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Alec Lynch, co-founder and CEO of DesignCrowd, Sydney, Australia

| 09.30.2013 |

To borrow a well-worn line from Mr. Dylan, the times they are a-changin' - especially in the realm of business design. Leading the way here is the Australian company DesignCrowd, which taps into the creative talent of more than 100,000 designers around the world for its high-profile projects. 


How does this concept? Well, let's ask DesignCrowd leader Alec Lynch.


Q: For the benefit of those who are not fully aware of the concept, what is crowdsourcing and how can it help a business?


Alec Lynch: Crowdsourcing involves outsourcing a task - such as logo design - to many people (a "crowd"), often from around the world. Here's how crowdsourcing works on DesignCrowd.com:


1) A small business posts a project describing a design they need and offering an amount of money


2) We open that project up to the world and our 100,000-plus designers


3) Designers from around the world upload designs within hours and, within a few days, a typical logo project receives over 100 designs


4) The client picks the best design, downloads the files and designers get paid.


Crowdsourcing can be thought of as outsourcing on steroids. It is faster, more affordable, and more creative than the traditional approach.


Q: What was the inspiration for DesignCrowd? And was this the first time you created your own company?


Alec Lynch: I was 21 when I started my first business (an online CRM software business), which ultimately failed, but it taught me some great lessons. After this I went to work in management consulting at Booz & Co. While I was there I had the idea for DesignCrowd. I could see that the traditional design process had three key problems. It was expensive to buy design, it was slow, and it was risky - there was no guarantee you'd get something back that you liked.


At the same time, I had friends graduating from creative disciplines at university that couldn't get a job. These problems were the same whether you were a small business or a big brand, and whether you were in Sydney or San Francisco. In summary, I could see the dynamics for an online, global design marketplace were there. That's what DesignCrowd offers and why design crowdsourcing is disrupting the traditional design industry.


Q: How long did it take to create your company, and when did it officially launch?


Alec Lynch: I started working on the business full-time in September 2007. I quit my job in management consulting, took $10,000 of savings, three credit cards and moved back home to live with my mum. A few months later, in January 2008, I launched the business. In 2009, my co-founder Adam Arbolino joined the business, we received $300,000 of angel investment, and got our first office. In 2011, Starfish Ventures invested $3 million into DesignCrowd and since then we've grown the team from three to 20, reached 120,000 designers, launched in the UK, Canada and Asia. 


Q: What have been some of the challenges in starting and maintaining your company. And, on the flip side, what have been some of your successes?


Alec Lynch: We've seen a boom in demand for crowdsourcing in the last several months. This demand is truly global - we have a lot of clients in Canada, the US, UK and Australia. Scaling our infrastructure, team and designer community fast enough to cope with this demand has been the biggest challenge.


Q: What advice would you give to a business owner who is considering crowdsourcing?


Alec Lynch: My advice would be: crowdsource creative tasks (such as logo, web or graphic design); leverage crowdsourcing sites and platforms rather than doing it yourself; communicate with the crowd regularly; and be generous with the crowd with the rewards you provide.


Alec Lynch's DesignCrowd is online at www.designcrowd.com.