Interview with Mark Harbottle: Co-founder

December 15, 2009

Mark HarbottleHere is an excerpt of the recent interview Chris McConnell of did with co-founder Mark Harbottle. You can read the whole interview here.

Freelance Review: How did 99designs get started?

Mark Harbottle: 99designs was originally started by designers in the SitePoint forums who were playing ‘photoshop tennis’ – practicing their skills by making up projects and then competing to see who could create the best design. Then a smart entrepreneur came along and suggested that rather than making up the projects why not design his logo and he would pay the winner a cash prize. It was an instant hit -more and more projects got posted each day and more designers joined in on the action. We finally built a platform around it and spun it out into

FR: 99designs has been featured in Good Morning America, Fast Company and the New York Times among other publications. Why do you think 99designs has generated so much interest?

MH: I guess there are a number of reasons but the chief one being a unique model that provides a real value to both the client and the designer.

On the client side – design is often very intimidating and very risky for the average small business owner. 99designs helps reduce that uncertainty by allowing them to connect with a number of designers all at once and really see exactly what they will get.

On the designer side – It’s all about creating opportunity and building client relationships. First, 99designs exposes designers to a ton of projects that they would not normally have been exposed to -it could be a book cover for a New York Times best selling author or a logo for a small cafe owner half way across the world. Second, it allows designers to save time marketing themselves and focus on what they do best – designing. A designer may be extremely talented but a terrible salesperson – 99designs enables designers to stop knocking doors and writing proposals and start designing. The best part is, once a designer wins a project, – they now have a qualified relationship with that client that often leads to additional follow on work. And for the designer who is just starting out, its a great way to build your portfolio and work on real projects for real clients and potentially earn some real cash.


8 Responses to “Interview with Mark Harbottle: Co-founder”

  1. Marco Says:

    Thanks for the site! It really helps me a lot, monetary speaking :)

  2. ulahts Says:

    Very nice interview!
    Keep up the good work!!!!

  3. Jon Says:

    This whole concept makes me feel a little bit sad. Business models like this are the reason the design industry is so under-appreciated, underpaid and why it is flooded with ‘part-time designers’. It is also the reason why, although a client may end up with something ‘pretty’, they are not going to end up with something effective. Without a proper brief and a proper understanding of what the client wants to achieve this will never be realised.

    Part of the job of a good designer is to go beyond the obvious aesthetic and ask the right questions to find out what the best solution is. It’s about time people woke up to the fact that design is so much more than “that looks nice”. $100 for a logo…honestly, what do people think they are going to get?!

    I really hope my comment makes it through your approval process as I’d really like to hear other people’s comments on this subject too. What would be great is if it was made into it’s own post – but I can see that’s a little optimistic.

    I don’t want to take anything away from you for launching a successful business. However, it strikes me as a bit of a sell-out to the whole industry.

  4. logomad Says:

    I am new on 99designs but I feel like home !
    thats It !

  5. Gito kahana Says:

    Very interesting design contest for the follow especially for working freelance, the prize was tempting.
    But here there is little shortage of work thrown away unused means is a waste of time and thought and may not be present.
    I’m just a little advise if I can give money 99designs tired every desigs mybe 1 to 5 $ to be merely the cost of electricity and help eternet.
    Thank you for your attention.

  6. […] Interview with Mark Harbottle: Co-founder […]

  7. John Foy Says:

    Congratz to Mark for making the biggest design crowdsourcing site on the internet! A Real Achievement…

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