crowdSPRING - The Story BehindmThe Start-up
17 Oct, 2008 Crowdsourcing - by Philippe De Ridder Founded by Ross Kimbarovsky and Mike Samson, crowdSPRING was started to help people from around the world access creative talent, and to help creatives from across the globe find new customers. Mike Samson shares his inspiring story on how the idea was born, how the company was started and how it developed since then: “In the summer of 2006 Ross and I sat down to lunch. We were discussing my efforts in the area of outsourcing in the video post-production industry and Ross’s ongoing research into Internet trends. Interestingly Ross had stumbled upon a group of designers in Malaysia who were holding open competitions for design work. They would post a project, members would submit entries, they would all vote and the entries with the highest score would advance to the next “round.” Just as striking as the competition model, was the quality of the work being uploaded. These were some seriously wonderful designers who were participating in this competition just for the love of the game: doing the creative work.
Around the same time we became aware of other forums, blogs, and small sites for creatives, where they were discussing, critiquing, and learning from one another’s work. Several insights were born: • • • creative artists love to create and are constantly looking for outlets for their creativity, in the proper context, creative work can be judged solely on the work itself, with absolutely no knowledge of the creator of that work, and the traditional model for sourcing creative work was seriously flawed in the Internet age.
The seed was planted and the idea that would become crowdSPRING was hatched. We spent the next 5 months researching other businesses and
websites, surveying creatives, building a financial model, and writing and revising a business plan. We created a short presentation and started delivering it to other entrepreneurs, technologists, consultants, and VC’s. We iterated, revised, and adjusted the model. We re-wrote and edited the business plan. In March of 2007 we rolled the presentation out to investors, meeting with the first of several small groups. The preparation started to pay off: we were able to convert over 50% of the potential investors we met with into actual committed investors. By July we had raised enough to get started with development. The next 8 months were about understanding and defining the user experience, developing the website interface, writing the requirements, and coding the backend. Like many startups we struggled with visual design. The firm we hired to assist us in that area left us underwhelmed. We had to laugh – we were victims of the exact problem we illustrated in our presentation: when buying services, buyers are given inherently less choice and take on a great deal of risk. We had paid a lot of money for design services, yet we were unhappy with the limited choice presented to us. What to do? In a moment of frustration, inspiration struck. Why not use our own model to source our design? We were close to ready for private beta, and thought, ‘what better way to test the service, then to test it on ourselves?’ We would post a project on a limited version of the beta site, offer big awards, publicize the event and see what happened. The results were phenomenal: in 3 weeks, we received 337 entries from around the world. We gave feedback, asked for revisions, asked for tweaks, rejected ideas, learned from ideas, sorted, filtered, and commented. It was exhausting - every day at lunch the team assembled in our little conference room and went through the new entries to give feedback and discuss the relative merits of the ideas that were flowing in. At the end of the project period, the winner was obvious. We loved the work submitted by a young student designer from the Netherlands. Along with two runners-up (one from Canada, the other from England), we announced the winning design and got down to the work of building the home page, designing the interior pages and finishing up the coding to get to beta. The new interface launched our Beta at the beginning of April and we have hardly had a moment to breathe since. After a successful round of bug-fixes, problem solves, and interface weaks we launched officially on May 5th. In the period since, we have registered over 6,000 users from 130 different countries and have 700 new projects posted in our first 3 months!”
The writer discusses the idea and the efforts behind the start-up crowdSPRING.
A good read on how crowdSPRING, a crowdsourcing company was started.