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Using Crowdsourcing to Set Up Your Start-up

Using Crowdsourcing to Set Up Your Start-up

More and more start-ups are turning to crowdsourcing as a cost-efficient method of generating the essential elements of their businesses, from websites and logos to creative strategies and even entire workforces. If you want to share your experience about how you’ve used crowdsourcing to build your business, please contact

When Mark Hayes founded Data Protect, a firm specializing in data back-up and insurance based in Auckland, New Zealand, he made the decision to crowdsource several elements necessary to set up his company.

Starting a small firm with a small budget to match, Hayes said he was able to get the company off the ground with no exposure to debt and gave crowdsourcing a go because he was "trying not to spend a whole lot of money."

Hayes used the power of crowd to create the company's logo and website concepts, saving about $5000 NZD. Hayes said that one of the many benefits of crowdsourcing is that it’s like having 50 people working for you, but without the cost. In that regard, it’s perfect for small businesses that are on a tight budget.

“Data Protect is among a growing number of small businesses turning to the web and the innovation of crowdsourcing,” said Hayes.

To share the experience of how crowdsourcing has worked for Data Protect, interviewed Mark Hayes direct from Auckland.

Which is the main advantage of crowdsourcing, price or quality?

Mark Hayes: The main advantage is having multiple logo, product and web designers from around the world designing for you at a reasonable cost to you and your business. It’s an incredibly cost-efficient way to do things.

How do you avoid the pitfalls of crowdsourcing?

Hayes: Crowdsourcing has a raft of advantages, but to avoid the pitfalls it’s important to remember that communication is key. You need to be specific with your briefs and what you want to accomplish. If you want a logo or a design to look a certain way then you need to specify what you want and give them feedback on what they have provided to make sure that you are getting what you want out of the process.

Which crowdsourcing platforms do you use?

Hayes: We’ve used 99designs, DesignCrowd, Fiverr, Naming Force, Textbroker, and Choosa. We also use and still do use Elance as well.

Are there specific benefits of each one?

Hayes: We went with Choosa for our logo, as that site gave us the best bang for our dollar. Once we had that, we used DesignCrowd to get concept designs for the website and how it would be laid out for a web designer to use as a concept drawing.

We used Textbroker for the copywriting, and we were fortunate to come across a brilliant writer who managed to write the text for the website in a manner that we where happy with.

was used for business card designs, voicemail messages to be left on the toll-free number, as well as the Facebook fan page design.

This allowed us to save thousands of dollars, as here in New Zealand you can spend about $350 NZD just to get one logo design. Using Choosa we got back 43 designs.

With Textbroker we saved quite a bit as the average cost per hour for a copywriter in New Zealand is about $150 NZD; however, this can vary depending on experience and company.

Did you consider using any other sites?

Hayes: We looked at Idea Bounty, 12designer, IdeaOffer, Trada, Atizo, Samasource, Mturk, and TopCoder.

Give me a concrete example of how crowdsourcing worked for your company.

Hayes: For the logo design, we effectively hosted a competition between multiple designers, with 40 or 50 logos coming back. As the contest went on, the quality continued to approve as the designers more and more logos. In the end, we ended up paying $250 NZD for our logo.

Would you consider using crowdsourcing for additional projects?

Hayes: If I need stationery or business cards designed, then I will put it on a crowdsourcing website and post up a brief and have some fantastic designs come back to me. I can also have banner ads, flash animations and a raft of other projects done for me.

How did you initiate these various crowdsourced projects?

Hayes: I have five virtual assistants that work for me, so I delegate what needs to be done and who it needs to be done through to them. They organize it for me and report back to me on the results, and if there are any questions from the people submitting designs, etc.

For example, I would say, “please find someone using to record a voicemail message for the company and come back to me with the top five.” Then I’d review the results and ask them to book a person to complete the project.

What have you learned from this whole process?

Mark Hayes: Be specific with what you want, at first I was afraid of saying what I wanted as I didn’t want to stifle the creativity of the people but I learned that I needed to tell them exactly what I wanted to achieve my desired results.

Was it difficult putting the crowdsourcing model into practice?

Hayes: No, it was simple, and because of it I have been able to talk to other business owners about putting similar models in place.

We’d like to thank Mark Hayes of Data Protect for participating.

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