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Crowdsourcing Platforms: A Unique, Cost-Effective Strategy for Start-Up Success

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 16/10/2015 Casey Cavanagh

When it comes to designing essential brand elements, such as a logo and website, start-ups and small businesses today can either create their own or hire someone to do it for them. Most choose to have it professionally done--either by an agency or a freelance designer. And while there is usually a drastic difference in price between the two, a shared similarity is that they are limited in terms of flexibility.
2015-10-16-1445016658-3935929-shutterstock_220240366.jpg © Provided by The Huffington Post 2015-10-16-1445016658-3935929-shutterstock_220240366.jpg
In most cases, you get a set number of designs to choose from and, if you don't like any, you're forced to simply pick the one you hate the least. Not exactly ideal--especially considering so much of a business's success hinges on it.
Fortunately, there is a third option--the crowdsourcing marketplace. To learn more I interviewed Rahul Aggarwal, Co-founder of Designhill.
Recently featured on Forbes.com for their infographic on the factors that influence start-up success (see graphic at bottom), Designhill is an online design crowdsourcing platform that helps business owners source high-quality, custom designs at affordable prices.
Rahul says their objective is to "serve before we earn"--and it is this mentality that has allowed he and his brother Varun to grow what was once a 6 person company (2 designers and 4 developers) into one that now offers over 25,000 designers worldwide.
How would you explain crowdsourcing to someone who has never heard of it before?
Basically, it is the process of involving a crowd of people for particular work within a stipulated time frame. Crowdsourcing, especially in the graphic design industry, provides a lot of benefits to customers where they get a large number of options to choose from, more creativity, more value for their money, and quick solutions.
How do you think the industries of graphic design and branding/marketing have changed in the last decade or so?
In the present day and age, where everything is so digital, graphic design and branding are the cornerstones of any business. Customers can see a brand everywhere from social media platforms to mobile ads to TV commercials and, hence, quality graphic designs have become much, much more integral to any marketing strategy.
What are some of the biggest branding mistakes you've seen new businesses make?
When it comes to business branding, quite often customers go for the cheaper option and, though it might seem like a good choice at the time, almost always they have to spend much more in rebranding their businesses. And the cost for rebranding is much higher than the cost of getting a quality and professionally made design the first time.
How does your company help correct and prevent these mistakes?
We make it a point to help them understand the importance of a professional design. We provide dedicated 24/7 customer support to all our customers to help them get the best out of the marketplace and value for their money.
What made you want to start Designhill?
There were too many limitations and frustrations with working a single design agency. There was a lack of creativity beyond a certain point, saturation of ideas and options since you only work with one or two designers. We also wanted to create a marketplace website that offered better timely delivery and eliminated the risk of prepayment with no refund options.
Exactly how does it work?
Our crowdsourcing platform connects businesses and designers from around the world on one common platform. Businesses that have specific design needs, for a logo, website, etc., can run a design contest and choose from dozens of designs submitted by designers from all over the world.
Many of our clients are new to crowdsourcing, so we make sure they are properly guided, informed and assisted throughout the process. It is an interactive platform, meaning the clients have the ability to rate, comment and provide feedback--as well as ask for unlimited revisions.
A client can hold a contest and get as many as 80-90 designs in less than a week. The client then gets the source files for the winning design, as well as all copyrights.
What unique benefits does your crowdsourcing platform offer clients?
There are many benefits to crowdsourcing your design. They get more flexibility, control and options for a better price--and without sacrificing quality. On an average, our clients receive 3 times more designs for every dollar they spend with us. We are also more than 30% cheaper than any other competitor and our design received per dollar spent ratio is much higher. As a result, we have a much higher contest success ratio.
We are completely risk-free since we offer 100% Money Back Guarantee to all our customers (though, despite this, we still have had only two refunds to date!). We do take the money upfront from our customers, but it is only as a security to help prevent any fraud against designers. Designers only get paid once a customer chooses a design and receives the source files from the designer.
How does it benefit the designers?
It is a mutually-beneficial relationship. We strive to help freelance designers not only earn but also improve and learn, but we also offer them a platform to create their portfolios and showcase their creative work. It's a way for them to grow their own skills and business, as well as learning from each other. We created a blog not only to provide start-up and new business owners with useful insight, tips and resources, but also to provide designers with free UI kits, resources and tutorials.
What role do you think crowdsourcing will play in the future of advertising and marketing for businesses?
It will play a much, much larger role in the coming years as the need for graphics is only increasing by the day. With so much emphasis being given to digital marketing, businesses will need a larger number of graphics regularly whether it is for banner ads, social media promotions, or branding needs.
What advice do you have for new start-ups and entrepreneurs?
Be Patient, persevere and never give up. It's important to understand and learn about your own business before you can try to sell it to others. Also, it is important for any entrepreneur or new business owner to understand the value the business is offering to its customers; that should become the focal point of any marketing and sales strategy.

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