Designs Desk is an online design marketplace that provides businesses with risk-free custom graphic design by giving designers a safe platform to compete for design projects and get paid for their work.
Headquartered in Chicago, IL, Designs Desk was started with the simple idea of providing buyers with an affordable way to find the perfect design by crowdsourcing designs from designers all of the world.
How does your startup stand out against its competitors?
Designs Desk does not charge any project posting fees unlike many of our competitors. In addition, Designs Desk charges a flat rate 15% commission on all designer payments. No confusing payment structure or hidden fees. Unlike other design marketplaces that charge over 30% designer commissions, we only charge a flat rate 15% commission on designer payments. We guarantee our designer commission rates will NEVER increase, ensuring designers get 85% of the project awards.
This is important for 2 reasons. Most competitors charge buyers “project posting fees” just to a post a project. We don’t. Other sites like 99designs don’t even publicly list their designer commission rates on their site and take 30% commissions. Not only are we very upfront with our designer commission rates, but we only charge a flat rate of 15%.
Where did the idea for the startup come from?
Founded by a team of designers and internet entrepreneurs, we were tired of dealing with the “traditional” cookie cutter design process that most small business owners are forced to deal with when trying to find the perfect custom design. For a team that is truly passionate about high quality designs, it became our mission to connect small business owners with highly talented designers from around the world. We pride ourselves in providing a user-friendly experience that is second to none for both Buyers and Designers, which is why our customer support team is here to help if you have any questions.
Did you have any concerns when starting your business, if so what were they?
Our only concern was ensuring we were building the platform infrastructure to be as user friendly as possible. We helped alleviate this concern with over a year of beta testing with real designers to constantly improve the user experience as we want to be the best design marketplace platform in the world.
What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of South Florida. After working in the investment banking industry immediately after college, I founded one of the first business brokerage firms that specialized in only representing owners of internet businesses on the sell side of the transaction. My experience as a website business broker really opened my eyes to the constantly evolving world of startups and fueled my interest in building a design marketplace platform.
How did you initially raise funding for your company?
Funding for Designs Desk was raised through a small group of private investors, including capital that I personally contributed to the company.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Aside from building Designs Desk from the ground up, I started one of the first internet business brokerage firms (at age 22) and then subsequently sold the firm approximately 3 years after starting the company for a six figure sum.
How have you kept your business relevant and engaged with your audience over the last three years?
Designs Desk was officially launched this year, but we do our best to engage with our audience on Twitter and other social media. In addition, we have been working with a team of designers for the past year during the beta testing phase and we are routinely making updates to the overall user experience based on their feedback since they represent a sample of our target audience.
How long has your business been in making, and who is the team behind the business?
Designs Desk has been in the making since 2013, including over 1 year of private beta testing. The team behind the business included the CEO, Charles Parker and his business partners and the design team that has been working with use during the private beta testing. Charles graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in finance in 2008 and has been living in downtown Chicago over the past 6 years.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Building a community of designers and buyers from the ground up has definitely been the biggest challenge. We are seeing positive results with our efforts to increase our brand awareness, but we still have a lot of work to do in our mission to be the best design marketplace in the world.
In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with your business?
More connections and more results for our customers. We want to continue to help designers earn income on their own schedule and we want to help small business owners find the perfect design to help their business grow.
What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting your business?
Never become complacent. The design marketplace industry is constantly evolving and we continue to track industry changes to ensure we can evolve and update our user experience accordingly. Our #1 focus is our customers. As a result, we are always listening to our customers to see how we can improve the platform for the best user experience possible.
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
Don’t ever give up if you believe in your business idea. There will definitely be challenges, surprises and obstacles in your way, but if you stay positive and work hard, you can achieve your goals.