ambition saying, “It sure beats searching on Google and having to read through tons of marketing material.”