Crowdsourcing venture DesignCrowd makes first foray into Asia

Australian crowdsourcing marketplace DesignCrowd has made its first foray into Asia, after launching its service in Singapore, India and the Philippines as part of a global expansion plan.

DesignCrowd, led by chief executive Alec Lynch, is an online marketplace that specialises in helping businesses outsource or crowdsource design projects to a network of freelance designers.

The business was founded in early 2008. Now, more than 90,000 designers throughout the world participate in DesignCrowd contests each year. The business currently employs 16 people.

Having already launched in Canada and the United Kingdom, DesignCrowd has now turned its attention to Asia, launching its crowdsourcing service in Singapore, India and the Philippines.

The move comes one year after DesignCrowd received a $3 million investment from Melbourne-based venture capital firm Starfish Ventures.

According to Lynch, Asia has proven itself as an ideal place to crowdsource design work, describing India and the Philippines as “goldmines” for talented designers.

DesignCrowd estimates India and the Philippines have more than one million designers willing to work online. And as Lynch points out, there is also demand among small businesses.

“Asia is DesignCrowd’s fastest-growing region and the opportunity for further growth is huge – India alone has 26 million small and micro businesses,” he says.

“We’re seeing small businesses from India and Singapore crowdsourcing ideas from Australian and US designers.”

India is DesignCrowd’s fourth largest source of users after the United States, the UK and Australia, while Singapore is the company’s largest source of sales in the region.

As to whether DesignCrowd will establish a physical presence in Asia, chief operating officer Chris McNamara says the company, has to some extent, already done so.

“In some ways, we already have a physical presence in South East Asia. We already have staff on the ground in the Philippines and those staff are there to help us serve the region,” he says.

“We have a team that speak Indonesian and Filipino, and those multilingual capabilities are consistent with our strategy to expand into Asia.”

“We’re continuing to assess what staff will need as our presence grows.”

According to Lynch, there are some key differences between markets such as Canada and the UK, and the likes of Singapore, India and the Philippines.

“About 11,000 designers are employed in Australia full-time and about 16,000 designers are working full-time in New York,” he says.

“[We don’t have the same level of awareness of the service] in emerging markets like the Philippines and India.”

“One key difference in these markets is we’re going to pursue and invest in marketing.”

“Another key difference is there are actually challenges in paying designers in some of these countries. We’ve invested in two methods to pay our designers.”

Following its expansion into Asia, DesignCrowd will be targeting growth in the United States, and will also be assessing opportunities in South America and Europe.

This article first appeared on StartupSmart.

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