Designhill founder Rahul Aggarwal was looking for branding support for one of his family business ventures when he realized glaring inefficiencies existed in the graphic design market. Rahul found that discovering trustable, quality designers was a difficult process. Seemingly, his only option as a business owner was to pursue the expensive process of finding and hiring an in-house designer. These inefficiencies inspired Rahul to found Designhill, a crowdsourcing platform aiming to disrupt the $54 billion graphic design industry.
Designhill is an online platform that facilitates multiple types of transactions between freelance designers and businesses; projects can vary from organized contests to one to one projects, to custom design services marketed by freelancers. Within 6 months of founding, the platform was profitable. The platform now has over 30,000 graphic designers and has completed over 50,000 successful projects.2
Value Creation and Capture to Businesses
Designhill achieved this success by utilizing a pricing structure to businesses that ensures high-quality projects are seeded on the platform. Businesses are charged an upfront fee for running contests (see Exhibit 1 for an example pricing structure for Logo Design). By charging businesses up front and including the winnings for a contest as part of the price, Designhill ensures postings and contests are high quality, and uses these high-quality postings to attract designers.
Exhibit 1: Example Pricing Structure
Designhill uses multiple tools to ensure businesses derive value from the platform. First and foremost, Designhill limits any downside risk for businesses by guaranteeing 100% of their money back in case a project does not go as planned. In order to realize a project’s full potential, though, Designhill has also built collaboration tools such as live polling and real-time commenting, so businesses can guide designers through a project and provide real-time feedback. In case of communication breakdowns or other issues, Designhill offers 24/7 live support. Designhill is able to offer the same seamless experience across all sorts of product offerings (logo design, merchandise design, billboard design, sticker design, etc.).3
Value Creation and Capture to Designers
Designhill’s ecosystem of job postings offers freelance designers access to a plethora of business opportunities. Additionally, freelancers have the ability to market their own portfolio and sell custom services via the platform; freelancers can earn up to 70% commission on sales through Designhill, which discourages disintermediation. Designhill does not charge designers anything to set up a standard account; designers are able to submit bids, showcase their work, and receive feedback from well-regarded companies, all free of charge, creating significant value for the design community. To encourage retention and capture value, Designhill allows designers to upgrade their account for a fee. In exchange for this fee, designers receive promotional support and increased commission fees, both of which serve to increase business potential for a freelancer. A designer subscription costs ~$150 per year.
Challenges and Growth Moving Forward
In order to continue to compete successfully in a crowded space (design crowdsourcing incumbents include 99designs, Designcrowd, etc.) and discourage platform disintermediation, Designhill needs to relentlessly innovate new ways to create value for designers and businesses. An example of the required innovation is Designhill’s ‘Custom Services’ offering launched in February 2017; this service allows designers to pre-define design services that they would like to market and sell on the platform. The service affords designers more artistic flexibility and increases the number of services available to businesses. In addition to product and service innovation, Designhill will need to continually search for market segments that uniquely value their services, as we saw Tongal did, eventually discovering National Geographic as an ideal customer. With a large base of designers and customers, Designhill is well-positioned to capitalize on its success and leverage cross-side and same-side network effects moving forward.